A Big Mistake

Indian Crested Porcupine

“Why do you want enlightenment anyway?  You may not like it.”  – Shunryu Suzuki

“I don’t remember making a mistake called enlightenment.”  Ikkyu

“Because enlightenment must not remain, you grind it off completely, until there is not even a speck of enlightenment. When you reach this point of ‘no stink of enlightenment’ where there is no trace, you vow with great determination to let the absence of enlightenment continue long, long, long like a single rail of iron for myriad miles.” Bokusan

“You won’t know how much pain you’re in until you are enlightened.” Katagiri Roshi

Case 11: Unmon’s “Two Diseases”

Great Master Unmon said, “When the light does not penetrate, there are two diseases. Everything is unclear and things hang before you: this is one disease. Even after you have realized the emptiness of all things, somehow you feel as if there were still something there. This shows that the light has not yet penetrated thoroughly.

Also there are two diseases concerning the Dharma-body. You have reached the Dharma-body, but you remain attached to the Dharma and cannot extinguish your own view; therefore you lead a corrupt life around the Dharma-body: this is one disease. Suppose you have truly penetrated to the end, if you give up further efforts, it will not do. You examine yourself minutely and say you have no flaw: this is nothing but a disease.”

from Shoyoroku (Book of Serenity)

In Ch’an literature there is a famous story relating Bodhidharma’s audience with Liang Wu Ti, the devout Buddhist emperor of the Liang Dynasty. Emperor Wu described to Bodhidharma his many projects of charity and support for Buddhism and asked, “What kind of merit have I received from this?”

Bodhidharma replied, “No merit whatsoever.”

A little later Emperor Wu asked Bodhidharma, “How would you characterize true merit?”

Bodhidharma said, “Pure wisdom is marvelous and perfect; its essence is intrinsically empty and quiescent. Such merit is not sought by worldly means.”

To which Emperor Wu queried, “What is the ultimate meaning of the holy truth [of absolute reality]?”

Bodhidharma replied, “Empty and vast — there is no holiness.”

Emperor Wu then said, “Who is this person standing before me?”

Bodhidharma replied, “I do not know.”

Emperor Wu did not grasp Bodhidharma’s meaning. Knowing that the Emperor did not have the capacity to receive the Ch’an teaching, Bodhidharma departed

from Chan Magazine Spring 1997 (Dharma Drum)

Sounds like hella fun!

One would have to be a real fool to have some longing for that kind of thing.

Seems like enlightenment is the biggest obstacle of all to overcome.

Here is something else to do instead of trying to catch that porcupine.

Quiz: Your Enlightenment IQ from Beliefnet

4 comments on “A Big Mistake

    • I agree.

      Q10. During Rohatsu, the anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment on December 8, Zen students meditate for longer periods than usual because:

      1. they are gluttons for punishment.
      2. they really want to see the true nature of reality.
      3. they want to condition themselves for the grueling holiday season ahead.
      4. they think it will make them better people.
      5. their Zen master makes them.

    • No one should. It’s a horrendous business fraught with peril and risk!

      The whole Buddhist thing in general is probably best avoided.

      It can be at the very least unsettling or…egads, even life changing.

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