Click here to go to the next issue
Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day
#1773- Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - Editor: michael
The Myth of Personal Enlightenment
"Though appearing as the animate and the inanimate world, The Self remains forever one. Where, then, is the division? There is no duality, it is clear to me."
Song of the Avadhut chapter 2 verse 4 Atma Books S. Abhayananda
"Buddha babble blocks the Way." Ikkyu
These words by Ikkyu (14th century Japanese poet/priest) touch upon the great stumbling block to finding enlightenment. That is, the stories, myths, fantasies, hopes and fears that fill one's mind as one seeks for the 'great reward' of enlightenment.
But the words of Gautama Buddha cut through to the bone when he says, "When I attained pure and perfect enlightenment, I realized that there is no such thing as pure and perfect enlightenment. Marvelous! Marvelous!"
Today there are many teachers, books, workshops, seminars etc. all dedicated to teaching enlightenment. The students and seekers after enlightenment are told that they must kill the ego, attain higher states of conciousness, open up chakras, clear the third eye, commune with higher beings, find a true teacher, serve the perfect guru, visit power centers, read the right books, do the correct meditations, chant the true mantra, etc. etc. etc.
But in the words of U.G. Krishnamurti - "humbug!" All these things are a business, an enlightenment market place and a trap for the unwary.
In other words, the grand adventure of seeking keeps the seeker looking for something outside of themselves. The seeker may believe that there is some mysterious force or some divine power that somehow must be appeased, cajoled, or satisified before the seeking ends and enlightenment is attained.
But, consider these simple lines of Rumi - We are the mirror as well as the face in it. We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity. We are pain and what cures pain. We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.
In this edition you will find pointers from Amber Terrell, the harshness of U.G. Krishnamurti, the humor of Pete (a list member of the Guru Ratings list), some sprinklings of Zen thought (from the Wisdom of the Zen Masters - edited by, Timothy Freke) and a bit of poetry from Ram Tzu (aka Wayne Liqourman). With a touch of irreverence thrown in for flavor...
as ever - be well,
Once you aspire to become enlightened, even if your life takes you in many different directions, the conditions of your life all become a practical part of achieving enlightenment.
From the Guru Ratings list:
Date: Tue Apr 20, 2004 8:55 pm
Subject: The Enlightenment Shop
The Enlightenment Shop
Confused by thoughts, we experience duality in life. Unencumbered by ideas, the enlightened see the one reality. - Hui-Neng
http://www.truelightpub.com/grace/article.htm An article based on Surprised by Grace which appeared in Creations Magazine in September 1997, and in Pathways magazine in October 1997. ENDING THE MYTH OF PERSONAL ENLIGHTENMENT By Amber Terrell
When I set out on the spiritual quest as a young college student in the late sixties, there were certain images in my mind of what enlightenment would look like. As an enlightened being I imagined I would be "me", only with all the unwanted aspects of my personality corrected. And, having access to the limitless intelligence of the universe, I would of course be brilliant. Best of all my life would be transformed into a blissful existence, a heaven-on-earth of perfect health, perfect thoughts, and perfect circumstances.
After more than a quarter of a century had passed--consumed in intense practice of meditation and yoga, fasting, study, long retreats in foreign lands, and years of service to an Indian teacher--I began to wonder, "Why hasn't enlightenment happened? Why hasn't my personality been fixed? Why doesn't my life look like I imagined it should look by now?" I began to sense that there was a missing piece in my spiritual repertoire--but what? I had done all my practices so devotedly, for so long.
Around the middle of 1994 I began to ask the question, "Who is it that gets enlightened?" Is it the ego, the personality, the mind? No one I queried could shed any light on this question, but I began to suspect that this so-called search for enlightenment I had been engaged in for so long might be in reality some kind of glorified personal improvement program. This person, "I", wanted to get free. "I" wanted to get pure. "I" wanted to be perfected. A greediness became apparent that didn't quite feel right. Yet all the teachers and masters I had studied with up until then only seemed to feed--with their techniques and chants and therapies and promises of heaven--this needy, grasping "I" who wanted enlightenment.
In the Spring of 1995 a shaft of light pierced the darkest and most frustrated hour of my spiritual quest. I met an American teacher named Gangaji who finally stopped this feeding, actually stopped the "I" itself. Very simply she said:
That which you have searched for, cried for, bargained for, sold for--this is WHO YOU ARE.
But she didn't just say it and leave me to think about it. Gangaji's very presence emanated a powerful transmission of Grace that severed the identification with the personal "I" long enough for me to see that this "unenlightened" separate individual I had imagined myself to be never really existed--except in the mind.
You have taken on some cloak called body, circumstances, thoughts, and emotions. No problem with that. Only, if you identify that you are those things you begin to suffer. Because, you see, these cloaks, these clothes, begin to disintegrate very quickly. And if you identify yourself with something that obviously disintegrates, there is great fear and unnecessary suffering and a search for that which is permanent.
In the meeting with Gangaji everything changed in my life, spiritual and otherwise. In her I saw my true limitless Self reflected back at me with an awesome clarity and depth. I stopped practicing, stopped perfecting, stopped hoping, stopped escaping, stopped searching. I stopped everything. The deep connection and resonance with her opened my heart to her love, and bared my neck to her sword. Deeper and deeper the truth that poured from her cut away the illusion of identification with mind and personality--I am this body, I am connected to these thoughts, these circumstances are real.
As the false identification dropped away a vastness became apparent, an immovable Presence, a Being-ness not separate from anything or anyone, which revealed itself to be who I am, and who I have always been. As the tenacious mind tried to arise again with its habits of re-identification, Gangaji's simple yet profound guidance revealed: the habits of mind cannot survive the willingness to meet whatever arises--without following them, without repressing them. Just be still.
What ancient habits of grasping and repressing fell away in this willingness! What long-winded fears evaporated in this Being-ness that has no boundary. No longer was it necessary to perfect thoughts, emotions, or circumstances. All the imperfections of life could arise, as they inevitably do, without disturbing in the slightest the vastness, the peace of Being.
It is only No One that is already perfect. If you can really hear this then you are willing to notice that everyone is imperfect. Then you stop this tragic and insane search to make perfect what is inherently imperfect. And in stopping that search, stopping the grasping to make form conform to some idea of perfection, the mind is still. In stillness, perfection is revealed.
The false identification with "I" haunts most of us throughout life, haunts and taints even the spiritual quest itself. There is such a fervor in the New Age community toward "self-improvement," fueled by the sense that one must work on oneself, perfect something in oneself, attain something for oneself--usually relating to the mind, the emotions, the body, or the circumstances of one's life. And all this simply perpetuates the belief in a "someone" created in the mind, who needs to "get" enlightenment. This is the irony, the great cosmic joke--when the "person" who is searching for enlightenment dissolves, then and only then is the goal of the search revealed--having been obscured all along by the "me" who wanted it.
What exquisite simplicity! As Gangaji suggests, it is perhaps just this simplicity that has held enlightenment as the deepest secret--a mystery of Grace.
The light of conciousness embraces the entire universe. Pan-shan
editor's note: This is the final paragraph of an interview with U.G. Krishnamurti. The full interview is available at the link listed above.
"Look, I tried everything to find an answer to my burning obsession: "Is there such a thing as enlightenment at all, or have we all been fooled by abstractions?" That utter frustration and complete failure to answer that question created an intensity. The first third of my life was spent in India around Theosophists, J. Krishnamurti, yogins, holy men, sages, Ramana Maharshi, the Ramakrishna Order -- in short, all the associations that could benefit a person interested in spiritual matters. I found out for myself that it was all bogus, there was nothing to it at all. Totally disillusioned with the whole religious tradition of both the East and the West, I plunged myself into modern psychology, science and, whatever the material world could give me. I found out for myself that the whole idea of spirit or psyche was false. When I experimented with and studied the material world, I was surprised to find that there was no such thing as matter at all. Denying the spiritual and material basis of things, I was left with nowhere to turn. I began drifting on my own, unable to find an answer from any source. Then one day the futility of what I was doing dawned upon me, and the question which had obsessed me for almost my entire life got burnt, then disappeared. After that there were no more questions. The thirst burned itself out without ever satisfying itself. Not answers, but the ending of questions, is the important thing. Even though everything got burnt there, still embers remain to express themselves in a natural rhythm. What impacts this expression may have on the society around me is not my concern."
Only by accepting that the ego is a fabricated illusion do we walk the Buddha's way. - Dogen
A Woman's Sex:
It has the original mouth but remains wordless;
It is surrounded by a magnificent mound of hair.
Sentient beings can get completely lost in it
But it is also the birthplace of all the Buddhas of the ten thousand worlds.
- Ikkyu, from Wild Ways
Here it is - right now. Start thinking about it and you miss it. - Huang-Po
Give it up! Forget it! You're never going to be Enlightened. Don't bother trying. All effort is useless. You don't stand a chance. Why Struggle?
You work hard at it And you only end up Fodder for the priests And other hucksters.
Don;t let them con you. No one in the whole History of man Has ever made it.
Ram Tzu knows this...
You are not going to be
Outside no other and inside no self. No weapon for attack or shield for defence. I am in harmony with the wisdom of the buddha-way. I walk the non-way without abandoning ordinary life. Appearances are flowers blooming in the sky. Without name or form, I am beyond birth or death. - P'ang-Yun
editor's note: And to finish, some irreverence! http://hjem.get2net.dk/civet-cat/poetry-stories/ikkyu.htm
From Crow With No Mouth, translated by Stephen Berg.
|Ikkyu this body isn't yours
I say to myself
wherever I am I'm there
ten fussy days running this
temple all red tape
nature's a killer I won't sing to it
suddenly nothing but grief
when I was forty-seven everybody came to see me
my monk friend has a weird endearing habit
a crazy lecher shuttling back and forth between
whorehouse and bar
no nothing only those wintry crows
peace isn't luck for six years stand facing a silent
don't hesitate get laid that's wisdom
life's like climbing knife-tree hills with swords
we live in a cage of light an incredible cage
sick of it whatever it's called sick of the names
inside the koan clear mind
ten years of whorehouse joy I'm alone now in the
the wise know nothing at all
men are like cows horses fuck poetry
I woke from a dream of death to day's amazing
no words sitting alone night in my hut eyes closed
my death? who was it anyway always where he was never
|a well nobody dug filled
with no water
ripples and a shapeless weightless man drinks
green willow wonderfully red flower
my gray cat jumped up just as I lifted this spoon
if there's nowhere to rest at the end
that stone Buddha deserves all the birdshit it gets
I won't die I won't go away I'll always be here
only a kind deadly sincere man
melons eggplants rice rivers the sky
oh yes things exist like the echo when you yell at the
foot of a
hear the cruel no-answer until blood drips down
the mind is exactly this tree that grass
not two not one either
go down on your silly knees pray
I found my sparrow Sonrin dead one morning
I hate it I know it's nothing but I
why is it all so beautiful this fake dream
it's logical: if you are not going anywhere
know nothing I know nothing nobody does can you face
stare at it until your eyes drop out
only one koan matters
you stand inside me naked infinite love
we're lost where the mind can't find us
I have returned to the root and effort is over. From the first there has been no one to see or hear anything. There is nothing outside of my true home. Rivers quietly flow and red flowers bloom. - Kuo-an Shih-yuan
nothing higher, nothing lower, no you, no me, just this, eternity
top of page