The bedroom light turns on with a snap. This makes for nice imagery, but enlightenment is far more involved.
By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
If you can lose yourself, you will find relief. Lose your Self, and you find your Nature. To make room for compassion, empty your vessel of ego.
The Self is untrustworthy. It is a shell. Without depth. There will be a realization of the Self. But to gain enlightenment, you must let go of it. The Self is like an old shoe; you cannot throw it away without first finding it. But finding it is not the purpose, losing it is.
This is where many get stuck. We love ourselves, love to find ourselves, love hearing about ourselves, and love understanding ourselves. We love our identities and our personal narratives. We are each our favorite subjects to study. Self-absorption not Self-realization.
Even if we hate ourselves, we'll fixate on ourselves. So we seek it and define it and seek it some more. Instead of letting go, we use meditation to grow our sense of Self — to grow ego, desire, and attachment. But our ego tricks us; we look Zen (external practice), rather than living Zen (internal development).
There is comfort in knowing ourselves. We want to solidify. The notion of change causes us distress. So we run through the motions, reinforcing ourselves while avoiding Emptiness. Rigid and unyielding. Trapped in stasis.
No answers. No peace. Circling the surface. Repeating the same mistakes. Alone. Disconnected. Separated from the Way. Without the benefit of wisdom.
Our attachment to our Selves is what detaches us from the totality of everything else. When you've let it go, you are tempted to retrieve it, to find your comfortable shoe again. Release is not a one-off task. You must work at it. Daily. This is Zen.
No "eureka," there is only wisdom gained through continuous toil and practice. This is also Zen. The bedroom light turns on with a snap. This makes for nice imagery, but enlightenment is far more involved.
Zen meditation takes us on a journey from the Self, Emptiness, to Selflessness. It is only Zen when it benefits others. When daily life becomes the personal expression of your Zen.
In persisting with your practice (internal and external), there will come bliss. A bliss you will want to share. Thus, you return to the world. This time in the bliss of unity.
Useful Companions (Improve Your Education and This Site by Buying a Book):
- Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings – Paul Reps (Compiler), Nyogen Senzaki (Compiler)
- Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen – Shunryu Suzuki
- No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering – Thich Nhat Hanh
- Trying Not to Try: Ancient China, Modern Science, and the Power of Spontaneity – Edward Slingerland
- The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life – Michael Puett, Christine Gross-Loh