Waiting On Superman?

Via Benjamin Riggs
on May 10, 2011
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Are we avoiding the path in hopes of some white light or burning bush experience?

Has your spiritual practice created an expectation of a magical breakthrough…the day when, for some unknown reason, you pop out of bed fully enlightened ready to save the world from itself? Does this expectation render our spiritual practice impotent? Transforming meditation into a waiting game, not much different than the “mass exit strategy” many our Christian neighbors adhere to? Well, here is what Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had to say about sudden enlightenment in Buddhism:

Sudden Enlightenment.

“People talk about sudden enlightenment, a sudden glimpse, satori. So-called sudden enlightenment needs enough preparation for it to be sudden. Otherwise, it can’t happen. If you have a sudden accident in your car, you have to be driving it. Otherwise, you can’t have the accident. When we talk about sudden flashes, we are talking in terms of conditional suddenness, conditional sudden enlightenment.

Sudden enlightenment depends on the slow growth of the spiritual process, the growth of commitment, discipline, and experience. This occurs not only in the sitting practice of meditation, but also through life experiences: dealing with wife, husband, kids, parents, job, money, sex life, emotions—everything in life. You have to learn from situations. Then, the gradual process of spiritual development is almost inevitable.

Scholastically and experientially there is no such thing as sudden enlightenment in Buddhism. It is simply the insight, or understanding, that arises from what we have already experienced. You might say, “Suddenly I saw a sunrise.” But what you are seeing depends on the situation that already exists. You are just making it sound dramatic. The sun doesn’t suddenly rise or set, although you may suddenly notice that it’s going to happen…

Mindfulness does not mean pushing oneself toward something or hanging on to something. It means allowing oneself to be there in the very moment of what is happening in the living process—and then letting go.” ~ from Ocean of Dharma by Chogyam Trungpa, edited by Carolyn Rose Gimian

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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.


2 Responses to “Waiting On Superman?”

  1. […] him and leave, he was smiling one of his huge Cheshire cat smiles. As I left his office, I felt light and completely groundless, without reference point. I had asked for direction, and all directions suddenly ceased to exist. […]

  2. […] Basic meditation is way more simple than we often think (though not always easy), does not have to come along with religion or dogma, and has both immediate and long-term benefits. […]