Babbling on on Enlightenment

In an ongoing email correspondence with wan2forgetmaseff I generated this rambling on Jul-1-07:

You say you’ve never needed faith to leap anywhere in Buddhism.  Does that mean that for you, enlightenment is a gradual process of observing and reflecting on things which you can see in order to gain insight?

Also, what is enlightenment to you?  i mean, what would you say enlightenment feels like?  Is it a state of inner balance?  And how long does it last?  i mean, can you have enlightenment one day and the next day not have it?  Does it depend upon your actions?

 

 Uhm, wow, I just don’t know…

 

 I then proceed to babble on, on a topic I profess to know nothing about…

 

Does that mean that for you, enlightenment is a gradual process of observing and reflecting on things …

 

Well, after some experiences, yes and no. It depends on what you, (meaning, *you* in the second person, not the vague third person ‘you’) mean by enlightenment and experience. It can be gradual, it can be sudden, it can be never ever at all. It isn’t essential to the day to day, and can actually get in the way.

 

What I think is essential to enlightenment is some firm sense that you – as a personality, a self, a soul, don’t need to be there in order to be here, that you are not those things, that you are not the thoughts and stories, that you are not separate from the world, from my son, from ten o’clock tonight when my daughter comes home, not separate from this:

lilypond or this: b2main.jpg,

but that all those things get in the way of being; the things you’ve been told that you are, the things you’ve been told to be, or the things you’ve believed you are.

 

and reflecting on things which you can see in order to gain insight?

Also, what is enlightenment to you?  i mean, what would you say enlightenment feels like?

 

Not only see, but hear, smell, feel, taste, imagine… even then you are not those things. I imagine I need to say here; When you have insight to SeeHearSmellFeelTasteImagine and how even these are traps and illusions and not who you are, then is there more insight? into even more? or is insight  knowing that everything depends on everything else and there is no difference to differentiate, that the act of discrimination, affirming, or denying, of labelling, of deciding, of thinking is the error.

 

For me it was seeing without being there. I didn’t go away, I just didn’t need to be in the way.

 

 can you have enlightenment one day and the next day not have it?  Does it depend upon your actions?

 

Once you crack your head on the ceiling beam, you realize it was always there. If it was always there, it can never go away. It does not depend on your actions, but you might go looking for it all the same just to avoid the pain. The ceiling beam is there whether I look for it or not. I can find it without looking. I can look and find it all the same. Can you go away? If it goes away it isn’t enlightenment.

 

 My little lily pond has three goldfish. Every night the racoons come by and try to enlighten them.

 

If it sticks around, if it remains present and doesn’t go away, it’s a ghost and a thief.

 

2 comments

  1. Enlightenment wow! What a loaded topic huh?

    I’m not sure either but I know this. . .enlightenment is nothing to strive after or dwell on. I’m a big proponent of the fact that we only really find something once we stop grasping at it.

    Whether or not this “thing” is enlightenment who knows? Who cares? I know I don’t need or want anything else than what I already have resting in my open hand. The difficulty comes in being mindful of this at all times and working to cultivate this in all aspects of our life both for ourselves and others.

    Gassho,

    Gregor

  2. I think there are some leaps of faith required for Buddhism. It’s not the blind faith, but rather a trust in the capacity for change in ourselves. Usually, Buddhists embody this trust by taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, but that is just a formality, declaring official affinity or allegiance with the Buddha’s message. I’m not too sure what this change is, but based on the goals of Buddhism, it seems we can become more open, more honest, more compassionate, more wise and so on. Something like that :)

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