Do not doubt it!

This is likely to be a bit controversial. And admittedly a year or so ago I would have not bought in to this at all. So if you think I am off my meds I assure you that I was never on any. Skepticisms is not always a bad thing. But I think it can be over done. Lately I tend to think that the balance has been shifting toward skepticism. Which, I even encourage it to a large degree, go ahead be skeptical, that’s ok. But when something is repeated too much it has a danger of becoming belief based on dogma and not real experience.

There are a few Buddhist teachers denying The Big “E”, or enlightenment. I am going to tell you that this is something I can no longer get behind. What makes this even more difficult for me to express it that I want to tell you in my own words, not relying on old dead guys like I so often do.

I am also tempted to attack the beliefs of others. Or to at least use some example of something familiar, but that is not really a nice thing to do either and in realizing this I can stop.

Here is the *real deal* You are enlightened! You are also very special. You may also be quite deluded. But you were not that way originally. Originally you are enlightened. You just picked up a whole bunch of delusion along your way to where you are now. Now, here is something else to chew on. So is everyone else! Like a snowflake your enlightenment is different than mine, like snow it is all pretty much the same too.

Unfortunately ,most folks can not really handle the “idea” of enlightenment, They think it is some great mystical thing, or something they are not worthy of. This is all because of conditioning. As a result of conditioning people enter in to a state of denial. Why? Because most people do not want to be responsible for their own suffering! That is right. You are responsible. You are responsible for your own happiness too. The really sad part of this is that we really knew all of this all along. We just love to be addicted to that state of denial. It is easier to say, “It is not” than to try and prove “It is!”

What is enlightenment? Oh help me wictionary please! :
enlightenment (uncountable)
1. An act of enlightening, or the state of being enlightened or instructed.
2. A concept in religious mysticism, philosophy and psychology related to achieving clarity of perception, reason and knowledge.

OK, well that is not much help is it? Definitely not a concept! I am talking about something real.. Clarity of perception, reason and knowledge? Sounds pretty, and I think it is fairly close. But not always true. I take particular issue with the knowledge part. I think folks have a tendency to believe that means all knowing or some garbage, even though the man himself indicated otherwise.

So the definition is shady at best, where is the proof? I guess it is in the pudding. Actually, I can not prove any of this. If you can, please enlighten me!

Dose that make this a belief?
Sure! But it is also not one to fight over or squabble about. Not everyone is going to see the same thing the same way.

Dose this make you infallible?
Nope, sorry save that one for the cult of idealism.

Dose it change who you are?
Maybe, gradually, as you let go of your addictions and take responsibility for your actions and your reactions.

Dose this make you an authority figure?
Nope, the only authority anyone ever has is that which you give to them (I think someone else said that once but I guess that is one of my core principals.)

Dose this mean you don’t have to practice anymore?
Nope! Practice and experience is continuous.

Do you need some validation?
Nope, why would you?

What should you do now that you know you are enlightened?
Heck, you’re the enlightened one; go figure it out for yourself. My advice: There is this thing called intuition that you should probably practice developing for a while, that should tell you what to do.

These are just words that reflect how I feel right now.
I hope you have found my thought doodles entertaining or otherwise useful.
May you be well and happy!


Jim said...

hmmm...what is the sea?

hoosteen said...

"Actually, I can not prove any of this. If you can, please enlighten me!"


Carol said...

Hi Jordan,

I think what you're calling enlightenment is something akin to a spiritual awakening mentioned in AA. It's the concept is elusive and often fleeting. There are those who claim spiritual awakening because of something special that happened to them. Suddently, they see "the way".

There are those of us, too, who catch glimpses of it and long for more! You're right. It's always there but catching it or being caught by it is almost a mystical experience!


oxeye said...

Thanks for that one Jordan.. Enlightenment the word is very troublesome. Words are like that. They never give clear meaning to what they refer to and "enlightenment the word" is worse than most.. We want it to be like our most pleasant dreams of it.

I think you are correct though. Our Buddha nature (for lack of a better word) is inate. It ain't nothing special as we have never been without it. It surfaces occasionally only to get totally reburied at other times. It is never completely uncovered, hence the need for continuous practice.

I think The more enlightened you are, the more you realize the need for lots of practice.

Zazen is an amazing tool but it's not like a road grader. It's more like one of those little brushes that archaeologists use. You have to use it a lot to see anything. But I think it is the best thing we have have for seeing ourselves in a little more light.

take care..

SlowZen said...


Glad you got a charge out of that!

I think what you are describing is more like an “enlightenment experience.” This is a bit different than what I am addressing here.
While they can be exciting and can be a trigger for real spiritual growth, I don’t think that they are the “real deal” and could be harmful to growth if one thought they were. Call them Eye openers or what have you, maybe even insights. But the craving part can cause suffering, something to be dropped off. Best bet is to let these experiences be and focus on what is really special, just everyday life. I am craving some cookies!
Love, Jordan

The road grader analogy is good. I really appreciate that. It is like the preventive maintenance brush that we use in cleaning sensitive equipment.
My Mom did bring up a good point though. Sometimes we will have experiences, either during meditation or otherwise, that help us cultivate our practice.
Thank you for the well wishes,
May all be well and happy!

Yamakoa said...

Hola Jordan,
Great post. Maybe what some of these"buddhist teachers" are trying to "teach" by denying the "Big E" is more in line with what you just described.
By denying our CONCEPT of enlightenment, they are guiding us to be right here. Not to grasp. Attachment and aversion are one in the same. They lead to suffering (of course this all conjecture for I do not what these "teachers' mean. In fact it is hard to understand what anyone else is trying to convey to you).
I think oxeye's post is really on to something. The words "buddha nature" really set off a litany of thoughts that I associate with this very ordinary ability that we have always had. It is interesting when I followed my thought, I realized that I associated this term with only positive thoughts. Maybe there is nothing wrong in that, but if we are to move beyond duality, this is a nice little trap! I ask myself, where is the buddha nature in the terrible massacre that just occurred when this twenty year old killed a bunch of holiday shoppers and himself.
My sympathy goes out to all of who suffer.

Jeanette Yuinen Shin said...

Thanks for the post! This is something to think about also, especailly since Bodhi Day is this weekend ;) I don't know why some teachings would be denying Enlightenment; I've heard lots of people saying that Buddhism is not a "religion" and is a philosophy instead, but I think that some people are getting hung up on semantics; maybe it is possible that some people are thinking too much about what it is supposed to be. I can only guess that it makes for awkward explanations when someone asks you, "So, when are you finally going to be Enlightened?"

In Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land school), we do not expect to be Enlightened within our own lifetimes, this is something that occurs after death, and only in the Pure Land. Practices such as zazen are considered jiriki, or "self-power" practices, which are said mislead persons into thinking that they can acheive Enlightenment, as if it was something to be acquired. We say that you "awaken" to Enlightenment when one has genuine faith, or takes refuge, in Amida Buddha.
This teaching works for me, but I understand it may sound strange to others, and actually alot of Shin priests or teachers do some kind of meditation, but we do not say that is required for Dharma practice.

In gassho,
Chaplain Shin

SlowZen said...

Yammakoa, Chaplin Shin,
Thank you for your comments and opinions.
I could say so much! Happy enlightenment day!

In Gassho,

Thanks for looking!