Yesterday I listened to "How ZEN TRAPS You" by Alan Watts and today it became clear to me what it means. The Ego just doesn't exist. There is no "I" that is responsible for what "I" do. What I am and what I do arises on its own without "me" being involved. To act in "suchness" means to act without the false notion of the Ego. And to hesitate is to act according to the false notion of the Ego.

@reto After listening to this Alan Watts talk, I couldn't help but think that the desire and intention to practice Zen is the height of egotistical pretentiousness. But come to think of it, the desire and intent to become a 'fully enlightened Buddha' by any means is the height of egotistical pretentiousness. And I mean that sincerely. I gradually let go of seeking ultimate enlightenment over the last couple of years. As Watts said, out of sheer frustration and the total ridiculousness of it.

@reto I mean, think about it. Saying 'I want to be a fully enlightened Buddha' is like saying 'I want to be God.' It's utterly absurd and is nothing but a conceit of the ego. And the idea that 'I'm going to spend my entire life striving to be a fully enlightened Buddha i.e. God, is also utterly absurd, and a waste of an otherwise perfectly good life.

I think it is on purpose that emphasizes impossible things as also Watts says. It is to make the absurdity of the ego obvious. And the desire to study Zen is strong because it addresses the ego in such a direct way. Most other practices let the ego prevail more or less and Zen traps it.

@reto well I certainly woke up. I’m no longer trapped by my ego as regards ‘enlightenment’.

@reto But there are different ideals of enlightenment. The Arahant ideal was prevalent in the Buddha's time, which was the time of the ascetics and the Sramanas. 500 years later, in the Mahayana period, in China, it was the Bodhisattva ideal of selfless compassion for all, and total non-attachment. 1000 years later in north-west India and Tibet, it was the Tantric Yogi ideal, and realizing perfection through one's embodied life. So the ideal of enlightenment changes with time and culture.

@reto Today, the ideal of enlightenment--for me--is a psycho-social-ecological awakening, interdependence with all people and all life on earth, realizing that everything we do has consequences for the living beings around us. It is the social justice ideal of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, who is my teacher and exemplar. I will never be as awake as he was, but I'm trying. It is the creative exemplar of Alan Ginsberg, another great ideal of the artist-yogi. It is the ideal of the Ecosattva, Joanna Macy.


@reto All of these exemplars, as with so many Buddhist teachers today, are Lay people. I think of the ideal of enlightenment today as the ideal Lay person, more so than monastics.

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