This post is an extension of a conversation going on over at Tom Stine's blog on the post Thank You Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey. Before we get into it, if you have not been to Tom's site (TomStine.com), get over there right now and look into it. It is a wonderful place to spend time, not only for the content, but for the lively conversations that occur in the comments.
Another person I would like to acknowledge is the source of the comment itself, Vern from AimForAwesome.com. He has a wonderful blog on life tips and experience, but it goes far deeper than that. Please take the time to check him out as well. There are also many beautiful photos on his site.
This particular post is a reply to a comment directed at Takuin. If you would like to read the comment itself, click on the post link above.
It just occurred to me that I have written on this subject before in the post How Do You See the Enlightened? And another post that may be of use is Can a Fragmented Mind Know Compassion? I have not read these since they were posted, so the language I use today might be slightly different from what I used in those two posts.
I generally never revisit the things I have written, as I do not see the point. Writing or speaking is a moment by moment exploration, and there is that vitality of things happening for the first time. But beyond that, it exists merely as a shadow; a pale imitation, or remembrance.
After all, the shadow of food will never fill the belly like the real thing.
Thanks, Vern, for taking the time to write such an interesting comment. Let's see if we can meet together through this exchange.
Interesting questions are not enough. If one is serious, they take them to the very end, not relying on knowledge to answer for them.
I am not defending anything; not Tolle, and certainly not Takuin. There is absolutely nothing to defend. When we question, it is not to have certainty in whatever knowledge we might have, but to be curious to find out what is present beneath what we already know. With that in mind, let's question all of this, and when we do, please pay attention to how the question is answered within you.
You are not necessarily coming from a "foreign place." It is just, sometimes, questions arise from this emptiness. It is not for me to find out. It is your life and not mine.
Keep in mind, with these questions it is not a matter of saying yes it is, no it isn't, it is right, it is wrong, or any of that. Pay attention to the attempt to answer, and question the answerer. Question the one who thinks he knows.
One of the very first things that goes away early on in meditation and definitely by the time I was experiencing jhanas is that idea in my head that I need to act or be a certain way for other people.
Do you think you were acting in a certain way by needing to attain a state through a type of meditation? Is there a difference between the two? Again, I am not saying this is the case, and I am not leading the witness, so to speak. Pay attention to how the answers arise within you.
To consider what I was wearing any longer than the 1 second it takes to pull my drawer open and grab a shirt wouldn’t have any point, there’s no thought required in that decision...
Yet, so much energy is wasted in considering what someone else is wearing. Can you see that? Where is the importance here, really? When you believe other people should or shouldn't feel a certain way, how does that present itself? Is it heavy? Burdening? If you are not curious to find out, you won't feel or notice anything. But go deep and see if anything is really there.
Would an enlightened person go to a store and buy the shirt he wore that time I saw him?
Is there such a thing as an enlightened person? Have you ever put the question out there? Is there a person, a me, a self, a center, that is capable of enlightenment? Don't just reference the past. See it for what it is. Can a person ever be enlightened?
As a person moves closer to enlightenment there is a lessening of the ego… of the self… of ideas that appearance means anything at all.
Can a person move closer to enlightenment? Is there a someone that can move anywhere at all? Does this strike you as funny, in a way? The physical body may or may not move, but where is the person that is doing all this moving and attaining all of that bliss? If ideas of appearance mean nothing at all, why is it given such importance? Again, I am not pointing you in a particular direction. Just see the question and go as deep as you can.
What about your shirt - I can see that looks like a NICE black shirt… who were you impressing with that shirt?
If anyone is impressed with anything I say, do, or wear, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. It is none of my business what other people think. That is your business; the business of the self. A better question might be, why does appearance make any impression at all?
Those that I know that have meditated and experienced jhanas or other absorption seem to not care one way or another about how they look to the rest of mankind. Does that conflict with your experience?
It may not matter how they look to the rest of the world. But what about the way the rest of the world looks to them? Do you see where we are going with these questions? I am not trying to get a particular answer, and I am not trying to lead you in a certain way. It may be a matter of sifting beyond what you believe to be true.
There is no conflict here, as there is no experience here. But that takes us too far away from what we are talking about.
hahaha. Sorry, having fun with this… as I said and you chose to ignore, there were other reasons I didn’t believe strongly in his experience
You are right, it is quite interesting to go into this, but only if you distrust the answers you already have.
I didn't mean to ignore anything else you wrote, but what I focused on was more telling than anything else you could have said. As I have said, it is not for me to find out because it is your life. You either will go there, or you won't. And please believe me, it doesn't matter to me if you do or you don't. But if someone is serious about life, about the deep issues, they will get to it eventually.
Why are you looking down in your gravatar? I’ve never seen a photo like that… does it mean something? What are you looking at? What was the intent of a photo like that? Just curious…
I don't know. I did not take the picture. Those things are all up to the impulse of the photographer.
I can tell you, that photo was taken at an informal talk I gave in southern Indiana in 2007. I have no idea what the topic was, and I do not remember what I was doing at that precise moment. To be honest, I do not even remember anyone taking pictures. But a few months after I returned to Japan I received a number of photos in the mail from that night.
That is as far as I can go without contacting the photographer and asking. But I have found it best to leave artists alone with their work.
Perhaps for you the answers came quickly? But that is not the purpose of this inquiry. I am in no way saying you are wrong and I am right. That has absolutely nothing to do with it. It is not a pointing in a particular direction, and it is not a matter of seeing things the way another "person" sees it. It is about seeing past, sifting beyond, what you already know. If you can do this, you'll find something very different from your answers to the questions.
Everything you wrote was wonderful, and it brought such a vitality to being that these questions arose. I was in no way offended by anything you said. But that is the downside of all this impersonal online writing; it is often difficult to know exactly what the other person means, even if the language is clear. It is far better to meet in person over a cup of tea or an acidic diet coke. Haha.
Wait...do enlightened people drink diet coke? ;)