Tag Archives: enlightenment

Enlightenment

ENLIGHTENMENT
180406 by Om Swami

“How do I gain enlightenment?” someone said to me the other day. “Can you not grant me some deep experience? I want a radical change in my life.”

I get this asked frequently by many enthusiastic seekers. They are in search of a panacea, some mystical reality that will solve all their problems (spiritual and emotional) forever. While many aspirants understand the importance of persistence and individual effort, most others are looking for a quick fix. Here’s a beautiful quote by Adya Shanti that mirrors my own thoughts in ways more than one:

Many seekers do not take full responsibility for their own liberation, but wait for one big, final spiritual experience which will catapult them fully into it. It is this search for the final liberating experience which gives rise to a rampant form of spiritual consumerism in which seekers go from one teacher to another, shopping for enlightenment as if shopping for sweets in a candy store. This spiritual promiscuity is rapidly turning the search for enlightenment into a cult of experience seekers. And, while many people indeed have powerful experiences, in most cases these do not lead to the profound transformation of the individual, which is the expression of enlightenment.

One of the greatest misconceptions about enlightenment is that it will just happen. Not so. It has to be earned, it has to be lived. Sometimes I find it challenging to explain to seekers that true enlightenment is not a one-off special moment, but more a culmination of lifelong experiences and practices that result in the dawning of a great insight. I don’t blame them for thinking that by the magical touch of some guru or maybe by being struck by lightning, they will arrive at a moment of enlightenment. Partly because we have plenty of spiritual books out there that give that impression. Even I may have inadvertently conveyed the same by sharing one of my most defining spiritual experiences in my memoir. For that matter, Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree is often construed as an isolated event of extraordinary significance. It was anything but that.

In comprehending and highlighting such experiences, we tend to overlook the tremendous amount of effort that goes in realizing that state. For a moment, think of enlightenment as winning the Nobel Prize. We can’t have it just by visiting other Nobel Laureates and we certainly can’t be awarded it just because we want it. After a lifetime of commitment to a cause or producing a phenomenal body of work, and assuming the circumstances are favorable, the committee might consider your nomination and grant you one. No doubt winning the Nobel Prize will bring about a change in your life and lifestyle to a degree, you will inspire more people and so on. But, beyond that, there’s not much. It’s not going to improve your relationships, it’s not going to fix your physical health etc. Those challenges will remain.

Without preparation and readiness, any spiritual experience is hardly transformational. And if an experience doesn’t trigger some kind of lasting transformation in you, however subtle, it holds little meaning ultimately. When you continue to walk the path sincerely, diligently, many learnings, lessons and experiences give you the wisdom to lead your life differently. Differently so in a manner that it’s more conducive to retaining a state of bliss. Having said that, even if you are enlightened, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience pain or that you will always find joy in everything that goes on in your life.

R.K. Laxman (1921 – 2015), one of India’s most famous cartoonists ever, writes a lovely passage in his travelogue The Distorted Mirror.

People are curious about my profession and try to clear their doubts by putting all sorts of questions. Recently a lady asked me, “Do you do the drawings for your cartoons yourself?” I answered, “Yes, I do.” Then she questioned, “And the captions to the cartoons, do you write them too?” “Of course,” I said. And, finally, she asked, “The ideas for the cartoons, don’t say you think them up too?”

There is one that is rather rarely asked but which makes me go into deep introspection. This is: “When you look around, does everything appear funny to you?”

A cartoonist does not lead a charmed life of perpetual fun out of the reach of the cares and worries that bedevil his fellow men. The fluctuating prices of onions affect me in the same way as they delight or outrage a primary schoolteacher. Likewise, taxes depress my spirit. Bores at the mike, and traffic jams drive me crazy. Surely a doctor does not always look at life in terms of coughs, colds, allergies and bronchial inflammations. A star of the silver screen, I am sure, has enough sense to know that beyond the range of the camera life does not continue to be full of idyllic scenes, sex, songs and ketchup-blood. Why, then, should a cartoonist see living caricatures and hear rib-tickling dialogue all around him? So I comfort myself with the self-assurance that my view of life is normally as banal as that of the next man in the queue for sugar or kerosene.

Enlightenment is something like that. It does not mean that you don’t feel the pain or remain eternally unaffected by everything that goes around you. All of that we must go through based on our karma, temperament and attitude towards life. The only thing that changes is that you grow into a more spiritual being, you become increasingly resilient and kind. What life hurls at you doesn’t change, how you catch it or dodge it, does. When it builds to a tipping point, you become kind of independent, very independent. Less worried about what the world thinks of you, how it perceives you and so on. In other words, you draw your own cartoons, write your own captions and, much to the fascination or disbelief of others, come up with the ideas too.

As the famous Zen saying goes, “Before enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water. After enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water.”

Being a jivan-mukta, a liberated soul, or an enlightened person does not relieve one of his/her duties. Self-realization is not, as Eknath Easwaran put it, a compensation for one’s good deeds. It is but simply an outlook towards life that you gain from experiential understanding. If you really wish to get a grip on the notion of enlightenment then look upon it as a way of life, a commitment to virtues, as a promise to carry yourself a certain way and leading your life in a manner that befits you.

Liberation is not plonking a glorious flag on top of Mount Everest, it is but a mindful and diligent journey meandering through many treks and hikes, stopping and camping along the way, meeting and greeting fellow travelers, absorbing the breathtaking views, appreciating the challenges, rejoicing in where you are already. All this while you remain inward focused but goal-oriented.

When you realize this, a better sense of wellbeing and happiness shrouds you. You understand that there are no dark moments, that you are already enlightened. You just need to live a certain way to experience it. Then you laugh at the discovery that how unnecessarily seriously you’ve been taking yourself. As Thích Nhất Hạnh said:

I laugh when I think how I once sought paradise as a realm outside of the world of birth. It is right in the world of birth and death that the miraculous truth is revealed. But this is not the laughter of someone who suddenly acquires a great fortune; neither is it the laughter of one who has won a victory. It is, rather, the laughter of one who; after having painfully searched for something for a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.

A religious man called a monk and invited him to bless his new home. The monk politely turned down the request saying he’s busy.
“But, what are you doing?” the man insisted.
“Nothing.”
Thinking that the monk was perhaps not in a mood to visit that day, he let it be and phoned again the next day. “Can you come today to bless my home?”
“Sorry,” said the monk, “I’m busy.”
“Doing what?”
“I’m doing nothing,” replied the monk.
“But that was what you were doing yesterday!” said the man.
“Right,” the monk replied. “I’m not finished yet!”

Enlightenment too is an ongoing affair. No doubt, there can be a transformational moment that changes something in you forever. Living that change, however, is a matter of mindfulness and more. True enlightenment, that.

This is it. This life. It’s beautiful. Live it. Love it. For yourself, for others. Laugh it away. That’s all there is to know. Most of the rest, life can do without.

WTF?

some back-story: a sheriff’s department in tenesee was arrogantly posting on farcebook about how they’ve gotten new stickers for their (publically owned) vehicles that say “IN GOD WE TRUST”. i wrote the following response to their boastful bragging.

161005 sheriff farcebook comment
161005 sheriff farcebook comment

my comment received several likes, and a number of supportive comments, despite the sheriff’s complaints, but, eventually, he deleted the entire thread, along with several other comments from other people.

i was somewhat taken aback, as it was my understanding that deletion of comments on a page that is intended to represent a governmental entity such as a sheriff was, at the very least, discouraged, and could potentially be taken as a blatant violation of the laws concerning such things.

so, i upped the ante, and left a review on their page:

161005 sheriff farcebook review
161005 sheriff farcebook review

after i left the review, i was promptly banned from leaving any comments on the henderson county sheriff’s department farcebook page… which means that i am immortalised on their page, and can’t do anything to change the settings, or respond to any comments.

at the same time, i left the review yesterday, and despite everything, i’ve still got four likes, which i consider to be pretty good, considering everything.

however, when people like Nathan N Angela Reeves posts an absolutely ignorant, idiotic comment, i can’t respond to how stupid they are… so i’m posting it here, because WTF?!?!?!? seriously…

We love God here and we also love Trump. Once he is elected, your voice will truly be less effective.

so… you think that, once #drumpf is elected, people like me will just vanish? you think that we’re going to just let drumpf and his ignorant, ass-backwards policies just run roughshod over the country without making any attempts to stop him. you think BLM is annoying now, just you wait… people like me are going to be making your life orders of magnitude more difficult, and that will just be the beginning.

You are a secular

where did you get that idea? certainly not from me, or anything i wrote… i disagree with you 100%, but the idea that my life is not governed by “anything other than what i want to do” is way out of line.

The bible “which you will not believe I’m sure”

what do you want to bet i know more about the bible than you do?

the bible also says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

I hope you’re right about “no God”

again, i wonder where you got the idea that i’m saying there’s no God… if you do your research, you’ll discover that i say BOTH that there is no God, and that God exists, at the same time, without contradiction, but i certainly never said that there is no God in any place where you have looked… did you actually read my comments, or did you just knee-jerk respond without even looking up?

I’m a preacher

i’ll just bet you are… i am too, and i guarantee you, i can preach circles around you, buddy… 😉

I’ve been called to the bed of 5-6 dying Atheist

oh, so now you know everything there is to know about every single atheist on the planet… do you realise how mind-bogglingly STUPID that sounds?

obviously, you don’t. 😕

and, once again, i never said anything about being an atheist. in fact, i said, very clearly, at the beginning of my post, that i am a hindu, which leads me to suspect that you don’t know the difference between hindus and atheists. i’m not sure how you got the impression that i am an atheist, but you’re entirely, 100% wrong.

You to sir, will call on the Name of Jesus as you slip into eternity.

fat chance. 😛

the actual review can be seen here.

spiritual rant

good or evil, black or white, up or down, in or out… it’s all dualism.

and dualism is fine for everyday living. some might say that dualism is essential for everyday living. but i’ve been discovering more and more, recently, that the dual state is not the way to advance much beyond the everyday world.

and why would anyone want to advance beyond the everyday world? in my case, i want to advance beyond the everyday because the everyday world is BORING when it is not, actively, out to make my life difficult.

and, ultimately, dualism isn’t real anyway. everybody from zarathustra to jesus to yoda says, essentially, that dualism is the second stage, and there is one above that transcends dualism. the problem is that there is so much about religion that is adversarial, to the non-believer, to different sects of believers, and to different religions. in that regard, religion is also dualistic in nature. the problem is that, when one accepts one religion and rejects all others, basically, one is saying that they are not quite as atheist as the people who are wholely atheist, and when one is entirely atheist in their thinking, there are a lot of “mysterious” things that happen, more-or-less regularly, which they are totally incapable of explaining. both leave me wanting something more.

what it comes down to is that these “pairs of opposites” (to use the hindu term) are both exactly the same thing. good isn’t the opposite of evil, good IS evil. black is not the opposite of white, black IS white. there are always two sides to every coin, but it is the same coin… you can’t separate heads from tails.

this extends to people, as well. there are not 7 billion people on this planet, there is 1 person with 7 billion different manifestations. that is why people like jesus said “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25.40)

we aren’t all different people, we are all the same person. it doesn’t matter that you perceive a difference, when you slight someone, you’re doing it to yourself… which, i suppose, is one of the reasons why it is customary to be polite to people, regardless of which people-group you’re talking about, rather than running rough-shod over anyone who happens to get in your way. it is also one of the reasons why we feel sad or angry when something bad happens to us: that part of me which is also a part of you, is grieving that we would choose to do that to ourselves.

it’s the definition of the word namasté that puts it all together for me: namasté — there is a part of me, and there is a part of you, where, when you are there, in you, and i am there, in me, we are one being with no differentiation. i salute that place.

ASIDE this would make a GREAT magic trick: you show the audience a big coin (a silver dollar, or something similar), show them that it has both a “heads” and a “tails”. you invite a volunteer to put their initials on the “heads” side of the coin. then you procede to “do your magic” and separate heads from tails. you show the audience the coin, with the volunteer’s initials on BOTH SIDES. you then show the audience an entirely different coin, which has two “tails” sides, and no initials. then, with a little more “magic” you put the heads and tails back together, and show the audience one coin, with the volunteer’s initials on one side and “tails” on the other. talk to joe about making this happen.

200-year-old Mongolian mummy may still be alive

200-year-old Dashi-Dorzho ItigilovThis extraordinary picture shows the mummifed male body which is believed to be several centuries old. It was found at 6.30 pm 27 January 2015 in Songinokhairkhan province, reported Mongolia’s ‘Morning Newspaper’.

‘The mummified body sits in a lotus position, as if still meditating.

‘Experts that only had time to carry basic visual test say they believe the body can be about 200 years old’.

The report added: ‘So far there is no information as to where the body was found. The only details we learned was that it was covered with a cattle skin’.

It was not clear if it was the skin of a cow, horse, or camel, said the report. The mummy was delivered to Ulaanbataar National Centre of Forensic Expertise’.

Initial speculation is that the mummy could be a teacher of famous Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov.

Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, born in 1852, was a Buryat Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, best known for the lifelike state of his body.

His remains were reported not to be subject to macroscopic decay.

source

——

As police say lama found in lotus positon was destined for sale on black market, there are claims it was one step away from becoming a Buddha.

A mummified monk found in the lotus position in Mongolia is ‘not dead’ and is instead one stage away from becoming a real-life Buddha, it has been claimed.

Forensic examinations are under way on the amazing remains, which are believed to be around 200 years old, having been preserved in animal skin. But one expert has insisted the human relic is actually in ‘very deep meditation’ and in a rare and very special spiritual state known as ‘tukdam’.

Over the last 50 years there are said to have been 40 such cases in India involving meditating Tibetan monks.

Dr Barry Kerzin, a famous Buddhist monk and a physician to the Dalai Lama, said: ‘I had the privilege to take care of some meditators who were in a tukdam state.

‘If the person is able to remain in this state for more than three weeks – which rarely happens – his body gradually shrinks, and in the end all that remains from the person is his hair, nails, and clothes. Usually in this case, people who live next to the monk see a rainbow that glows in the sky for several days. This means that he has found a ‘rainbow body’. This is the highest state close to the state of Buddha’.

He added: ‘If the meditator can continue to stay in this meditative state, he can become a Buddha. Reaching such a high spiritual level the meditator will also help others, and all the people around will feel a deep sense of joy’.

Initial speculation is that the mummy could be a teacher of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov.

Born in 1852, Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov was a Buryat Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, best known for the lifelike state of his body.

Ganhugiyn Purevbata, who is the founder and professor of the Mongolian Institute of Buddhist Art at Ulaanbaatar Buddhist University, said: ‘Lama is sitting in the lotus position vajra, the left hand is opened, and the right hand symbolizes of the preaching Sutra.

‘This is a sign that the Lama is not dead, but is in a very deep meditation according to the ancient tradition of Buddhist lamas’.

The mummified remains, which were covered in cattle skin, were found on January 27 in the Songinokhairkhan province of Mongolia.

However, there is more to the story and now police have revealed that the monk had been stolen from another part of the country and was about to be sold off.

An unnamed official said that it was taken from a cave in the Kobdsk region by a man who then hid it in his own home in Ulaanbaatar.

He had then been planning to sell it on the black market at a ‘very high price’, with local media claiming he wanted to take it over the Mongolian border. Police uncovered the plot and quickly arrested a 45-year-old, named only as Enhtor.

According to Article 18 of the Criminal Code of Mongolia smuggling items of cultural heritage are punishable with either a fine of up to 3 million roubles ($43,000) or between five and 12 years in prison. The monk is now being guarded at the National Centre of Forensic Expertise at Ulaanbaatar.

source

Master Foo and the Script Kiddie

Master Foo and the Script Kiddie

A stranger from the land of Woot came to Master Foo as he was eating the morning meal with his students.

“I hear y00 are very l33t,” he said. “Pl33z teach m3 all y00 know.”

Master Foo’s students looked at each other, confused by the stranger’s barbarous language. Master Foo just smiled and replied: “You wish to learn the Way of Unix?”

“I want to b3 a wizard hax0r,” the stranger replied, “and 0wn ever3one’s b0xen.”

“I do not teach that Way,” replied Master Foo.

The stranger grew agitated. “D00d, y00 r nothing but a p0ser,” he said. “If y00 n00 anything, y00 wud t33ch m3.”

“There is a path,” said Master Foo, “that might bring you to wisdom.” The master scribbled an IP address on a piece of paper. “Cracking this box should pose you little difficulty, as its guardians are incompetent. Return and tell me what you find.”

The stranger bowed and left. Master Foo finished his meal.

Days passed, then months. The stranger was forgotten.

Years later, the stranger from the land of Woot returned.

“Damn you!” he said, “I cracked that box, and it was easy like you said. But I got busted by the FBI and thrown in jail.”

“Good,” said Master Foo. “You are ready for the next lesson.” He scribbled an IP address on another piece of paper and handed it to the stranger.

“Are you crazy?” the stranger yelled. “After what I’ve been through, I’m never going to break into a computer again!”

Master Foo smiled. “Here,” he said, “is the beginning of wisdom.”

On hearing this, the stranger was enlightened.