Sunday, November 4, 2012

Suffering in Arizona

In the December issue of Psychology Today there is a story that starts with the line "The promise of enlightenment is so powerful that some people are willing to offer complete devotion in exchange." Ugh. What is the promise of enlightenment? In our lineage anytime someone asks about enlightenment we simply return them to this present moment. There is no promise of some magic cure all. There is an idea of cutting through delusion to realize our true nature. Yet, even that is still an idea. Often, people bring all sorts of magical thinking to meditation, Zen and Buddhism. Part of the process is getting past all of that.

The rest of the story is sad. Some people who are so spiritually lost that they lose track of what really is important in life - to the point one of them dies. If your spiritual practice isn't helping you in your everyday life, what good is it? Any idea of spirituality that requires someone to sever ties with their loved ones is misguided. Likewise, giving control of your life to someone else for the promise of salvation is also just plain wrong. There are more ideas such as we need to go to far away places, to get a guru, or to live in isolation for various lengths of time in order to get spiritual awakening. Again, we put it all down and return to this very moment. After if enlightenment isn't in this very moment, where is it?

One other thing that was interesting in the story was how they kept saying that "Buddhism teaches that life is suffering." Is that really all the author got out of the entire cannon of Buddhist teachings? You don't need Buddhism to realize there is suffering in life! Many people realize that part on their own. Buddhism teaches how to live in this world of suffering. How to bring the joy of living into our lives right here and right now. How to end the suffering within ourselves.

Here is a little poem on the subject.
Do I need to travel
 To Tibet
 To India
 To Korea
  to wake up?

Is that where
 Enlightenment is found?

When I come back
 How will I carry it?

Did "I" go?
 Did "I" Wake up?

What is this "I"?

If enlightenment isn't
 Right here
 Right now
  Where is it?

Please show me

If you say
 "I have enlightenmnent"
  You have already missed the point