My mind is like the Autumn moon
Shining clean and clear in the green pool.
No, that’s not a good comparison.
Tell me, how shall I explain?
Han Shan, Cold Mountain (trans. Burton Watson)
I dreamed last night (or I probably did; see below) that I was with some people, and we were laughing about someone who claimed that they’d been officially declared Enlightened by some mystical Teacher, and someone asked me, hey, you’re all into that Zen stuff, I’d think you’d take this more seriously?
And I nodded and said something like:
You know, except for a few annoying [something] sects, it’s not like you go to your teacher and show how you’ve progressed and eventually the teacher says “okay good, you’re enlightened now”. They might say “okay, keep going” or “okay, here’s what you should work on next” or even like “okay, I think you are ready to teach some students of your own”, but never “okay, you’re enlightened”, that would be just…
and I shook my head and laughed.
(Where the [something] was some Japanese or Chinese word, maybe kensho, or RInzai (no offense to any Rinzai folk in the waking world), or some dream-word entirely, but there was a word there.)
The reason I say above there that I probably dreamed this last night is that it’s like the most literal, ordinary, realistic, unadorned dream I can recall having had, so it’s not by any means impossible that it wasn’t a dream at all, but actually happened sometime recently, and I’ve just lost track of the actual time and place and details and who was there and what that missing word was and all.
It all sort of blurs together, amirite?
So I say to you,
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:
Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.
ol’ Buddha, the Diamond Sutra (right at the end there)