Enlightenment, Malarkey, and Meditation - 26sep22
Peter was tired, bone tired. Driving home from another Zen retreat he was content to point the hood of his car in the vague direction of home and drive in autopilot, allowing his car, and his subconscious to find their way home.
Peter was tired in body and mind. And in his fatigue he found anger. What had he just done and how much time had he wasted: time, and energy, and hope? What is this freedom from anger, fear, desire, and dissatisfaction that his Roshi had spoke of, when Peter paid his retreat fee: exorbitant, dear, and fruitless? That bastard said that he had to sit out of desire for liberation, but not with too much desire lest he chase enlightenment away, like a cagy kitty. Not only had that shyster picked his pocket but he made the impotence of the teachings and their practice out to be Peter’s fault, and not his own. What a fucking con-man: clever, and cruel, and utterly indifferent to the heart-crushing disappointment he wrung from the hearts of his marks.
But what if those rigid, literal-minded ass holes had misunderstood the Buddha’s teachings, and his promise. What if sufferings were not as much cause by our primal drives of hating, craving, and clinging, as much as they were simply the propitiation of a complex and ultimately indifferent earth, not to mention the universe in which it traveled? What if our primal drives merely exacerbated his experience of stressors? If so, then what was the enlightenment the Buddha offered, if there was such a fellow?
Is it meditation and contemplation’s job to free us from the presence of our primal drives, or merely to free us from their tyranny, that we no longer dance like a marionette upon their strings? Could enlightenment be as simple as getting so good at practicing the eight-fold path, that one practices it: spontaneously, habitually, easily, and effectively? But were is the prestige in that, and from whom would he receive accolades?
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