Spirituality: World Religion: organic enlightenment: Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christian Mysticism, Hinduism
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
The need to forget the unmiraculous ideas we have been taught, in order to see the pristine miracle of existence once again, is easy to accept. The question that remains, however, is how do we go about 'forgetting'? What must we do in order to clear away the dross and let the true gold shine through? And the answer, oddly enough, is: nothing.
There is no methodology which might direct us toward reality, for all methodologies are based upon action within a 'known' forum, and it is this 'known' which is itself the door which we must unknow in order to walk through.
Thus organic mysticism is not about 'finding', 'becoming', 'achieving', 'transcending', or 'understanding', it is simply about being; nor is it about meditation, prayer, austerities, or pilgrimages, for in order to be with the mystery, we do not have to do anything, except be.
"The greatest art is like stupidity."
Organic mysticism is not about rites, mantras, dogmas, or spiritual exercises (all of which, though perhaps valid in their own context, eventually become limiting factors to absolute unknowing, specifically because they do require context in order to be valid), it is about looking honestly at ourselves and everything, about de-identifying ourselves with the 'I' which participates in the play of being; it is about looking upon the self as if for the very first time, and letting it go, over and over again, so that It might continue to be and become more Itself, never again to be bound by the limiting mind.
Regarding the non-necessity of disciplines and directives, Franz Kafka stated, in unabashed reflection: "Self control is something for which I do not strive. Self control means: wanting to work effectively at some random point in the infinite radiations of my spiritual existence. But if I must draw such circles round me, then it will be better for me to do it passively, merely gaping in wonder at the immense complex, and just take home with me the strength which this spectacle, e contrario, provides."
To attain this 'passivity' we must live without thought of reward, goal, or attainment. We must exist in the world without knowing what it is to exist in the world. We must detach from our petty needs and understandings; we must effortlessly watch ourselves with complete, objective detachment, as if we were watching someone else watching someone else.
Zen Master Fenyang relates this finding, suggesting: "When you're settled...your mind is serene, unaffected by worldly distractions. You enter the realm of enlightenment, and transcend the ordinary world, leaving the world while in the midst of society."
He is pointing to the 'no mind', spoken of in Zen training, which implies absolute, unadulterated, innocent, novel, effortless attention.
Seeing is not a function only of the eyes, it is a mind-set; whether we look through given interpretations and filters, or instead take them off and see clearly with nothing in between us and life; whether we choose to polish the lenses or continue to see 'through a glass darkly'; or whether we choose to smash the windows, and let the breeze of brilliance blow through.
"You needn't seek wonders, for wonders come of themselves."
Zen Master Lingi
Mystery is, it need not be invoked nor sought after, it need only be recognized.
The glory of being cannot help but spontaneously appear when our vision is clear enough to see it. Acknowledging this, the kun byed rgyal po'i mdo claims: "The great wonders are not difficult [to see]. Through subtleness the understanding of suchness as to all good qualities and forces immediately arises from its own"
I am pointing to the natural outcome of honest perception, which leads to the realization of incomprehension, which leads to awe, which leads to life. Wonderment is simply the initial gust, the shock that occurs when all the lenses are cleared- the inaugural, flabbergasting startlement that 'what is' IS! It is the annihilation of all previous premises, prejudices, and pseudo-profundities. When we finally look completely at ourselves and the world, for the very first time, we shall see the wordless, unimaginable, intimate, inimitable miracle of being blossoming all around and within us.
And for this we do not have to seek for some secret, or develop great spiritual talents; we do not have to do anything, life does it all, for the essence of life is its unknowability.
"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible", observed Oscar Wilde. Which is to say- the unknown is the known, and the known is the unknown; the Mystery stands right before us and in us, we need only open our minds and let this realization surge in.
Life is an unimaginable miracle. Nothing is plausible. Nothing.
"To exist is a state as little conceivable as its contrary.
No, still more inconceivable."
Thus there is no process involved in true seeing, there is no 'understanding' which becomes obvious, there is only a meaninglessness of incredible meaning that lies waiting to be uncovered in all and everything. Mystery becomes the way to itself, because there is naught but mystery.
It is simply a matter of focus, of contracting and expanding, of plying the extent of our sight, of accepting that we cannot focus upon two distances at once, of intentionally blurring what is now clear, so that what is blurred may emerge clearly in plain view.
This is a facile reversal of cognition, a subtle return to the purity which has not been lost but only buried beneath the mire, for the truth is that we contain everything necessary to experience wonder, because ...nothing is necessary.
Osho remarks: "Nature is enough... No imposed laws and disciplines are needed. Innocence is enough. No morality is needed. Nature is spontaneous, nature is enough. No imposed laws and disciplines are needed. Innocence is enough. Knowledge is not needed. ...the real guru is life itself. …[Therefore] just be, moment to moment, not knowing who you are...and what you are."
Life is enough unto itself; to 'be' is, in its absolute essence, an ineffable, inexpressible, inexhaustible event of beauty and strangeness; the staggering aspect of 'being' is that it is, and that it is thoroughly incomprehensible.
Excerpts from the kun byed rgyal po'i mdo, continue to address this view: "It is a path, subtle and difficult to understand, which is non-speculative and beyond thinking. It is non-existent, imperceptible, and non-conceptual, it is free of all thinking. It cannot be captured in words, free from form and color, it is not an object of the sense faculties. It is firm, difficult to comprehend, and totally inexplicable. ...Through an attitude free of desires...nature is self-perfected. ...and there is no need for [certain] activities, as likewise, the essentials are unagitated, and therefore don't need to be achieved. ...It is a natural knowledge, broad and without boundaries or a center. ...There is no becoming as everything is just as it is. ...A practitioner...who abides in a state of non-conceptual thinking and who [thinks] 'whatever is, is right', this person manifests the [highest]... intention. ...There is nothing else than abiding...in balance, without conceptual thinking. ...There is no need to carry out meditation as Reality is oneself. Do not seek a place of meditation, do not depend on others. ...and do not try to understand intellectually the imperceptible nature. Do not search for Reality in anything else than yourself."
Organic mysticism (I call it organic mysticism, but the only real name for it is ...life. I am not espousing a new religion, merely the abandonment of all that is old) is a natural process, it is not a function of cultivation, examination, manipulation, or adaptation. It is the realization that asceticisms, prostrations, petitions, sacrifices, and self-denials are wholly unnatural.
"That the world is, is the mystical."
Recognizing this means, again, that no efforts or achievements will change anything, in fact they may take us farther away from our true selves, and farther from reality, because these actions, bound into erroneous paradigms, run wholly against the grain of our wonder-full beings.
Osho implores us onward: "My sannyas [i.e. practice] is spontaneity, living moment to moment without any prefabricated discipline, living with the unknown, not exactly knowing where you are going. Because if you already know where you are going you are dead. Then life runs in a mechanical way. A life should be a flow from the known towards the unknown. One should be dying each moment to the known so the unknown can penetrate you. And only the unknown liberates. ...live a life of spontaneity, of nature. Don't try to corrupt your future. Let it be...don't try to manage it. Don't give it a mold and a form and a pattern. ...Remain unprepared, then you will be excited, then each moment will be a joy and a wonder, and each moment will bring something new to you which has never happened, and you will never be bored. ...Move in freedom, move in total freedom, and each moment remember to drop the past. ...Just go on ceasing as far as the past is concerned, dying as far as the past is concerned, so you are totally alive, throbbing, pulsating, streaming..."
This 'amethodological methodology' of aconceptual existence is simply the unshackling of the imprisoned mind- of loosing the conceptual grip we have unwittingly placed upon ourselves. That is when realization leads to unrealization, decay turns into growth, and without struggle or skill we become our true marvelous selves, agog in the spellbinding universe, simply because reality itself is fantastically outrageous already.
"I do not understand. That phrase is so overwhelming that it transcends any understanding. Our understanding is always limited. But not to understand can be without frontiers. I feel myself much more complete when I do not understand.
Not to understand, in the sense I mean, is a gift."
The ability to receive the givenness of the miracle of life is the gift; life remains the same event either way- whether we see it as a burden or a blessing- it is simply our reception which determines which side of the coin we are on.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj offers his opinion, observing: "What is the use of truth, goodness, harmony, beauty? They are their own goal. They manifest spontaneously and effortlessly, when things are left to themselves, are not interfered with, not shunned, or wanted, or conceptualized, but just experienced in full awareness. [This] awareness...does not make use of things and people- it fulfills them. ...I follow no rules nor lay down rules. I flow with life- faithfully and irresistibly. ...Just live your life as it comes, but alertly, watchfully, allowing everything to happen as it happens, doing the natural things the natural way, suffering, rejoicing- as life brings. ...You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown."
We do not need to try and solve anything. It is only our false thinking that leads to a false society, which leads to false lives, which leads to false problems. So the attempt to find a solution remains in the false loop and cannot ever succeed to liberate us.
"I have no doctrine to give people,
I just cure ailments and unlock fetters."
Zen Master Lingi
These 'fetters' that bind us are of our own making. In order to free ourselves, we need only stop making them; which is to say, we must not continue to grasp for any truth whatsoever, or we shall lose the lightness and freedom of the innocent, unknowing mind.
Therefore, God, speaking in Neale Donald Walsch's book, Friendship With God, exclaims: "That's been the problem, right there! You've always thought. Try not thinking once in a while. Try simply being. It is when you just 'be'...that the greatest insight comes. ...You cannot find the answer- any answer- rapidly by thinking about it. You have to get out of your thoughts, leave your thoughts behind, and move into pure beingness. ...[For] awareness is a state of being. Therefore, if you are perplexed or puzzled about something in life, you must not mind. And when you have a problem, pay it no mind. ...Get out of your mind! Remember, you are a human being, not a human minding. ... [So] you cannot be totally awake while you are thinking. Thinking is another form of being in a dream state. Because what you are thinking about is the illusion. ...So every once in a while, it might be good to stop thinking all together. ...Try to avoid labels. ...Just be with the experience. ...Don't look expecting to see something. ...Do not strive to see anything. Relax, and be content with the peace of the emptiness. Empty is good. Creation cannot come except into the void. Enjoy, then, the emptiness. Expect nothing more, want nothing more. ...Let go. Let it be."
Realizing our free and infinite beings is absolutely easy. Effortless even.
As such, in more emphatic verbiage, Helena Blavatsky admonished: "Believe thou not that sitting in dark forests, in proud seclusion and apart from men; believe thou not that life on roots and plants, that thirst assuaged with snow from the great Range- believe thou not, O devotee, that this will lead thee to the goal of the final liberation."
For it is only in surrendered acceptance to the incorrigible enigma that everything becomes wonderful, not in the striving to find an explanation for that enigmaticism.
"Of what significance is meditation when reality is there!"
Zen Master Huanlong explains: "The Way does not need cultivation- just don't defile it. Zen does not need study- the important thing is stopping the mind. When the mind is stopped there is no rumination. Because it is not cultivated, you walk on the Way at every step. When there is no rumination, there is no world to transcend. Because it is not cultivated, there is no Way to seek."
And Osho similarly maintained: "Sahaja [natural] yoga is the most difficult of the yogas, because there is nothing more difficult than to be effortless, natural, and spontaneous ...to flow like air and water, and not to allow the intellect to come in the way of whatever is happening. ...As soon as the intellect comes in the way, as soon as it interferes, we cease to be...natural, and begin to be...unnatural. ...what I am teaching is sahaja yoga itself. To impose doctrines and dogmas on life is to pervert life. ...All unnaturalness of our life is this- that we are always trying to be different from what we actually are."
This organic 'Way that is not a Way' is simply about giving up the little discursive machinations that keep us from moving freely and with harmony; by releasing such conceptual constraints we tune into the rhythm of our own beings, right ourselves from being 'out of whack', and thus learn to live in the Tao, so to speak.
It is perhaps for this reason that Kerouac wrote: "I wanted to…go off somewhere and find perfect solitude and look into the perfect emptiness of my mind and be completely neutral from any and all ideas. …to…rest…and do nothing else, practice what the Chinese call 'do-nothing'. I didn't want to have anything to do, really, either with…ideas about society (I figured it would be better just to avoid it altogether, walk around it) or with any…ideas about grasping life…"(brackets are author's)
Effort and knowledge are not required; in fact these are stumbling blocks to the innocent stream which runs through us. We must simply get out of the way. That is the way.
As such, June Singer claimed: "It is only necessary to let ourselves be ourselves. It is not necessary to learn how. This may sound like the easiest thing in the world, but for a society that has become expert at manipulating and forcing and conditioning the psyche to function in an adaptive way in a world that appears to require adaptation, there may be much to unlearn in the process."
It is this release of the internal corruptions- of every conceptual wall- that allows the real stream of life to rush through.
"At the moment you are most in awe of all there is about life that you don't understand," observed Jane Wagner, "you are closer to understanding it all then at any other time."
"The ancient Masters didn't try to educate the people,
but kindly taught them how to not-know."
The door to infinity forever lies open to anyone who chooses to walk through it. And that door lies within us, and no knowledge, nor action, nor discipline, will help us find it, for it is not by doing or knowing, but by undoing and unknowing that we open ourselves to the truth.
This is an amethodological methodology- the reversal of the mind which is endlessly seeking, for the only way to learn to not-know, is not to 'try' to unknow, but to see knowledge for what it truly is- a hoax; to see that there is no such thing as 'understanding'; in this way we learn to not-know continually.
Ram Dass humbly confessed: "When my guru wanted to compliment me, he called me simple; when he wanted to chide me, he called me clever."
And so the essential re-cognition is that there is nothing to solve, because ...there is no problem; the problem is the search for a solution. For if we use the mind as a way out, we shall be 'way out' but we shall have escaped nothing but ourselves. We must simply acknowledge that there is nowhere to go, there is nothing to do, and there is no knowledge to know. We need only just 'be', and revel intimately in the eternal now mystery of being.
That is, in the relaxed, yet sedulous gaze of honest attention, the natural dissolution of our commonplace self occurs, and though everything remains exactly as it was ...it is no longer commonplace.
"…the attitude of wonder
…is a prerequisite of authentic humanness."
All is authentic, all is natural, all is mysterious.
Chuang Tzu proffered the following observation: "Knowing enough to stop when one does not know is perfection. ...If a man can understand this, then he may be called the treasure house of heaven. Pour into it and it will never be filled; pour out of it, and it will never be emptied. Yet no one knows why this is so. This is called the hidden light."
Which is to say that to 'stop at mystery' without proceeding 'into' the realm of speculation and therefore hazardously plunging into the realm of context and content, is to remain in the primordial reality, rather than being trapped in the paradigmatic illusion; this is to be consciously ignorant of that towards which one is indeed truly ignorant, and to not flee from this wild and rapturous unknowing.
No matter how sacred or profane, simplistic or complex our models or paradigms of perception and explanation are, they are all nonetheless bound to the limitation of particularization; that is, they are all attempts to explain the parts within the whole, rather than the whole itself (for the word 'analysis', after all, means 'to divide'). And, in fact, these explanations inherently arise from the perspective, capacity, and language of the 'part' itself, which is the individual. Thus, in each case of 'paradigmatic knowing', the individual merely succeeds to trap him or herself further within the paradigm, by the very act of their own particularized understanding; for they have created a central reference point, a 'knower' within the known, and have therefore limited the limitlessness of the centerless whole.
If, however, there is one and only One Whole, only the whole itself is capable of true understanding and therefore true explanation; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore all knowledge- from the linear to the esoteric- is true and valid only within the field to which it belongs, but not as 'truth' per se. When a person realizes this completely- that they are only part of the whole- they cease to try to understand from a 'point of view', and instead become softer, less rigid with their definitions of life and of themselves, and in that they merge back innocently into the whole, and the mystery awakens to itself.
Hence Osho proclaimed: "To know is to know that to know is not to know, and that not to know is to know. A real man of understanding knows that he does not know at all. His ignorance is profound. And out of this ignorance arises innocence."
All is marvelous. All is magnificent. All is mystery. We need only be calm and innocent enough, now and forever, to become able to see It.
Thus 'true ignorance' is the sine qua non for existing within the contextual drama of existence without being helplessly contained by it; ignorance is the ballast of the pilotless and yet unfloundering ship. Upon these waves of awe we need not find a sure anchor, we need only learn how to glide.
"Give up meditation completely and cling to nothing in your mind. You are free in your very nature, so what will you achieve by conceiving?"
It is the fear of the unharnessed mind's boundless infinity- conceptual agoraphobia- that is the plague of our times. Yet it is within our freedom to decide whether we constrain ourselves to the way we have been shown how to know things, or instead choose to open up so as to dream, to breathe in the breath of spirit, and to fall away willingly into the limitless ranges of the possible, regardless of what our confused society has to say about it.
After all, "To stand in awe and wonder is to understand in a very specific way, even if that understanding cannot be described", wrote Gary Zukav.
We must bravely become the destroyers of all our own insecurities and hopes. We ourselves must smash through the walls. For the great paradox of the mind is this: it is not that 'knowing' is the sign of intelligence, but rather it is the knowing of not-knowing; one must be absolutely intelligent in order to witness their ignorance. To be wise is to recognize that one is ignorant; we must be absolutely intelligent in order to understand the profundity of our unknowing.
This recognition would lead Carl Jung to state: "I do not call the man who admits his ignorance an obscurantist; I think it is much rather the man whose consciousness is not sufficiently developed for him to be aware of his ignorance."
And so, "This ignorance", declared Meister Eckhart, "does not come from lack of knowledge but rather it is from knowledge that one may achieve this ignorance."
The more intelligent we become, the more we realize how little we understand. As such we see that adult wonder does not arise from original ignorance, but rather from new ignorance made lucid by the surrender of yesterday's limited knowings; we proceed from denied ignorance, to revealed ignorance.
"The radiant man beckoned me ...he instructed me to isolate myself from conventional thinking and study the wisdom of ignorance."
The wisdom of ignorance? This is the paradox of paradoxes. And yet it is obvious that knowledge is a failed attempt at emancipating, living, and loving. Thus, after his initiation into mystery, Richard Moss declared: "The wisdom of ignorance: For me it is a sacrament. The acknowledgement of ignorance- that I lack full comprehension of anything- is a sacred act that takes ordinary experience and makes it a door to infinite possibility."
Therefore, claims Osho: "It is always the case that a man of ultimate consciousness and an absolutely ignorant person seem identical- because their behavior is often similar. This is why there is always a great similarity between a small child and an old man who has attained enlightenment: they are not actually the same, but, superficially they seem alike. Sometimes an enlightened sage acts in a childlike way; sometimes, in the behavior of a child, we get a glimpse of saintliness. Sometimes an enlightened one looks like an absolutely ignorant person, an absolute fool, and it would seem that no one could be as foolish as he. But the sage has gone beyond knowledge while the child has still to arrive at knowledge. The similarity lies in the fact that they are both outside knowledge."
True wisdom, then, is not so much a profound realization, but a profound unrealization; it is the recognition that true ignorance is not a failure- that perhaps we have simply failed to know what should be known- but that such ignorance is instead a success, due to the profound intelligence required to not-know what cannot be known.
"You have heard of the knowledge that knows,
but you have never heard of the knowledge that does not know."
'Truth' in the conventional sense is, after all, a terribly uncreative way of acknowledging one's ignorance; knowledge, as it is maintained in the world, is falsely ignorant of true ignorance; it can know everything except one of the most important knowings of all ...mystery. Worldly 'knowing', then, is merely the cowardly not knowing of not‑knowing; 'knowing' is unknown unknowing. Which is to say, we are told as children that there is nothing in the darkness that is not there in the light, but there is one thing‑ darkness.
Acknowledging this vision of the unseeable, Clarice Lispector wrote: "Perhaps this has been my greatest struggle in life: in order to comprehend my non-intelligence, to understand my feelings, I have been obliged to become intelligent. (Intelligence is necessary in order to understand non-intelligence. Except that the instrument- the intellect- continues to be used from force of habit. And so we are unable to gather things with clean hands directly from the source.)" (brackets are author's)
Let us call this 'The intelligence of ignorance'.
In Dostoyevsky's book, The Idiot, Prince Myshkin relates a similar observation, stating: "I may be considered a child even here, but what of that? I am, for some reason, even considered an idiot...but what kind of idiot can I be now, when I realize I'm considered one? When I enter a place, I think to myself, 'They think I'm an idiot, yet I'm intelligent, and they don't realize it-' The thought often occurs to me."
To come upon this type of innocent brilliance we must neither seek to know, nor seek to not know; we must simply ease away and set the contents free; we must not know what seeking is, nor know what knowing is. We must not know 'why?', and we must not know why we do not know why.
"The more you will see, the less you will know.
The less you will know, the more you will yearn.
The more you will yearn, the higher you'll climb."
And so, we are not moving towards realization, we are moving away; to stop believing things are what we believe they are, we must start again with everything on the table. To go in the mind to where there is no meaning, where nothing connects what we think we are with what we are and what we are not; to sit with neither agenda, nor expectation. This is the unway to try not to come upon a realization.
Aleister Crowley capitalizes his words so as to emphasize the truth of untruth, writing: "KNOW NAUGHT! ALL WAYS ARE LAWFUL TO INNOCENCE. PURE FOLLY IS THE KEY TO INITIATION."
With that key in mind, Iris Dement sings out with lyrical acceptance in her appropriately titled song, Let the Mystery Be:
"Everybody is wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody is worrying about where they're going to go when the whole thing's done.
But no one knows for certain and so it's all the same to me.
I think I'll just let the mystery be."
We must forget the forgettable, become fools, have no purpose, and make the mind new at every moment. We must live without knowing what it is to live, and be without knowing what it is to be. That is how we plug into the mystery. That is how we ...be.
"The wise man is he who constantly wonders afresh."
Thus, "When you have no mind," asserted Master Dahui, "Zen is easy to find."
And so, Howard Nemerov concludes this section for us with one of his brilliant poetic metaphors, aptly titled The Way: "According to our tradition, when a man dies there comes to him the Angel, who says: 'Now I will tell you the secret of life and the meaning of the universe.' One man to whom this happened said: 'Take off, grey Angel. Where were you when I needed you?' Among all the hosts of the dead he is the only one who does not know the secret of life and the meaning of the universe; whence he is held in superstitious veneration by the rest."
(excerpted from THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, by Jack Haas)