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January 07, 2020


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Alain, this comes up all the time, perhaps especially online, this idea of relative and absolute. And it is just that an IDEA, something imagined, and therefore not real. To taste of the absolute is to KNOW it, there is no need for any intermediary or saint to come down from the sky to bring down this truth. Truth is not brought down. It is realized as having always been there. At that point one might deepen their practice or adjust their meditations, but there is no longer any doubt about what is meant by that even though I have yet to meet anyone who can adequately explain to someone who has not tasted of it. For this reason I believe teachers and books are futile trappings of religious dogma that has nothing to do with Zen.

I have heard these arguments over and over, two truths, nagarjuna, emptiness, relative and absolute two sides of same coin, and on and on and on, always the same spasms of conceptual grasping. The absolute is never missing: it is the jewel hidden in the cloak of the beggar. Once found, then one can eat without eating, breathe without breathing, walk without walking, make comments without making comments and so on, because the absolute is realized for what it is. That is why it is said samsara and nirvana are one, but this is not something you can hear and then say ok, if they are one then there is nothing more to realize because until one breaks the conceptual snare and enters into the unbounded spiritual there can be no realization of what these concepts actually mean and point to. It is exactly as has been said for hundreds of years, like watching the reflection of the moon on water and mistaking it for the moon itself.

Alain, The discursive intellect has a marked disdain for intuition. Nevertheless, kenshō is real. It enables one to fully understand Buddhism and especially Zen with all of its koans, each koan being a play on attained kenshō. Without kenshō, koans cannot be solved. A good book to read on the subject of intuition is titled, The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy by Arthur J. Deikman, M.D. Also I would point out that the book, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms by William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous calls Zen an intuitive school: "The 禪 ch'an or intuitive School does 'not set up scriptures'; it lays stress on meditation and intuition rather than on books and other external aids."

Truly, I do not wish to become kind of a troll, but I have some reserve in regard to this sudden leap of intuition’ and of Zen masters or any ‘enlighten’ person looking at the world from the ‘exclusive’ side of the absolute. In fact, I found this statement to be dangerous and misleading.

There is no doubt in my mind that the intellect/consciousness, cannot transcend the five skandas and/or the six senses, for they are the intellect/consciousness.

In regard to this leap of ‘intuition ‘or insights, those can be of three kinds, with or without content/form, and the last one being cessation. With some of those leap you kind of get something similar to an ‘answer’ and in other, you get absolutely nothing out of them, well beside a good laugh, but there is no why this laughter, no reason, condition or cause and no content/form. The first two, I call satori, and the cessation I call Kensho. Koans are very often similar to what could be called ‘spiritual irony’ in which one must leap in order to ‘get’ the irony of the whole situation/the twist within the koan/situation. Do not overvalue those ‘satori’ leaps, as they all fade away eventually. While cessation tend to ‘endure’.

Once I met a man who was an alcoholic, he drank until he would drop unconscious on the floor. One morning as he waked up, he looked at his wife who had bruises all over her face, and asked her ‘what happened, who did this to you?’ she answered ‘you did’. From then on, he has never taken a single drop of alcohol. It was sudden, no therapy, no alcoholic anonymous, he simply saw all the damage he was doing to himself and other and put an end to instantly. That is cessation.

Another man that I encountered who eventually became a good friend, was the founder of a criminal gang, which had hundreds of members. He got caught for having killed 6 persons on the same day, and was sentence for life. What he told me, was that until that sentence, he had status, power, was highly respected and feared, with a single finger snap, you were dead, and then as the police brought him to the prison, he ‘died’, his entire ‘past’ collapse, ceases to ‘exist’. From one moment to the next one he became another person, he eventually created a Zen meditation group in jail and read hundreds of Zen books, more than I ever did, which books he eventually sold to make some money which he use to have a huge Buddha tattoo printed over all his other tattoos. After 25 years he was release on life probation, that is when I met him. For the first few months as a ‘free’ man, he had to work, and so found work in a luxury hotel where his job consisted in cleaning up piss, vomit, sperm, wine stain and even shit all over, that ‘rich’ customers would leave as a souvenir of their distinction. He told me, that he truly enjoyed doing this kind of work. I wonder how many here could do and say the same thing and still keep a smile on their face? He is truly a remarkable man and we are still seeing each other.

Another man that I encountered who had lost his job, became desperate, was an atheist, saw his life and future as being a complete mess and impasse, suddenly ‘woke up’, he was sure he was dying, and told his wife to call for an ambulance. As they came in, all that he could feel was love, and of being completely overtaken by something which he did not understand anything about. They saw that ‘physically’ everything looks ‘normal’ and left. As the months pass by, he kind of develop ‘healing powers’. Every morning up until late at night, there was a line up in front of his house of sick people who wanted to be cure of various illness. Until something very funny happened, one morning around 5:00am, two men knocks on his door, and as he opened the door, they pushed him on the floor and started to look all over the house. They were sure this man was selling drugs on their territory. That was the end of healing sessions. I met the guy years later, and could feel the bliss and stillness in his presence; he definitively had ‘something’. He wanted me to spend some time with him once a week, so that we could talk about different things. As we had those dialogues, and although he was ‘awaken’, he was also a complete idiot. ‘I am special, I did not have a teacher, not need any, I made myself this way, etc….’ I suggested to him that he should read a few books, but his answer were always the same ‘ why do I need to read about ‘it’, when I live it.’ He wasn’t wrong in what he was saying, but I have try to explain to him that maybe there is more ‘work’ to be done, some other aspect which needs to be look into. His answer were always no.

He was such a stubborn ‘highly special’ dumb ass, that I put an end to our meetings.

I could tell you similar stories about many more, including Zen teachers.

Zen teachers or other ‘similar’ ‘awaken’ persons sometimes do and do not look at the world from the side of the absolute. And then as they do, is there a world? That in itself would be worth some pondering at.

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