Now I'll continue writing the text about paradoxes in Buddhism.
Before I proceed to the paradox No 5, let me present a story, a made up story, a story, a dialogue I made up, Buddha meeting a disciple. I made this up in order to explain something about what it's like to be an ordinary person, why enlightened is not different from ordinary:
A disciple said to Gautama:
"Dear Buddha, you are such a noble, enlightened person, I am only a deluded farmer. I wish I could be as noble and enlightened as you, sir."
Gautama replied: "I am a silly, deluded person, not a noble person. But just because I can see clearly that I am ordinary, people call me Buddha."
"What can I do", asked the farmer, "to see clearly that I am an ordinary person?"
"Just when you eat rice, eat your rice, and don't try to eat somebody else's rice."
So this is a story about a farmer looking up to Buddha and trying to be like him. When I was discussing the problem of zazen as something where there is no profit, I wrote that sooner or later, Buddha takes over and your zazen is Buddha's zazen. But who is that Buddha who takes over? What is that true thing about zazen? The true thing about zazen is that we cannot escape our delusions but we can realize how silly we are. The true thing about enlightenment is that we cannot escape a life of an ordinary, deluded person. But when we realize that we can never become the fantasy Buddha and can only live our own life, that is called Buddha. When we practice zazen with this silly, ordinary body and mind and give up the idea that we could become a noble, generally respected person who never does or says a stupid thing, then we practice what Buddha practiced. So because a beginner doesn't become deluded about Buddha yet, that makes him Buddha already. When we collect experience and thoughts through Buddhism, we may start to believe that there is something about us that could be made into Buddha and we may want to impress others with that puppet thing. Only when we realize that we only carry images in our heads, and that tea is tea no matter if you are a factory worker or a famous Buddhist teacher, we may decide to discover the value of our ordinary state. So when Buddha takes over when we practice zazen, that means our ordinary state in zazen becomes happy with itself.
ad Paradox No 5
Although it is important to realize that our actions change the world so we have to act responsibly and thoughtfully, we are perfectly free and unlimited by our past actions in this very moment.
When I am deluded... I don't want to generalize, but let's say I am pretty deluded before I practice zazen and after zazen I become aware of my delusions... you know it's not always this simple, but anyway. So when I am completely deluded about myself, I think what I did yesterday or last month was really stupid. Then I cannot really talk to anyone or do anything because I carry this burden of negative emotions with me. In such a state I never write about Buddhism because I feel it would be heavy with some egocentric feelings and it would hardly say much about Buddhism other than that it is quite usual that people feel bad about themselves. But when I practice zazen, I usually don't feel that burden any more. What mistakes I made in the past are among all other mistakes all people ever made. My mistakes, your mistakes... well, what about now? That doesn't mean I reject my responsibility, but I do not take it so personally any more. Imagine your mother said to you last week that you are selfish and disappointing and completely bad person. No matter why she said it, it may be true or not, but that is not the point. If you are really lost in delusions about you and others, you may become very upset or disappointed, but if you understand that all people in the whole world make mistakes all the time, then you can stop for a while, stop thinking too fast and realize that the only thing we can do about this messed up world is to wake up now and be light to others. Nothing wonderful, just do something, and don't worry about the past. Open the door. There. That's already the light to others. That's what a real savior does. You can only save the world if you don't judge it. So even if we judge somebody in Buddhism, if it is Buddha's opened mind and not somebody's narrow opinion, then it is teaching and helping. We have to feel whether someone only spreads hatred and delusions or if someone is trying to help us see the light in otherwise dark world. The way we judge in Buddhism is based on something completely open, it is based on caring, not based on hatred. Even the worst expressions master Dogen uttered about non-Buddhists were based on his immense caring about the happiness of all living beings and not only some dark deluded thoughts about bad people. I sometimes come to work and when I realize how many mistakes I must have made and how many people criticize me, I could also just give up and go back home and tell my boss that I cannot continue at work if I am such a bad person. But after zazen I don't feel like that. When we practice zazen sincerely, we can see that the whole world is deluded, not just me or you, and at fault, not just you or him. So when we practice zazen sincerely, we can see that right now is time to help the world. How can we help? We can act soberly, not judging anyone and just do something what is necessary to do. If you meet a colleague at work and you think, Ah, she hates me... drop that idea and just say hello to her. Encourage yourself and her, that we can return to this very moment and forget what was wrong yesterday. We never know who is more deluded, who makes more mistakes. Its' not about whether she is right or wrong, or whether she should change her opinion of you. It's about having to wake up and stop the chain of opinions and entanglement. There is always someone to blame, so we could also blame the whole universe. Or only the Nazis? Should we blame the parents or our colleagues? We could say the whole world is waiting for someone who stops the never ending game of judgement and criticism and just says hello. What kind of life can we expect to have and what kind of life can others expect to have, if they never forget the past and future and never wake up. So what I do personally and what most people do and it is more natural after zazen, is that we just go to work again and say hello to everyone, friends and foes. And the universe is a great place for a while again. It's great when the world is free from the ideas about past and future. We only imagine past and future and we cannot stop this imagination, but we should also discover the virginity, the innocence of this moment, and the innocence and virginity of all beings, including retired prostitutes. In Buddhism, there is nobody else who could be more innocent than a retired prostitute. But it is important to realize what kind of innocence it is. What kind of innocence does Buddhism offer? The key to the true innocence of Buddha is just in this very moment.
I think I have already written enough today and I will continue about the rest of paradoxes next time.
Thanks to all the readers who keep encouraging me as this writing helps me to realize what matters and what doesn't matter so much which may help the people I encounter so we all help each other if we support some kind of wisdom and awakened life. "Some kind of awakened life". May this be something that happens to us all.