*Brian Wilcox. 'The Tree of Light'. Flickr
A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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This day, a follower of a teacher at a nearby Buddhist sangha, or practicing community, came to ask the sage a question.
Sir, my teacher refuses to tell me what enlightenment is.
She sounds wise indeed.
Yes, she is. I would really like to know what you think enlightenment is. She gave me permission to come and inquire of you.
Falling into the well.
What is that?
That sounds like nonsense.
What after that?
Nothing before, nothing after, nothing in the well.
Then, why all the spiritual practice I'm doing?
Because you want to get something, you want to be somebody.
Why do I do this?
As long as you think you are a somebody, you will try to be a somebody. The somebody can never find rest from effortfulness. Today, you came as a somebody seeking to be a somebody. You want to be an enlightened somebody. Return before the question, return before the somebody who asked the question. Then, inquire if you can find a somebody, if you can find a someone to be or become enlightened, saved, liberated, anything. Can the question, any question, stick in that place?
Should I just forget trying to be enlightened? Forget about it? Is that jumping in the well?
I did not say "jumping in the well," but "falling into the well." If you jump, that is effortfulness. When you fall, you will not even know likely, not until later.
When does the fall happen?
When you are tired of the search, exhausted with trying to be anything, anyone. A Christian Scripture, in the Book of Galatians, has the apostle Paul saying, "I am crucified with Christ, ..." The well for Christians is the cross. In another place, he said all his efforts failed, all he was told he was failed, and he counted it all "garbage." That is the well, the cross. That is a holy helplessness. When the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree, after years of asceticism, he could finally relax and be given the gift he had effortfully sought. So, let go of the garbage, even the garbage that appears good garbage, for there is no good garbage. Garbage can collect right amid a church or a sangha, a gathering of so-and-so qualifies me to be holy or a spiritual somebody. That is futile. Be wholly disqualified, pray to fall into the well.
That sounds defeatist, to die on a cross, to fall into a well.
It is a defeat for the sense of self. Yet, in that same scripture, he goes on to say, "... still, I live, however not I, for Christ lives in me, ..."
So, as a Buddhist, as I am, to be Buddha, I must die to myself.
To be Buddha is to realize you cannot be a Buddhist, have never been a Buddhist. To be Christ, one realizes he or she cannot be a Christian, never has been one. Buddha can only be Buddha, Christ only Christ. Why would Buddha need to be a Buddhist? Why Christ be a Christian?
This is a lot for me to process. May I return to speak with you, again?
Anyone sincerely seeking Truth can visit with me. If you return, I would want you to be able to confirm you have sincerely, earnestly engaged in your own practice what we have talked about today. I urge you, do that meditation I referred to, the going back before the one asking the question, before the question, and find out if there you can find anyone, any question, any answer. Ask yourself, "Who is the one asking the question?" In the space before the question, can you find a questioner? Or does the questioner and question arise together?
May Peace go with you!
*Brian Wilcox. 'A Beautiful Arrangement'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.