The hardest part about growing up, is figuring out how to go throughout life without being scared.
I spent many years of my life studying the Buddha and all the different paths he took throughout his life in order to perfect, essentially, “growing up.” He lived out his childhood and most of his adolescence in lavish quarters, decorated with all the finest things. Anything he ever could have wanted was at his fingertips. It was not until he stepped out into the real world, or, “life,” that he realized everything was not as easy and perfect as it seemed.
Are we not all like the Buddha in this? Do we not, also, go through childhood and most of adolescence in our own comfortable bubble of blissful ignorance? Like the Buddha, it takes most of us stepping out into the real world, declaring our independence from our families, and seeing what life is really like, to realize that life - and death - are out there and they are scary!
After this realization, the Buddha was deeply disturbed and did not know what to do. He decided to renounce everything that he had known: the wealth, clothes, even food and nourishment that he had grown accustomed to. He took up meditation and would sit beneath the banyan trees and meditate as the hours turned to days. He withdrew into himself and lived within his mind.
I relate to the Buddha in his disturbed reaction to what life is really like. Though I have never gone so far as to renounce my clothes and daily nourishment, I relate in the sense that I also withdrew into myself and within my mind, unable to cope with this new “life” that I was supposed to somehow assimilate into.
It took the Buddha a great while, but eventually he realized he could not completely renounce everything, nor live in his comfortable bubble from childhood. He would have to find a “middle path.” Later, the Buddha went on to achieve Enlightenment.
I’m still at that withdrawn point in my life, too wrapped up in my own mind, or, more accurately, too wrapped up in my fears and anxiety. I have every piece of the “middle path” surrounding me, but I’m too afraid to reach out and grab hold of it all. I’m too afraid to fail at life.
Then I try to focus my mind on another one of my favorite things about the Buddha: the art of letting go. The more I go through this life, the more I realize I have absolutely no control and I need to stop acting as if I do. The more you try to control something, the less control you really have. Life really is about blind faith. We might all have faith in something different, but I believe in the Universe and its harmony and Oneness. I have to learn to trust that the Universe has given me everything I need for my “middle path,” my Enlightenment.