Nirvana and Impermanence
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You speak of our need for spiritual awakening. Yet, I try to gain it, and it eludes me. What can I do?
Could you stop trying to get it? The faster you chase it, the faster it runs from you. Do you see?
Doesn't that mean to stop trying? How can giving up work?
Giving up means not giving up. It works, for in not trying to see, you see. Yet, I know you'll keep trying to see. You need to. So, keep on. Sooner or later, you will stop it. The sooner it ends, the sooner insight will show itself. When you relax totally with being asleep, you wake up. But you can't wake up trying to wake up - you'll keep sleeping, and any waking up will be only a dream of waking up. One can live in a dream of waking up and never be roused from sleep. So, try until you're fully roused out of both sleep and its dreams of being awake.
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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The addiction to the effort to gain spiritual wisdom - i.e., spiritual awakening -, which blocks receiving awakening, is due to what Thich Nhat Hanh refers to as "habit energy" (The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching). Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, in Chaos and Magic, refers to this neurotic impulse as "ape instinct." Here, one is only seeking survival. One is resisting groundlessness. The ego wants to cancel its funeral - the shining forth of egolessness. This is like to Jesus hiding from his crucifixion, so missing the glory of his resurrection, or the Buddha running from the Bodhi Tree and never seeing into the nature of Reality.
This karmic momentum must exhaust itself. But while to say, "Simply let go" is good advice, letting go does not occur until the habit momentum weakens. It is like saying, "There're many funerals before the funeral." The karma - lit., action - must deplete itself. So, resistance to letting go, which means to open, is instrumental in letting go. If one succeeds at boycotting resistance, one does not fall into the Light. One must not surrender, and that energy is fuel for awakening. Refusing to fall into the Light takes a lot of energy. Not surrendering is essential to surrender, so surrender not to surrendering is essential.
Here, we can view this energetically. In Taoism, we can posit three energies. Yin is the negative. Yang is the positive. Chi is energetic vitality. Chi creates harmony. We see this in Sam Tarode's Tao Te Ching, Chapter 42 "Yin and Yang."
The Tao produces unity;
unity produces duality;
duality produces trinity;
trinity produces all things.
All things contain both the negative principle (yin)
and the positive principle (yang).
The third principle, energetic vitality (chi),
makes them harmonious.
There are some things which it is a gain to lose,
and a loss to gain.
This may not be what
they teach in school,
but it is the first lesson in the Tao.
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One may have episodes of awakening to Truth. The eyes open and close soon after. One may not recall the eyes opening; one may recall it later, or not. But here we speak of the opening wherein one lives from spiritual wisdom, having had an awakening.
This breakthrough does not mean one does not receive more understanding, yet it arises from this stabilization in Truth. One lives from a posture of seeing rather than having visits to seeing. Before one saw from not-seeing. Now, one has become the seeing. Once this opening occurs, one cannot return to the prior territory of not-seeing or only episodic visits to awakening. The door is removed from the hinges.
This transference from darkness to the Light is seen in a Jesus saying: "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life'" (Gospel of John 8.12, NRSV). We see here the absolute and the relative. To say "Yes" to the Light is to be in the Light; yet, to live in the Light - to be the Light - arises from the causes and conditions consequent of following the Light. We can say, "I see, so I can come to see." The relative is the potential, the promise; the absolute is the realization, the fruition. The tree is in the acorn, and the acorn is in the tree.
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The student was stubborn. He kept trying to reach the spiritual awakening his teacher spoke of. His desire was strong. His teacher kept saying, "Let it happen, don't try so. Just a little effort." The student would agree, but he seemed unable to discontinue his effortfulness.
The teacher decided on a plan. He called the student in. "Go," he said, "and get a large bag. Fill it with sand. Carry it up that high hill outside our training center. You're not to put down the bag until the summit. Afterward, return to me." The student was confused but knew not to question his teacher.
The student got a bag, filled it with sand, and threw it over his shoulder. He began totting the bag uphill. As he progressed toward the hilltop, it got heavier and heavier. He knew to do as his teacher told him, so he did not put it down, though he began to ache much and feel extreme fatigue.
The student finally reached the top. In relief, he dropped the bag. In so doing, he collapsed in exhaustion. With this, something happened. His mind opened up. In this moment of depletion, he saw through into the truth of Reality.
The student hurried down the hill to meet his teacher. Rushing in, he said, "It happened. I see!" "Yes," said the teacher, "I knew you would. You just needed a little help."
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*© Brian K. Wilcox, 2021
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.