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Enlightenment and What It Can Take

I encounter people who ask about getting, "Enlightened," or wanting to practice the Twelve Steps of Recovery, from addiction all the time. My response one way or another always arrives at the same point: "Are you prepared to give up the mythologies..." which in a certain way are pathologies of mind that we tell our self about ourself, and others... about life... and to live without them?"

When people hear that... most disappear. Ceasing to be deluded isn't fun, for personality... especially fractured one's thriving on myths to verify, codify, and justify its existence. Letting go of mythologies can be extraordinarily inconvenient; for a society that hyper-focuses on being a "Baller," "Grinding," lookin' for a "Come-up," or going "Viral," on social media. When we think about it, the idea of letting go can be jarring, and shocking. What and who would we be without our drama's, and dilemmas even for 50 minutes on the meditation cushion?

This is why nothing changes fundamentally for so many, and distorted and disturbed societal pathologies continue to be at the heart of our individual and shared suffering; and why we're collectively and perpetually so F'd. There's not enough energy or motivation for people to get better. They're terrified of the "Red pill," and keep taking the "Blue pill," remaining in a lucid dream. It can be hard to tell the difference between a thought and a feeling... transactional and the transformational... needy from need love from LOVE.

Yamada Mumon Rōshi once gave a great teaching: "Not giving rise to thoughts of getting or acquiring within the self-nature's mysterious, incomprehensible Dharma of unattainability, is what is called the Precept of Not Stealing." Such is the recorded teaching of Bodhidharma. This means that the precept against stealing is a matter of becoming certain beyond any doubt that there is nothing in the world that you can regard as your own.

We fancy the notion that things belong to us. This is my house, this is my land, this is my car, this is my spouse or partner, these are my children, this is my self. We clearly define the boundary between our possessions and the possessions of others. For most Japanese the idea of not stealing is doubtless a matter of not taking a single twig or blade of grass that belongs to someone else. But that is only a question of personal property-what someone has registered at the recorder's office. Considering the matter in greater depth, it is found that there is in fact nothing we can call our own. Everything in the natural world, in the human world, even our physical body itself is in a state of constant flux, changing from instant to instant, completely beyond our grasp.

There is nothing in this world either to possess or to be possessed by, nothing to control or be controlled by. There is only the truth of causes and conditions. When we clearly understand this truth a life of freedom and serenity opens up for us."

What is Zen? The practice of demythologizing our experience.

Being Reality as It truly is... which the Japanese refer to as Sonomama (そのまま)... Reality before the mind turns and folds "What Is," into a self-satisfying origami piece, requires courage, bravery, and determination. It means consistently making the time to embody authenticity, integrity, goodwill and compassion, without running away. If one was inclined, and serious about Zen training, they could engage the question with the utmost dedication; "What are the personal mythologies I carry that are interfering with my ability to experience my life with completeness and clarity?"

It's been said in Zen world... "Every day is a good day." Mind caught and lost in its own mythology could not possibly conceive this as being true or accurate. Not saying I, I, I, I, I, My, My, My, My, My, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me by 50% alone can seem impossible; to a mind cemented to viewing experience in a particular way. On the other hand once demythologized, we're no longer frozen, like a block of ice. With the fire of Zazen raising our temperature above Zero, suddenly there's a flow that we can feel intuitively that lives and moves through us. We might realize Non-mythology has always been right here, and in that letting go of myths is everything and every-thing to discover; because there's another way of being, even while in the middle of what John Daido Loori Roshi referred to as, "The Great Catastrophe."

一We Are the Practice Itself

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1 Comment

Eshu Martin
Eshu Martin
Mar 27, 2022

I wondered where you went... glad to see you haven't disappeared entirely!

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