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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Enlightenment is Always Present

Even before we practice it, enlightenment is there. But usually we understand the practice of zazen and enlightenment as two different things: here is practice, like a pair of glasses, and when we use the practice, like putting the glasses on, we see enlightenment. This is the wrong understanding. The glasses themselves are enlightenment, and to put them on is also enlightenment. So whatever you do, or even though you do not do anything, enlightenment is there, always. This is Bodhidharma's understanding of enlightenment.

--Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

James: So true. Enlightenment is not something to obtain but rather some thing to be. Perhaps just like the oxygen in the air that we do not see or always think about. We breath oxygen and think nothing of it. So to, Enlightenment is there within and without going along with us like our shadow.

Sometimes we hold Enlightenment to be some rare, unobtainable jewel to be found (and possessed) in some high Himalayan cave guarded by some 400 year old master. We think it is more difficult then it is. We set out after it as if we were looking for the Holy Grail. We can't fathom that it is already there waiting for us. It is as if we deny our shadow being apart of us.

Look!! It is there in every thought. In every breath. In every pump of our heart. In the vast blue sky. In our moments of despair. In the compost of the garden. In the song of the fragile sparrow. In the smile of a child or the Dalai Lama. Even in the death of a loved one.

Enlightenment is our birthright and our destiny. As the lotus flower blooms out of the murky, muddy waters of an over grown pond let us reach for the sky and allow our inner Buddha to break the waters of confusion, fear and Self doubt. So that we may be in the present moment of pure Being. We inter-are with all things and that very much includes Enlightenment.

Let us not be discouraged.

~Peace to all beings~

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Dharmasattva said...

Great post, James. I think that too often we think of nibbana as something outside of us, separate from the experiences of our everyday life. The peace we are looking for is to be found in every breath we breathe, every step we take.


Todd Epp said...


Thanks for listing my blog, High Plains Buddhist, in your listing. Much appreciated!

Todd Epp
High Plains Buddhist

Mystic Wing said...

I used to think that the "answer" was to be found deep, deep within myself. Eventually, after much wasted time, I found the truth is lying right at the front door of my soul. It's not deep and mysterious at all, but readily accessible at any moment.

A different way of saying what you've said much more elegantly.

Great blog. I'll be back often.

"James" said...


You're quite welcome (bows) _/I\_


Thank-you for your words and presence on this blog. I welcome you with open arms.

"James" said...


Thanks friend (bows). I couldn't agree more.

Shawn™ said...

This is a truth I have come to recently myself. As a practicing Gnostic, we find many passages in the Nag Hammadi Library of Jesus telling us that the truth is before our eyes, yet we do not see it.

Enlightenment (Gnosis to a gnostic) is a truth you wake up to as one asleep. One must recognize what one sees as the truth, a turn ones attention away from what is non-truth.

I feel much akin to the Buddhist thoughts. Blessings for you blog, it is a place of understanding to be sure.

Peace to you


Steven Crisp said...

If one essential truth to be realized through enlightenment is that no one or no thing has any inherent essence itself ...

Then no one or no thing can have enlightenment as an inherent condition, either to be found, or to be uncovered. It cannot be a state to attain, either through seeking, or through peeling back to what we envision as our essential nature.

Enlightenment, like the Tao, cannot be that of which we speak. Enlightenment means recognition of the world of duality, and trancendence of that world, to the goundless being before all things and of course, all words.

These too are falicious thoughts since they represent concepts, expressed as words. But perhaps they make a point that will help some in their contemplation.

Steven Crisp said...

I just stumbled upon this quote, and thought maybe adding it would be helpful here (I just love coincidences):

Subhuti asked: "Is perfect wisdom [aka enlightenment] beyond thinking? Is it unimaginable and totally unique but nevertheless reaching the unreachable and attaining the unattainable?"

The Buddha replied: "Yes, Subhuti, it is exactly so. And why is perfect wisdom beyond thinking? It is because all its points of reference cannot be thought about but can be apprehended. One is the disappearance of the self-conscious person into pure presence. Another is the knowing of the essenceless essence of all things in the world. And another is luminous knowledge that knows without a knower. None of these points can sustain ordinary thought because they are not objects or subjects. They can't be imagined or touched or approached in any way by any ordinary mode of consciousness, therefore they are beyond thinking."

"James" said...


Thank-you for the kind words that you said about this blog. I am very interested in mystical Christianity such as the Gnostic faith.


Yes, words are so inadequate.

Angela Ferreira said...

Lovely writting James, you are so right, enlightenment is there we just overlook it...

"James" said...



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