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FeelGood

This is about moments of true "feel-good" -- momentary enlightenment, perhaps, in terms of ZenBuddhism.

From personal experience, the moments when I feel truly one with the world around me -- to use Herman Hesse's words in "Der Steppenwolf": when I find the golden thread in my life again, it is always surprising. I'll leave the train station and step into the light or into the drizzle, I'll feel the sun on my skin and see the trees and the clouds and the cars, people walking by, *and everything is alright*! Then I walk home, feel the grove of the city beneath my feet, the air in my lungs shared with every living being, the power in my strides. That is what I call "feel-good". Sometimes it lasts for a number of days, sometimes for a few seconds only. It is not ecstatic, I don't feel like I'm high or anything. No, quite the opposite, the mind is clear and the air is fresh.

Hah, I'm falling into the same old trap: To talk about it is difficult. People start to use weird metaphors and a confusing language. Poetry.

I feel like Zen is really happening to me -- because of certain experiences I have (finding the golden thread) and because of certain difficulties I have (accurately explaining this "feel-good" to other people).

Maybe the key is "explaining it *accurately*" -- that usually refers to rational thought. School. Somebody explains it, and we understand it. In German there is the word "nachvollziehen" which connotes a re-living of the experience, a true sharing of the experience. When I explain 2 + 2 = 4 to a little kid, they think about it and understand it. This is very difficult to do for things that are not subject to rational thought. Some western philosopher whose name I forget once said there never was a single rational argument that caused an emotional response. It's just impossible. Everybody knows that. If somebody is sad, telling them "It is going to be alright" will not help them one single bit. It might help if you are using the sentence to indicate affection and caring. But the simple fact that things probably *will* be alright won't be any solace at all.

That is why I don't feel like there is any road to enlightenment. Satori is like a flash, like unexpected sunlight on a rainy day. You can try to be ready for it. But there is nothing you can do to make come again. That's how I experienced it.

I think there are two possible arguments against my interpretation.

As to the first argument:

Bankei and my commentaries to the Blue Cliff Records tell me that there is nothing ecstatic about it. No ecstasy, no feeling high, nothing. Instead, there is a feeling of peace, a calmness and some sort of happiness -- maybe not joy but an acceptance of what is.

That seems to describe my happiness pretty much.

And as to the second argument:

My experience with TM meditation was not very positive. It still feels boring even today. So what's the point. On the contrary, the good times I've experienced never happened at home. It happened while walking through the sunday crowds, when coming home from work, when hearing the birds in morning, seeing the mist hanging in the trees, feeling the rain in my face, smelling the scent of a woman. It happens in the Big Blue -- outside. Not in quiet little halls.

I do concede however, that some aspects of monastic life (meditation, seclusion) are interesting, even today. If you are nervous, over-stressed, or whatever (and it happens to me, too) then sitting back, realizing that there are other things in life, a little peace of mind, are very important things. If it helps to sit, then so much the better. I like to listen to some good music, read a book, cook a little something, eat, drink tea, talk a walk. Relax.

Anyway, going full circle now: If satori is something mundane, no ecstasy, no special things to do, no particular belief system associated with it, when it happens at the weirdest times, when it seems to come and go for no particular reason -- then I take it as a sign: There is no path. There is no progress. You are always enlightened. Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you dont. Meditation and other rituals may help you deal with life (nervousness, noise, stress in general) but it has nothing to do with satori.

Ok, so that's by position, this is where I come from. I've talked about two possible arguments against my position. Now, let's try to just assume the opposite. What would I do then?

The problem with the *other* position is -- in my personal experience -- that I don't know what I'm looking for. If satori is a goal, something to work towards, then I have obviously not achieved it. Then I don't know what it is. I don't know what it will feel like. Will I know it when it happens? (And don't forget, I *already* think I know what it feels like and that it happened!) I will have to depend on somebody else to tell me. I will have to depend on a master.

Hm. But he wouldn't be able to tell me what to do, nor what to expect. All he could do is say, "Do this. Do that. Eventually, you will see the truth." But that is irrational. Maybe he'll claim that the stakes are high: Eternal bliss, heaven, satori. And he'll claim that The path is steep and dangerous: pray, repent, plea, meditate, sit. Maybe he'll ask for patience.

The problem with that is the following: If I believe this particular master, then I obviously don't have the mental standing power to resist to the next self-acclaimed master coming along. There was no good argument against the last one, there won't be a good argument against the next one. I will be forever drifting from master to master until evetually I will end up in the grip of the most convincing master around. This sounds like a certain path to sect membership and personal hell.

To the sceptic in me, a master claiming that enlightenment will come from a certain practice is deluding me.

Such a master could always claim one of the following:

As to first arguement: I think I *have* tried. As a little kid, I tried so hard. I meditated. I wished for telepathy, telekinesis, ESP powers. I read books by Carlos Castaneda and was impressed. I really tried. And nothing happened. So experience tells me that just trying something does not automatically lead to success. On the contrary. If you keep trying everything other people tell you, you will be wasting your life.

As to the second argument: Of course this is always true. But since every "school" and every "religion" claims that, I can't accept it as an argument. If I have to try with no positive feedback, and if the only answer I get is to try harder when it didn't work, then I might be wasting my life. There are other people claiming the exact same thing.

As to the last argument: That is necessarily so if I am not yet enlightened. So that, too, can be said for every religion. And therefore that, too, must be rejected. It is true no matter what spiritual following I choose. It certainly will not convince me to actually follow a master.

Therefore, all arguments are discarded on formal grounds. There is no way a master can claim that enlightenment will come from a certain practice.

Plus, I have had moments of happiness where I did indeed feel like I am living in the best of all possible worlds, where there was no distinction between me and the world because it loved it in its entirety (getting carried away on the poetic thing again, hehe).

The only thing that could convince me otherwise is meeting a "true" master -- a master whose very presence impresses me, a presence that will make me understand the goal I am supposed to strive for.

I have yet to find such a person.


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