The Five Stages of Enlightenment… by Bill Harris

The Five Stages of Enlightenment… by Bill Harris (May 19th, 2008), continued

That something is what Genpo Roshi calls Great Death. This REALLY sounds unappealing, doesn’t it? When I experienced this I was ready for it to be very negative. Instead, it turned out to be incredible, and nothing like I thought it would be. Great Death turned out to be a rebirth, a rebirth into Big Mind, into the transcendent. Once you really let go of ALL the mind-stuff, there’s nothing left but the transcendent.

In nearly every spiritual tradition the teacher will tell you that your mind is in the way of experiencing yourself as bliss, peace, God, the transcendent, the All, Christ Consciousness, nirvana, Great Liberation, or whatever you want to call it. But to really drop your identification with the mind you have to doubt EVERYTHING related to it, and since we’re so attached to all those ideas, concepts, beliefs, idealized futures, identities, and so on and so on and so on, the actual dropping of them, on a deep and visceral level, turns out to be really difficult.

In fact, you might ask, who is dropping these things? The one who is dropping them IS the mind, the ego, the separate identity, the sense of being a separate self. Can the ego drop the ego? That would be like seeing your own eyes, or biting your own teeth, or touching the tip of your finger with the tip of the same finger. So this isn’t really something you can decide to do, because who would do it? The ego, the identity, the sense of being a separate self is just an idea, and an idea can’t do anything–any more than the number three (another idea) can do anything.

When you identify yourself as an ego it really does seem as if the ego, the separate self, is the one doing something. In actual fact, doing happens, but there is no separate self that actually does anything. I know that this flies in the face of common sense, but nevertheless it’s true. Doing happens, but the separate doer is an illusion. For that reason, the no-self state (or whatever you choose to call it) is something that either happens or it doesn’t. A teacher like Genpo Roshi, a fully enlightened master with great skill and experience, can sometimes put you in a place where it happens, if you are ready, but it isn’t something that you can do, because the separate you doesn’t really exist. What you think of as you is really your idea of you, and that idea can’t do a thing.

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