The Myth of Enlightenment

climbing to moon

“There is no such thing as enlightenment.

The full appreciation of that fact is, itself, enlightenment.”

~Sri Nisargadatta

As was mentioned in my previous essay about Zen and the Emotional/Sexual Contraction here , there has been quite a bit of discussion around ongoing sex scandals involving various revered Zen Masters, Tibetan Lamas, Hindu Gurus and Swamis, and so forth here in the West. Many cannot fathom how supposedly “Enlightened Masters” can be involved in such shenanigans. I will briefly address that issue here, based on what I have learned in the course of my own life-long investigation.

That Enlightenment is some kind of state or condition which beings can attain while in human form is one of the first myths that need to be discarded, if we are actually going to wake up to what this birth is truly all about – enjoyment and appreciation of the experience of being human. Moreover, claims of such attainment are typically automatic disqualifiers, so caveat emptor! In the spiritually mature, there is no self being projected that could be enlightened or not. The thought doesn’t even arise.

Indeed, that which would gain some sort of spiritual achievement is actually the false sense of independent identity that obstructs any fundamental realization. The notion that enlightenment is going to result from some combination of practices or efforts is purely a human fantasy, and actually an impediment to the recognition of the primordial state which is not an attainment, but ever-present as the shine of reality itself.

The late Sage Ramana Maharshi pointed out that true realization is not an attainment when he noted: “The state of Self-realization, as we call it, is not attaining something new or reaching some goal which is far away, but simply being that which you always are and which you always have been. The state we call realization is simply being oneself, not knowing anything or becoming anything.”

Undoubtedly, there are those who enjoy experiences of blissful clear seeing, states of oneness and universal connectivity, or mystical transport and visionary phenomena. However, no human has ever “become enlightened”. This is not to say that there are no past or even current exemplary individuals who have awakened in an authentic sense to the two-fold emptiness of self and phenomena — their dream-like nature — and thus are relatively liberated from the various mechanics of suffering, as well as the accompanying afflictive states and conditions that characterize the usual human experience. Seeing everything as a dream — even the pursuit of enlightenment, as well as the one who would pursue it – is a sign of real wisdom. The Zen patriarch Dogen clarified the matter when he noted that “the truth of the Buddha’s and ancestors’ realization consists invariably of what a dream makes within a dream.”

Unfortunately, most of the legendary characters of spiritual lore who are held up as examples of profound realization have since become victims of fantasy stories and inflated hagiographies that air-brush away their humanity and replace it with an idealized mythology. That practice has actually done more harm than good — placing them on a pedestal and imbuing them with a “specialness” that effectively distances them from those who would emulate them.


Certainly, there are many individuals who may even have attained remarkable powers (siddhis) through the application of various yogic techniques. The human potential is indeed amazing, though to a large extent still relatively untapped, except in rare cases. As time proceeds, unlocking the energetic mysteries latent within the human bio-vehicle will prove to be a major boon and stimulus for the ongoing evolution of the species.

Nevertheless, the human construct itself, with all its ingenious neural circuitry, still does not have the capacity to handle the energetic vibrational frequency of real enlightenment. The physical container itself would be blasted apart in an instant! To illustrate by way of example, imagine attempting to pour a million watts through an electronic appliance with a load capacity of 10 watts (or even a capacity of 1000 watts, in the case of the aforementioned rare individuals – the same result would still prevail).

Once returned to our own natural state after the death of the material form body, it is not uncommon to recognize our previous human spiritual outlook — including our most profound conceptions of Enlightenment — as charmingly naive at best in the more expansive view of things (and there most certainly is a much vaster picture that we in human form cannot even begin to comprehend as long as we are confined to the denser vibrational frequencies that pertain in this dimension).

Indeed, once the dense meat suit is slipped off and we reintegrate with our “Whole Self” in the Spirit World, we will typically recognize the obvious. That is, whatever had passed for some degree of self-awareness during physical incarnation was mostly a kind of dull sleep-walk in comparison to our actual state. Amazingly, the trick of embodiment itself was like a magical illusion, a virtual reality. Even then, there are many levels of awareness far beyond our ken that still must be traversed before one can speak of true enlightenment. The luminous orb of our soul body itself is still a kind of temporary sheath that too must ultimately be discarded (but that’s skipping ahead a bit).

Furthermore, the vast majority of us are not really here, incarnating in this limited psycho-physical realm, to pursue some humanly-conceived “Enlightenment”. “The Spiritual Search” is more often than not an escape strategy that has kept us mostly misdirected down through the centuries, and indeed accounts for a good deal of the turmoil, confusion, delusion, and strife we put ourselves through here on this rock. At its core, it merely represents another mentally fabricated strategy to have things be other than they are, and to appear more wonderful and fascinating in our own mirror.

Even those states that are traditionally considered “advanced” or “complete” (such as Sahaj Samadhi) give nobody any true advantage, since they are still essentially just peculiar modes of being in this psycho-physical realm, which is after all nothing but a virtual reality itself. Our true nature is not diminished when we appear to be ordinary and even ignorant, nor is it elevated by some sort of peak experience or unusual state of metaphysical attainment.

As the great Adept Dilgo Khyentse so well phrased it: “The everyday practice . . . is just everyday life itself. Since the undeveloped state does not exist, there is no need to behave in any special way or attempt to attain anything above and beyond what you actually are. There should be no feeling of striving to reach some “amazing goal” or “advanced state”. To strive for such a state is a neurosis which only conditions us and serves to obstruct the free flow of Mind. We should also avoid thinking of ourselves as worthless persons – we are naturally free and unconditioned. We are intrinsically enlightened and lack nothing.”

sun dance

Once the temporary human costume drops away (and with it, the theatrical drama of the human experience), what we eventually come to realize quite vividly is that the only part of our life’s efforts that actually amounted to anything was not the attainment of some lofty trance, awesome powers, or penetrating insight into emptiness. Rather, what we ultimately discover is that all that really mattered was how we treated each other – the love that we shared. Moreover, regardless of any honorific titles and trappings we may have come by or have bestowed on us, if our various “spiritual” practices failed to enhance our capacity for love, then they were wasted.

“Enlightenment” is truly our prior and timeless condition, which is set aside in order to enter into the denser planes of existence, such as this virtual reality game of being human. By choosing to come here, we also accept a kind of amnesia regarding our true condition, which is necessary in order to imbue the human experience with a quality of visceral reality. The illusion keeps things “interesting”, in that regard, as we confront the unknown. Likewise, all ensuing lessons, adventures, and interactions are rendered more impactful due to their freshness and immediacy. In that regard, it could be said that, by submitting to the amnesia, we lose ourselves to find ourselves.


In our process of self-discovery, we fuse with the human bio-vehicle, because we are interested in how we will react to certain compelling simulations specific to the human experience. Through trial and error, we find out how to “do the right thing” in every test challenge we dream up for ourselves (often in conjunction with our “soul group”).

As one near death experiencer (Duane S.) describes it: “As I was shown around, it was explained to me how most of our celestial, eternal knowledge is blanked-out during our chosen life spans on earth. We must temporarily forget most of what our higher-self already knows so we can immerse ourselves in the roles we have chosen to play. Furthermore, they said that it might take a while for all my knowledge and memories to return. To ease the transition back into this realm, I was told to think of my time on earth as an extended visit to the ultimate theme park. Consider it a place with thrilling rides and various adventures that I could choose to experience or not. I was also reminded that the reason we leave the celestial realm at all was for the excitement, variety, adventure, and entertainment that different incarnations offer. However, to take all our celestial knowledge with us on our various adventures would have ruined the very experience that we had chosen to live. Someone there said that I should think of our trips to other realms as choosing a new novel to read. I can choose a new book, depending on what I am in the mood for. Furthermore, if I knew every turn and twist of the story, line by line, prior to reading it, it would spoil the fun.”

We take on this human form because that potential circumstance is intriguing to us (and so different than what we really are), just as video gaming is fascinating to some, putting the player into challenging and provocative situations that they would not normally encounter. When asked why so many souls incarnate into bodies, the sage Nisargadatta replied: “To know itself the self must be faced with its opposite — the not-self. Desire leads to experience. Experience leads to discrimination, detachment, self-knowledge — liberation. And what is liberation after all? To know that you are beyond birth and death.”

We’re certainly not here to escape into some human notion of enlightenment, but more to experience “un-enlightenment”, and all the thrills and spills involved in that virtual scenario. We then have some stories (data) to take back with us and share with our “Group” or “Family” — the ones we’ve been traveling with for unaccountable eons. This new data in turn contributes to the ongoing evolution of that “cell”. I call it a cell because that is just what we are like, cells within a larger body, which in turn is a cell within an even larger body, and so on beyond any human comprehension.

There is no such thing as “right” or “wrong” data — it’s all fuel for the ongoing expansion of the larger Consciousness, the ongoing evolution of “God or “Source”, of which all of us are unique though temporary expressions in our various human, soul, and causal incarnations. None of those expressions or transient identities become “enlightened”, but only serve as costumes (like space suits) for immortal Spirit — the impersonal enlightened nature that is always already the reality.

Just so, as we deepen in our appreciation of our actual condition, we may even come to see through the creative fiction of “personhood” altogether. After all, if the person we take ourselves to be is simply a bundle of thoughts, memories, sensations, and perceptions, then what is it – who is it – that is going to attain enlightenment? In that regard, Shunryu Suzuki summed it up well: “Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity.”

The founder of the Rinza Sect of Chan (Zen) Buddhism, Lin Chi, was even more direct when he told an assembly of monks: “I tell you, there’s no Buddha, no Dharma, no practice, no enlightenment. Yet you go off like this on side roads, trying to find something. Blind fools! Will you put another head on top of the one you have? What is it you lack?”

Likewise, the Sage who taught Nisargadatta Maharaj, Siddharameshwar, noted: “If there is a certain notion that you have direct ‘Realization,’ it is only the delusion of a confused mind. This confusion is only the enhancement of the Illusion that is already there. It is the spectacle, the festival of Illusion. Every so-called ‘Realization’ is Illusion.”

Upon sincere and thorough inspection, the sense of an independent and substantial personal self, or “me”, can be recognized as a compounded mental construct, an artificial fabrication. It has its purpose in terms of navigating the objective world, but is not at all our real identity. As consciousness takes human form, we tend to construe and then confirm such an enduring self, based on our identification with the transient, when in fact its very transience should be proof of its unreality. Fundamentally, it is empty of any solidity. Our true nature has never been confined to that empty conceptual self-sense. We simply employ it as a vehicle. With the benefit of expanded awareness, we come to recognize that our true “Self” is an infinite and all-encompassing mystery of love and awareness beyond the limited persona’s comprehension.

Nevertheless, to actually penetrate this “open secret” is no easy task. Mark Twain once noted, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Certainly, it’s implications are a threat to the religions that would keep us in the dark, in order to maintain the illusion that their dogmas and methods hold the key to redemption, salvation, liberation. Moreover, it definitely challenges the multitude of strategies and schemes dedicated to escaping this world into some conceptual enlightenment, but perhaps we are reaching a turning point in the evolution of our collective spirituality, in which the old myths are rendered obsolete. We shall see, as more and more aspirants wake up and do as Dogen Zenji suggested, “Abandon enlightenment and walk freely”.


The fact is, humans have all sorts of experiences, which they in turn filter through their perceptual apparatus. From there, they superimpose a conditioned and conditional fantasy of interpretation onto each experience. In the process, they fabricate various theories, myths, and stories about it all, and perhaps other humans listen and agree. In fact, this is how religious sects are spawned and perpetuated.

However, for those who have been graced with a more mature and penetrating vision, rare as that is, what is revealed is that no intellectual theory or transcendental experience could possibly encompass the vast subtleties of the universal manifestation and its functioning. Reality is prior to, and utterly beyond the reach of, the mind that would attempt to grasp it and conform it to some human system of doctrines and dogmas.

As the Dzogchen Kunje Gyalpo Tantra states: “Self-arising wisdom, the essence of Dharmakaya, is not realized through effort, but conversely, by just remaining in the natural condition. It transcends all the aims of the practices, for that which is called “aim” is only a name: in reality “enlightenment” itself is only a name. Using the definition of “enlightenment” is a characteristic of the provisional teachings and not of the definitive ones.”

Consequently, where we are left is in a state of profound “not knowing”, which just happens to be the essential nature of our original innocence. By resting in that state of transparent awake awareness, rather than trying to analyze or speculate, the need to have it figured out and filed in memory is superseded by the astonishment of contemplating and appreciating the Mystery to the point that one’s hair stands on end at the very appearance of anything at all.

Furthermore, there is no end to the unfolding revelation, since the very nature of our Spirit, and its utter enjoyment, is infinite expansion in all directions, and far beyond what even the most imaginative human belief systems regarding Enlightenment (or even Reality) might propose.

In that process, however, Spirit does not become more “Spiritual”. There is no such thing as ascension. That which is already perfect and complete lacks nothing, and certainly does not need to become something else – something better, bigger, or brighter — to confirm itself. Some wisdom begins to dawn with the realization that there is no remedy. It matures with the realization that the disease which the remedies are meant to address (and for which “Enlightenment” is reckoned as the cure) is itself a figment of imagination, with no inherent substance.

This is not to claim, by the way,  that the various wisdom systems conceived and propagated in this realm cannot be of some value, especially if they inspire a life of integrity and compassion, guiding one to eschew the poisons of envy, greed, hatred, and arrogance, and towards the altruism of selfless service and humility. Moreover, followers can certainly have many experiences of transformative insights and life-changing realizations by applying various methods and practices, or even serendipitously.

That said, nobody in this human realm experiences anything like some ultimate realization, any more than a kindergarten student is going to grasp the intricacies of quantum physics, or a sleep walker is going to win the Boston Marathon. As stated above, that’s not even why most of us are here.

Moreover, and contrary to the propaganda of the usual preachers, there is very likely no end to our Spirit’s exploration of its own infinite nature. As the great Zen Master Hakuin noted: “Though your own personal study of the Five Ranks [levels of realization] comes to an end, the Buddha-way stretches endlessly and there are no tarrying places on it.”

Truly, our potential is limitless. As this becomes apparent, what then calls to us is simply the expanding recognition of the most loving possibility contained in each moment now, and it is that ongoing discovery and its actualization which fulfills our deepest yearning as beloved expressions of Source.

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.” ~Corinthians 13


See also:

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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38 Responses to The Myth of Enlightenment

  1. marcel says:

    “What Grace to fall, to fail completely”

    Speaking about Data, I’ve been watching and enjoying old star trek (next gen) dvd’s.
    It’s entertaining to see how easily one falls into self-inquiry with scripts like that.

    • Birthed of dark chromatine matter
      leaping from cis 1, 2 dimethylmethionine
      to trans 1, 3 phosphorylguanine,
      an electron seeking an M shell
      to convert into body double
      a blue positron
      colliding in hyperspace
      finding an inverted spinning tachyon
      for melting into taintless white light
      unmoving toward strange violet attractor and
      crystallized into timeless tetravalent
      carbon atom substrate frozen within
      large polyamine chain —
      a catecholamine transmitter
      traveling through a silver white axone
      towards an embracing multiramified dentrite
      exploding into a synaptic chamber
      streams hurtling through the
      wall of next membrane
      a deep accumulating dam,
      waves of low neural potentials
      exchanging secret sounds
      matrix of 1000101010101 digits
      N-dimensional bended Riemann strings
      building alpha numerical memory units
      becoming a ribosome,
      a laser like sensor witnessing
      elongated proteins forming
      pyramidal neural cell
      solar fusion state
      galactic resonance
      harmonic N-fields
      angelic hosts
      Supreme Mahamudra
      embryonic metamorph –
      the kitten within a cat:

      Om Tat Sat!

  2. marcel says:

    Read it like 5 times and everytime the stomach and jaw hurts from laughing
    Thanks for all your continuing service off and on this blog.

    Tat Tvam Asi!

  3. rahkyt says:

    I think this is why those ‘enlightened masters’ running around always have a little smile on their face. Because they know what they are doing and the word games they engage in with their students are really funny when you think about it from the higher perspective. The students are always so serious and earnest. And it’s all really a game.

    But one can’t really know that truly until one has mastered certain aspects of the game, experienced first-hand what lies outside the game, and returned to the game to witness the other players who haven’t gotten so far, still thinking the game is real.

    • Right, I remember sitting at an Adyashanti satsang back around 2002 (Adayashanti is now a well-recognized contemporary American spiritual teacher), and towards the end of the talk he was giving, he suddenly said, “Everything I say is a lie.” He didn’t elaborate, but went on to conclude his lecture, and nobody seemed to want to explore the comment. However, I pondered it for a while, and realized that he had just given us a clue to the undoing of the whole game of dependence on “spiritual authority”. By pointing us back to ourselves, he had done us a great favor, undermining the seekers’ uninspected reliance on the words of others to define their own way.


  4. ed says:

    This is my current view: Once a person completely and thoroughly understands that there is nothing to achieve and nothing that can “help” you be a better or more authentic person, and “you” drop all projects and ventures – then at that point, you are free.

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    Ch’en Hsiung says, “Manjushri once asked the Buddha, ‘What do you mean when you say not a single being is liberated?’ And the Buddha replied, ‘Our nature is ultimately pure and subject to neither rebirth nor nirvana. Thus, there are no beings to be liberated, and there is no nirvana to be attained. It is simply that all beings revert to their own nature.’” The Diamond Sutra – Red Pine

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    “I tell you, there’s no Buddha, no Dharma, no practice, no enlightenment. Yet you go off like this on side roads, trying to find something. Blind fools! Will you put another head on top of the one you have? What is it you lack?

    Followers of the Way, I tell you there is no Dharma to be found outside. But students don’t understand me and immediately start looking inward for some explanation, sitting by the wall in meditation, pressing their tongues against the roof of their mouths, absolutely still, never moving, supposing this to be the Dharma of the buddhas taught by the patriarchs. What a mistake! If you take this unmoving, clean, and pure environment to be the right way, then you will be making ignorance the lord and master. A person of old said, “Bottomless, inky black is the deep pit, truly a place to be feared!” This is what he meant.

    But suppose you take motion to be the right way. Every plant and tree knows how to move back and forth, so does that mean they constitute the Way? To the degree that they move, it is due to the element air; to the degree that they do not move, it is to the element earth. Neither their moving nor their not moving comes from any nature innate in them. If you look toward the area of motion and try to grasp the truth there, it will take up its stand in the area of non-motion, and if you look toward non-motion and try to grasp it there, it will take up its stand in motion. It is like a fish hidden in a pond who now and then slaps the surface and leaps up.

    Followers of the Way, you lug your alms bag and rush off on side roads, looking for buddhas, looking for Dharma. Right now, all this dashing and searching you are doing, do you know what it is you are looking for? It is vibrantly alive, yet has no root or stem. You can’t gather it up; you can’t scatter it to the winds. The more you search for it, the farther away it gets. Don’t search for it and it’s right before your eyes; its miraculous sound always in your ears. But if you don’t have faith, you’ll spend your hundred years in wasted labor.

    You rush around frantically one place to another. What are you looking for, tramping till the soles of your feet are squashed flat? There is no Buddha to be sought, no Way to be carried out, no Dharma to be gained.

    Seeking outside for some Buddha possessing form, this hardly becomes you!If you wish to know your original mind, don’t try to join with it, don’t try to depart from it.”

    ~Lin Chi

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    “No ambition is spiritual. All ambitions are for the sake of the ‘I am’. If you want to make real progress you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are preposterous. A man’s desire for a woman is innocence itself compared to the lusting for an everlasting personal bliss. The mind is a cheat. The more pious it seems, the worse the betrayal.”

    ~Nisargadatta Maharaj

  8. Michelle Dodrill says:

    Thank you, Bob, for sharing your insights on this blog, which I was turned on to through Christopher Chase’s FB pages, so I have him to thank as well.

    “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” Groucho Marx

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    “Enlightenment cannot be attained through the thought processes of personal persona or thinking yourself to have ‘achieved’ something, for the concept of achievement comes from the thought processes of human persona. If you think you have ‘achieved’ enlightenment, then you in fact have not. When you have found enlightenment, you will actually never form the question, is this enlightenment? You will simply have no thought about it to question the state you are in.

    Enlightenment is not a thing which becomes apparent to one, or something which ‘clicks’ one fine morning. It is something which you become without you knowing you have become it, for you actually let go of the need or want to be that.

    There is no persona present of ‘I want to be enlightened’. As long as your desire exists to attain a thing called enlightenment, you will never experience it. You will simply exhibit characteristics of behaviour and mind which, in your own value structure, deem to be a form of enlightenment.

    Someone else far more wise than you will then come along and say, well that is not enlightenment. Enlightenment does not require persona; it does not want to be Self-achieved. It is a pure state of bliss, connectivity and spirit union which takes place when one gives of themselves without thought for themselves, for they no longer experience themselves as ‘selves’, only one with everything. In this state, there is no thought of ‘I am enlightened’, for there is no thought of ‘I’ ever arising.”


  10. rahkyt says:

    Thank you Bob … you continue to “enlighten”, bredren. Blessings.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Always great to hear from you, Brother, and especially to get your blog posts from Sacred Space, truly insightful and compassionate!


      • rahkyt says:

        You are kind to say so. I find most recently that it is the simple, common issues that are rising most in my experience. In speaking about my own perceptions, I hope some other may also find clarity as well. Blessings to you and yours always.

      • Bob OHearn says:

        No doubt many do find clarity in your generous offerings, and will continue to do so.

        Bows of Gratitude

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    All the philosophical theories that exist have been created by the mistaken dualistic minds of human beings. In the realm of philosophy, that which today is considered true, may tomorrow be proved to be false. No one can guarantee a philosophy’s validity. Because of this, any intellectual way of seeing whatever is always partial and relative. The fact is that there is no truth to seek or to confirm logically; rather what one needs to do is to discover just how much the mind continually limits itself in a condition of dualism.

    Dualism is the real root of our suffering and of all our conflicts. All our concepts and beliefs, no matter how profound they may seem, are like nets which trap us in dualism. When we discover our limits we have to try to overcome them, untying ourselves from whatever type of religious, political or social conviction may condition us. We have to abandon such concepts as ‘enlightenment’, ‘the nature of the mind’, and so on, until we are no longer satisfied by a merely intellectual knowledge, and until we no longer neglect to integrate our knowledge with our actual existence.

    – Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche

  12. Bob OHearn says:

    “We’re not here to ‘get enlightened,’ to ‘end suffering,’ to ‘annihilate the ego,’ or to ‘awaken forever,’ but rather to explore, listen, discover what’s here and what here is. Not once and for all, but this moment. And this moment. And this moment.”

    ~Toni Packer

  13. Hariod Brawn says:

    Great piece, great peace. _/\_

  14. Bob OHearn says:

    No matter how much we keep looking for liberation, for enlightenment, we will never find it as long as we are going somewhere to find it, because actually it is here. Life is enlightenment. Life is the sacredness. Life is emptiness and emptiness is life…Manifested is in the unmanifested and unmanifested is in the manifested. This is the great unity.

    ~ Anam Thubten Rinpoche

  15. Bob OHearn says:

    Does one really have to fret about enlightenment?
    No matter what road I travel, I’m going home.


  16. Bob OHearn says:

    “No one can become enlightened. No one can be liberated, for the you that thinks it can be liberated doesn’t even exist. There is no you. There is no person. There is no human being who is a human being one day and the next day becomes liberated. There is only the liberated Self, and you are That.”

    ~ Robert Adams

  17. Bob OHearn says:

    “Thus samsara is emptiness, nirvana is emptiness – and so consequently, one is not “bad” nor the other “good.” The person who has realised the nature of mind is freed from the impulsion to reject samsara and obtain nirvana. He is like a young child, who contemplates the world with an innocent simplicity, without concepts of beauty or ugliness, good or evil. He is no longer the prey of conflicting tendencies, the source of desires or aversions.”

    – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

  18. Bob OHearn says:

    “Duality is something which grants you the gift of perspective, from one vantage point or state of consciousness to another. When one teaches you duality is something to be transcended, this suggests someone else is trying to steer your own ship to their own horizon and tell you your own destiny. They may try to teach you that one thing must be forsaken and forced out for the sake and justification of attaining some elevated transcended state of enlightenment. Your spirit is already enlightened, it has always been and never ceases to be so. They may try to teach you that you must steer clear of the dark and embrace only love and light, for unless you do you live in duality. Yet you would not know the value of love and light should the dark not present golden perspective and Self-realization. You cannot find value in the beauty and purpose of a simple candle light without the presence of its opposite. You cannot be fully self-aware if all you are aware of is one end of the spectrum.

    Duality is an inherent attribute of physical state. Hot and cold; light and dark; near and far; love and fear, are all aspects of the duality which you are immersed in as a physical being. You are not here in order to conquer it, to wage a war with darkness and fear, for these things are your greatest teachers. You are here to sample the state of it that you may see your Self from a different vantage point; that you may sample another flavour of the source that is yours to create with as you choose.”

    “Before we speak of the human entity, know that your spirit cannot get ‘more spiritual’, that is a false truth. This is also why spiritual ascension is also a false truth. There is no up or down, higher or lower in the spirit world, as you perceive reality to be, there is only expansion in every direction. That which is perfect and complete lacks nothing, and does not need more of something else to be its True Self. Your spirit is a mirror image of prime creator. When you are Self-realized, that is, when your spirit is made real within reality, you become God personified. When you realize the potential of your spirit is infinite, you understand that all that remains is for you to choose something from that infinity to experience joyfully. As you choose more, as you choose differently, you expand and grow outward into infinity. This is not a process of ascension, but a process of self-choosing. Accept the moment of the creation of now. Your purpose is choice, to choose. To choose here and now, accept it and experience it joy-fully. As the human race evolves joyfully along the path of love and wisdom, spirit, or Self, becomes another step closer, which enables growth between both worlds.

    This is the state of Self-becoming. That is, you continuously strive to discover and fulfill your most loving potential within each moment of now. Only love can unlock the doors to the true potential of humanity’s original purpose and design. However, it takes wisdom and acceptance in knowing that perfection can never truly be reached in physical state, since potential is infinite, the process itself becomes your ultimate joy. So it can be said, joy is your ultimate purpose. There is no higher joy than the joy of Self made manifest. You understand the simple pleasures of this joyful journey become your grandest fulfillment and achievement. It is not the big things you presume to be of great importance, but the little things, for these are what define you as a being. You will never, ever, lose this individual identity you know as ‘I’, even if you return to source.”


  19. Joe Haase says:

    Thanks, Bob …
    This article de-solidified many of my questions, and gave me more perspectives to enjoy !


  20. Bob OHearn says:

    John H Doughtry

    When an extension of our soul arrives on Earth, the agreement is to become somewhat of a “blank slate”, so that we can experience being disconnected from just about everything. This amnesia permits us to have Free Will, and to explore our way towards a ‘rediscovered’ universal connection. There is no “path to enlightenment”; at least not as Buddhism states. There is only exploration until memory returns through discovery. The discovered memory is like deja vu, in that as soon as the memory is discovered, we recognize it, realize it, and know that we’ve always known it.

    Many who remember their death or near-death experiences and return with messages of finally realizing the deeply profound spiritual connection within all existence are remembering what they knew before their souls extended into human forms. The term for this is called Awakening. They have awakened a memory of Spiritual Reality.

    The concept that one must direct oneself towards some spiritual state called Enlightenment is a misnomer. It would be better to tell people, “You must awaken your memory, but only if you choose to no longer believe you are a single entity, a disconnected being.”

    Many do not wish to awaken. They enjoy living in the ‘Matrix’, chasing careers and wealth, believing in man-made societal, governmental, and economic constructs. Only when those constructs betray them will they face the decision to, maybe, awaken from the sleep.

    As Alan Watts stated once, LIFE is not a journey with a specific destination. There is no striving towards a destination. LIFE is not like driving a car and wishing to get to the end. LIFE is more like playing a piano. One does not play music to merely get to the end. Playing the music without being concerned about the end is the enjoyment.

    Yet far too many religions teach that very fallacy, that one must live LIFE in a certain manner in order to arrive at the destination one desires. This causes people to live LIFE as a PROfession, rather than as a CONfession. A profession strives towards some future goal, while a confession is lived every moment. It is unfortunate that the language changes through time have changed how the Greek was translated into English in the Christian Canon. The use of the word “profession” in the canon isn’t the same meaning as today. The root means “confession” — to live in confession without ceasing.

    Living LIFE compassionately from one moment to the next IS the purpose to LIFE. So many claim to give compassion, yet I see people who “give” and then demand results! Compassion is NOT about give AND TAKE. That isn’t compassion at all. That is an Investment, an expectation; and not Unconditional Compassion which does not have expectations or requirements.

    While holding someone accountable is important (this is the “Truth” side of being Compassionate), demanding accountability BEFORE granting Compassion is not an act of compassion.

    LIFE is not an investment game. The corrupted world leaders and economic market treats LIFE as an investment gamble. Don’t fall for that false construct.

  21. Bob OHearn says:

    “Enlightenment is what comes when there is nothing left of us but love.”

    ~Anne Strieber

  22. Bob OHearn says:


    I tilt my head to the left and hear a sharp snap, as if a nut has been cracked. Immediately I feel better. Tension builds in the body, concentrates in certain areas, and stretching can relieve it. Our dogs always stretch, as does every cat. The body likes it. In the morning, upon awakening, the whole body stretches, it is one of its true pleasures. My neck is one area where tension builds, probably from sitting here at the computer and babbling on and on.

    These days I hear lots of people talking about their awakenings. They seem to impress themselves greatly with their spiritual advancement, and naturally want to share their accomplishment, for the sake of all un-awakened beings. I have met many people over the years who claim to have awakened — the mind likes to receive confirmation that it has transcended itself. It is one of the ego’s great delights, that it has seen through itself, right into its own non-existence, and of course this calls for applause!

    What a heroic attainment — to recognize that there is nothing to attain! Put out a shingle right away, gather the adoring devotees, and be sure to solicit favorable comments on Amazon about the Awakening Book you just wrote — people need something to strive for, something they believe is not already true of them, plus we all still have bills to pay!

    A Zen student called Hsiang-yen went to dokusan with Kuei-shan Ling-yu (771-853) , the T’ang dynasty master, and Kuei-shan gave him a koan, but despite his efforts, he was unable to see into its mysteries. Hsiang-yen decided that it was all too much for him and he would surrender. He went away and found a sacred site, the grave of the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Zen, Hui-neng, and maintained it as a shrine. Day in and day out he had no thought about the world except his sweeping.

    Then one day, sweeping away, he swept a pebble into a bamboo grove beside the shrine. The pebble hit a piece of hollow bamboo and went “ping!” and he jumped up and down. The “ping!” shook him to pieces and he said, “One ping! and I have forgotten all I knew!” and he composed a poem in his excitement: “Last year’s poverty was not true poverty, this year even the wind can get through!”

  23. Bob OHearn says:

    Three Incorrect Views of Enlightenment
    From Master Sheng Yen

    Someone who has practiced for many years and has achieved good results may feel that they have realized pure wisdom, where all attachment to self is terminated and nirvana is entered. Actually, anyone who thinks they are enlightened really is not, since such a person still thinks that there is a self to be enlightened. Enlightenment is neither an object, nor a feeling, nor a realm to be entered. If enlightenment were any of these, it would be limited and thus illusory. So long as enlightenment is seen as an objective, and so long as there is a self to benefit from enlightenment, wisdom will be remote.

    If you have just begun to practice, after hearing what I have just said, you may think that you understand. But it is difficult for a beginner to appreciate the joy that results from deep practice. Indeed, suppose that after much practice you feel as if the self has entered nirvana. At this time tremendous bliss would well up in you, and you might exclaim, “Truly, my self has disappeared completely. I have entered nirvana.” Have you really entered nirvana? Since there is still a sense of self to enter nirvana, that ultimate achievement is still unrealized. But so powerful is this experience that it is likely to mislead even a very experienced practitioner. This is an example of the kind of misconception that can result from attachment to self.

    Another example would be a practitioner who reaches the stage where self-centeredness ends and the method of practice disappears. He will feel entirely relaxed and free, unified with the universe, yet unconcerned with its relation to him because his self-sense is gone. His state is not one of exultation, but rather of perfect ease; he will not jump with delight and shout that he has entered nirvana. But the self still exists in this case, no matter what the practitioner has experienced. Once he comes down from this peaceful state, he may assert that he understands nirvana, that he has seen the Dharma body of the Buddha, and that he has attained final wisdom. If you, who have not yet attained the meditative skill of this person, attempt to contradict him, he may well overcome you in debate. He may respond as follows: “You have never had my experiences, so you don’t know what you are talking about.” Such a practitioner is generally very attached to his achievement and will be frustrated when you do not believe him. To make matters worse, there may be another person close by who is willing to affirm what this practitioner claims, perhaps because this other person feels that his own achievements accord perfectly with the sutras. This bystander may say that, because he himself has known the experiences described by the other practitioner, he is in a position to affirm their validity. This will make the first practitioner very happy and see the other as a true Dharma friend.

    What kind of liberation does this practitioner possess, who responds to praise with delight and to doubt with irritation? It would seem that his nirvana is faulty. Perhaps our practitioner might respond to this conclusion as follows: “I may respond to praise and criticism in different ways, but I do not do so to please myself. Since I am quite free from the self, I really do not care at all. But in order to uphold the dignity of the Buddhadharma, I censure those who conflict with the Dharma and praise those who are in accord with it.” What can we say to this? It would be impossible to judge such a person’s achievement. What is important is the nature of his experience. If as a result of this experience he feels he has attained deep wisdom, then he has not entered nirvana. Nirvana is entered only when both nirvana and samsara disappear and become like a dream; nirvana is entered only if there is no more feeling of happiness and sorrow, and if the mind is quite stable and tranquil.

    It is strange to speak of enlightenment as a dream, but if samsara and enlightenment are both illusory, then the practitioner is striving to leave one dream only to enter another. Actually, enlightenment itself is not a dream, but the idea of enlightenment as well as its attainment is a dream. Thus, sentient beings in samsara live in a dream, with a view of enlightenment as an object of grasping. If they actually reach enlightenment, it will no longer be seen as a dream. Indeed, at that time, enlightenment will cease to exist. When genuine enlightenment is entered, being empty, it disappears.

    A diligent practitioner is like someone trying to climb a glass mountain. The mountain is very steep and slippery. The mountaineer is barefooted and to make matters worse, the mountain is covered with oil. Every time he makes an effort to climb, he slips. With persistence, however, he tries again and again to make progress up the mountain until, utterly exhausted, he collapses into a deep sleep. When he awakens, the mountain has disappeared. He then realizes that all his effort was but a dream, and that there is no need to climb; there is no progress to make. In the dream, however, the mountain did exist, and if he had not attempted the impossible, he would not have been able to wake from his dream. We practice Buddhadharma in order to leave samsara and achieve nirvana. If in the course of practice you think you have left one realm and entered the other, you are still only dreaming.

    So far we have treated those who feel they have achieved enlightenment in relation to an existing self. In our third example, we will examine the equally false, reverse perspective. In this case, the practitioner asserts that there is no nirvana and no self to enter nirvana. Therefore he is indifferent to praise and blame, to worldly affairs, and even to his own practice. This attitude is quite erroneous and is perhaps more dangerous for the practitioner than either of the two previous examples. In those previous examples, the practitioner may at least attain the heavenly states of dhyana, but this third practitioner is tempted to give up practicing. Were he to persevere in practice, he might be able to enter the formless heavens. But if he were to cease practicing because all is illusion, because of this ignorance, neither the human nor heavenly realms would be open to him, and he could be reborn in the animal realm.

    These examples of incorrect views of enlightenment are not unusual. It is easy for even diligent practitioners to make these mistakes. Thus, you can understand the great importance of having a master who can guide his students away from these pitfalls. Without such a guide, though convinced he is practicing Buddhadharma, the practitioner could be traveling outer paths.

    (From Chan Newsletter No.41, November 1984)

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