by Ajita Choyo
To glimpse the Dharma is to gleam the Buddha. I would like to look at the word “Buddha” as it appears cross-culturally. Those who follow the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism know the word “Buddha” to mean “the one who is awake” or “the enlightened one”. Buddha is awake to Absolute Truth/Reality. In Hinduism Buddhi is equivalent to nous or higher mind in Western thought. It is the mind attracted to Absolute Truth/Reality and is considered to be the golden womb (Hiranyagarbha). Buddhi personified is a Shakti of Ganesha, whose by names include Buddhinatha and Buddhipriya. So within Hinduism and Buddhism, this BDD word refers to the higher mind enlightened with the Truth. Let us now us sound shifts to find the word Buddha in other cultures. B can shift to V or P or Ph or F. D can shift to T or Th. In Islam the Arabic word for enlightenment is Fattah. Al-Fattah is one of the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah. It specifically refers to an ongoing opening to light, love, and ecstasy within the heart. So the Arabic “Fattah” which means “opening heart” is cognate with the Sanskrit word “Buddha” which refers to an “awakened/enlightened mind”. A fifth form variant of the root fattah means “to blossom”. I think of the lotus bud blossoming and revealing the Buddha. In the Judeo Christian tradition one finds Jesus the Nazorean using the mantra “Ethphata” (Be Open) to heal. This Fattah is considered a most powerful word in mystical forms of Islam and Christianity. It comes from the older Egyptian culture. Ancient Egypt was named after the the God Ptah whose name and role is literally “the opener”. He is shown iconographically as standing on Maat who is Mother Truth, and his wife is shining power itself, Sekhet. To be clear, I suggest that the eastern word for awake mind can be connected to the near eastern word for opening heart. Moving to the west, in ancient Greece Apollo the god of light was called Pythios, and his prophetess was called a Pythia. PyTHia in this Greek context refers to the prophetic voice which declares the Truth. I aspire to live with a mind awake to Truth, a heart ever opening to Truth, and a voice ever ready to speak the Truth. There are many connections in these various cultures which can be connected and explored in further depth, such as how recurring themes (Opening, Flowering, Truth, Light) appear in all these “Buddha” variants. So let us meditate and contemplate on how the words and images connected with the Buddha, al-Fattah, Ptah and Pythios can inspire and deepen our own practice, so that we may live here and now with awakening minds, opening hearts and prophetic voices. May we stand on Truth/Dharma so that we may blossom into Buddhas. So may it be.
Ajita Choyo is part of the Lay Minister program with the Bright Dawn Way of Oneness Sangha. To learn more about Bright Dawn Way of Oneness please visit us here.