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"That small narrow way in which I had been looking at my enlightenment"

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"That small narrow way in which I had been looking at my enlightenment, my thing to have to do. I have to do this for myself. That is what had been bothering me all along from the very beginning."

In general I am in favor of pragmatic dharma, focusing on what works, but I think there is also a pitfall that one can become so obsessed with awakening that it becomes an ego attachment, it becomes a distraction from the dharma instead of guide. 



The quote below is from part 4: https://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/man-on-cloud-mountain-shodo-harada-roshi-segment-4-of-7-transcript/


(Part 1 is here: https://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/man-on-cloud-mountain-shodo-harada-roshi-segment-1-of-7-transcript/)

Shodo Harada Roshi:
I took everything out of the monastery. I left prepared for never coming back and I headed for the mountains. And I went here and there in the mountains sitting by myself, sitting as hard as I could. Not even knowing what day it was Not even knowing how much time I was spending there. I just went and sat and sat and sat in various places in the mountains. And I remember well I was in this one place when I was between Yamaguchi prefecture and Hiroshima prefecture I was sitting on top of this one mountain. I hadn’t seen anyone for many days and suddenly someone was coming up the mountain. Of course in the mountains people are friendly to each other because there are not so many people in the mountains. I was doing zazen there and they asked if I was a person of training. And I told them yes I was and they asked how long I had been there, what I was doing. And then they told me how lucky I was. And at these words I was so deeply struck that my whole life was again changed. They said to me we are also a people of a kind of practice we do the chanting of the Buddha’s name but we aren’t lucky like you that we can take our whole life and give it up for training. We have to work from Monday to Saturday. In our tiny time of freedom from Saturday night to Monday morning we come up on the mountain and practice our chanting of the Buddha’s name. But you are so lucky you are able to devote your whole life to training. And we are so envious of you that you are able to do that.

At that I was completely knocked out. I realized the deep meaning of what they were saying. For them it was quite straightforward and nothing in particular, but it made me realize what I had been missing. I had been doing, in my own small narrow way, exactly what I wanted to do. What they were having to do was in a social situation of having to work, having to keep their training going, having only a very small amount of time to devote to it totally And here I was already blessed to get this chance to give everything I had to training to devote myself completely to training. And I was running away from that and cutting myself off, shutting myself up in a small narrow place in my mountain training all by myself.

And I realized right then the mistake I was making and I went right back to the monastery. I knew what I had to do now And at that moment it was like all of my burdens dropped off, as if someone had hit me on the back and everything was awakened within. I realized there was nothing I needed to do for myself in the first place. If every moment that came along I just took it as it was then there was nothing that could be a problem to me any more.

That small narrow way in which I had been looking at my enlightenment, my thing to have to do. I have to do this for myself. That is what had been bothering me all along from the very beginning. Through that day on the mountain when I realized that there was no self to be bothered with it. I had been crushing myself and making myself miserable worrying about this problem of my enlightenment and realizing it for myself making my self come to a conclusion that was, in fact, found in the living of every single day. If I did nothing, if I didn’t even worry about my problems things always came to me. And those things that came to me in every single day, to accept those was my training and my way of expressing my enlightened mind. No matter what it was that came to me every day, the next thing that came, the next situation I found myself in, to live that totally as my training was what I had to do. Not to go isolate myself up on a mountain closed off from everyone, turning them all away and worrying about my own small state of mind. That wasn’t the point at all. But to go and be what every day brought to me that was my practice and my expression of my enlightenment. And ever since I realized that my whole life has been completely different. I know there is no problem for myself because there is no one there to feel that there is a problem. Just to take what every day brings and do that with my best, total, whole hearted effort as a person of practice. That was the way to live.

II

Often enlightenment or kensho or satori is considered to be some kind of unusual experience or something external or some kind of special phenomenon. But it’s not like that. There may be some kind of sudden revelation or some kind of sudden perception, but its not something that is that unusual or that strange or foreign that we come upon or that comes upon us. What it is, is the ability to see without any interruption of the ego, without any filtering of the ego. And since we are all walking around seeing things through our ego filter almost all the time, to suddenly be able to see without that filter is a surprise. But it is nothing that we have ever not had.
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RE: "That small narrow way in which I had been looking at my enlightenment"
Answer
6/30/20 1:13 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
Jim Smith:

...
The quote below is from part 4: https://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/man-on-cloud-mountain-shodo-harada-roshi-segment-4-of-7-transcript/
...

Shodo Harada Roshi:

...

What it is, is the ability to see without any interruption of the ego, without any filtering of the ego. And since we are all walking around seeing things through our ego filter almost all the time, to suddenly be able to see without that filter is a surprise. But it is nothing that we have ever not had.
...

I like this idea of the "ego filter". I often try to notice the effects of ego on my mind, but keeping in mind the concept of "ego filter" rather than just plain "ego" reminds one to consider or look for not just ego's effects but what existence would be like without it. What is it that is being filtered? The more you look for the effects of ego or the ego filter, the more subtle the effects  you notice. 


Some rhetorical questions:

Can you learn to notice the effects of the ego filter in acton?

Can you understand what consciousness is like without this filter?

Can you turn the ego filter off in part or entirely?

What is it that is being filtered?

RE: "That small narrow way in which I had been looking at my enlightenment"
Answer
6/30/20 3:45 PM as a reply to Jim Smith.
The idea of an ego filter appears to presuppose that there exists some sort of reality "out there," of which, only a portion makes it "in here," and that if the filter was removed, it would all make it "in here." I'm not sure that there is an "in" or an "out" or an unfabricated reality to be experienced. Could be, but those would not be the assumptions that I would start with.

Martin:
The idea of an ego filter appears to presuppose that there exists some sort of reality "out there," of which, only a portion makes it "in here," and that if the filter was removed, it would all make it "in here." I'm not sure that there is an "in" or an "out" or an unfabricated reality to be experienced. Could be, but those would not be the assumptions that I would start with.

My concept of what the ego filter is does not assume an unfabricated reality. 

When I notice dukkha caused by identity view, I call that the activity of the ego filter. If one could be freed from identity view and that type of dukkha no longer arose, I would call that turning off the ego filter. It doesn't necessarily mean what remains is unfabricated, it is just not fabricated by identity view (the ego, the ego filter).

For me the usefullness of the concept of a filter is that it reminds me not just to look for the effects of ego, but also to look for what exists when the effects of the ego are absent.

That makes sense.

What do you see when the ego filter is not present?

Martin:
That makes sense.

What do you see when the ego filter is not present?

I feel like a doughnut.

Really.

Like there is a hole (emptiness) in the middle where there used to be a feeling of self.

Like no one is home.

It's just a feeling (like love), not a fact that is true or false.

Having the feeling doesn't produce any kind of effects such as equanimity or non-attachment.

The feeling is an effect produced by having some amount of equanimity and non-attachment (a quiet mind = reduced action of the ego-filter).

---------------------------
I write "some amount" and "reduced action" because it is not perfected.

I write "Having the feeling doesn't produce any kind of effect" and it is not a fact that is true or false, because it is common for people to think that if you realize the truth of anatta it will make you non-attached. I am trying to say the opposite. When you devlop a certain amount of non-attachment it starts to produce an "understanding" (really just a feeling) of anatta. 

It is useful to cultivate this feeling (to look for what exists when the ego filter is off) because it is a kind of biofeedback signal to help you be non-attached. Sometime it is easier to do a thing by feel rather than by a conscious series of steps.

That is just my experience. Other people (pretty much everyone else as far as I can tell) may have different experiences. But one of the advantages I think that comes from not studying with a teacher is that I am not biased by traditional explanations and I can observe my own experiences more objectively.

The ego filter concists of our preconceived ideas about how we should relate to the world.

https://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2019/08/enlightenment-what-is-it-and-what.html
The source of unenlightenment is a person's mental model of self that develops in stages from infancy to adulthood. At a certain age an infant develops the ability to recognize objects, later it understands the objects continue to exist even if they are out of sight, later it learns to recognize itself in a mirror - it understands itself as an object, at a later age it understands it can influence the environment around it. Step by step the concept of self is constructed.

...

When a person sees how their mental model of self is constructed, it no longer filters their view of reality. They realize they are just awareness observing events in the environment around them and thoughts, emotions, and impulses that arise spontaneously in their mind. And they no longer make a distinction between self and non-self, they feel that there is no distinction between them and the universe and everyone and every creature in it.

...

When the mental filter of self is removed, "suffering" is also diminished because the roots of all that overreacting are perceived threats to the self (to the ego) such as being insulted, losing, being embarrassed, not having what someone else has, someone else having what you think should be yours, etc. etc. When the filter of self is absent, there is no ego to react emotionally. The result is a profound equanimity.

Always inspiring to read about insights of hardcore dudes. emoticon What strikes me the most about this report is the idea of connection and service. The narrow view on ourselves is in itself limited and connected to suffering and craving. What frees, in a social and everyday sense, is to live as skillfully as you can to cultivate inner peace. When you embrace what the day brings, what others reflect back on you, and do what you can for yourself and others (like he writes in the report), there's nothing more to do really.
Just caring about yourself and your mind states etc. is basically denying the answer that the whole journey of enlightenment is providing you. And no matter whre one is in terms of practice, the service of inner and outer morality ist accelerating the whole process.
Not meaning to be lecturing, just some thoughts which have been on my mind lately.

RE: "That small narrow way in which I had been looking at my enlightenment"
Answer
7/2/20 5:43 AM as a reply to streamsurfer.
streamsurfer:
Always inspiring to read about insights of hardcore dudes. emoticon What strikes me the most about this report is the idea of connection and service. The narrow view on ourselves is in itself limited and connected to suffering and craving. What frees, in a social and everyday sense, is to live as skillfully as you can to cultivate inner peace. When you embrace what the day brings, what others reflect back on you, and do what you can for yourself and others (like he writes in the report), there's nothing more to do really.
Just caring about yourself and your mind states etc. is basically denying the answer that the whole journey of enlightenment is providing you. And no matter whre one is in terms of practice, the service of inner and outer morality ist accelerating the whole process.
Not meaning to be lecturing, just some thoughts which have been on my mind lately.

hey streamsurfer,

Nice to meet you. thanks for that beautiful post on evangeline's "wild ride" threa."
streamsurfer

Just caring about yourself and your mind states etc. is basically denying the answer that the whole journey of enlightenment is providing you. And no matter whre one is in terms of practice, the service of inner and outer morality is accelerating the whole process.

just wanted to say "Amen" to this.

love, tim