Friday, November 02, 2007

BODAI (3): Not That Attitude

The practice and experience that penetrates the Buddha’s enlightenment seems to demand of us that we drop off all habitual attitudes -- i.e., deep impediments to the emergence of our original features, that we pick up along the way generally unbeknowns to ourselves.

The subject of enlightenment is a difficult one. It seems to elicit particular reactions in people, depending on their own habitual attitude.

A typical religious attitude to enlightenment is to be in awe of it and to believe in it unquestioningly, suppressing all doubt -- at least until such time as suppressed doubt resurfaces.

The attitude of the true scientist is to seek the falsification of testable hypotheses. Insofar as the Buddha’s enlightenment is not testable, the scientific attitude towards the question of enlightenment is sceptical or disinterested.

An alternative attitude to enlightenment is the realistic attitude. I would like to give an example from my own experience of how a realistic attitude can help a person to be successful in life, not to be loser but to be a winner. In 1990 when my wife became pregnant with our first son, we had to move out of my small flat in Tokyo and look for a house out in the suburbs. We were looking at paying rent of Y100,000 (around £500) per month. Chie figured, based on the assumption that real estate prices in Japan would continue rising as usual, that we would be better off buying a house and repaying interest rather than paying rent. But by paying annual rent of Y1.2m on a house that was then valued at Y100m, I thought we were getting a good deal. The landladies who were expecting a yield on their investment of only 1.2% would be better off, it seemed to me, selling their overvalued asset. As things turned out, my recognition hit the target, and real estate prices in Japan bombed, leaving a huge hangover of negative equity. So nowadays whenever Chie and I disagree on something, I have an irritating habit of harping back triumphantly to this realistic decision made in 1990 to rent rather than to buy.

The realistic attitude, it seems to me, can be the attitude which is the most insidious and most difficult of all to shake off.

This morning while I was sitting with the door of my shed/dojo open to let in the sounds of the stream and birdsong, a wren hopped in and stood for a while, looking around, about two feet in front of my left knee.

If anybody knows of an attitude that causes the practice and experience of penetrating bodhi to get any better than that, this lucky loser would like to know about it.


Blogger HezB said...

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12:39 PM  

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