Enlightenment By Doing Nothing?
If I can become ‘enlightened’… by just being… (does this mean) everyone (is) enlightened already and no one has to do anything ever to reach the state that masters from India to Japan had after all that discipline? – Joseph, St. Paul, MN
When you sincerely believe that you are a spiritual seeker searching for the ulimate experience that you’ve heard other people have attained after great austerities being advised to “just sit” or “end the seeking” can seem very counter-intuitive. As seekers, we are convinced that we lack “enlightenment.”
Paradoxically, what we are seeking is actually the realization that there is no experience to attain and no self to attain it. “Enlightenment” is the revelation that the whole game is empty and open.
So does this mean that the spiritual disciplines are unnecessary? There is nothing we need to do? From the ultimate perspective, beyond all perspectives, yes!
However, when we find ourselves believing that we need to become something else spiritual practices can be useful. “Just sitting” and “nondual dialogue” are among the most direct practices because they quickly confront the seeker with the paradox of practicing a “non-practice.”
Sometimes people find practices that give us something to do more accessible. These initially collude with our habit of believing that we will become complete by doing something. If we’re watching the breath or repeating a mantra we can get into the challenge of focusing and monitor our progress. But ultimately these practices also lead us to the question: “where are we trying to get to?” How do we know if we’ve arrived?