"Late one night a female Zen adept was carrying water in an old wooden bucket when she happened to glance across the surface of the water and saw the reflection of the moon. As she walked the bucket began to come apart and the bottom of the pail broke through, with the water suddenly disappearing into the soil beneath her feet and the moon's reflection disappearing along with it. In that instant the young woman realized that the moon she had been looking at was just a reflection of the real thing...just as her whole life had been. She turned to look at the moon in all it's silent glory, her mind was ripe, and that was it...Enlightenment."
CHIYONO-- NO MOON, NO WATER
Over and over, for centuries and in one form or the other, the question has been asked, "How does one go about triggering the the fruitations of the Enlightenment-experience as suggested by the ancients in the Sutras and so forth, so that the resultant outcome of that fruitation IS that which IS Enlightenment?" How does the "mind get ripe," "how does the bottom of the pail break through?" In other words:
"HOW DO I GET ENLIGHTENED?"
Answers and attempted answers to that question have been forthcoming for just as many centuries. 0ne would suspect, considering all the formidable personages that have approached the question, that by now an end-all, conclusive response would have been formulated. Such it seems, has not been the case. Tying Your Shoes, which you should read even if you go no further, probably gives as potentially succulent inkling to a possible answer as anything. Otherwise, for myself, I have unfolded a variety of "responses" on occasion depending on the circumstances and the nature and background of of the person posing the question. For the most part it usually boils down to a fairly simple Nutshell of a procedure which is presented below, thus then clarified and elaborated on as one progresses through various AWAKENING 101 offerings.
Before moving on, however, you might be asking yourself another question: Why even consider what is offered here? The following quote may clarify your reasoning as well as mine:
"THOSE WHO HAVE NOT ATTAINED AWAKENING SHOULD PENETRATE INTO THE MEANING OF REALITY, WHILE THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED SHOULD PRACTICE GIVING VERBAL EXPRESSION TO THAT REALITY" (source)
- First, until you have developed some expertise and knowledge of the Way, it is suggested you shy away from any formal or established group, Zendo, Sangha, or person with or without a following claiming to be a Guru of one sort or another...and especially so if they want you to put in any free labor, time, money, or buy something from them.
- Second, take some time and seriously consider the possibility of enrolling in a secular yoga class in a community college, recreation department, or adult education setting to learn proper breathing and sitting without all the bells, candles, and rituals, find a convenient power spot (discussed later), and practice meditation on your own.
- Third, search out read, ingest, and absorb anything written by Nagarjuna or Dogen because all of their works were written post-Enlightenment. According to tradition Nagarjuna is the fourteenth in succession in linage from the Buddha and Dogen is the Twenty-fourth Zen Patriarch in succession from Bodhidharma, which is neither here nor there. Both Nagarjuna and Dogen are cited extensively throughout the offerings presented in Awakening 101 (the above two links you can click through).
- Fourth, read all one-hundred koans and their commentaries in the Blue Cliff Record and all forty-eight koans and their commentaries in the Mumonkan over and over until you are blue in the face...but ALWAYS read them by never taking your mind's eye off what you find by going to and reading Mu
- Finally, read the following three books on Sri Maharshi Ramana titled:
- Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
- Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge
- The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi
because for the most part, in easy question and answer format they get around all the Typical Zen Bull.
An old saying goes: We are the results of what we were; we will be the results of what we are. If the above endeavors are coupled with an escort of the right intent the outcome WILL be favorable. A Pali text called The Anguttara says it best:
"It cannot come to pass that the fruit of a deed well-done by the body, speech, and thought should have for a result that which is unpleasant, hateful or distasteful. But that it should be otherwise is quite possible."(source)
What is important to take into mind of course, considering the above, is having set into motion the correct set of principals in the past, so the fruit beared from those endeavors would be impacting one's present. To have that present be a positive experience my own mentor's suggestion, extracted from the sutras, went something like:
1.) From the first generate only thoughts with the right escort.
2.) Support right thoughts already risen.
3.) From where thoughts arise, generate no thoughts that carry negative escort.
4.) Dispell any negative thoughts already risen. (source)
It is often said that when a teacher is truly needed, one will appear. This may due to some inexplicable serendipity. It may be due to the fact that the seeker has searched deeply within himself or herself and determined what sort of instruction seems to be required. It could be swept over him or her similar to the events abscribed to the First Death Experience of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, or the Bhagavan's little known Second Death Experience wherein in both cases Ramana's Guru was possibly somewhat more ethereal in concept than physical.
It could be a mere spark that ignites a spiritual fire within or a spiritual desperation on the part of the seeker. It may be a combination of the previous factors, or some intuitive awareness beyond expression. The coming together of the results of inner and outside forces, some within one's control, some without, some with a teacher, some without, but, more often than not, for whatever the reason, the saying is found to apply.
Merely looking at the guru and receiving the guru's glance has been shown over and over to manifest an ability to transfer an immense spiritual energy, which CAN profoundly transform one's consciousness. On the Indian side of things the blessings communicated through being in the presence of a holy person is called Darshan. Generally speaking Darshan is similar in respect to the role that Dokusan plays in Zen and Buddhism, albeit while Dokusan is typically a more formal meeting in a more formal setting, it still basically came up through the system from Indian tradition.
However, it cannot be stressed enough, the whole secret --- if there is a secret or if it can be called a secret --- to Enlightenment is for the MIND TO BE RIPE. To ensure such one should endeavor to consider incorporating the above four precepts into their repertoire until they all become a unified natural, fully ingrained second nature of one's being. It could take a long time or no time at all. See:
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
As for myself, in what I feel is a close analogy, the following by W. Somerset Maugham is offered as he writes about Larry Darrell in his novel The Razor's Edge:
"He has no desire for fame. To become anything of a public figure would be deeply distasteful to him; and so it may be that he is satisfied to lead his chosen life and be no more than just himself. He is too modest to set himself up as an example to others; but it may be he thinks that a few uncertain souls, drawn to him like moths to a candle, will be brought in time to share his own glowing belief that ultimate satisfaction can only be found in the life of the spirit, and that by himself following with selflessness and renunciation the path of perfection he will serve as well as if he wrote books or addressed multitudes."
Want to find out if the Spiritual Guide, Teacher, or Guru you like, want, or have selected is right for you --- or if the one you already have can cut it or meet spiritual leader guidelines? See:
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: PASS OR FAIL?
THE WANDERLING AND WIKIPEDIA
DOING HARD TIME IN A ZEN MONASTERY
PARIS HILTON AND THE ART OF ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
ON THE RAZOR'S
THE AWAKENING EXPERIENCE IN THE MODERN ERA
THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana
AWAKENING 101 APPROVED SITE LIST
QUALITIES OF A DHARMA TEACHER
"Real Masters never charge for their services, nor do they accept payment in any form or any sort of material benefits for their instructions. This is a universal law among Masters, and yet it is an amazing fact that thousands of eager seekers in America and elsewhere, go on paying large sums of money for "spiritual instruction.". Masters are always self-sustaining. They are never supported by their students or by public charity."
---Julian P. Johnson, The Path of the Masters (1939)
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ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE SOUND OF ONE SHOE TYING