Sunday, 6 November 2011

With Truth and Plainness I do Wear Mine Bare.

Enlightenment is the realisation that there are no objects or subjects: all that seems to exist is One seamless whole. Or, it is the psychological process of stripping away the identity, achieved through diligent practice of meditation and self-enquiry, often aided by a teacher in such disciplines as Advaita Vedanta or traditional Zen Buddhism. Or, it is the epiphany that everything one has ever desired is always here, always now, because there is nothing but here and now. Or, it is not a state, not a thought, not a concept, not a description, not a word, but vibrant, present existence itself before that existence can be judged and measured by the mind. Or it is all of these things. Or it is none of these things. Or it is.

Enlightenment, some say, is only the beginning. How the comprehension and apprehension of the infinite affects the finite story that the point, if there is any point at all. The story does not exist in the infinite, therefore it is meaningless; but in the disregard for its meaning can lie the appreciation for its intrinsic value, of the story’s almost infinite designs and whimsies, tragedies and glories.

Mariana Caplan is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher and nonduality enthusiast, and a pragmatic and sensible teacher of spirituality. She has various degrees and generally strikes a nice balance between modern Western interpretation of ancient Eastern philosophy and scientific methodology, if one can call psychotherapy scientific. She recently gave an interview to Nonduality Magazine and a quote truly resonated with me:

"NDM: What about the "Stink of enlightenment?" What is this and how do you know is someone has this stink?

Mariana Caplan: I think the stink, as considered from a contemporary perspective, is that there are many sophisticated techniques for nondual insight readily available these days, and that people are continually mistaking a flash of insight, or even many flashes of such insight over a long period of time, for enlightenment. All of that is just the very beginning of the path, not the end. How do we know someone has it? That’s a delicate question. For myself, I know who I want to hang out with and when I smell the spiritual gobbly-gook that I have no interest in. I am much more interested in integration. Where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. How that moment of enlightenment was helpful in becoming more intimate with one’s partner, or child. That gets exciting."

How marvellous, this concept of integration, or “practising these principles in all our affairs” as the 12-step programmes of recovery put it. How differently it can seem to unfold: either effortlessly or with much diligent, labour-intensive conscious application.
Perhaps all such concepts are roughly equal - equally misguided, or equally valid - since talking about it is not "it" except inasmuch as talking (thinking, writing, conversing) may be what is at this particular moment. Is the point of enlightenment to make the story of life “better” - how “better” is usually judged, dictated largely by biological survival - in terms of happiness, intimacy, mental stability, and the brotherhood of humanity finally getting over itself and getting its act together? Isn’t it counter-productive to have any goal or desire, even if the desire is of the highest, best kind? Isn’t it useful to “let go” of everything you have ever considered sacrosanct in order to be entirely free, and able to see things exactly for what they are? Or is it best to entirely relax all semblance of control, and let life live you? The ego, or identity, or personality, or mind, grapples with these questions and concepts, knowing it can’t figure it out, yet powerless to stop the quest for understanding. Strangely fitting, how the ego so very much wants the thing that may very well kill it.

Enjoyment can arise with all that fruitless fun. By all means, enjoy the unfolding, and let each glimpse and flash of the infinite inform the finite actions and energies of your small, meaningless yet intrinsically significant life. Why not?


Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one of those films that truly resonates on a cultural reference level, and thus reveals my apparent age. I like nearly every scene in the film but this one, near the end, where Spicoli delivers his best line and Sean Penn foreshadows his career as an actor who truly crawls into a character, is the one that evokes the most spontaneous pleasure. As far as I'm concerned, both characters display integrated enlightenment. Enjoy...


Ged said...

Hi Suzanne, I'm left puzzled by what "intimacy" is. I don't think I experience it but I'm really not sure. What do you think?

No One In Particular said...

Hi Ged...I suppose intimacy is relationship without the bullshit, or at least as little bullshit as conditioning will allow.

Cap'n Dave said...

This article rang with crystal clarity for me. Thanks.

fredwahl said...

This is a very good question, intimacy can't be pointed to like a chair or a door. It's more like is or where or how, kind of a magic word, like the experence of nothing in between You and I, space connecting not seperating, not even connecting, seeing, knowing, this with no that, end of wanting.
Thank you for the inquiry

Mary said...

Great stuff, Suzanne, thanks for the consistent high quality! A pleasure to read :-)

No One In Particular said...

Bernard, two copies of your comment went into the spam folder and I accidentally deleted was a good, well-thought-out comment too...could you try again? Really sorry Dude.

No One In Particular said...

Hey Cap'n Dave, high praise indeed! Thank you.

No One In Particular said...

Hi fredwahl, no separation, both in "reality" and in the story unfolding. Or something like that!

No One In Particular said...

Hi Mary, very chuffed that you're visiting and reading! Thank you very much indeed.

Lisa (Mommy Mystic) said...

Hi Suzanne, I also really resonate with the passage you quoted, very well put. I sometimes find myself uncomfortable with all the 2012 hype - it feels very 'stink of enlightenment' at times. And yet, I also identify with it. So I have stopped trying to resolve the discrepancy. This is my lila and I choose to dance in it:-)

Bernard said...

Hi Susanne,

Trying again ?
I more or less remember that I wrote about flashes of enlightenment
and their good consequences into my life. I also remembered having
laughed about "the many sophisticated techniques for nondual
insight readily available these days", then having written about
"consciousness" and Google.

As for the flashes of enlightenment, it happened right this night
into a dream that seemed to last less than a second : I was just looking
down at the floor and the bottom part of a door was in my field of vision.
Suddenly there was "nonduality", just One, pure consciousness
before anything can be named so. I reappeared immediatly,
into the feeling of an intense loneliness.
First time this happens while I dream ! But this was it, reality
as it is before anything exists, or rather without any concept
of existence or non-existence or whatever.

There is no peculiar reason why we should call this "consciousness",
or "energy", all these attempts to enclose it into concepts and words
are vain. That is why the first words of the Tao-te-king are so wrongly
translated most of the time. An old Chinese told me that it meant
most simply : "The Tao is not the Tao".
That is also why a jewish saying goes : "Man thinks, God laughs."
If this goes into the spam folder, it's not important, I'll be happy to try


No One In Particular said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting and commenting. I never thought of trying to clear up the discrepancy! Sounds like fun...

No One In Particular said...

BERNARD!!! Got it this time. All feelings are the feeling of "non duality, just one pure consciousness before anything can be named", or whatever we're labeling it today. Simple, simple, simple.