Originally posted by whodey
How do you discern illusion from reality? Perhaps this "awakening" is the ultimate illusion?
Have you ever experienced—or can you at least imagine—being awake and consciously aware, but without having a thought in your head? No thinking at all. Being aware of your body and your surroundings, sensations and perceptions, but without naming anything (“Ah, there’s a—what’s it called? A mockingbird.” ) or thinking thoughts about it (“I don’t like mockingbirds, because...” or “There must—or must not—be a god in all this...” ).
And then you become aware when you’re thinking thoughts. Thinking is a natural activity, just like walking. But because you are able to walk does not mean that you have to keep continually walking all your waking moments. When you’re walking, you can be aware that you’re walking, and watch where you’re walking when you need to so that you do not step into a groundhog hole and break your leg. Similarly with thinking. Similarly with emotions (with the possible exception of what might be understood as emotional content in the immediate survival response).
Then you realize that your thoughts are not who you are, but something that you do—including, and this is the kicker, all the thoughts you think about yourself: the whole thought-complex you name “I”. What people normally call “I” is simply the product of their activity of thinking about themselves, and identifying themselves with that thinking—and what others think about them as well, and what they have learned from others to think about themselves.
[Before I write on this again, I have to remember to ask my wife—who has some training in this—how that “I-thought complex” tracks in childhood development.]
are essentially prior to that fabricated “I-complex.” You
are the one who fabricates it (with help from parents, culture, etc.). It may be well-built and useful, and the very act of fabricating our “somebody-self-construct” is a natural activity of our particular consciousness—but it is not you
, no matter how much people pretend to themselves and each other that that is the case. And that pretending is largely unconscious, almost like post-hypnotic suggestion.
I cannot describe that you
for you. You have to discover that for yourself. Any attempt at description is just more thoughts—even to call it something like “Buddha-nature” is just another thought, another name. I can only tell you what it is not, to the best of my limited ability.
I said “discover,” but that’s just a way of talking. “What you’re looking for is what you’re looking with...” (Take that as a kind of koan.) You can simply realize it. And then you will also understand why any attempt to describe it will always miss the mark.
And if you realize “it”, you are unlikely to go around saying silly things like, “Now I’m enlightened.” And if you do, a Zen master would likely say, “ ‘Who’ is this ‘I’ that thinks
Illusion is just seeing reality in a one-sided way. Seeing the trees but not the forest (or vice versa). Thinking there can be an identifiable figure without a ground. Affirming the many, but denying the whole; affirming the whole, but denying the manyness of its manifestations. Thinking that you
are just the content of your “I-thoughts”; denying the natural, useful role of that “somebody-self-construct”—thinking either that it’s immutable or that it serves no purpose. Etc., etc.