Today is Day 5 of the Secular Bodhi Period. For all of you aspiring to attain enlightenment on December 8, Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet asked me to ensure your expectations are properly set.
For one, “attain”, and “expectations” are clinging. It’s important to understand that we will not attain enlightenment, but rather shift our perception of reality by stepping outside of the cave of shadow-play of Plato’s Allegory. The housecat who manages to escape outside for the first time, smell the smells, feel the grass, the sun, will never be the same. When we do that, we will never be the same.
From afar, the veins of calcite webbed through the brown mudstone look like vines wrapped around the butte. It defied anything I could think of until I got right up to it and saw the nature of the mudstone and calcite. And now I can never un-see it, it will be hard for me to imagine these as vines again. In the case of these veins of calcite, I was enlightened.
Enlightenment for a would-be Buddha is to see that every single thought in your head, both good and bad, is a product of the computations in your brain based on its pitifully inadequate model of the world. Enlightenment isn’t a transcendence of sorts to some magical place, but an impeccable shift in perspective to seeing Reality as an unfragmented One and not the jumble of objects our brains compute.
Compared to the actual world, the model of the world in our head hardly knows anything. Its mere 80 billion neurons and quadrillion synapses cannot possibly keep up with the complex system of the Universe. The only accurate model of the Universe is the Universe – and it’s right there, right now.
But we depend solely on the limited model of the world in our brains, just like in the story of the blind people who can only feel one part of an elephant. “Faith” in the case of Buddhists is to know that no matter what your brain says, there’s a good chance it’s bullshit.