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Enlightenment is not the goal of Zen, but rather the by-product resulting from the work of solving the koan of our lives.
Enlightenment is not the goal of Zen, but rather the by-product resulting from the work of solving the koan of our lives.

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Published by: Rev. Hyonjin Sunim (Ozmo Piedmont) on Mar 01, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Ozmo Piedmont,
Enlightenment is not the goal of Zen, but rather the by-product resultingfrom the work of solving the koan of our lives. A koan is a spiritual riddlethat is solved by way of meditation, spiritual practice, and contemplation. The koan must be solved by intuition, not by intellect or reason. The Buddhaleft his royal palace not to reach Enlightenment. He left looking for asolution to the principle koan of his life: How to escape the suffering causedby old age, sickness, and death? Wandering about for several years in hisspiritual search, he discovered that one cannot escape this suffering througheither asceticism nor through the distractions of sensual indulgence. First,one must confront life, accept it as it is, and then transcend it. The Buddhafound the answer to his koan upon discovering his intimate connection to theEternal. Sitting under a tree, he became very still, moving neither his mindnor his body. In this way, he discovered the true origin and end of suffering.It became apparent that while he clung to the idea of a self, with its desires,insecurities, fears, and delusions, he suffered. However, his liberation fromsuffering could be found in the no-self, that which is not based in desire. Inthe same way, we are all entering into the spiritual path looking for asolution to the difficulties of life, which are all variations of this basic koan of the Buddha, in which we are all suffering while looking for unsatisfactoryexternal solutions based on a permanent self and its desires. When finallywe have had enough of ourselves, when we have tried everything andnothing solves the problem, when we just give up the old outworn attemptsat solution, that is when we are ready to release the self, with all its fears, itsdoubts, and it criticisms. We leave all of it behind in order to find our trueidentity. That is when we begin to now solve our koan. So we sit down inmeditation, calming our minds, in order to bring down the interior barriers,and we confront what we used to believe was who we are, a small self, andwe begin to find that which we are, the no-self. Thus we begin the spiritualwork of purification or our karma in so to discover the fullness, the unity, of the no-self. In the scripture
The Most Excellent Mirror – Samadhi
one reads:“You are not Him, He is all of you.” This means that our true identity is foundin the no-self, beyond the ego. The self is lost in delusion while it believesitself to be separate, permanent, and the center of the universe. But low andbehold, it finds out that its just not true. It was this belief all along thatcreated so much suffering. It is our responsibility, the real goal of allreligions, to abandon the ego of our delusions based on separation, to
reconnect ourselves with the no-self, the Eternal. Upon solving the koan olife, the by-product is Enlightenment. In other words, Enlightenment is ourcapacity to see the Eternal everywhere, including ourselves. For this reason,one reads in
The Most Excellent Mirror – Samadhi
“In this superior activity of no-mind, See, the wooden figure sings – and the stone maiden dances.” Theno-mind is synonymous with the no-self, that which transcends the limits of the ego, which is our Buddha Nature, the Eternal, giving us a widerperspective, and allowing us to see that everything is the Eternal expressingitself in everything at every moment. Everything is celebrating thisconnection because everything is literally the Eternal. When we becomequiet in the seated meditation of Zen, the mind ceases to be so agitated,allowing us to see beyond the distractions of thoughts and sensations,experiencing directly that which has no words, that which is not an object of thought, that which has no beginning or end. It is that which we experienceas a Presence, an interior peace, an unending joy, in spite of the seemingappearance, duration, and passing of all things. Something in us reaffirmsthat all this change is exactly as it should be, and that nothing really dies,because all is an aspect of the Infinite. All is Buddha, including thechallenges, the thoughts, and the mistakes we make, because all is theuniversal Buddha teaching us of our connection and our basic unity with Him.Our practice reveals this to us in every moment, since the Infinite ismanifesting itself in our very lives, revealing itself constantly in theparticularities of our actions. Our ego, our little self, begins to release thereigns of control, allowing us to flow with in the eternal river of the no-self,which is perceived as change, being the second law of the universe, called“anicca”: All things flow because nothing is permanent. Accepting thisreality of how things really are, we are able to transcend them. In this waythe Buddha solved his koan, discovering the end of suffering that comesfrom our experience of old age, disease, and death. In the Eternal, there isno birth nor death, no beginning nor end. Everything just IS, here and now.Everything expresses the reality of that which is always present. Thisrealization, when experienced directly, inspires us to dance and sing with therocks, the plants, the animals, and all the being everywhere, because “all isOne, and at the same time all is different.” There is no need to suffer,escape, fear, or hate because we trust in the fact that all is actually theEternal expressing itself in the temporal, experienced as peace and joy…Enlightenment.Bibliography:

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