May 25, 2017

The Kōan of Seeking Enlightenment.

In my feeling body, I have an awareness—call it being mindful of the sensation or lightness of my being.

My feeling body is that essence of personality and feeling that I carry with me wherever I go. In this space of feeling resides my “inner child” and my “higher self,” because it is this energy that we have carried with us since birth and even previous lifetimes. Having the sensitivity to be in tune with this feeling body, we may go to either extreme of dancing in celebration (blossoming), or imploding in despair (depression), and usually residing somewhere in between. This is what the author Milan Kundera referred to as “the unbearable lightness of being.”

And, in this way, we search for wholeness.

We keep searching and searching—endlessly hoping to reach a point of enlightenment when it will all end.

It’s a riddle being in a human body and searching for happiness and for wholeness—as we are body and soul, physical and spiritual beings, embodied and incorporeal.

For what is all the searching we do to find wholeness, to find ourselves, to end our suffering? The author Adyashanti speaks of reaching the climax of his search and arriving defeated at the realization that he had achieved nothing: “In the moment I realized there was literally nothing I could do, everything changed. And then this great revelation occurred where I realized that I was both nothing and everything, simultaneously.”

If we are still searching and we are still striving to find something, then Adyashanti states that: “Something in us is still struggling against what is.”

Perhaps we can understand this search as a kōan, what the Zen Buddhists use to expand being.

Zen Buddhism offers stories that open and reveal some inner wisdom that unlocks an awareness. These conundrums, or kōan, are signposts toward enlightenment, or what the Japanese call satori.

With the agility of a kōan, questions arise from the depths of searching, yet once one stops searching, one discovers one knows nothing. Then everything becomes clear.

It is a kōan that the more one searches, the less one finds.

“Out of nowhere, the mind comes forth.” ~ The Diamond Sutra

A kōan takes a person outside of logical thinking into the “great doubt.” In this state, he may cultivate awareness. Traditionally, a kōan resembles a dialogue designed to break through rational habits and reach into the unreachable emptiness or stillness of enlightenment. In satori, we can meet the great emptiness or oneness, the eternal flow, the endless ocean, and the infinite desert.

In traditional Zen Buddhism, the interaction between Zen master and student was designed to test the progress of the student toward insight or enlightenment. A kōan, which is, by design, impossible to solve with reasoning, relies on stopping the traditional structured thought process to introduce a new state of consciousness.

To be limitless is to dive into emptiness.



Author: David Zenon Starlyte
Image: Hans-Peter Gauster/Unsplash
Editor: Leah Sugerman


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