2.8
April 29, 2011

Embrace the Household Life; Drop Enlightenment.

Is enlightenment needed?

Do we attach too much emphasis to the idea to the concept? Does it get in the way of things that arise and fall in front of us?

In focusing on the mirror of enlightenment we forget about the view from the window.

I embrace the life of a householder without aspiring to liberation during this life. Is it even possible to have both the fetters and attachments of daily struggle and expect to be released from samsara [neurotic confusion] in just one lifetime? Or is the desire for immediate release what anchors us deeper and deeper into conceptions like hooks into the flesh. I place little priority on the final result or goals instead preferring to watch and savor each step as I place one foot slowly in front of the other.

I release myself from the expectation of awakening in this lifetime and instead engage and internalize the moments that pass…that pass….that pass. While many may be primed for release and liberation like an engine revved and with eyes squinting for the finish; I see each day a moment of this practice where I become more generous, more compassionate and more aware. My engine has cooled like a long distance runner ready for the race; like a man walking…

Liberation is not only found in monasteries, on cushions or in the mastery of metaphysical elements of practice. It is found at the bottom of a sink and in the eyes of a child. It is in the arms of your spouse and in the fists of your enemy. It is the bittersweet tug of memory and the metallic tang of anger. It is both the wind in the trees and the branches that sway in it. Liberation is not apart from the sense world around us. Liberation is the sense world through awakened eyes. The cloudiness of sleep and the haze of tears each a prism focusing the light of experience.

Liberation isn’t possible in this life. Liberation is this life. Liberation is the radical trust in our practice and in this moment…and the next…and the next. That each moment is molded by our delusions, anger and ignorance or fostered through compassion, wisdom and temperance is our practice.

To accept the responsibility is our faith.

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Frank Owen Nov 8, 2011 8:03am

The vast majority of Buddhists in Asia are non-monastic. The vast majority of Buddhists in Asia practice in the householder way, whether urban or rural. Not that enlightenment isn't a facet or feature (though I believe it is held as a more cohesive, less heavy-handed embodied enlightenment aspiration) , but I wonder if some of what you're pointing to gets its heavy-handedness mostly in the West, mostly with people who run from Judeo-Christian traditions; people who rejected the forms of their familial religions without also ejecting the self-shame that can arise from certain interpretations of those traditions? Just an open-ended question.

Ashley May 1, 2011 9:47pm

This is so beautiful, it's poetic!! Thanks for this

rooterex May 1, 2011 5:26pm

I can smell it from here

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John Pappas

John Pappas is a struggling Zen practitioner with a slight Vajrayana palate (but he won’t admit it) stumbling between the relative and absolute through the Buddhist Purgatory otherwise known as the Great Plains of South Dakota. Emerging writer, librarian and aspiring hungry ghost, John spews his skewed perception of the dharma all over his personal blog, Subtle Dharma Mouth Punch as well as on the ephemeral Elephant Journal and occasionally (while having no artistic ability to speak of) on Dharma/Arte. John also loves tacos, homebrew, yoginis and obscure Cthulhu references. You can follow him on twitter under the handle @zendustzendirt