A long time ago I read a story briefly featuring someone called 'The Buddha Of Absolute Freedom'. Not a central character, but one who momentarily connected with the hero of the story to show him the way on his journey. From then on, I always imagined that The Buddha of Absolute Freedom was a magnificent being, who sat serenely, cross-legged on an Eastern mountain top, perhaps with golden sprinkles magically suspended about his head, surrounded by the serenity of nature. Definitely set well apart from the rest of us befuddled lot of losers. In any event, to me, the BAF was definitely no more real than the BFG.
However, a few years back I actually met him for the first time - and he was a she. And she wasn't like that at all. In fact, she was sitting in a pub in Kilburn, getting right on my nerves by telling me she didn't think I'd be at all interested in Buddhism, it just wouldn't be my cup of tea. She also mentioned, that she had mystically started to get excellent grades at college (after 'shite' results for months) since realising that she was, in fact, a Buddha. She was seriously happy. I was seriously impressed. And definitely intrigued.
The next time I encountered the BAF he was in Hackney, playing a guitar and singing about his freedom. He sang that he had an alcoholic father who had wrecked the family. He sang that upon realising that he was the Buddha of Absolute Freedom, he had understood his father and the nature of their relationship. He'd shed some tears, spoken some words of compassion, moved far away for a time, and now got on very well with his father. He sung about how grateful he was for his father and even for the drink. He sang of his happiness.
Lastly, I met the BAF down in Essex, where he was very tired from working nights in a petrol garage. He had been abused many times as a child in care, but since becoming the Buddha of Absolute Freedom, he had come to trust people again and make real friends. This Buddha had the tiniest of flats, but it was big enough to invite me round for a cuppa once a week and then the whole place would fill with the sound of his chanting (a Buddhist mantra) and it seemed like the whole of the cosmos was in his front room. He told me the petrol garage was just great and that he was, well...happy.
And then I twigged it.
If my friend in the pub, the happy strummer and the petrol-garage worker could be the BAF then so could I. The Buddha of Absolute Freedom doesn't live up a mountain but in Kilburn, Hackney, Essex... anywhere. He turns out to be a state of unshakeable and genuine happiness that anyone can reveal, because it's already in there somewhere waiting to get out.
The trick is to believe that and to let him out. So I'm trying every day to let her out. Not up a mountain, not even sitting cross-legged. Just trying to be me.