In an earlier post I’d said I felt like I had experienced enlightenment, and that insight stays with me today, but…
I wanna scream!
My gut is twisted with frustration, dissatisfaction, incompleteness, ‘not-enough-ness’. Sure, if I were to follow my insight, I’d recognize that I’m letting myself feel too attached – and if I wanted to, I could let it go, slip into the moment and be at peace. (so why don’t you?!?) Let’s explore it instead:
I have too many questions. What ‘they’ don’t tell you about enlightenment is that in switching from cataphatic thinking to apophatic thinking, you discover sheer absurdity – in fact it’s the very awe-striking absurdity that is the enlightenment experience. You see, what happens when you switch modes of thinking is that you accept contradiction as being an inherent aspect of Reality as a whole – it’s the voom of reality, what makes it all ‘go’ – the whole ‘change is the only constant’ (anicca to buddhists) contradiction. And on the surface that’s fine, but as hard-core logicians know, if you accept even one contradiction in any formal system of logic, that’s to invite anything and everything into that system of reasoning. While for logicians that isn’t viable, the fact is that Reality, if you’re really going to understand it all, is ‘anything and everything’ – that’s the very definition of ‘all’.
So to become enlightened, you kind of have to ‘break your brain’ (indeed, that’s the whole purpose of the koan), to let in the ex contradictione quodlibet and ‘roll with it’. Why? Because Reality is both Complete and Inconsistent (that state of affairs that mathematicians and logicians abhor – they widely prefer Incomplete but Consistent systems – see Kurt Gödel’s groundbreaking work for more on this). So too is the human brain. The human mind can conceive of anything – that’s the wonder and beauty of the human imagination – and indeed, after such a ‘breakage’, it can even conceive of all. The human mind is constantly changing (read: inconsistent), just like Reality itself. And just as two figure-skaters slip along together, and are – relative to each other – constant, so in aligning your mind to the flow of Reality, you attain that semblance of constancy – the eternal peace of buddhahood, Nirvana (not quite – Nirvana can only occur when all being are enlightened). Or madness, or ‘ego-less-ness’, or ‘death’, ‘unconsciousness’ or any other name for it that various people have come to call it.
But that means losing the self in favour of the ‘all’ – you let go of your idea of being a ‘you’, and instead you extinguish ‘yourself’, you cease to ‘be’ and instead just experience. Yes, it’s an ‘ideal’ state where judgement is impossible since there is no ‘you’ – but it’s also a kind of return to an animal state where it might seem like there’s no one in here, in this meaty vessel. No I don’t mean a zombie – but not far from it either. I’ve yet to see another animal that isn’t ego-less. Even chimanzees, our closest cousins, act and live to the full extent of their being, without the ego-restraint, the pretenses of our overly-sophisticated and mal-adjusted psyches.
And what about saving the world?!? How the heck is that possible when you’ve ‘checked-out’? Sure, by being an enlightened being, you become a kind of ‘nullifying force’ (a spiritual black hole) that cancels-out the egos of those around you – you ‘provoke peace’ by exuding such internal spiritual calm (nullness) that it can inspire others to be likewise. Your insight allows you to see the counter-arguments, the source of fixation/attachment of every person’s ego – where they’re ‘hurting’ because they’re attached to some idea or emotion – and you can try to educate them, teach them how to remove that pain from their lives by becoming detached from that sensation.
But my struggle right now, my ‘need to scream’ is my ego-driven misunderstanding and dissatisfaction with ‘just rolling with it’ – acknowledging our powerlessness in the overall flow of Things, acknowledging that ‘where we are now’ is perfect (because it could not be any other way, not necessarily that it is good) – that it’s the culmination of events that have led up to this moment, that every moment is such a culmination, like the forefront of a rolling wave.
Yes, I see that I am an integral part of this Reality.
Yes, I see that my contribution to this ever-unfolding reality is insignificant but yet sine qua non.
But why this reality? Why not dragons and wizards? Why not space ships and aliens? Why cars, why jobs, why taxes? If Reality is the anything-and-everything that we’ve supposedly come to understand through our enlightenment, why is the waking life this one, and why am I obliged to use my imagination for the others? And for that matter, why do I still wake up in this body? What keeps me attached here now? If the imagination can be anything-and-everything just like Reality, then why can’t I ‘align’ myself to another reality or body? Like side-stepping ‘this’ reality, into the corridor between all realities, and open a different door?
Of course, I realize that if I were to occupy another body, I wouldn’t know it. I’d just fully be that other ‘me’ probably wondering what to have for lunch while scratching ‘my’ elbow.
Ugh. Yes, I don’t like my job today. Yes, I feel like I’m not in the right place for me. Too much attachment. Time to take a breather. Tomorrow is another day.