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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
spring 2016 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 43 Forum ayya tathaaloka • dzoGchen ponlop rinpoche • rev. david matsumoto • setsuan Gaelyn GodWin For me, one of the great bait and switches of dharma practice was this: I came to the dharma wanting enlightenment, and what I found was awakening. I think I imagined that enlightenment was a thing I could get and have and keep—perhaps like better, stronger, more impen- etrable armor to protect me from the pains and sorrows of this human life, or like the world’s most powerful flashlight, with which I could forever ban- ish all darkness. I wanted certainty. What I found was a possibility of truly entrusting, a steadily growing capacity for enacting verified faith in the dharma, a practice of awakening to the enoughness of this one thing that is me-and-the-universe. What I found was a way to continually expose my heart rather than shield it and an ever-deepening appre- ciation of liberation amid the vast, inconceivable darkness of not-knowing. Is this enlightenment? There is of course no more provocative—and sticky—topic in all of Buddhism. Is enlightenment an event or a process? Is it a goal or a by-product? Reached through effort or surrender? Does it emerge from practice or is practice its expression? Does it happen all at once or gradually? Is it the very end of the path or the true beginning? I have my own views, of course—but in a certain very real sense, I suspect the answer to all these questions is yes. And how about you, dear reader: What do you imagine, know, or believe enlightenment to be? How do you stand in relation to it? This investiga- tion itself is a rich and worthy practice. But be warned: “When you realize the buddha- dharma,” as Dogen Zenji wrote in thirteenth-cen- tury Japan, “you do not think, This is realization just as I expected. And even if you think so, realiza- tion invariably differs from your expectation.” In the following discussion, four teachers from different traditions invite us further into this investi- gation of the Great Matter. introduction by Josh bartok buddhas (DEtAilS) by chris baniGan josH barTok is one of the guiding teachers of boundless Way zen and the editorial director of Wisdom publications. What Is Enlightenment? photo | anna Jurkovska