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Friday, January 26, 2007

Buddha in the City

Immersion and Transcendence

Q: Why do you insist that mastery of the everyday world is essential to Enlightenment?

A: Because that's just the way it is.

I'm sorry, I don't mean to trivialize the question. Far from it. The most difficult questions are those that seem easy.

"Why is 1+1 = 2?" the child asks innocently, and her mother stammers, "Because-It just is."

There are so many answers to your question about enlightenment, all different ways of looking at the truth. Here is one of many answers to your question.

Examine the state of enlightenment. Bliss. Brahman. Atman. Satori. Nirvikalpa. Words are inadequate to describe enlightenment and Authenticity. It is an experiential state that is beyond description. It is a core "raw" experience, a "qualia", as some of my overly erudite acquaintances might say.

There are a few "external" signs of the truly enlightened. We will examine these "externals" later, but suffice it to say that the Buddha is always Blissful, be it in the forest or in the jazz lounge.

The Buddhas who are comfortable only in the forest, but not in the City, are deluded. I call them deluded, because they can get so comfortable in the forest, that they mistake it for Authentic Bliss. I call them deluded because they are hiding from life and not embracing it.

Embracing life does not mean hedonism. It does not mean sex or drugs or music, although none of these are incompatible with the Authentic life.
Embracing life means that you are a master of life. You can choose what you want and when you want it, but your choices are guided by authentic desires. (More about authentic desires in a future post)

So do not lose yourself in the forest forever.

Come to the city once in a while.
It is important, in your search for answers, that you do not drift away to a far off island

Master the world you live in.

See clearly and completely, its intricate structure and the nature of your involvement with it. The world is like a tantalizing and treacherous lover. Understand your relationship with her, as an observer and an observed, as a follower and a leader, as performer and spectator, as one and as many.

One day you will look around at the world with your eyes, and simultaneously, you will look at the world with everyone else's eyes.

The mastery of the everyday world is critical to the transcendence of it.

danny said...

but really,Anand..isn't everybody around trying to get mastery over the material field?...and isn't usually everybody around dying before they achieve either mastery over the material field,or enlightenment? I think unless one puts his desires in order,one will achieve none of those.
But then,that's only my opinion,I could be wrong.And yes,I agree with you that a buddha would function efortlessly in a city.But I'm not sure that a city can create a buddha.You know any buddha like that?

Anand said...

People try to master the "material" field propelled by the fear of existential emptiness. If this attempt at mastery causes anxiety, and you retreat from the world - either physicially or intellectually, then there is a real danger of deluding oneself into believing that one is enlightened.

WIll elaborate in the next post

Do I know any buddha like that?

Many people are on the threshold, far more, in my opinion, than ever before. But that final step may be the hardest one of the journey,,