About seven years ago I bloggishly announced, "My satori is near at hand." I seems time for an update on how my enlightenment is going, even though it should be obvious to anyone who regularly reads my Church of the Churchless musings.
Thanks for reading. On to next subject...
Ha-ha. Just kidding.
Not about my enlightenment. About great! being all I have to say concerning it.
What's the point of being enlightened if its kept secret? If I were a world-class pianist, would I be content with only playing by myself at home?
In line with the Buddha's own enlightenment (I enjoy keeping good spiritual company), my core realization is that enlightenment doesn't exist, mostly because neither do I. Not as an enduring self or soul, at least.
One of my sacred scriptures, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Taoism," proclaims:
Sudden enlightenment is sudden because there is no process to a goal. It is the realization that we are already at the goal. We find enlightenment in everyday activities and practices.
...A Zen koan is a riddle transcending logic that forces the student to abandon the search for enlightenment, so that he can become enlightened.
...Real meditation, the total absorption in what you're doing, is also enlightenment (satori).
...Another famous story tells of someone who asked the Zen master Joshu for the secret of enlightenment and received the following answer: "I have to go take a pee now. It's silly, isn't it? Such a little thing. And yet one must do it in person."
Yes, looking back upon my always-enlightened life, I see that even when I was watching cartoons as a kid, the Buddha's message was being transmitted to me. I've talked about the wisdom reflected in Wile. E. Coyote's rock wall crashing.
Enlightenment is like Wile E. Coyote running into a rock wall while chasing the Road Runner, something he did a lot of in the cartoons that I avidly watched in my childhood.
He'd get flat as a pancake. Then slowly peel himself off the wall and pop back into his three-dimensional self.
Existence is that wall. Enlightenment is that pancaking. It's the realization that, in the end, there's nothing to realize.
Existence is. Just as we are. Existence always is.
Though 100% enlightened (maybe 1000%, I seem to have lost my digital enlightenometer), now and then I continue to pick up the book that stimulated the "My satori is near at hand" post, D.T. Suzuki's book, The Zen Koan as a Means of Attaining Enlightenment.
My favorite part is Suzuki's discussion of what I call mantra meditation, though Zen might look upon it differently. I talked about "Mu" (or "Wu," in Chinese) here, including some quotes from Suzuki's book.
The basic notion is to still the intellectual, rational, analytical, conceptual aspect of the brain, allowing whatever is left over to shine in one's consciousness. Bingo! Enlightenment! Here's another passage from D.T. Suzuki's book on Zen that I re-read today.
In my view, the reason [to repeat a mantra like Namu Amida Butsu] is to be sought not in the magical effect of the name itself, but in the psychological effect of its repetition.
Whenever there is an intelligent meaning, it suggests an endless train of ideas and feelings attached thereto; the mind then either becomes engaged in working a logical loom, or becomes inextricably involved in the meshes of imagination and association.
When meaningless sounds are repeated, the mind stops there, not having chances to wander about. Images and hallucinations are less apt to invade it. To use Buddhist terminology, the external dust of discrimination covers the original bright surface of the inner mirror of enlightenment.
For many years I followed a spiritual path that emphasized repeating a mantra that had a lot of meaning. The "five holy names" supposedly pointed to actual supernatural realms of reality, each with a divine ruler, sights and sounds, special characteristics, and such.
Holy? From the above-mentioned Idiot's Guide:
A famous Zen saying describes the sacred sutras as "useful only for wiping puss from your boils."
Holiness can go to hell.
Along with religions, gurus, masters, mystic practices, spiritual paths, and every other purveyor of metaphysical crap that sells the "meshes of imagination and association" and "images and hallucination" Suzuki mentioned.
Understand: there's nothing wrong with words, ideas, thoughts, understandings, theories, hypotheses. But they should be seen for what they are, emanations of a human brain, not something godly to be bowed down to.
Last Tuesday my wife and I went to the sixth of an eight-week Hustle class (danced to disco music) that we've been enjoying a lot. The moves have been getting more challenging from week to week.
As the leader, it's my job to get our hands, arms, legs, and feet in a moderately correct position, while keeping time to the infectiously happy disco beat. At first, I have to think about this with a newly taught move.
"Jeez. From the two hand hold, I'm supposed to drop my right hand, not my left. Damn! And after the woman's one and a half turns I've got to keep to her right side in order to lead her in the opposite direction."
That sort of stuff goes through my head. But at the end of the class, when our instructor said, "I'm going to put a few songs on you can practice to; run through everything we've learned so far," I was pleased to see how I found myself doing a new move correctly without knowing what I was doing.
Meaning, I could do it without thinking "I'm doing it." I'd be halfway through a complicated Hustle move before I realized what I was doing.
Not what I thought enlightenment would be like why back when, before I knew I was enlightened. But what I think, and what is -- those are two very different things.