Sunday, December 18, 2011


Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?

Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment that literally means "understanding".
In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to a flash of sudden awareness…and is considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana…
The traditional way of achieving satori is through the use of koans.

Koans seem a formal way to inquire into the nature of one’s experience.
I find it’s also useful to simply sit and notice.  Maybe” useful” isn’t quite the right word.   
It sounds too much like a strategy.  I have these questions my mind seems to fixate upon.

And so, I was looking at my experience the other day and suddenly was hit by what felt like a stunning realization, a totally new understanding that let some rather inchoate knot dissolve and drop away:
I cannot answer the question as to whether or not I am enlightened.

Now, I was already aware that this is a correct conclusion.
Is it not frequently said, there is no “I’ to be enlightened.
And thus, “I” can never become enlightened.
What amazed me, was that I once again I had arrived at the correct conclusion in a rather backward manner.  So, I was also chuckling at my ridiculousness as I was blown away by the impossibility of ever knowing,  or rather, the depth of Not Knowing.
What I had deeply seen was, “There is no such thing as enlightenment.”
Or perhaps the thought at the very moment of epiphany was:
“Enlightenment does not exist.”

The exact phrasing doesn’t matter.  My point is that for a moment I had had a deep realization.
And this one realization came during a week in which realizations came one after another too fast to be recorded.  I found this rather frustrating.
Wow, a beautiful insight - and it’s lost because I didn’t write it down.
But that “supposed” loss is as it should be.  Loss is actually a letting go.
What is once seen in blazing clarity becomes a dead belief a moment later.
So let it go.  Holding on kills it anyway.  So let it go.

Why try to record exactly what the steps were to the insight?
A eureka moment cannot actually be shared.  Each person must solve the koan for herself.
And the letting go allows a deeper dropping… right into the sound of one hand.

There will be many realizations.  In fact, I hope to awaken from as many different angles as possible.
This is true and so is the exact opposite.   Enjoy, and then
Let them all go…

Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind.
One said to the other, "The flag is moving."
The other replied, "The wind is moving."
Huineng overheard this. He said, "Not the flag, not the wind; mind is moving."

As long as mind is moving I expect there will be realization after realization.
Let’s not mistake realization for Realization, or beyond that Liberation.

Post script
I didn’t finish this post at first sitting.  My Christmas To-Do List and Timetable called, and I was already behind the curve. So having written the above, I trotted off to grab a quick breakfast, throw on some clothes, and about 15 minutes later discovered that I was blow drying my hair and absent mindedly  singing into the bathroom mirror new words to an old holiday refrain:

Let it go,
Let it go,
Let it go.

I started laughing.  God I love the subconscious mind!  It’s both wise and filled with playfulness.
I mean, the old familiar words fit amazingly well to this whole process of awakening:

It doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I’ve got some corn for popping
And since there’s no place to go…
Let it go, let it go, let it go.

And Happy Holidays!

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