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July 26, 2010


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I think you raise some interesting points, but we have to ask ourselves, "What good is transcendence unless it is grounded in the here and now?" Lofty spiritual attainment can easily turn into the pursuit of bliss, rather than seeking Enlightenment for the sake of others in the immanent world we live in.

As far as "seated meditation [being] synonymous with the attainment of Buddhahood," I can only guess that you are referring to Soto Zen and Dogen's method of "just sitting." For Dogen, attaining realization can easily turn into just that, another attainment to latch onto. Striving for Enlightenment objectifies and reifies Awakening by turning it into a goal, some"thing" to be obtained--just another notch on our ego belt. For Dogen, sitting is the quintessential expression of Buddhahood. However, there is still work to be done; we need to clear out all of the delusion so that we can realize or actualize our Buddha nature. Or so his thinking goes.

I have reservations about transcendence itself. For instance, what are we transcending? Or are we just running away from the messiness of every day life? A Bodhisattva's goal is achieve Awakening to help others--not in some ethereal realm, but here on earth. I think that true transcendence transcends our need to transcend (a bit of a tongue twister), meaning we keep our awareness centered here instead of on some distant Nirvana (which only pushes it farther away). This way we can realize that, as the sutras say, Samsara is Nirvana.

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