Philisophical ramblings. Post something meaningful for others to read.

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Feb 8, 2010
(EDIT: Messed up in the title, meant to type "Philisophical"

A person is enlightened depending on the total context of that person's mind. The total context includes outer, inner, and secret levels. The outer level is what the person observes outside one's own person. The inner level is what the person observes inside one's own person that can still be communicated to others if desired. The secret level is what the person observes both outside and inside one's own person that cannot be communicated to anyone, even if desired.

Because of this, when we observe other people, we observe something incomplete. This assumes you treat the idea of other people seriously. We cannot observe any other person's secret level of being. One of the meanings of this is that we don't fully know the truest and most total meaning of the person's actions and expressions (actions are expressions and expressions are also actions).

If you don't take the idea of other people seriously, then people appear as mere artifacts of one's own lively shimmering awareness. As such, these artifacts cannot be said to be enlightened or unenlightened, because they are partial and transitory.

So whether you take the idea of other people seriously or not, you cannot know if someone is enlightened or not. Ever. The best you can do is guess or make an assumption.

Nonetheless, we all need to make choices. We have to choose which people to associate with and which ones to shun. Which people are we going to take more seriously and which ones are we going to take less seriously? If enlightenment cannot be the criterion that can be used for this purpose, then what can be? Is there any way to make judgements about people that is not pretentious or deluded?

I say yes there is. That way is to observe how various people affect your understanding of things, how they affect your life, and how they affect your ability to realize your highest aspirations.

In other words, you judge other people by judging their effect on you. At no point do you ever need to know if someone is enlightened or not. If someone has a beneficial effect on you, and that someone is in truth ignorant, that's great. If someone is actually enlightened but has a deleterious effect on you, that's terrible.

Because it's impossible to know whether or not the person is enlightened, it's also impossible to know how close the person is to enlightenment. If you don't know where the New York City is, it makes no sense to talk about how close someone is to the New York City.

The only thing we know is the content of our own personal experience. That's the only knowledge that has even just a chance to be valid and reliable. Everything else is pure speculation.

So saying something like "Manga4life, you are not enlightened" is completely pretentious. Maybe he or she is enlightened. Maybe not. I can't know and it doesn't matter to me. I tend to take other people seriously, so from my point of view, the state of other people's spiritual attainment is ultimately secret. It's a kind of secret I am not even interested in knowing.

There is a Zen koan about an abbot of the monastery using an ignorant idiot as a role model for meditation and Zen. The idiot would sit and sleep in the sitting posture for hours on end, and all the monks thought how amazing the attainment was and so they tried to outdo the idiot in their sitting. Then when the monks held debates, the idiot would make nonsensical statements without any understanding of Zen, and all the monks thought it was a very profound truth worth contemplating, and as a result deepened their own understanding. This way the village idiot became the teacher while the abbot found some time to relax.

There is another tale from the Vajrayana tradition. It goes something like this. Grandmother asked her grandson to bring Buddha's tooth as a relic worthy of veneration. Grandson was going away on a journey. This grandson instead spent too much time having fun, learned some things worth learning, and was returning home having completely forgotten about the tooth. Then he remembered he promised to bring his grandma Buddha's tooth. As he remembered this, he noticed a dead dog on the side of the road. So he took one of the dog's teeth and brought this tooth to his grandma. After a while he began to feel guilty for having tricked his grandmother in this way. So he came to his grandmother to confess that it was only some dog's tooth. When he came in, he noticed the tooth was levitating in the air surrounded by rainbows. He told his grandmother that it was only a dog's tooth and the grandma replied that it didn't matter. In her mind it was Buddha's tooth and it did the work of the Buddha's tooth.

There is another story about a sage who couldn't pronounce the mantra correctly and someone came over to teach the right pronunciation... I bet some of you know that story. Anyway, the point is the same.

What matter is how things affect you. It doesn't matter what those things are or are not.


Feb 8, 2010
Confucius was going west to give his books to the Chou Imperial Archives. And Tselu thought and said to him, “I have heard that there is a keeper of the archives at (the capital) Chou. His name is Lao Tan. He has retired and is living at his home. If you want to entrust your books for safe-keeping, why don’t you go and give them to him?”

“Good”, said Confucius.

So Confucius went to see Lao Tan and Lao Tan would not accept the books. Confucius spread the Twelve Classics before him, and tried to explain what he had done. Before Confucius had finished, Lao Tan interrupted him saying, “You are trying to cover too much material. Tell me the essence of your ideas.”

“The essence is in the teachings of humanity and justice”, said Confucius.

“May I ask, are humanity and justice a part of the nature of man?”

“Yes”, replied Confucius. “A gentleman’s character is not complete without the principle of humanity, and his life is not correct if he does not follow the principle of justice. Humanity and justice are truly a part of the nature of man. What else can they be?”

“May I ask what you mean by humanity and justice?” said Lao Tan.

“To share the happiness with others and to love all mankind without partiality - this is the essence of humanity and justice.”

“Alas!” replied Lao Tan. “You talk like the latter-day prophets. Isn’t it abstruse to talk of love for all mankind? Impartiality implies the recognition of partiality (for individuals). If you want the world to find again its lost shepherd, remember that there is already a constant law governing Heaven and Earth, the sun and the moon are shining in the sky, the constellations are in their proper places, and the fowl of the air and the beasts of the Earth already thrive in flocks and herds, and trees already grow and prosper. Why don’t you just follow the natural bent of your character and the laws of Tao? Why do you create such a commotion, holding the banner of humanity and justice like one who has lost his son and is beating a drum to look for him? Alas! I am afraid you are disturbing the nature of man.”


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