Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The wizard beneath our Oz.

To those familiar with the story of The Wizard of Oz—a wizard nobody had ever seen, controlled the Land of Oz. In a way this wizard inhabited the entirety of Oz with his unseen presence. The Sutra of Complete Enlightenment says,“...the intrinsic nature of Complete Enlightenment is devoid of distinct natures, yet all different natures are endowed with this nature, which can accord and give rise to various natures.”

On the surface this statement sounds arcane. Our mind does flip-flops trying to image something which has no nature but is the basis for all nature. Whatever that is, so says the sutra, is “intrinsic,” which means belonging to the essential nature of whatever is being contemplated, in this case “all different natures.” The only way this can be understood is that Complete Enlightenment is ubiquitous. It doesn’t come and it doesn’t go since it is ever-present and thus does not depend upon the conditions of space/time. The word “transcendent” comes to mind.

But, so we think, if Complete Enlightenment is devoid of nature, how is it possible to be aware of it? It almost sounds as if we’re talking about something which is both empty and full at the same time—transparent yet concrete; the ground out of which everything grows but is itself invisible. By reading further in this sutra we find this: “Complete Enlightenment is neither exclusively movement nor non-movement. Enlightenment is in the midst of both.”

In other parts of Zen literature we learn that it is the movement of ideas wafting across our screen of consciousness that constitutes what we call “mind.” And it is thus the goal of zazen to stop this illusive movement and thereby reveal our true nature. It is the nature of our Mind to create images to represent concepts and ideas. And when challenged to imagine something which is a non-idea we come up short. We can’t imagine enlightenment because in itself it is imageless. Consequently when we try, we fail. And it is in the midst of that failure that enlightenment is understood.

As convoluted as this sounds, the insight is Complete. If there is nothing to see, then Enlightenment is seen everywhere we look. There is thus nowhere that Enlightenment can’t be seen. When we see a tree, we’re seeing the manifestation of Enlightenment. When we see the sun rise, we’re seeing Enlightenment; A dog—Enlightenment; Another person—Enlightenment; Anything/Everything—Enlightenment. All perceptible forms, we are looking at the eternal manifestation of Complete Enlightenment. And why would that be? Because pure consciousness has no form, yet everything is perceived out of that.

Because we have never seen Complete Enlightenment, as an exclusive and separate entity, we think it must be a mystical matter, perceptible to only a select few and we imagine that this mystical state will be the result of adopting a state of mind which, for most people, is unavailable. This is exceptionally unfortunate!

Hakuin Zenji (circa1689-1796) is famous for his “Song of Zazen” in which he says, “How sad that people ignore the near and search for truth afar: Like someone in the midst of water crying out in thirst; Like a child of a wealthy home, wandering among the poor.”

The unavoidable insight of these teachings is that enlightenment is the fundamental ground of our existence. It is everywhere we look. It is our intrinsic true nature, without which we could not exist. You might say, consciousness is the wizard beneath our Oz.
Post a Comment