the prison in our minds

13 10 2008

you’ve probably never spoken to me about enlightenment.  or, if you have, you had something to say about it, and i eventually had to admit that i didn’t really understand it.  i get the concept, sure, it makes sense to me academically, but all the logic i threw at it didn’t help to reify it as an actual possibility.  i never doubted that the buddha had reached enlightenment; i just never got why enlightenment was there for the achieving.

underneath it all, it seemed to me, we’re simple prisoners.  we don’t have any plans for escaping the earth with or without our worldly bodies.  we have our superstitions, beliefs, and hopes, but for all the searching we’ve done, nobody’s ever produced a bit of proof of our transcendence.  so, we’re caught here, right?  you are born and you die here.  how could i convince myself that one could reach a level of true understanding and oneness with the entire universe, which is what i understand enlightenment to be?  that’s stuff for the gods, for higher beings that don’t have our limitations and inabilities.

then i thought about it in a more logical way, maybe.  the wisest men and women who believe the most in transcendence have their catch phrases no matter what the discipline:  they speak of utter calmness, of letting go and leaving your body behind.  i was thinking about this today when instead of the words i was thinking, i was suddenly seeing a graphical representation.  if the universe is completely cohesive and makes absolute sense, you can consider that the most perfect iteration of itself.  i thought of it graphically in terms of speed: it was the fastest speed, or most perfect speed, because it is itself, the entirety of existence.  it’s like a no-friction machine, even.  so to understand it, to be one with it, one must also be no-friction, able to travel at the same perfect speed.  being a human is a low place to start.  you can imagine us flying in the same direction as this perfection we’re seeking to know, but our imperfections catch all the wind and prevent us from approaching it.  swimmers shave themselves clean before racing because they want the least friction they can have for tearing through the water.  if our goal isn’t speed but is understanding, then every flaw in our minds is another obstacle in approaching the goal of enlightenment.  this is why we’re supposed to “let go.”  the anger you feel toward someone who hurt your feelings slows you; the concern you have over attaining your worldly goals diverts you.  every unresolved emotional problem you have, or for that matter, every logical thought you think becomes another blemish on the zero friction sleeve of your oneness with all.

but you’re human, so you have millions of them.  but that’s why people practice meditation, forgiveness, and the ability to truly let go of things that concern them:  they realize, the closer they get to feeling this apparently amazing state of being, that the things that they worry about are less important than they thought, and that letting go of everything speeds them ever closer to the most perfect, to a true sense of understanding or belonging, even if they have to reach it without thinking.

i’m not honestly sure if that makes sense as i’m explaining it.  this may become more of a problem if i am successful in cultivating my intuitive side at the intentional expense of my rational side.




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