How To Attain Enlightenment Before You Attain Enlightenment.

Via Benjamin Riggs
on May 16, 2011
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“Meditation is nothing special…

Zazen practice is the practice in which we resume our pure way of life, beyond any gaining idea, and beyond any profit. By practice we just keep our original nature as it is. There is no need to intellectualize about what our pure original nature is, because it is beyond our intellectual understanding. And there is no need to appreciate it, because it is beyond our appreciation. So just to sit, without any idea of gain, and with the purest intention, to remain as quiet as our original nature—this is our practice…

By continuing your practice with this sort of understanding, you can improve yourself.  But if you try to attain something without this understanding you cannot work on it properly. You lose yourself in the struggle for your goal; you achieve nothing; you just continue to suffer in your difficulties. But with the right understanding you can make some progress. Then whatever you do, even though not perfect, will be based on your inmost nature, and little by little something will be achieved.

There is something blasphemous in talking about how Buddhism is perfect as a philosophy or teaching without knowing what it is…

Which is more important: to attain enlightenment, or to attain enlightenment before you attain enlightenment ?” ~from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Suzuki Roshi.

The spiritual path is here-&-now because the possibility of awakening rests in the present moment, and the path is only concerned with exploring this single possibility. I believe that each and everyone of us would benefit greatly from a simple admission or occasional reminder that the present moment is endowed with the possibility of both liberation and suffering. While on the path, we are both ego-centric and enlightened. Therefore, the present moment is constantly reminding us of frustration and happiness, sorrow and joy, life and death. But it is also reminding us of the eternal possibility of transcending these choices, freedom. ~from Do You Really Want To Be Enlightened? by Ben Riggs

This is an amazing video. Alan Watts with his usual wit and intelligence speaks on Zen…

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About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the author of Finding God in the Body: A Spiritual Path for the Modern West. He is also the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA and a teacher at Explore Yoga. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist and Christian spirituality on Elephant Journal, and his blog. Click here to listen to the Finding God in the Body Podcast. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


4 Responses to “How To Attain Enlightenment Before You Attain Enlightenment.”

  1. Ramesh says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Ben. When I lived in the San Francisco area in the 90s, I remember listening to these recordings of Alan Watts on KPFA Pacifica radio, Berkeley. Indeed, Watts was a volunteer at that station for several years in the 60s, and along with his many books, these radio broadcasts made him quite popular. He was, perhaps more than anyone, instrumental in popularizing and making Eastern philosophy understandable in the West. at that time.

  2. […] How To Attain Enlightenment Before You Attain Enlightenment by Benjamin Riggs […]

  3. ed papson says:


    First assumed the position of Zazen back in '68.
    Recall being shaken to the core and never chose to sit again.
    Then, 40 years of bumps, delays and detours and only now at the shallow end of the infinitely deep pool does
    this make sense: "So just to sit, without any idea of gain, and with the purest intention, to remain as quiet as our original nature—this is our practice…"

    Thought Alan Watts was joking when he mentioned the comment make by Saburo Hsegawa:
    "It may take you thirty years, or it may take you three minutes – i mean that!" <poor recall mine, ed>

    Or 40, 50 ….. years.