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Enlightened or not - nothing changes and the earth still spins...

What do you guys think about this zen story!

One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. "We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?" they asked.
"It is," he replied.

"And how do you feel?"

"As miserable as ever," said the monk.


CinorjerDaltheJigsaw
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Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    Before enlightenment, fetch water, chop wood - and feel miserable.
    After enlightenment - fetch water, chop wood - and feel miserable.

    Nothing to see here folks, move along..... :D
    nenkohaiDaltheJigsaw
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Well from my standpoint I am hoping a Buddha doesn't feel miserable. What's the point if they are miserable?
    Invincible_summerpersonpegembaraTosh
  • "This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Nibbana."

    — AN 3.32

    If one feels "miserable," I don't see how that would be the end of craving, dispassion, etc. To me, being "miserable" means that I would prefer to be in a different state than I am currently in. That's craving...

    Maybe my understanding is a bit too simplistic?

    Enlightenment is to see things as they really are. And to see things as they REALLY are wont necessarily make us happy!
    In fact, for some people, enlightenment will make or break them! For some, it could be too much!

    Enlightenment doesnt mean = rainbows in the sky..
    It means to understand truth! (Whether we like it or not)

    If you are lookibg for peace' , you'll only find that when death comes for you im afraid..

    (At least my take on it all anyway) :)
    lobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    The earth is good. The problem is that we want to fixate on aspects and we cause our own ills. So when we stop doing this we are left with a good earth. It is good in the sense that it is whole. We have bodies and we can eat food and sit in the sun. We can hear music and we can dance. We can reflect and create. The earth is good.

    It's the same earth before and after with the difference being the change of our minds on the path.
    sovaFullCircleLucy_Begood
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    The Buddha taught suffering and the end of suffering. So I think this story is some zen craziness that's meant to reduce our striving for some big goal at the end of the rainbow or something. I practice to ease my suffering and to be happier, I don't really care about the truth or enlightenment apart from however they can contribute to the former. So if its really the case that I'd feel just as miserable once enlightened I might as well just stop now.
    Invincible_summermaartensovaLucy_Begood
  • person said:

    The Buddha taught....

    I 'sighed' after only reading the first part of your sentence... "The buddha taught.."
    The thing is, you dont know what the buddha taught (or said)
    all the teachings have been passed down and probably been 'chinese whispered' left right and centre...

    If you're too fixed on what 'buddha' said all the time then you could miss your own 'awakening'

    .........

    Also, you say
    person said:

    I practice to ease my suffering and to be happier,

    This could be the obsticle that is preventing you from easing your suffering and becoming happier!

    Why do you need to practice anything to be happy???

    If you want to be happy , just be happy!
    Whats so hard about it?

    Theres no practice to be 'happy'
    Its all mental (in our head)

    To 'practice' something is more of a physical thing!
    Happiness is a 'mental' thing = no practice needed, you just have to decide enough is enough, i am going to be happy from now on!

    Done!

    DaltheJigsaw
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Ummon/Yunmen said, "Every day is a good day."

    He wasn't just blowing smoke.
    riverflowlobsterInvincible_summer
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    zenmyste said:

    <

    I 'sighed' after only reading the first part of your sentence... "The buddha taught.."
    The thing is, you dont know what the buddha taught (or said)
    all the teachings have been passed down and probably been 'chinese whispered' left right and centre...

    If you're too fixed on what 'buddha' said all the time then you could miss your own 'awakening'

    All very well....
    But if you consider this to be an obstacle - what is it therefore that you adhere to, in order to continue your practice....?
    If not 'what the |Buddha said' - then what?
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    edited June 2013
    federica said:

    zenmyste said:

    <

    I 'sighed' after only reading the first part of your sentence... "The buddha taught.."
    The thing is, you dont know what the buddha taught (or said)
    all the teachings have been passed down and probably been 'chinese whispered' left right and centre...

    If you're too fixed on what 'buddha' said all the time then you could miss your own 'awakening'

    All very well....
    But if you consider this to be an obstacle - what is it therefore that you adhere to, in order to continue your practice....?
    If not 'what the |Buddha said' - then what?
    Everyone! Life, nature, circumstances, my own experiences etc ...
    No 2 lives are the same. I enjoy learning from everyone! (Thats why i ask alot of questions, some silly, some good, some interesting)

    But to 'only' focus on what buddha says all the time (especially in our modern day life) may not always work for some people! (For me anyway)
    DaltheJigsaw
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited June 2013
    Where did you get the impression that @person - or anyone here for that matter - 'only' focuses on the Buddha...?

    You don't.

    What makes you assume we do?
    person
  • PLEASE......!!!!

    Come on now!!! Lets not play dumb! Its all most people talk about.
    its all they relate to all the time... "Buddha said this, buddha said that.."

    I never hear about their own experiences or life lessons that they have learnt themselves..
    They are living in buddhas shadow way too much!

    Like i always say, pls dont get me wrong, i love and respect buddhism, its helped me out alot, but i dont have to quote him every other thread
    i like to quote myself sometimes and (even get feedback from you guys) who are alive right now , not some dead guy who lived 2500 years ago!

    "Why quote all the time when we can create?"
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I think stories as this could be used as a good excuse not to practice, or practice only to a certain point. If the monk felt as miserable as ever I don't think he was enlightened. In my experience, one of the signs of understanding the nature of the mind more and more, means less and less suffering.

    If it wasn't, why would anybody care about cultivating the path? The whole purpose is to remove suffering.

    As with all things dharma you can approach it from many sides, but this is what I have to say for now. ;)
    karmabluesmfranzdorfLucy_Begood
  • NevermindNevermind Bitter & Hateful Veteran
    federica said:

    zenmyste said:

    <

    I 'sighed' after only reading the first part of your sentence... "The buddha taught.."
    The thing is, you dont know what the buddha taught (or said)
    all the teachings have been passed down and probably been 'chinese whispered' left right and centre...

    If you're too fixed on what 'buddha' said all the time then you could miss your own 'awakening'

    All very well....
    But if you consider this to be an obstacle - what is it therefore that you adhere to, in order to continue your practice....?
    If not 'what the |Buddha said' - then what?
    Paying attention and taking responsibility.
    howInvincible_summerupekka
  • I think some people just dont 'get it' at all!!!
    Just because someone 'understands reality' or truth or enlightenment (whatever you call it) doesnt guarantee them happiness!

    The world still goes on. Crime still happens, food still goes off, they stick get sick, their mother could still be lying in the hospital bed dieing...

    So yes, life can still be as miserable as ever!
    The enlightenment could have been that the monk realized that there was no true enlightenment. And all this that he sees around him , is 'it' !

    Pretty rubbish after all!!! Depends if you're ready for truth or not! In my eyes, the truth is the exact thing you see when you open your eyes!
    JeffreylobsterCinorjerDaltheJigsaw
  • Nothing mystical - but oh so very magical!
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    He didn't say life was as miserable as ever, he said he was as miserable as ever.
  • Might have been meaning the same thing.

    We arnt 'seperate' from life itself. We 'are' life!

    If my life is miserable, i am miserable...

    If i am happy, my life is happy!
  • kokorokokoro Explorer
    zenmyste said:

    I think some people just dont 'get it' at all!!!
    Just because someone 'understands reality' or truth or enlightenment (whatever you call it) doesnt guarantee them happiness!

    The world still goes on. Crime still happens, food still goes off, they stick get sick, their mother could still be lying in the hospital bed dieing...

    So yes, life can still be as miserable as ever!
    The enlightenment could have been that the monk realized that there was no true enlightenment. And all this that he sees around him , is 'it' !

    Pretty rubbish after all!!! Depends if you're ready for truth or not! In my eyes, the truth is the exact thing you see when you open your eyes!

    I'm not trying to change whats happening around me, i'm trying to make change within me, and in the process of understanding the truth i'm hoping to find happiness.
    I can change how i react to the world i see when i open my eyes

    So if the everyday goings on of the world continue to cause me misery, then my practice isn't working and i need to change things.

    I would've thought that once enlightened, i wouldn't be affected by what's happening around me, (that life is sometimes miserable and sometimes rockin) and that rather i'd just accept things for what they are at that given time knowing that it to will change.

    Maybe if i sieve my everyday experiences through the 4 NT colander, then maybe i'll find more happiness within.
    I take Buddha's teachings as rather suggestions, give 'em a go in tandem with your life and see how it turns out for you, it may not change my surrounding, but it may change how i feel about them.
    Jeffreykarmabluesperson
  • Like, dislike, miserable, happy...?

    "When it comes, don’t try to to avoid it; when it goes, don’t run after it. There is only this, and nothing else." ~ Ta-mei
    howCheLucy_Begood
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    Doesn't the benefit of enlightenment come once we die in that lifetime? Enlightened doesn't (I think) mean to no longer feel about anything. It means that once you die THEN you won't have to be reborn and suffer in having to have feelings about everything anymore (and so on). However, saying "miserable as ever" sounds a lot like a judgement to me which doesn't seem to fit, even though I totally understand that being enlightened means to see the truth (which is often not pretty) and that being enlightened and having to live out life won't be all rainbows.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 2013
    At the bodhisattva level the pain of life is seen as less threatening, essenceless even.

    At our level when we are miserable the world is miserable and when we are happy the world is happy.

    So how would a bodhisattva feel? Would they be comforted by confidence? yes. Would they see the insubstantial passing nature of phenomena? yes. Would they cling to emptiness? no. When phenomena are seen as essenceless conscious returns to it's mother, reality. When neither form or emptiness is clung to all demons are cut through with wisdom.
    personLucy_Begood
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    is it? I mean I understand what you are saying, and I agree in essence. But then why do people like the HHDL and the most highly accomplished masters (whether they are Bodhisattva or not, I don't know) still cry with so much compassion for people who are hurting? It seems like it would be coming from a place of pain due to the empathy they take on from other people. I'm not sure that I believe even a Bodhisattva is not sad when his mother or greatest teacher dies. Obviously they will see and understand far differently than the rest of us. But I don't think it means they don't feel at all.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Yes but there is pain that is not resisted and pain that deadens us. One of the near enemies of compassion other than pity is overwhelm. As our heart grows the fretting of overwhelm is transformed into confidence and endless spontaneous bodhisattva activity.
    karmablues
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    Yes but there is pain that is not resisted and pain that deadens us
    Indeed.
    Context.

    Being miserable may be as empty for an enlightened Zenith as 'happiness' based on empty experiences is for us malcontent super cravers.

    For the deadly miserable, it is the hope and promise of cessation that provides the ability to bear the intensity of misery.

    Taking prostrations and refuge in a frenzy of pain we might be empowered to do . . .

    From personal experience I have sat with oppressive misery. Seen it as empty by being with it. Relabled it as happy (same emptiness). Then when it passed found the cause. If I was more skilled I would not even have to relabel empty1 as empty2.

    Be well. Create the conditions for wellness. Create compassion for all Being Well.
    Jeffreykarmablues
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    The image for this is the lotus flower. Roots in the mud and shining leaves.
    Or another one that I read about; women walking and having conversations with a jar of motionless water on their heads.

    So “As miserable as ever” is a slightly more meaningful phrase than it looks like on the surface.
    imho
    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    So “As miserable as ever” is a slightly more meaningful phrase than it looks like on the surface.
    At its centre is the truth of enlightenment.
    Nothing changes. Everything changes.
    It also has a shocking, Koanic nature. It may have startled one of the other monks into a realisation . . .

    Imagine that, awake and miserable, now with the resources of a Tathagata
    . . . or samsara z z z . . . just going where the karmic nightmare or dreams and fantasy arisings take you . . . pressing the snooze button . . .

    What would you change . . . indeed what needs changing?
    As Miserable as Ever
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Jeffrey said:

    Well from my standpoint I am hoping a Buddha doesn't feel miserable. What's the point if they are miserable?

    The Buddha himself when ill ( and he purportedly suffered sickness ) is said in the Pali canon to have reported feeling ' miserable '. I haven't the reference to hand..but it's there.
    The point is he didn't ' own ' the misery. He didn't incorporate it into a self-sense.
    He didn't 'own' blissful states either...and did not choose one over another.
    As one of my Buddhist friends says...' Buddhadharma is ruthlessly radical '.
    CinorjerJeffrey
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    He probably had the flu or something. :) Even a Buddha's body get sick and dies. To say that nothing changed though is not entirely accurate IMO! To an unenlightened person, all of that will cause even more suffering, to an enlightened person, it won't.
    SabrekarmabluesJeffrey
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I've always loved that little Zen story. It's been attached to both Joshu and Suzuki, but I believe that genius Roshi Anonymous actually wrote it.

    Suzuki was responsible for this story passed around: "On the fourth day of retreat as we sat with our painful legs, aching backs, hopes and doubts about whether it was worth it, Suzuki Rohsi began his talk by saying slowly, "The problems you are now experiencing" - we were sure he was going to say will go away - "will continue for the rest of your life". The way he said it, we all laughed."

    The story is remembered because it points, as Zen should, to a assumption that must be challenged. See, being miserable means to be unhappy. How are enlightened people supposed to feel? If a good friend dies, are enlightened people allowed to feel sad?

    Are enlightened people allowed to be unhappy? Are they allowed to be happy? Are they allowed to even feel anything, or just sit there smiling like a Buddha statue?

    You can find fake gurus out there smiling and beaming happiness at you and promising that they have the method to fill your mind with peace and love. Then they'll climb into their limo and leave you to toil away at the cabbage farm, minds filled with love for what you're doing and the great Teacher you adore. Is that what you really want out of your practice? Then why aren't you doing it right now?

    Or a surgeon could stick a knife into your mind and perform a lobotomy and guarantee you don't worry about a thing for the rest of your life. If that's enlightenment, then why aren't you happy with the thought of someone doing that?

    So if Zen asks you how are enlightened people supposed to feel, what do you finally answer?

    Here's a hint: How are you feeling right now?

    lobster
  • I'm going to get old. I'm going to get sick. I'm going to die.

    And that's OK.


    That is enlightenment.
    zenmystelobsterkarmabluesChe
  • Cinorjer said:

    I've always loved that little Zen story. It's been attached to both Joshu and Suzuki, but I believe that genius Roshi Anonymous actually wrote it.

    Suzuki was responsible for this story passed around: "On the fourth day of retreat as we sat with our painful legs, aching backs, hopes and doubts about whether it was worth it, Suzuki Rohsi began his talk by saying slowly, "The problems you are now experiencing" - we were sure he was going to say will go away - "will continue for the rest of your life". The way he said it, we all laughed."

    The story is remembered because it points, as Zen should, to a assumption that must be challenged. See, being miserable means to be unhappy. How are enlightened people supposed to feel? If a good friend dies, are enlightened people allowed to feel sad?

    Are enlightened people allowed to be unhappy? Are they allowed to be happy? Are they allowed to even feel anything, or just sit there smiling like a Buddha statue?

    You can find fake gurus out there smiling and beaming happiness at you and promising that they have the method to fill your mind with peace and love. Then they'll climb into their limo and leave you to toil away at the cabbage farm, minds filled with love for what you're doing and the great Teacher you adore. Is that what you really want out of your practice? Then why aren't you doing it right now?

    Or a surgeon could stick a knife into your mind and perform a lobotomy and guarantee you don't worry about a thing for the rest of your life. If that's enlightenment, then why aren't you happy with the thought of someone doing that?

    So if Zen asks you how are enlightened people supposed to feel, what do you finally answer?

    Here's a hint: How are you feeling right now?

    Brilliant. Well said. You get it!!!!
    Unfortunitely , alot of people on here just dont get that!!!

    They really believe to be enlightened is to be a robot-like-happy-blissful kind of person... But its just not like that at all!!!

    Reality is reality , whether we like it or not! (Enlightened or not)
    Things are as they are!!!

    Expect nothing and you may just end up with what you 'were' looking for...
    lobsterCinorjer
  • I'm going to get old. I'm going to get sick. I'm going to die.

    And that's OK.


    That is enlightenment.

    You got it! :-)
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    Do we get to hug emos?

    image
    SabrezenffChe
  • person said:

    If you add a spoonful of dirt (suffering) to a glass of water (our unenlightened minds) it will taint the water and make it undrinkable. If you add the same amount of dirt to the ocean (an enlightened mind) it won't make a difference. Maybe an enlightened mind would notice the suffering but it won't effect their peace of mind.

    I've met exactly three people in my long life who had that unidentified "something" that blew me away. I was smart enough to watch and learn from all three, although only two of them were actually my Teachers. And no, it wasn't the likes of guru "Da Free John" whom I once met and immediately saw was nothing but a con man and told him so (his followers threw me out of the meeting).

    Two of those people were men, one was a woman, one was Christian, one Buddhist, and one an atheist. What each had in common, near as I can figure, besides being incredibly friendly and open, was that they were at peace with themselves and the world. They still had their petty human problems, frustrations, etc, but I suppose they considered those the price of being alive. I know they didn't dwell on them.

    I guess the second thing they all had in common was, they each were working hard to help people in their own way, but it wasn't because they expected to change the world. It was just something they did because that is what people should do.
    CheLucy_Begood
  • person said:

    If you add a spoonful of dirt (suffering) to a glass of water (our unenlightened minds) it will taint the water and make it undrinkable. If you add the same amount of dirt to the ocean (an enlightened mind) it won't make a difference. Maybe an enlightened mind would notice the suffering but it won't effect their peace of mind.

    Now your talking!

    Thats probably one of the best things ive ever :-)
    So true!!

  • *ever read*
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    zenmyste said:

    <

    They really believe to be enlightened is to be a robot-like-happy-blissful kind of person... But its just not like that at all!!!

    Reality is reality , whether we like it or not! (Enlightened or not)
    Things are as they are!!!

    Expect nothing and you may just end up with what you 'were' looking for...


    I can buy the interpretation that the Zen master was using the words "miserable as ever" to discourage the younger monks from wanting to gain Enlightenment. But I don't agree with the interpretation that he would still be miserable despite being Enlightened.
    Given that the story is presented in text format, it's hard to suss out what the context/tone/delivery of the dialogue is like. "Miserable as ever" really denotes to me a state of dissatisfaction. Yes, Enlightenment is "seeing things as they truly are," and doesn't necessitate a blissed-out state. But it also doesn't necessitate being pessimistic. If you see reality for what it is, wouldn't that mean not placing any judgments on the experience? No misery, no bliss, just clear-seeing. If the monk is "miserable" for this reason or that reason, it seems safe to assume that he still is placing value judgments on reality. That doesn't seem like "seeing things as they truly are."
    person
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    edited June 2013

    zenmyste said:

    <

    They really believe to be enlightened is to be a robot-like-happy-blissful kind of person... But its just not like that at all!!!

    Reality is reality , whether we like it or not! (Enlightened or not)
    Things are as they are!!!

    Expect nothing and you may just end up with what you 'were' looking for...


    I can buy the interpretation that the Zen master was using the words "miserable as ever" to discourage the younger monks from wanting to gain Enlightenment. But I don't agree with the interpretation that he would still be miserable despite being Enlightened.
    Given that the story is presented in text format, it's hard to suss out what the context/tone/delivery of the dialogue is like. "Miserable as ever" really denotes to me a state of dissatisfaction. Yes, Enlightenment is "seeing things as they truly are," and doesn't necessitate a blissed-out state. But it also doesn't necessitate being pessimistic. If you see reality for what it is, wouldn't that mean not placing any judgments on the experience? No misery, no bliss, just clear-seeing. If the monk is "miserable" for this reason or that reason, it seems safe to assume that he still is placing value judgments on reality. That doesn't seem like "seeing things as they truly are."
    Well it depends, i think!

    It depends beause it all depends on what 'clear seeing' and 'enlightenment' really are!

    We all might just be 'hoping' that enlightenment brings the cessation of suffering (because thats what we have been taught and read and 'hope' to god it is' (we all want a path that really works, and ends all our suffering.. It would be good wouldnt it?)

    BUT what if we are all wrong, none of us will ever know unless we become enlightened, and then thats when we realized 'ahhh, its not what we thought, im as miserable as ever"

    Saying that, it doesnt have to be pessimistic OR optimistic, its just seeing things and as they truely are and 'being' whatever we are in that moment!
    So maybe an enlightened person has the ability to 'just be' in every moment! He still gets sick, (and will feel low, rough and miserable) but that doesnt mean he will 'mentally' suffer futhermore, it just means he understands why his body is suffering and he 'accepts' this and waits for his recovery!

    It could be pretty simple, if we are willing to be open about what enlightenment actually is!

    I believe some people are scared and dont want to believe its 'nothing big'
    They want to believe it something MASSIVE, (perhaps it inspires them to keep practising)

    Just like christians believe in a HIGHER power, and a heaven after we die!
    It keeps them going strong after a loved one dies, (they really believe they will see them again)
    But will we????? Who knows (i personally think not)
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    Projections of mind are not taken to be real as a Buddha. Thus even if you became insane and saw demons and felt tortured you would not take them as real. The same if you are in the hell of ICU in a hospital. It is all just projections of mind.
    lobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    It's not a blissed out state. The awareness becomes even more precise.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 2013
    By the way zenmyste, the only way you could know this is if YOU are personally enlightened. Isn't that so?

    Personally I don't know what enlightened is. I was kinda hoping for spiral learning towards a better place to look outward at life.
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