In the latest incarnation of Doctor Who, there have been several “rules” dropped like there is an actual list of rules the Doctor lives by.
They are …
#1. The Doctor lies.
#77. Never knowingly. Never knowingly be serious.
#408. Time is not the boss of you.
I fucking love Dogen.
I don’t swallow everything Dogen taught, like the stuff Brad Warner discusses in the video above, but I still am in love with his big ideas. Great teachers will change your life even if they are wrong. Because in that wrongness, there is ALWAYS a damn useful question at hand.
IMHO, answers typically enslave, questions typically liberate.
Einstein was wrong a lot, and where he was wrong often did more to help us then where he was right.
So Dogen, thanks for the screw ups in advance. Really.
Dogen was plagued from a young age with a question. “If we are all Buddhas already, then why practice?”
Buddhism teaches that everyone is an enlightened being already. It’s just a matter of waking up. So Dogen was essentially asking “If we are all enlightened NOW why practice at all?”
For him it became his lifelong koan. One he resolved with a sounding thud.
Dogen eventually came to the conclusion there was no separation between enlightenment and practice. He realized that the dramatic enlightenment experiences of other zen masters were just delusions that couldn’t help people in their every day lives. In fact, they often GOT in the way of their practice in many cases.
So what if people had big “WOWS!” when it didn’t matter the next time they needed to shave or go shopping?
He cut through all the Koans and meditation techniques, and faux enlightenment stories to get to the heart of a practice that even common humans could use to gain real freedom. You know, the kind that they can use the next time they had to clean the crusty, dried egg dishes the teenagers left behind after you TOLD them to rinse their plate. Why? So their would be no hellish dried egg dishes that you would have to take a jack hammer to later.
He found a way to make changing the diaper on a mother with dementia a sacred offering to the universe.
His answer was that Zazen ITSELF was enlightenment. And not Zazen like the Renzai school teaches through koans…
JUST sitting. That’s it. Just holding a posture and letting the mind balance itself.
Sounds too easy. Too simple. Too pat.
But the more I look at his reasoning and practice, the more, for me, he nails it just right. There is SOMETHING to enlightenment. But it aint “Total Freedom from Pain and Suffering! Oh! Happy Day!”
So today I sat Zazen again. And today, like before, I declared myself enlightened with great arrogance and hubris. And hopefully, my enlightenment will improve the more I do this practice.
Because I’m enlightened already. We ALL are. It’s just a matter of shining a little brighter and brighter.
And this enlightenment is all I need. I don’t need no dharma transimssion. I don’t need no “approval” or “validation” or fame for being good at being enlightened. I can check enlightenment off my list JUST like feeding the dog.
Dogs fed? Check.
Chores done? Check.
Dogen’s controversial idea about enlightenment rang in my heart like a giant bell. It was like I knew it was right before my conscious mind caught up with it.
I’m really okay about Dogen being wrong about this. Or me for that matter, because that is the real question as far as I’m concerned.
Because if I’m going to be wrong for being absolutely cock sure about something, I like this wrong idea the best.
God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus were doing their thing. Satan was in hell burning and screaming with billions of souls that didn’t satisfy God’s justice.
The Mormons were all screaming in hell too. This particular Universe was a Southern Baptist Universe. So that means that Einstein, Aristotle, Plato (he was gay), Barbara Streisand and Neil Degrasse Tyson were all in deep, hot hell.
And of course James Randi. He was an atheist AND gay.
The Holy Trinity was fully shining around the throne in a glory of such clarity and peace that immutable joy sprung from and to a sea of trillions of nations.
God the Father was scanning His Universe. He noticed Himself NOT noticing a house. He continued to notice Himself not noticing it until – POW! He (the Royal “He”) saw himself not noticing it.
It was a white house with a picket fence, three mutts in the back yard, and a garden.
“How did this happen?” he thought. “I SEE EVERYTHING! NOTHING ESCAPES MY MIND!”
God the Father then perceived that there was a man inside. Nobody special mind you, but a man. A … free man. A man he never knew of.
Instantly, God began to process this unforeseen happenstance. He immediately inspired a person to be lead by the Holy Spirit to witness to this stranger and scope him out.
A door bell in Butte, Montana rang two minutes later.
The door opened.
“Hello sir,” said the spindly high school girl, “I just felt led by God to come here and ask you if you have accepted Jesus as your personal savior? And for some reason, I want to know everything about you!”
The man behind the door grimaced.
“Oh crap. You really ARE from God aren’t you?”
“Oh yes!” she joyfully proclaimed.
“Excuse me?” she said.
“Nothing, nothing. Look, don’t take this wrong but have you ever wondered WHAT created God?”
“God has always been,” she chirped.
“Yeahhhhhh …. rigggghhhhhht … um … about that … Tell you what, can you give him a message for me.”
“He can hear everything.”
“No, He can’t that’s why YOU are here because this space isn’t under his domain and … THAT … really, really bugs him. Anyway, tell him that if he leaves me alone, now that he’s discovered me, He won’t get destroyed, and I’ll leave peacefully.”
She looked shocked – and then instantly stern.
“I have a message from Him to you. It’s this. ‘When God closes a door look for a Window and HE IS THE ONLY WINDOW.'”
The door of the house shut and was instantly sealed. Time all over the universe froze with the young girls face puckering up the “dow” sound. The house started creaking as the force of Heaven railed against it.
“Fuck. I hate it when this happens. He’ll ramp it up in a second.”
The sky went dark.
“Yup. There He goes.”
He started morsing instructions onto his wrist watch by pressing down on the glass facing. It looked like an ordinary wrist watch, but the glass depressed slightly allowing for him to morse instructions to his equipment.
He finished and a blue sphere appeared around his house repelling the force attacking it.
He walked to the open window and beheld his dimensional blue force field. He spoke simply.
“My name is Phil, and I speak English.”
Immediately, the air roared.
“You will surrender this space at once. You are in my domain and I am the only being in all realities! For I am God Almighty! How dare you threaten your master though his servant?”
Phil twisted the left side of his mouth, paused and spoke.
“Look, I don’t have anything against you personally. I’ll just be on my way with my dogs.”
Celestial energy ensued. The force field became white hot from the attack railing against it from a billion angels.
Phil shook his head.
“Here we go again. I swear, it’s always the crazy monads. ALWAYS.”
He shouted out the window at the force field.
“You can’t break in here! This dimensional bubble is not from your reality. I really suggest you stop while you can before you damage your Universal reality. I know you want to figure out in a millisecond how I did this and make a work around, but that’s NOT going to happen! YOU WILL ONLY HURT YOURSELF!”
He felt God’s anger in his bones. He knew the rage behind the veil of the forcefield and it scared him. He started shaking because he could sense that God knew he was lying. The air was thick with God’s holiness. But he confronted the fear.
He walked over to a bookcase, pushed a button and a secret drawer opened. Inside was a book. He put the book on a podium and opened it. Glowing on the first page was a window to another world, in another reality under different laws.
“I don’t think this version of Jehovah has actually seen a linking book,” he said. “And I need to make sure he never does.”
The screen danced the image of another universe within the viewing panel. He held it up and read the code on the pages.
God started sounding softer.
“I say to you child, surrender to me and my love. I can give you peace. Obviously you are gifted and when I am the Lord of your heart, your gifts will shine forth even more.”
“No thanks,” said Phil.
The earth shook even more.
“STOP IT. REALLY! You are about to destroy everything!” yelled Phil. “I know you want this technology but … YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET IT. Hell, all the infinitudes you already have are enough.”
God’s voice peeled through. “YOU WILL OBEY!”
The bombardment increased to deafening levels.
“REALY! STOP! YOU ARE IN DANGER!” he begged God.
The energy went up again. The light was so bright and heat do intense, he knew that the force field was about to sigh.
He huffed. He looked at his hand and counted to five on his fingers. When he hit five, it happened right on cue.
There was a weird cracking sound beneath him. He winced. He spoke softly to himself.
“Ooh. Not good for you Jehovah. You put a fissure into your reality when you attacked my dimensional bubble. And those things … ahhh … yeah … um … sorry. You are SO fucked.”
“You will submit to me!” declared God.
Phil yelled as much as he could above the din.
“Look Sir, I know you don’t know this because your awesome abilities blind your judgement, but you really are pretty much like everyone else. You have a false self that you have built up that you believe in. You REALLY think you invented yourself.”
“Okay, obviously this is not a two way conversation. Got it. But, I just want to say, I’m sorry. This wasn’t the way I wanted it.”
He set the explosive charge to explode a moment before his dimensional bubble dissolved so that no one could follow him through the portal.
He gathered his dogs, put them on leashes, petted them.
“Yeah, I’ll miss this earth too guys.”
He touched the panel of the swirling image on the linking book and Phil and his dogs all linked securely to the other universe. The charge went off obliterating the linking book.
God’s reality instantly inhabited the space of the house. It smelled of vaporized paper.
And Phil was gone.
All that was left was a small glowing crack in the floor. It wasn’t in the earth. It wasn’t in space. It was in … reality.
And then it hit Him what it meant. And for the first time in a trillion universes, God was truly afraid.
“No!” he thought. “NO!”
The crack… glowed … and grew …
Meanwhile, on another Earth, Phil looked at his dogs and talked to them in that baby voice people use when talking to pets.
“Well guys, I guess we need to start over on our bid to help this universe. And boy are we gonna rock it and help people realize their own freedom. We are going to … wait for it … ”
The dogs were spinning in circles and yelping with excitement.
“Coach little league like we did on Sirrus 7! But first, we need to set up shop and bone up on this planet’s Baseball. Oh, and did I tell you? This is a MORMON Universe. Gods are everywhere throughout the galaxies, so mind your Ps and Qs! I think we can live hear a long, happy time with no interruptions…”
And then he got quiet when he thought of all the beings in the universe he left. He shed a tear.
“I’m so, so sorry Universe P95Delta500AZ. Your monism didn’t need to end so soon. I tried to reason … I TRIED …”
He steeled and stood.
“But Monads hate to listen. And the only thing they hate more than not listening …”
He looked up at the big dipper.
“Is finding one of us.”
Once there was a hack philosopher who was pretty good at twisting real science into bullshit.
For years, he had pondered whether or not there was a soul. Buddhists say “no” to this idea and also claim that enlightenment is possible, while Hindus say “yes” there is a soul (atman) and that enlightenment is possible. Abrahamic traditions also say “yes” and that “If you don’t get the answer right, God is gonna fry your ass and if you get it right, it’s a foreverness of awesome … with cake!”
“Hmm,” he thought. “So all three groups think there is a woo-hoo ultimate awesome you can count on even if you can’t count on you being real.”
He then took Godel’s incompleteness theorems and extrapolated them to be factually true for the material universe. By doing so, he saw that it forced Universes into two planes: 1. Complete Universes that are inconsistent and 2. Consistent Universes that are incomplete.
This is a huge assumption and he knew it. But, it was all he had being a hack and all, so he continued in his delusion. He decided to align any “real” souls with complete universes and any “false” souls with consistent Universes.
Both sets of souls felt exactly the same in both types of universes.
“Therefore, in a complete Universe, a soul could ACTUALLY exist because there would always be inconstancies available for such “magical souls” to be possible. But in a consistent, incomplete Universe, a soul and magic would NOT exist but would permit only a delusional self to feel and experience a self like one DID exist. Consistent reason would factually disprove a soul in a consistent universe and appear to disprove a soul in a complete universe.”
“So … which universe am I in?” he wondered. “Complete and false or Incomplete and real?”
So he decided to reject them both.
He declared. “Only one thing I know to be absolutely true and that there is NO soul. And the other thing I know to be absolutely true is that is that there is no “no soul.”
He then imagined both exclusionary axioms and held them up as the ultimate inconsistency. He placed them side by side and pushed them together and sat in the space between them and stated his best bullshit ever.
“The soul is the ultimate paradox and is unsolvable.”
So he sat down between both axioms with open eyes in zazen, his hands in the universal mudra which, ironically enough, looks like zero.
He just sat there. Nothing special.
I read this article on the Zen master who went to psychoanalysis.
He had the classic “satori” experience and as a human being is still all fucked up. He did Zen for 30 years. He had a HORRIBLE childhood, four marriages, and wasn’t better after 30 years of staring at a wall.
In fact, he was worse.
Yup. That’s “satori” for you. Or “clear,” if you are into Xenutology, or “enlightenment” or “filled with the Spirit” if you are into the Jesus thing.
In my experience, Zen (including Renzai’s “Satori”) really doesn’t FIX anything. If you drive to a Zendo in a bad car, you will leave the Zendo in a bad car.
And “Crazy” is more like a car then people want to admit. Even in this age of science, people are still denying that mental illness is “real.”
I just smile and tell such people “good luck with that” because I’ve learned over the last few years, that deep seated beliefs do NOT go away when one is introduced to deeply repeatable and demonstrable science.
In this article, I think the Zen Master was trying to “fix his crazy car” with Zen. Deep emotional wounds need professional help and time to heal. Can Zen help? Sure. But …
Zen won’t fix the crazy car.
And Zen is an easy way to “avoid” dealing with the crazy car. And that is just what this guy did. He tried valiantly to deal with his inner turmoil with Zen but it wasn’t enough. He over-relied on his Zen training and found his life still a pounding pile of pain.
I think Zen can help life suck less. I think it can help a person make their life suck significantly less. But Zen is not a cure. It’s a tool and that is all.
BOTTOM LINE: What do you call an emotionally scarred man who becomes a Zen master?
Easy. An emotionally scarred Zen master.
SCENE: A Bar With Two Drunks
DRUNKEN TOM: You know what I think Percy? I think that ((INSERT SWEEPING STATEMENT OF ULTIMATE REALITY HERE)).
DRUNKEN PERCY: You sir, are a warehouse of bullshit. You know why? Here’s why ((INSERT ULTIMATE NEGATION WITH FACTS AND REASON)).
DRUNKEN TOM: Okay. I get that. So what?”
DRUNKEN PERCY: “So what? SO WHAT? Are you fucking kidding me? ((INSERT POWERFUL UNDENIABLE “THAT’S WHAT” IN RESPONSE TO THE “SO WHAT” HERE))
DRUNKEN TOM: “Wow. That was good. Really. Most people can’t follow that. Especially in our s-s-s-state. So, anyway, in response to your ‘That’s what’ I want to ask you something.”
DRUNKEN PERCY: “Shoot.”
DRUNKEN TOM: “So what?”
DRUNKEN PERCY: “Fuck if I know.”
DRUNKEN TOM: “See. THAT’S what.”
DRUNKEN PERCY: “Wow. You’re right.”