Our connection and relationship with our physical body of fifty trillion or more cells is not a simple one. One part of us is the ultimate substance of reality of which we are ignorant. The other part of us is our unbroken engagement with the world our senses perceive—a world, seemingly, out there and real in its own right. In the practice of Zen we are supposed to realize the ultimate substance of reality such that everything becomes an expression or configuration of it. Thus, we can see the world as an actual illusion—the one sure mark of transcendence.
This kind of insight demands of the adept that he or she first must get rid of the day to day complexity that confronts them in the everyday world—a world that can be both alluring and dangerous. Our everyday world wants us to fall into complexity. Instead of living our lives relative to awakening we live it for our spouse and our job, our two kids, for the big house we just bought and the BMW and the Mercedes SUV. Our relatives tie us down, too. There isn’t a day that goes by where we’re not adding to the complexity of our life.
In this situation our bargain with Zen turns more into a bargain with the devil. We believe that we can live with all this complexity that keeps growing and somehow see the ultimate substance of reality. We keep forgetting that the complexity is a result of our love of the world. Yes, I love having sex with my spouse. I love our home and our two kids. And I like my BMW. We are still like kids in the toy store (when I was a kid I love to ride my bicycle down to the Toy Box and buy a model airplane). Leaving this all behind is a difficult choice. It throws us into being alone—really alone. We have only the goal of seeing ultimate reality. We are committed to the mystery which also surrounds our goal as if we were being directed by an invisible teacher.
Giving up the complexity is a difficult thing to do. The good side of this is that we will become more open to the probability of finding the right and necessary circumstances if we can stay committed to the goal. An aside, a lot of luck (S., punya) comes into the picture. If our will, for want of a better term, is locked onto awakening we will have to be open to abrupt changes and even downturns. This is all part of giving up complexity; renouncing what is superfluous to awakening.