The Paradox of Enlightenment

From Alan Watt’s Become What You Are:

The first step in Buddhism is Right Motive, and to attain enlightenment it is said that we must do away with selfish desire. But if we have selfish desire in the beginning, surely the desire to get rid of it is also selfish. We desire to be rid of our selfishness for a selfish reason, and again we may easily have a selfish reason for getting rid of the selfish reason for wanting to be selfless.

Let us consider this problem: if there is only Tao, how can there be any divergence from it? If there is only one reality, our thoughts, enlightened or unenlightened, must be it. There can be no distinction between Reality and illusion if there is only Reality. Whether you can concentrate your thoughts or not, whether they are of compassion or hatred, whether you are thinking about Buddhism or biting your nails, you cannot by any means diverge from the Tao. You may love life or you may loathe it, yet you loving and loathing are themselves manifestations of life. If you seek union with Reality, your very seeking is Reality, and how can you say that you have ever lost union?

Indeed, there is no prescription for enlightenment, for as soon as we start saying that it is this or it is not this, we try to make two realities in the universe instead of one. In fact, you can think about philosophy, or about eating and drinking, you can love mankind, you can hate it, you can do as you like, you can do as you don’t like, you can discipline yourself, you can run wild, you can seek wisdom, you can ignore it, but you cannot diverge from the Tao, for everything, anything, and nothing is Tao.

This is the primary paradox about trying to reach an aspect of our higher Self. We already ARE that which is our Self, so any attempt to ‘become’ that is an implication that we are somehow NOT that. This endless searching for what is inherently us to begin with is the source of most of the spiritual suffering in the world, but the truth is, we cannot escape being exactly where we need to be.

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About OneBreathMeditation

I have been meditating for 8 years, and while I don't consider myself an expert, I know I'm knowledgeable about the subject, and can possibly provide help to others who want to experience the enriching benefits of meditation.
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5 Responses to The Paradox of Enlightenment

  1. Nynia Chance says:

    A little Alan Watts is so much what I needed right now, to calm my mind so I can rest. Thank you, so very much, for sharing. May you also know peace. ❤

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