Enlightenment Woes


It is said that when looking at the sayings and teachings of the Buddhas and patriarchs, if you look as one with fresh hatred looks upon an enemy, you will then for the first time be able to understand them. What do you think about this?” 

Bassui: “The Way is a fundamental part of everybody. Its essence is to penetrate enlightenment and to leave no trace of this attainment. If I were to explain this fundamental part, even the one word ‘awaken’ would add waves to a level surface. How much more so with sayings and teachings? One who holds onto the residue, and cannot grasp the real, cuts himself off from the source in the end.”

A much used and abused word in the annals of Buddhism is ‘Enlightenment’. I remember when the ‘New Age’ craze was at its height, every-other New Aged Blockhead was claiming to be ‘enlightened’, or ‘I got enlightened on such and such a date.’ What utter nonsense. As if ‘Enlightenment’ was some-thing to be attained. Enlightenment has been covered here in other blog posts, and it will be covered again in greater detail in our forthcoming December Blog series, The Awakening Of Faith In Mahayana (Mahayana-Sraddhotpada Shastra). At this junction it’s interesting to consider Bassui’s take.

Riding on the coattails of the Ancient Masters in the vain attempt to gain Enlightenment is like trying to claim discovery and new ownership of Bodhidharma’s missing shoe. It just won’t fit. Enlightenment has absolutely no-thing to do with some sentient fool gaining some form of extra-transcendent know-it-all intelligence. This is reminiscent of the magical-fairy waving her wand over a croaking frog and transforming it into a handsome and articulate prince. This pseudo-prince will just continue to have mud plastered all over his clownish face. Bassui states that enlightenment itself needs to be penetrated at its core and in such a way that it leaves no form of phenomenal trace behind. If you think you’ve attained IT or somehow need to, then you’re still stuck in the mud. It has more to do with Mind rediscovering Itself AS IT IS, beyond the corporeal shell. It is Mind-Unbound with no-thing arising or cessating ever again. Anyone ever experiencing themselves as somehow being enlightened is only tasting the ‘residue’ of THAT which is far-greater and beyond. Bassui keeps pounding it again and again into thick and obtuse skulls to ‘Look at the Real, dummy’ and no-thing else. Leave the enlightenment-thing to the Source Itself and be done with it. Who is the one who is Enlightened? Totsu!

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3 Responses to Enlightenment Woes

  1. Kantairon says:

    For a change I have no verbose comment to make.

    This is amazing:

    “Leave the enlightenment-thing to the Source Itself and be done with it.”


    Great Dharma-lesson, I feel will quote it some day.

  2. Kantairon says:

    PS: Yesterday I was lying in bed and I remembered there’s something to add here. The Dharma is the rain that falls on all earth (our minds) so that the seed can sprout. To say “Leave it to the Source itself and be done with it” is excellent indeed. The Lotus Sutra says the same, that the ultimate truth is something profound that can be understood only by Buddhas, not even by Bodhisattvas. I remind myself that it doesn’t negate practice. We still have to go to the Source and drink from it, every day, through faith, practice and study. The eye cannot see itself: it needs the Mirror of the Dharma in order to behold itself.

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