So, there you are, enlightened… by Bill Harris, continued

So, there you are, enlightened… by Bill Harris (June 10th, 2008), continued

One famous Buddhist teaching is that of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths.

The first Truth is that all life is suffering. This is so because everything is in time, everything is transient. Sometimes we get what we don’t want, which creates suffering. Sometimes we don’t get what we do want, which also creates suffering. And even when we get what we want, we still suffer because when we get what we want it still exists in time and eventually passes away. Whatever we get, we eventually lose because all things, at least in the relative world, have a beginning and an ending.

The second Truth is that suffering is caused by our attachment to things being a certain way – especially our attachment to life, to the idea that we must go on living.

The third Truth is that suffering can be ended by giving up attachment, and the fourth Truth is the method for doing that. (We could go much more deeply into the Four Noble Truths, but I won’t do that now because I’m introducing them just to make a particular point, which is…)

In the Third Rank, we think that we’ve given up attachment, and therefore ended suffering, but we haven’t. When you’re in the Third Rank it certainly seems like it, because everything feels perfect. Everything is flowing effortlessly and you’re continuously happy. However, the truth is that you’ve just found something else to be attached to (the transcendent) and another (and much more elegant) way to delude yourself about what it means to be human (what a bummer, huh?). You’ve stepped out of the relative entirely, as if it didn’t really exist.

In the Fourth Rank you find that the relative is real, and you can’t avoid it. You discover that cause and effect are all too real. As long as you’re here, in a body, being human, cause and effect will hunt you down, and there’s no avoiding it. The Fourth Rank is painful – and Genpo Roshi tells me that it took him years to recover from his fall from grace.

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