Enlightenment Anyone?

[cite] Wandering.Taoist:[/cite](1)...I first read the Tao te Ching in college, but put it aside because it didn't speak to me at the time.

(2)... I'm not to the depth that I see a lot on this board, but I hope to get there in time.

Welcome Karen,

(1) The first time I read it (age ~20), only one or two chapters really hit home for me. Now, 40+ years later, it all hits home, yet, each time I read it, insights deepen. I reckon that would be so even if I lived 1000 years. (2) So, time will take care of it all. Moreover, the deep and shallow [chref=2]produce each other[/chref]. Simply keep that in mind to avoid chasing your tail. :wink:


  • edited December 1969
    A number of folks have come to our Taoist meeting over the years seeking enlightenment. Not finding it 'here', they move on to 'there'. Enlightenment is often seen as being some 'thing' yonder, a precious hidden jewel, so to speak.

    The irony is that the ideal of enlightenment impedes the very quest for it. It is like looking for a precious hidden jewel, expecting it to be bright and shiny, when in fact it is an ordinary peddle. Though useful in their own right, ideals also blind us. Enlightenment is simply [chref=23]conforming to the way[/chref] 'life' is, not to the way we wish it was. It is that 'wish for greener grass' that produces the ideal of enlightenment. Moreover, the ideal of enlightenment becomes the escape route from the 'wishing' that caused the ideal of enlightenment in the first place.

    This is all very odd, but also [chref=70]very easy to understand, yet...[/chref] Hyping 'life' obfuscates the natural simplicity of 'life'. But we can't help it. Natural instinct drives us to 'hunt and gather' until we find that precious hidden jewel awaiting around the next bend on our way through life. In truth, it is the '[chref=21]way[/chref]' that is the precious 'hidden' jewel, ('hidden' in plain view!) - not some special 'thing' to be found on the 'way'. We yearn for an approach that is more like [chref=40]turning back[/chref] than marching forward. Yet, we instinctively feel we can only finding this by [chref=69]advancing forward[/chref]. Progress is an illusion spawned in our biology - another one of Nature's little biological [chref=65]hoodwinks[/chref] on us.

    As long as we [chref=47]look out of the window[/chref] for what we desire to see, we can never [chref=37]cease to desire and remain still[/chref] long enough to [chref=16]return to our destiny[/chref]. Only then can we feel 'life' [chref=17]happening to us naturally[/chref]. So, am I enlightened? Is anyone enlightened? To say yes - or no - seems [chref=78]paradoxical[/chref], eh? Doesn't this all make you want to :lol: ? ... or perhaps, :cry: ?
  • edited December 1969
    The idea of 'meaning'... 'yi' ... helps us consider the subject of enlightenment from another angle. Considering things from another angle always deepens and broadens understanding - at least that's been my experience (definitions too often tend to go around in circles).

    Our 'enlightened' moments are those in which mind asks itself what's important, what's the 'meaning'? By mind, I'm not talking about clear headed thinking. This 'mind' is a fuzzy tip of the tongue vague memory-like awareness. It is a "there's something I was supposed to pick up at the store..." kind of reflective intention. This is the 'mind' that continually asks about 'meaning'.

    The answer is pure intuition - an emotion based sense of knowing. In truth, you could say that the 'answer' is implied in the 'question'. The two are [chref=14]One[/chref]. They are the two co-generating sides of the same coin, and exist simultaneously. When you feel them both, you know the 'whole' answer - the 'whole' meaning.

    In other words, in feeling lies meaning. We tend to [chref=53]prefer by-paths[/chref], however, and approach life the other way around. We are puzzled, feel the mystery - 'the question' - and leap ahead to answer 'it' with thoughts (beliefs, ideas, myths, 'love' and 'hates'). [chref=40]Turning back is how[/chref] we can realize 'enlightenment-ing' in our [chref=7]private[/chref] moment. Like they say, it's [chref=70]very easy to understand and very easy to put into practice[/chref].

    True knowing is the sense that lurks in the shadows behind thought. When we rely on thought, thought tramples that knowing. Thus we say, [chref=56]One who knows does not speak; one who speaks does not know.[/chref] Note: 'speech' here is not only when we open our mouth to vocalize our thoughts, but that often neurotic inner conversation we carry on with ourselves. The more [chref=15]tentative, hesitant, vacant and murky[/chref] that conversation is, the more sane life can be. And I'd pick sanity over [chref=65]enlightenment[/chref] any day.
  • edited December 1969
    As possessing a "hunter/gather" nature, I find it interesting that the best way to hunt and gather food is to be still and wait for food to come to you. When you say the two ("what is the meaning?" and the answer) are one, I find this interesting. Especially, when analytically diagnosed, the question "what is the meaning?" is meaningless.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] nmelville23:[/cite]As possessing a "hunter/gather" nature, I find it interesting that the best way to hunt and gather food is to be still and wait for food to come to you. When you say the two ("what is the meaning?" and the answer) are one, I find this interesting. Especially, when analytically diagnosed, the question "what is the meaning?" is meaningless.
    One aspect of out “hunter/gather” instinct is that it moves us along down the road so that we may stumble upon a more fruitful place to “be still and wait for food”. In a way all questions are “meaningless” I suppose. Questions are more a reflection of intent, curiosity and attitude. “Meaning” is what we hope an answer provides… yet it only leads us to the next question. Oh well...
  • Wow, all of the above is very profound and spelled out from each one's own experience! From my experience, I look at "enlightenment" as being in the NOW! If you are in the NOW, you are enlightened!:lol: Does that make sense? The problem I have is staying in the NOW! :lol:
  • edited December 2009
    Howdy Allandnone, I just clicked here and saw your note. Naturally I have two cents to add, especially as you asked "does that make sense?";-)

    I suspect that ideals (whatever they may be) arise out of our instinctive drive of wanting more. It's the old hunter gather push to nudge us along the path of life. Your ideal is staying in the 'now'. But, how do you define now? As far as I can see 'it' is always 'now'.

    The ideals we imagine are outside the realm of a real 'here and now'. Ideals are simply an imagined best chance to find what we think we want. For many, 'enlightenment' fits that definition - that dream. For others the idea is, being 'born again', 'getting to Heaven'. For those at a more materialistic stage in life, the idea might be winning the lottery. Surely our problem lies in how we think about 'the problem', the very fact that we think, or most likely, that we think that we know. One way or another, our difficulties lie in the unintended consequences of thought, and the emotional expectations which drive them.
  • Hi Carl, Your image of the "ordinary pebble" is exactly right, I think.
    I live in Thailand where the culture is nominally Buddhist. Many earnest westerners become disappointed when they see that the ideal of enlightenment as a goal has all but disappeared from popular Buddhism here. A few stay to don the orange robes, shave their heads, walk the streets with begging bowls and meditate in pursuit of something very special they've heard about: the "precious jewel" of enlightenment.
    I've found through experience that "enlightenment", although rare, is utterly ordinary. We are all absolutely enlightened all the time. Underlying all the drama and changing circumstances of life is a profound stillness and simplicity that never changes. All our yearning and striving just obscures what is already the reality, so for me it's better to just stop, stop doing whatever creates disturbance and conflict. It probably sounds foolish to put it this way but I can sometimes tell myself to: "stop being unenlightened!" Since agitation is something I actively create, to stop is to let it all settle and return to a natural and still state of mind.
    Do you think perhaps the problem comes from conceptualizing and naming "enlightenment" and distinguishing it from "non-enlightenment"? I can't imagine non-Tao. Cheers
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