“If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” This title of Sheldon Kopp’s book reflects the last words of the Buddha to his “beloved disciple.” “Therefore, O Ananda, be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge. Hold fast to the Truth as a lamp; hold fast to the Truth as a refuge.” (Mahaparinibbana Sutta).
The ‘road’ is our spiritual journey, ‘the Buddha’ represents all teachers and teachings and ‘Truth’ is the awareness that the Divine Essence is in the whole of Creation and in every part of it. The Buddha is like the finger pointing to the moon. Once we have become aware of the moon we do not depend on teachers and we do not need any teaching.
Any true spiritual path culminates in the mystical life where we find ourselves in the ocean of Divine Essence. A mystic cannot belong to or be contained by any religion. Religion is a raft that takes us to this ocean and once we are in this ocean do we still need the raft?
For Mahatma Gandhi, Truth was God. He explained Truth, as realizing our identity in the Divine Essence and experiencing the interconnectedness of all of life. The source of Truth was his inner voice. “I shall lose my usefulness the moment I stifle the still small voice within” (December 3, 1925)
Personal experience was paramount for Ignatius of Loyola. He was convinced that “when the eyes of his understanding were opened” that is, when he experienced awareness and consciousness of the Essence of life, he did not need the Holy Scriptures anymore nor would he need any external authority.
The prophet Jeremiah invites us to live by a Divine inner and personal covenant.
“This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 31: 33-34).