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.
Very entertaining read.
I liked the Roadrunner paradigm.
Maybe enlightment is to truly focus in the Presence. In the powerful point of Here and Now. To concentrate on existence as it is without judging and analyzing.
After blowing away the clouds of past and future, after disolving the clews of social-cultural-family programming. After stopping the reflex conditioning according to who we have been functioning. There is something new, our forgotten Self.
The meditation is just an exercise for stopping the Mind, maybe a general format in the system, a reboot of our O.S. (operational system), in order to see clearly the Inner Code of being. It's a tool for helping us see (sometimes) more clearly. It is not the purpose, it is the mean.
The very act of seeking something (enlightment/divinity) justifies its lack of.
Stopping seeking proves the opposite.
Posted by: Pythagoras | March 16, 2012 at 06:33 AM
My point of view on en-Light-enment is diametrically opposed to Brian's. I hold,and KNOW (from near-constant personal experience), that spiritual en-Light-enment is literal, not figurative--that when a yogi is baptized (initiated) by the Holy One, the Divine, the Holy Spirit (Shakti, intense Light-energy) pours down on him, en-Light-ening him by outshining his mind-forms with its down-poured radiant Intensity. When the Spirit (or Bliss)-current continually flows into the yogi and his consciousness (soul)--thanks to this "shedding of Grace, or Blissing/Blesing Power--permanently unites with it, then the yogi attains full en-Light-enment(Self-realization).
From my point of view,comments about spirituality by people who have not experienced the living Spirit, the Shakti, or Sambhogakaya, are tantamount to blind men trying to describe an elephant.
Posted by: Ron Gardner | March 17, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Ron, I haven't had your experience; you haven't had my experience. How can you say that yours is more elevated, more spiritual, more true than mine? Also, can you provide me with any evidence that you have "experienced the living Spirit, the Shakti"?
And even if you have, so what? I've experienced many things that you haven't, because we are different people. How is your experience superior to mine? Isn't that the height of ego, to believe that certain life experiences are far superior to other experiences?
I know people who travel the world, taking cruises, seeing foreign sights, and such. I also know people who stick close to home, living a simple life. Can we say that one is superior to the other? Likewise, what makes your supposed experience superior to what I've realized, understood, found meaning in?
Buddhism finds means in everyday life. You appear to find meaning in some sort of mystical inner state. Are you right and the Buddhists wrong? Or is it better to not talk about right and wrong in this context?
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Brian, With 35 years experience under your belt, am interested to know how far you went along the Sant Mat path -
Did you go 'inside' (i.e. withdraw) while meditating?
What sound did you hear during bhajan?
Posted by: Nad | March 19, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Nad, I'm not sure what you mean by the "Sant Mat path." This often is described as being like drilling a tunnel through a mountainside. Nothing is seen until the other side of the mountain is reached. Until then, it is darkness and silence.
So how it is possible to tell how far someone went along such a dark, silent path? (I'm taking the Sant Mat point of view here, which I don't necessarily agree with.)
Also, the Sant Mat gurus have said that progress of a disciple can be "saved up," and then distributed in the form of mystical experiences at a later time, or after death.
Of course I went "inside." That's what meditating with eyes shut and ignoring the outside world is all about. I'd be unconscious, to a greater or lesser degree in different meditation sessions, of what was outside my head. So, yes, of course I went "inside."
I heard some sounds inside my head while I was meditating. However, so does my wife, who has tinnitus from time to time. I've heard "bell" sounds; also ringing sounds. But I don't know what produced them. Again, lots of people hear bells and ringing in their head, and they don't meditate at all.
I had many interesting experiences during my thirty-plus years of daily meditation. And I still meditate every day. I'm a believer in meditation, but no longer a believer in the form of meditation practiced by Sant Mat devotees.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | March 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM
I want to test your enlightenment.
If you can answer this question, you can be 'certified' enlightened.
If you have indeed jumped the gap between
intellectual enlightenment and direct experiential enlightenment ....
you will be able to answer this question correctly.
Does the New World Order exist ?
(P.S. Hi Roger. If Brian can get this answer correct, I will stay. If not, I will
leave this club and return a year from now and ask the same question. And, and the year after that.)
Posted by: Mike Williams | March 19, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Mike, I have no idea what you mean by "New World Order." Turning to the Great God Wikipedia, I see many notions of this:
Tell me in some detail how you view the New World Order, and I'd be much better able to tell you whether I think it exists. Please do this in a single comment, though. I don't want this to become a New World Order discussion blog.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | March 19, 2012 at 09:48 PM
See you next year.
Posted by: Mike Williams | March 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM
The Great Doctor of Enlightenment, Mr Mike Williams has left the arena, equipped with his 'enlightenment bag' and 'enlightenment certs'! - all intact.
The test results - inconclusive!
What right has anyone to 'test' someone's enlightenment or what qualifications does one need for this 'job'?
I don't know.....but in my mind's eye, I got a 2 x 4 and whacked someone over the head with it. I don't imagine it did any good as I think a thicker plank is called for. Cooked in the pip comes to mind!
Do you think I am adding to my already heavy load of karma by having such thoughts?!?!
Posted by: Marina | March 20, 2012 at 01:22 AM
"Does the New World Order Exist?
--No. Only 'I' exist and 'I' am no 'where' to be found.
(got that out of my Ch'an 101 Non-Enlightenment textbook, 1st standard edition published in 736 AD by Won Wok Yi )
You didn't say if this was an open book test or not.
Posted by: tucson | March 20, 2012 at 09:30 AM
tucson, you pass. Can't miss with that authoritative reference. I assume you did the original translation, based on your indepth knowledge of classical Chinese. Most impressive. I would bow before you, if either "I" or "you" was to be found.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | March 20, 2012 at 09:45 AM
It might seem than no one could have freely willed to have said/done anything other than they have. Nor I.
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | March 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Mike would of course be enlightened, otherwise he cannot be the judge. But, he can't be enlightened because he is still attached to testing and is planning to come back a whole year later when everyone is onto another koan already.
Posted by: Catherine | March 21, 2012 at 10:03 PM
The Buddhists do not fundamentally disagree with the Hindus and Christians. For example, in Vajrayana Budddhism (Tibetan Buddhism), the Sambhogakaya. the energetic dimension of the Trikaya is analogous to the Christian Holy Spirit, Hindu Shakti, and the Jewish Shekinah. Spirit is simply the dynamical, radiant action of awakened presence (or awareness).
You're in to pop Buddhism and Taoism. Even original Buddhism, what the Buddha taught, isn't about everyday life; it's about attaining Nirvana, getting off the Wheel of Birth and Death, en-Light-enment.
Examine pictures and statues of the Buddha. Notice the marks of en-Light-enment. The energy of awakened awareness literally transforms the body. Enlightened beings like the Buddha and Ramana Maharshi literally radiate love-energy, intense palpable Shakti. Ramana said the Kundalini is just another name for the Self.
You should read books on Tibetan Dzogchen and Hindu Kashmir Shaivism instead of the pop stuff you gravitate toward.
You need to find a guru who can give you Shaktipat, so you can really begin true spiritual life. Check out videos by David Spero and Swami G at youtube.com.
Posted by: Ron Gardner | March 22, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Ron, are you kidding? Buddhism is the same as Christianity? Wow. I think you've fallen into a deeply religious form of Buddhism, which likely isn't what the Buddha taught.
What you call "pop" Buddhism is the essence of Zen, and also of non-religious Taoism. Subtract unprovable supernatural beliefs in rebirth, reincarnation, divine beings, heavens and hells, and you're left with a profound approach to living -- here and now, on Earth.
In my opinion, which is shared by many others, the religious sort of Buddhism you find attractive is a perversion of what the Buddha probably taught. I have to say "probably," because nobody knows what the Buddha's teachings really were, just as nobody knows what Jesus' teachings really were.
I have read books on Dzogchen. Also, some Tibetan Buddhism. I just don't find the religious side of Buddhism very interesting. Even Zen has a lot of religious overtones, with all the bowing and scraping before supposedly enlightened masters.
May I suggest some books that you should focus on, rather than the woo-woo Buddhism you mention: "Buddhism Without Beliefs" by Stephen Bachelor (a former monk in the Zen and Tibetan traditions), and "Buddhism is Not What You Think" by Steve Hagen (a Zen priest).
These books would show you a way to living your Buddhism that isn't centered on religious concepts. Just a suggestion.
Posted by: Brian Hines | March 22, 2012 at 10:01 PM
"You need to find a guru who can give you Shaktipat, so you can really begin true spiritual life. Check out videos by David Spero and Swami G at youtube.com."
---Finding a guru is OK, I guess, however, as the years pass, one finds that rather unnecesary. Also, a "true" spiritual life is relative. Checking out videos on youtube, again is Ok, but rather relative and within our relative duality.
Posted by: Roger | March 23, 2012 at 09:56 AM
"Even original Buddhism, what the Buddha taught, isn't about everyday life; it's about attaining Nirvana, getting off the Wheel of Birth and Death, en-Light-enment."
"Examine pictures and statues of the Buddha. Notice the marks of en-Light-enment. The energy of awakened awareness literally transforms the body."
---This sounds like the standard "pop" religious Buddhism. All this attainment stuff, sounds like book sales and other gimicky wordage.
Posted by: Roger | March 23, 2012 at 10:01 AM
If the "new world order" does exist, in all probability by the time their plans mature they will be cold and obsolete. The only order of the day is change, and nobody can control it.
Posted by: BeeBee | March 23, 2012 at 11:46 AM