"Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?"
"As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning."
"Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?"
"To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise."
-Anthony deMello, from One Minute Wisdom
James: I feel that enlightenment is better understood as awareness. Thus, the seeker's question would then be, "Is there anything I can do to make myself aware?" He might as well be asking, "Is there anything I can do to make myself breath?" Being aware means letting go of our conceptual "understanding" and queries so that what remains is the Pure Awareness of observations and experiences as suchness unfolds and we are then free to simply delight in the process. I reminded of the story of Buddha, the disciple and the flower: By Thich Nhat Hanh, in Peace Is Every Step
One day the Buddha held up a flower in front of an audience of 1,250 monks and nuns. He did not say anything for quite a long time. The audience was perfectly silent. Everyone seemed to be thinking hard, trying to see the meaning behind the Buddha's gesture. Then, suddenly, the Buddha smiled. He smiled because someone in the audience smiled at him and at the flower. . . . To me the meaning is quite simple. When someone holds up a flower and shows it to you, he wants you to see it. If you keep thinking, you miss the flower. The person who was not thinking, who was just himself, was able to encounter the flower in depth, and he smiled. That is the problem of life. If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.
James: While intellect is important in Buddhism, too much thinking gets us no where because it is based on the mind--which is where the so called, "problem" arises from in the first place!! We think so hard that we miss the bigger picture because we are looking instead at each individual pixel. It is like saying, "No. I can't see the forest because there are too many damn trees in the way!!" When you stand back and just let yourself be apart of the grand tapestry then there ceases to be a need to "make sense" of it all. This is the reality of Oneness where there is no longer a "questioner" and a "question." There just simply is.
We don't need to understand every little detail to enjoy life, to experience blissfulness and peace. Our questions will never cease and one day our intellectual understanding will fail us and we will become disillusioned unless we have learned, again, how to let go and just experience (and accept) life for what it is. The mind will never be satisfied and that is why it is skillful to let go of it's biased "revelations." The mind can not experience Oneness because all it knows and desires is separateness, specialness, desire and greed.
~Peace to all beings~
PHOTO: Borobodur at Sunset in Borobodur, Java, Indonesia by Jon Toma