Lightmind Extract 023

01Jan08

Jim 1.6.05
Column A
Byron Katie
Eckhart Tolle
Andrew Cohen
Adi Da
Gangaji
Adyashanti
Saniel Bonder
Nick Ardaagh

Column B
Stephen Levine
Jack Kornfield
Pema Chodron
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
Thich Nhat Hanh
Stephen Batchelor
The Dalai Lama
A.H. Almaas
Steve Hagen

Those in Column A either say or strongly imply that they are awake or enlightened.

Those in Column B either never say or imply that they are awake or enlightened, and a few (A.H. Almaas, the Dalai Lama, Suzuki Roshi, and Stephen Levine) are on record denying that they are enlightened.

What I want to focus on in this post is not the teachers in these lists, but the issue of talking about and focusing on “enlightenment.”

This is a much more complicated issue than it might appear on the surface.

For example, in his Tricycle interview, Adyashanti said, “The very notion that anybody attains enlightenment is a taboo.”

Steve Hagen, Dharma heir to Katagiri Roshi, says, “There’s something really wrong with the question, ‘Are you enlightened?'”

This kind of question, he says, comes out of misunderstanding about enlightenment and because of our dualistic thinking.

“There’s no particular person there who is enlightened,” he says. “Nor is enlightenment itself something particular.”

“You can’t put the word ‘I’ into the picture because ‘I’ refers to something that isn’t changing, that’s static.”

Hagen says that this is not to say that there are no enlightened people.

“There are. But they’re awakened in this moment, they’re not the enduring entities we imagine them to be.”

Please note that I did not just criticize Adyashanti. Adyashanti the man has nothing whatsoever to do with my point here, which is that what from one perspective might seem like a “taboo” agains the notion that anybody attains enlightenment is from another perspective not a taboo at all. It would be flat out wrong for anyone to think that Steve Hagen has a “taboo” against the notion that anybody attains enlightenment.

I have more to post on this subject, and I have to run right now, so I will leave this here in case anyone for some reason doesn’t see what Hagen is saying. Whether we agree or disagree with it, like it or find it too dry or whatever, is beside the point. The point is that there is a very good reason why a Zen teacher might not talk about enlightenment that has nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of “taboo” against enlightenment that some might imagine.

But if anyone has a comment on this so far, I’m interested to hear it.

More later… (And again, please, the focus here is not on Adyashanti and Hagen. I’m sure both are good teachers and I have heard nothing about either of them that makes me question their skills, spiritual depth, or integrity. Please please please let’s not put the focus on the teachers, because that is not what I am trying to focus on here. We could be talking about what teacher X versus what teacher Z said. The particular individuals are not the point, nor is the point a sectarian conflict between “neo-Advaita” and American Zen. I want to look at this issue form an “integral psychology” perspective.)

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