An ongoing dialogue on enlightenment
Enlightenment is precisely the traffic on Mopac. No, not like the traffic on Mopac. It is none other than this. The skillful flowing together with others in complete, moment to moment awareness is your best hope for preventing suffering for yourself and others. On the freeway, your thoughts, plans, dreams and goals, your troubled childhood or big promotion do not matter one bit. The only thing that matters is the appropriate response dynamically unfolding in harmony with the free flow of movement, form, sensation, perception, emotion-thoughts, and consciousness. It is an ongoing jazz ensemble improvisation. The one who cut you off—is he right or wrong? Is she good or bad? Are you furious or amused? None of that matters. The only thing that matters is your skillful responding in slowing safely and avoiding collisions with other drivers. And your awareness is always especially necessary in meeting those who are hindered by “non-awareness.” Distractions are dangerous! Whether you are a CEO or student, tall, short, young, tired, driving a sports car or a battered pickup truck, suffering from cancer or a broken heart, alone or with three bickering kids in the back, on your way to work, to meet a lover, to pick up a few groceries—all irrelevant. In rain or ice, dark or blinding sun, the issues are the same. Blink and the laughing blonde girl next to you suffers a broken neck, reach for something under the seat and spend the rest of your days in a wheelchair: your absolute attention is required in every moment. And on a good day, the whole performance unfolds like a miraculous symphony of movement, color, sound, light, ease, and generosity. You may even be surprised by the dazzling wonder of wildflowers. But whether you are zipping along at 70 mph, peering into a foggy night, or stuck in bumper-to-bumber rush hour traffic, enlightenment is just this.
The rest of life is also this.
Our habits of mind are like a magic act. When we go to see a magician we know we are being tricked, but the illusions can be so compelling and convincing we become enthralled by what we think we are seeing. It appears that the woman is actually being sawed in half, right in front of our eyes. Inexplicably, the huge 4-wheel drive pickup disappears into thin air. The plump rabbit is actually being pulled out of an empty hat and a flock of white pigeons explodes out of a silk scarf which was, only moments before, tucked neatly into a vest pocket. It is as if we can’t see these events in any other way. This is what makes them so fascinating. The problem in our everyday life is that these illusions become delusion. The tricks are so often mistaken for truth that we operate on these illusory truths as if they were real. We end up betting our lives on illusion and ignoring the truth which could, as they say, actually set us free. Sitting practice and self-study is like going backstage and having the magician show us how the illusion was created.
Every illusion can be seen through and once seen through, we are no longer fooled. The slight-of-hand is obvious and the deception illuminated. It has all been brought into the light of awareness – enlightened.