Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Not attaining.

Someone wrote something in a way that just did not wash, and so reluctantly I am fighting an aversion I have to writing about this kind of stuff anymore.
Sometimes you just have to say something.

So please forgive me if I may dip into “Yoda~Speak” to attempt to make what can not be clear a bit more digestible.

The E word. Ugh. I make no qualms about not liking the E word. To say one has it and another dose not is a bit of a farce. No, a big huge farce. To say it is “Attained” is not correct either. You do not attain enlightenment. You may realize something, but usually that is not a realization of enlightenment but just delusion about enlightenment.

A fish dose not attain water. Water is just all around a fish. It might jump out of the water for a moment and come to realize that there is something other than water. At that point it may learn to appreciate the water. The chance of a fish appreciating the water without ever leaving the water seems pretty slim. But what do I know, I am not a fish.

The point is that what some people refer to as “enlightenment” is all around. There is nothing to “attain.” Perhaps, call it just being awake. Like a fish realizing the water. That could be pretty traumatic. One might spend the rest of their short life working through that experience. I recommend meditative practice.

I am not so good with words. I invite others to investigate this for themselves.

May you be free from suffering,



At April 09, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Hey Jordan,
How are you man? I am glad someone is still posting here!

Now, with all due respect, what is up with your "preference" regarding the terms attain and enlightenment?

I agree that there are a number of things that can be distasteful regarding concepts about enlightenment and attitudes toward "attaining" enlightenment (nobody likes it when people start playing around with mud-balls).

Nevertheless, the words, concepts, and reasons of both "attaining" and "enlightenment" themselves can be quite useful, it seems to me, even enlightening.

There is certainly a rich history of these words and ideas inside the Zen tradition -- Rinzai and Soto Zen anyway... And what wonderous words and ideas some of these are. I can't resist, I have to post a few now:

Anyone who would call himself a member of the Zen family must first of all achieve kensho—realization of the Buddha’s Way. ~Hakuin, Wild Ivy, Norman Waddell p.1

Students of the Way, even if you attain enlightenment, do not think that this is now the ultimate and thus abandon your practice of the Way. The Way is endless. Even if you are enlightened, you should still practice the Way.
Dogen, Record of Things Heard, Thomas Cleary, Col. Trans. Vol.4, p. 840

If you are not greatly enlightened once, you will vainly become mere intellectuals and never arrive at the ground of mind.
~Keizan (4th Generation heir of Dogen) Transmission of Light, Thomas Cleary p.26

Hmmm... What are these old guys talking about? It is a mystery to me, and yet---there must be something to it... Yes? No?

Take care my friend,

At April 09, 2008, Blogger noa said...

I think Dogen says it best in the introduction to Genjokoan:

"In that period of time when Buddhas give voice to the Teachings on
existence in all its variety, there is talk of ‘delusion and enlightenment’, of
‘practice and training’, of ‘birth’, of ‘death’, of ‘Buddhas’, of ‘ordinary beings’. In
that period of time when it is no longer relevant to speak of an ‘I’ along with its
‘whole universe’, there is no delusion or enlightenment, no Buddhas or ordinary
beings, no being born, no extinction."

At April 09, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

Today a frog jumps into the great and murky pond. “SPLASH!”
And I feel like becoming a pretentious ass.

With a gassho each to Kannon, Fudo, and Manju I submit this:

RO TSU~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~_
TSU RE ~~~<<<~~~~~CHI’_

RE TSU RO~~~~meri/kari~~~~~~~~_

RO TSU~~~~~~_


There is distinction even in the notes, but they all come from the same place.
It is emptiness within form within emptiness ad nausea.
I swim around in the mud and say I am pure.
In the Buddha Dharma are there distinctions between course and refined?

Has my plastic flute has ever met “Soto,” “Rinzai,” or even the “Zen tradition”?

Mud pies taste like mud pies.
It might be better fom me to blow rasberies on my children's belly buttons.

In Gassho, with a summersault out for each the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

At April 10, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Jordan, thank you. Point taken. (see the last part of my reply to noa)

Thank you for your comment. I agree that Dogen said it best in Genjokoan.

However, I think it is important to consider its context there. Dogen offers THREE valid perspectives of reality--

First, Dogen presents the perspective of our everyday world:

"As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, and birth and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings."
Trans. Aitken and Tanahashi

Next, is the one you quoted, where he acknowledges reality from the perspective of the experience of emptiness:

"As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death."
Trans. Aitken and Tanahashi

Then Dogen points out that Buddhism (The Buddha Way) does not get stuck on one side (the everyday world) or the other (the experience of emptiness) but transcends both:

"The buddha way is, basically, leaping clear of the many of the one; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas."
Trans. Aitken and Tanahashi

And finally, Dogen makes the point that I think Jordan is getting at.

In the next line, Dogen points out that whether we are attached to emptiness, or hold an aversion to duality, life simply is as it is:

"Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread."
Trans. Aitken and Tanahashi

At April 10, 2008, Blogger Jordan said...

A hollow bell for Flapping Mouths

At April 13, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

I swim around in the mud and say I am pure.

*****The "enlightenment" that all the sages talk about is the Recognition (by no one) that the "I" which would attain enlightenment, or achieve anything at all................is a fiction, a mental construct, a temporary holographic image arising in the neurons of the brain.

When the illusion is Seen through, really nothing else remains to be done, since there is the Understanding that the "one" which would *do* something is not there in any persisting, meaningful way.

It really is the end of the dream (of enlightenment, of freedom from suffering and a life absent of pain, of a life that is always what the conditioned mind wants it to be). It is the falling away of the investment in the childhood fantasies that were nurtured up until that point.

Seeing this, there is no longer anything to do. Any yet, doing happens. What arises, is done, even if with annoyance (cleaning up kitty puke).

The ultimate Understanding of the Buddha is then most acutely appreciated:

"Actions happen. Deeds are done. But there is no individual doer thereof."

~ Andy

At April 14, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...

Hello endofthedream,

Thanks for the comments.

Just one question.

When you say (or quote the Buddha as saying) that there is no "individual doer" do you understand this to mean that there is no "separate self" (as in no "independent entity") as per the Mahayana teachings of emptiness, and dependent origination? Or do you mean that there is nothing whatsoever?

Take care, Ted

At April 14, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hello Ted,

I mean (and believe that the quote referenced also means) that there is no separate self.

The notion of "me" ~ the entire "me-network" of thoughts revolving around the core belief in a persisting, unchanging entity ~ is the Divine Hypnosis. At its base, the "me-network" is simply a thought, or a string of thoughts thought in rapid succession, thus generating a *sense* of a "me" that is enduring. But that sense is delussory (delusion + illusory). :-)))

And yet, we don't willfully generate this sense. It arises in all human beings around the age of two or three when the sense of a separate self arises. But that doesn't change the fact that there is no separate self, that there is a single unicity (some like God, others Consciousness, others the Tao), out of which everything arises.

Not much "use" in knowing this I think. It doesn't change the fact that a sense of separation happens and is, in my experience, essential for life, as we know it, in this manifest reality, to go on. Discrimination, "this" from "that" seems to be essential ~ e.g., so that we don't end up putting shit in our mouth instead of broccoli! :-))

But having this underlying Understanding does, for this one, make the "mysteries" of life as well as of others' behavior much more comprehensible and leads to a forgiveness (or acceptance, if you prefer that word), that wasn't there prior to the Understanding. And that forgiveness makes life easier for me also (the toxic effects of on-going anger on the bodymind mechanism have been well documented). Also, it led to a giving up of any and all attempts to "change" people or to convince them that "my way" of seeing things was "right" or preferable. When there is an Understanding of just what is pulling the strings, then "efforting" just doesn't happen any longer. And that is peace.

At April 15, 2008, Blogger Ted Biringer said...


Thank you. You ever try writing a book? Some of your analogies are very good, especially when it comes to broccoli!

I think you painted a pretty clear picture of your understanding too.

If I follow you, you are saying that life is similar to a dream (though some of the laws of physics differ a bit here). So, if you are in a dream, and you become aware that you are dreaming, then you realize that the "world" and all the things, and people in that world are really you. So you can either say---hey man, this is just a dream, what a drag. Or you could say, hey this is a dream! How cool. Oh, look at that kid over there that is hungry, he is me, I will feed him. And oh hey, I can fly too! What a blast! And whoa, check out that girl...

So, waking up in the dream, is not so much the "end of the dream" as the "beginning of exploring the dream."

Or something like that...

Thanks for the clues.
Take care,

At April 16, 2008, Blogger endofthedream said...

Hello Ted.

That dream analogy has been used, yes.

What I was suggesting is that everything that you see, hear, think, feel, ... all of it, all of your life, arises in a consciousness. Whether or not there is a "real world" ... "out there" ... you can never know. What you know is the result of what your mind sees, thinks, feels, touches, tastes, smells. It is all happening "in" consciousness.

As to whether or not you can choose, as you point out, to see/experience the dream as a blessing or a curse ... I'm not so sure.

The choices that we make are a function of the conditioning out of which the choices arise. And we don't have any "say" in "our" conditioning (in effect, we are the conditioning...there isn't a "me" who "has" a conditioning...the two are dependent, co-arising).

"Waking up" from the dream is to Realize these things, firsthand. To recognize that we aren't the driver but are that which is driven. And that the power we have to effect change (in either ourself or the world), is less than zero. And yet change does occur, most assuredly, ... just not on "our" timetable. :-))

At April 27, 2008, Blogger Stuart said...

"Enlightenment" is a teaching word, and only a teaching word. Teaching words (e.g. enlightenment, no enlightenment, true self, God, Emptiness, Buddha, etc) are tools or medicines that can be used with the intention of helping other beings.

My teacher used the word in a way I'm fond of, so I'll share it here. There are 3 types of enlightenment. When you're lost in a dream-world of thinking, and then for whatever reason it stops, that's First Enlightenment. Without the fog of thinking, you perceive what's in front of you (the sky is blue; the grass is green), that's Original Enlightenment. And when you respond that perception (when you're tired, sleep; when you're hungry, eat; when someone is suffering, help), that's Final Enlightenment.



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