The Five Stages of Enlightenment… by Bill Harris (May 19th, 2008), continued
To take that step you have to go through what Genpo Roshi calls “Great Doubt.” This is where you doubt–and I mean really doubt, totally, without reservation–that any of the stuff upon which you’ve based your Self, your identity, and your life, will ever save you, make you happy, solve the problems of being human, get rid of the basics of the human condition (including that all things–including you–are in time and eventually pass away), lead to any sort of salvation, or end your suffering.
This means that you doubt your ideas about yourself, the world, other people, life, and anything and everything else–all of them. You doubt your concepts, your premises, your way of seeing things, and the memories you string together to create a sense of an enduring “you”. You doubt all your personal defenses. You doubt the past. You doubt the future, and especially that the future will save you in any way. You doubt the value of all your accomplishments, the badges you’ve earned. You doubt your identity, your roles, your story, your idea of who you are. You doubt all your healthy eating habits, your meditation practice, your ideas about the way the world should be, your ideas about mental health, and so on and so on. You doubt the separate self. You doubt that any of this will ultimately save you or get you anywhere.
You also doubt the teacher, enlightenment, meditation, religion, spiritual growth, personal growth–all of it. None of this, you realize, is going to save you or change the basic human condition. All of these things, ultimately, are ideas about life, creations of the mind, representations of reality–but not reality. They are hopes, but not realities.