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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 59 enlightenment You Are Already Enlightened by Guo Gu Silent illumination is the simultaneous practice of stillness and clarity, or quies- cence and luminosity. It is similar to the practice of shamatha and vipashyana, as long as we don’t consider these sequential to each other, first practicing sha- matha and then practicing vipashyana. In silence there is illumination; in still- ness, clarity is ever present. The clarity of the second stage of illumination is like looking through a spot- less window. You can see through it very well, almost as if the window were not there, but it is there. In the second stage, the self lies dormant but subtle self-grasping is present. In other words, seeing through a window, even a very clean one, is not the same as seeing through no window at all. Seeing through no window is one way of describing the state of enlightenment, which is the third stage. In utter clarity, the mind is unmoving. Why? Because there is no self-referential mind. The third stage of silent illumination is the realization of quiescence and wakefulness, stillness and awareness, samadhi and prajna, all of which are dif- ferent ways to describe mind’s natural state. Experiencing it for the first time is like suddenly dropping a thousand pounds from your shoulders—the heavy burdens of self-attachment, vexations, and habitual tendencies. Prior to that, you may not know exactly what self-attachment or vexations are. But once you are free from them, you clearly recognize them. Self-attachment, vexations, and habitual tendencies run deep. So practitio- ners must work hard to experience enlightenment again and again until they can simply rest in mind’s natural state. The key is to practice diligently but seek no results. By practicing in this way, our life gradually becomes completely integrated with wisdom and compassion, and even traces of “enlightenment” vanish. We are able to offer ourselves to everyone, like a lighthouse, helping all those who come our way, responding to their needs without contrivance. This is the perfection of silent illumination. You might ask, “I’ve been practicing for ten years now—exactly when is this going to happen to me?” The difference between delusion and enlightenment is only a moment away. In an instant, you can be free from the constructs of your identity and see through the veil of your fabrications. Enlightenment is not something special—it is the natural freedom of this moment, here and now, unstained by our fabrications. Winter 2012