You can choose any person from history to teach you any topic you want. Who’s your teacher, and what do they teach you?
I’m a little embarrassed by my initial and immediate response since its Buddha. Its so clichéd and a little, I don’t know, a little adolescent perhaps? Isnt that what you would write in a high school essay?
But then this prompt is a bit avuncular isn’t it? Yet I want to respond which could be the cause of my embarrassment. After all I am 56, the age group where I could be the teacher, the person with the answers. Instead here I am hungry and in search. Then again isn’t 56 the age where your thoughts turn to the next stage? Where you have more yesterdays then tomorrows? Isn’t it natural to want to know what is in store after death?
If I could meet Buddha, I would choose to meet him as he is about to sit under the nim tree. I would want him to tell me why he gave up everything : wealth, luxury, prestige, position and his young wife, to wander around the world on foot struggling against the elements, going hungry, wearing rough lowly clothes to seek what? What is it like to travel the world not knowing what you are looking for? Depending on handouts for a meal. Going hungry. Being cold. Perhaps one of the most important things I want him to teach me is how not to give up. What has driven him to wander, hungry and cold and alone, for so many years and resist the temptation to return home to comfort and luxury and ease? How has he kept his passion high and his will strong?
Then after absorbing as much as I can, I would let him continue his meditation under the tree. My heart would be beating really fast because as we all know that is when he gains enlightenment. I would force myself to sit quietly close by and watch him. In front of me is a man becoming enlightened! When he is finally ready and opens his eyes, I will be there patiently waiting full of wonder and hope to hear what he has found out and to see the transformation from seeker to sage. Before he sat down, he had shared his travels through the world but now , even though he has physically not moved, he has travelled the universe. Does he know what happens after death? Are there other planets and peoples? What is the universe? Oh to meet someone who knows the answers!!!