If Enlightenment is possible here and now and in this lifetime regardless of prior knowledge or practice, the question remains whether Enlightenment happens by grasping it or by letting it go. Zen Master Dogen, in speaking to his assembly during the celebration of the Enlightenment of the Buddha tells us that there are two causes and conditions for accomplishing the Buddha Way.
Is your head on fire? I’m guessing it is not. However, do you really want to end your suffering here and now? I’m guessing you do, but generally we don’t believe it can be done and we may end up settling for coping with suffering. Meanwhile, the happiness of the present moment continues to elude us.
Enlightenment is none other than recognizing the unity of opposites. However, this definition is totally intellectual, and doesn’t necessarily connect Enlightenment with anything real or concrete. Intellect needs to be connected with the physical body, with actually doing something in a particular way, through a proscribed form. Freedom is not found through intellectualizing Zen practice nor in thinking it can be found outside the forms that practice takes.
All of us need to bring our beginner’s mind to this moment. This is the case whether we’ve been practicing for two weeks or twenty years. Return to asking questions or being curious. Practice as though this was the first time you have practiced meditation because it is. This is “no self” in its practical application. We change from moment to moment, so who we are now is different from who we were yesterday, or even a minute ago when we began reading.
First you must believe that you are already within the Way. You must believe that you are free of delusion, illusory thoughts, confused ideas, increase, and decrease and mistaken understanding. Believe in this manner, clarify the Way and practice accordingly. This is the essence of studying the Way.