enraptured by beauty
Georgetown, ME; Back River
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"Sir," the man asked, "are you spiritually awakened?" The Sage replied, "There is awakening, but no one to awaken."
there is no seer - only seeing.
So, with awakening.
When awakening happens,
no one is there to be awakened,
but it happens -
it is the happening.
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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22 When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man's eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, "Can you see anything now?"
24 The man looked around. "Yes," he said, "I see people, but I can't see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around."
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man's eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, "Don't go back into the village on your way home."
*Gospel of Mark 8 (NLT)
Jesus' healing of the physically blind in the Gospels connotes the healing of spiritual blindness. We think we know when knowing is not-thinking. In the absence of thinking, so self, there is only seeing. Awakening is this seeing. Hence, in the Letter to the Ephesians, "Wake up! you sleeper and rise from the land of the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (5.10) And, again, of the spiritual sight being opened, "Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him [Christ]. And at that moment, he vanished!" (Gospel of Luke 24.31).
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A story tells of how the Buddha, after awakening, passed a man on the road. The Buddha's remarkable radiance and peaceful presence impressed this man. He asked, "My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a god?" "No," said the Buddha. "Well, then, are you some kind of magician or wizard?" The Buddha answered, "No." "Are you a man?" The Buddha, again, replied, "No." "Well, my friend, what are you?" The Buddha responded, "I am awake."
Buddha is not a man awake. Buddha is not as he was called before. Something has changed. Buddha, lit. "awakened," denotes awakening itself. When awakening happens, Buddha happens. Without awakening, no Buddha. With awakening, Buddha.
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The world in Buddha's time was full of persons with insomnia even while going about their daily lives. The Buddha chose to be clear and awake. The spell of collective slumber lifted from his heart. Compassion was awakened, for the Buddha's true self, which is our true self, was compassion.
You show compassion when awakening happens, for you are no longer asleep. You cannot close your heart to the world's suffering. You can no more logically ask such a being not to be compassionate than to say to the Sun, "Stop shining." And this seed of enlightenment is in each of us, even before the eyes of our heart starts to open.
In the above story, the Buddha deflects the man's guesses, denying awakening fits any striking images or even being a man. The Buddha is not interested in appearing exceptional or as a man among men. For the Buddha, wakefulness is nothing special at all.
Anyway, as noted above, the man whom people called the Buddha was a means of the Light. No one owns the Light. No one can say, "I've got it." If I were to say, "He is enlightened," the "he" is the clothless, not the clothing. There is no such thing as an enlightened person. As you or anyone thinks you are, you are not and cannot experience yourself being awakened, but you can experience awakening as the one no one can think is this or that: the non-person.
Another Buddhist story speaks of the ordinariness of this wakefulness. A man approaches another man. Knowing the other is reported to have experienced enlightenment, the first asks, "What did you do before you were enlightened?" "I chopped wood and carried water," came the reply. And, sir, what do you do now that you've experienced enlightenment?" And the answer came, "I chop wood and carry water." Nothing has changed, but everything has.
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When you wake up from sleep, do you think, "Oh, something really special! Now, I can walk about all day impressing people that I'm awake, no longer sleeping in bed." No, you do not expect to be esteemed highly for being awake, to hear something like, "My, My! How special you are - you're not still sleeping."
Awakening brings into clarity how ordinary we are - everyone is. Showy appearances no longer fool you. Also, you do not expect others to applaud you as something spiritually exceptional, like a mystic, saint, or buddha. Rather than such applause, you are content quietly to feel and express boundless, impersonal compassion for this world full of suffering. You no longer wish to expend your energies seeking pity by broadcasting a personally crafted tale of oh me, my woe and my misery. Compassion draws you out of yourself into the world, even when you sit alone in your room or walk by yourself along a shore or in the wood.
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When awakening happens, do you know that? Does it matter? If it matters, you can be assured you have not let Buddha come out of hiding. Please, for the sake of all, let Christ come out of the tomb.
When awakening has happened, do you know? Well, something does happen, but what? and when? You do not need to know. The question is, "Is the light on?"
What is important is the awakening now, and now, and now, ... And awake or not... nothing special. Always, nothing special.
There is a profound humility in living in the Light of Love. And one is filled with praise and gratitude, even when not knowing what or whom to praise or thank.
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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.
*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.
*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.