We all know there are great guitar players that fascinate huge audiences in stadiums where the crowd gets delighted with the sound the musician makes with his instrument.
Nevertheless, each and every great guitar player once was given his first guitar, probably during his childhood and had to start from scratch, perhaps playing the “Happy Birthday” or any other silly song. By that time, the guitar player had do endure the pain on the tip of his fingers, hurt by the guitar strings. It was his passion for music and particularly for his guitar that motivated him, that prevented him from giving up even when he had to repeat the same stupid song a thousand times, strongly pressing the guitar strings, despite the pain in his fingers.
For the family, having a kid playing any instrument as an absolute beginner is a nightmare! Listening to the same music, played so badly is a challenge for any family member, but one must be tolerant and support the new musician's effort, hoping that someday he will be really famous. With commitment, practising as many times as possible and facing all the difficulties every beginner has to pass through, the once newly guitar player makes progress and the silly songs are slowly replaced by more elaborated ones that start impressing the listeners.
That's the way every famous guitar player has to step to reach the big international stages on tour with their mega bands. If a musician has to go through many obstacles, so it happens to whoever wants to become a buddhist. Many steps have to be taken and much commitment is necessary, along with a lot of effort! Just as the guitar player's fingers are not used to the pain cause by the strings, the mind of a newly buddhist practitioner is also not used to the “pain” caused by the changes Buddhism demands. The mind is used to be attended in its desires and wishes and not always it is ready for a real change.
But, if one is really serious about following the Buddha's Path, just like the guitar player decided to follow his guitar idol's career, he'll need to change in many ways to adapt to everything the Buddha said and be ready for a new way of life. One cannot pursue fame and popularity without loving the kind of life pop stars have. On the opposite way, a real buddhist must be ready for a life of restraint, humbleness, renunciation and detachment, otherwise one will never be a real buddhist. No one has to become a guitar player. No one has to be a famous musician. That's a matter of choice – as simple as that.
But if that's what someone really wants, the famous guitar player's way is like that. The same is valid for a real Buddhist. No one is forced to follow the Teachings of the Buddha, but once you decided that's what you want for your life, you'd better being a good follower. Just like fake guitar players, a fake buddhist practitioner is easily identified and that's too bad!
Ajahn Sunantho Thero