The Road To Becoming A Warrior Part 4
Zen Buddhism tells stories to illustrate life and cut through the complexities. It shows one how to resolve paradox. As way to enlightenment it is very valuable. Here is a story that illustrates the road to enlightenment.
When a person is first aware, forests are forests, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers.
When a person begins to learn, they begin to see that forests are no longer forests, mountains no longer mountains and rivers no longer rivers.
But when a person sees (has reached enlightenment) forests are forests, mountains are mountains, and rivers are rivers.
Jesus told people to be like the child. What does that mean? To be full of wonder as if seeing things for the first time. But the child comes from a standpoint of nothing. But they soon just take for granted that the trees are trees and that the sun will come up in the morning. Then we learn about the world and society and the world changes into a complex place where nothing is as it appears to be. What Zen is saying is the same as what Jesus was saying. When you reach enlightenment the world is once again that of the child, to see everything as if for the first time but now knowing what it is you are seeing instinctively.
This is why when you start on a quest, you must forget all you knew and all that you have been taught. In a sense it is a rebirth. One of several you go through on your way to inner peace and enlightenment. If you want to see as a child, you have to drop all that you think you know. Put it all up for re-examination.
This is difficult for people to do because they have beliefs. Beliefs are part of us. They have become part of us. They are part of our self identity. But they were not always part of our self identity. We accepted them at some point. There are all kinds of beliefs we attach to ourselves. Yet these beliefs hinder progress. A child has no preconceived ideas.
The point is that the seeker must want truth no matter what that truth turns out to be. Therefore the true seeker has no investment in what the truth is, so they cannot afford beliefs.
Buddha told us not to take his word for anything. He told us not to believe him. We have to experience what he is telling us so we know it to be true for ourselves. This is also the Toltec way. Do not accept or agree to what others tell you about yourself or the world. There is a difference between knowing and believing.
Most philosophies tell us experience is the only way we can know truth. Your gut instinct is what you need to rely on to tell you what is right and what is wrong. Your mother may have told you this, mine did. If you feel it is wrong, don’t do it. It probably is. Listen to that small inner voice.
It is sound advice for the most part. Particularly for telling right from wrong for yourself. But feelings cannot always be trusted. Imagination has a habit of being wrong. I have a very good imagination. I can and have talked myself in to all manner of beliefs. Only to discover down the road that they were mistaken. For moral choices I can usually rely on my instinct. But the operative word here is: usually. Instinct needs to be educated and imagination needs to be kept at bay. More on the education of instinct later.
Every religion can tell us how to be moral people and how to find inner peace through causing the least amount of friction between us and the world. They can even give us good hints thereby on how to become an enlightened individual. But their beliefs above and beyond that point are guesses based on the interpretation of people’s experiences. They are no more than models of how it is that we see what we see and experience what we experience.
We experience these things, to be sure. I would never say someone did not have an experience. The problem is not the experience, it is the interpretation of it that becomes an issue. So many religions. So many models. So many beliefs. So much faith. So much certainty that they are right.
What they are all right about is the human condition. What they are all right about is that love is very much part of the end answer. And the reason we know they are right about it is because they all say the same thing as does folk wisdom, as does much of philosophy.
While reality by consensus is nonsense in that by simply agreeing the world is a certain way it does make it a reality, consensus in experience due to our mutual human predicament shows us universal patterns or truths. The interpretation of those patterns is irrelevant.
We name the patterns like love and greed and hate and peace and negative and positive. They are experiences, feelings. We all have them and some are positive and some are negative. But whatever the experience, it requires a resolution or response. That’s one of the patterns. It is a truth. “Emotions require resolution or response” is a pattern of existence that is true of no matter what animal or human that lives on this planet.
Forget the models or interpretations. While useful at times, they eventually get in the way. Look to the patterns, for they are truth itself.
To do this you have to start by not believing anything.
I’ve talked a lot about this in my books. But it is something which must be stressed. Belief of any kind is a hindrance in the search for truth, and of course a search for enlightenment is by default a search for truth. As strange as it may seem, belief is not required in your life. Something is true or it is not. Belief does not change that. So belief in a fact is not needed and not wanted. It doesn’t even make much sense to say you believe in a certain fact. You know it. That which you know does not require belief. Knowing makes belief redundant.
To believe something speculative is to set yourself up for a fall. If you believed the earth was flat before it was discovered that it is not, your world view would crumble when you discovered the truth. And the fact that some people did believe the earth was flat illustrates how wrong our logical guesses can be. Our intuition tells us that the earth is flat. It is a logical conclusion for anyone with half a brain who doesn’t know about gravity. You would be stupid to believe it was round. Put an object on a ball and it will fall off. The earth spins and it is round? Unthinkable. Put an object on a ball and spin it and the object flies off.
So the belief that the earth was flat was based on logical deductions but it was dead wrong. You would have been crazy to believe it is round and spins before we knew it was so. And now that we know it is so we know it. Belief in the fact is redundant. To now believe the earth is flat is truly madness.
And it is worse for things we cannot know about like gods. Anything we say about them is speculation. Belief about them one way or the other is as mad as believing the earth is flat.
But we must retain some of our beliefs, surely? Without belief or faith there is no hope. Nonsense. Hope has nothing to do with belief. It is a wish. With will and work some wishes can become reality. You will never get a job if you do not apply for jobs. No matter how long it takes there is always hope. Belief that you will get a job is not required. The probability is you will eventually get one if you try hard enough.
Non-belief can be simple by looking at it as: Let’s wait and see. It is as simple as that. For things that are not fact or for things you do not know are fact, just wait and see. It is no more complicated than that. You can still have an opinion, but don’t take your own opinion as fact. Base your opinion on probability rather than belief. How probable is it that invisible pink squirrels exist? Not very, since I made them up in my head. But no one can prove they do not exist. I have opened a Pandora’s box and unleashed invisible pink squirrels on the world. My opinion is that they don’t exist. I hold no belief that they exist. But I hold no belief that they do not exist.
There is no difference between investing in a belief in the positive or in the negative. Those who invest no belief invest in no belief at all. They are like a newborn.
If you can accomplish just this one thing, you have already eliminated a full half of what is standing in your way to becoming a warrior.
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