Three Aspects of Delusion & Enlightenment

Dharmavidya's Teaching at Oasis de Longue Vie

27 May 2016
recorded & transcribed by Annette

Dharmavidya: I was reading a passage of Dogen - Dogen Zenji, the great Zen master. It says when you are enlightened, you are getting more enlightened all the time. When you are in the midst of delusion, you are getting more deluded all the time. Si vous êtes illuminé, vous êtes de plus en plus illuminé et si vous êtes au centre de beaucoup d'illusions, vous avez de plus en plus d'illusions. It is very interesting because you can take this, both at an individual level and at a collective level, and perhaps also one to one level. When you consider these three ways, it says something about how Buddhism - transmission of the dharma - works.

On an individual level, here you probably have how people understand it when they first read it. At an individual level, when you are enlightened, then everything you encounter, enlightens you more. In this sense we can see that being enlightened - having satori – is, among other things, a facility in learning. A good teacher is somebody who is good at learning, always curious, always interested, always investigating. When a good teacher finds that he has made a mistake, he or she is very pleased: "Oh goodie, goodie! Learned something new!" When an ordinary person finds that he has made a mistake: trouble, confusion, shame, hiding and so on. While as the enlightened person is only interested in learning, where as ordinary persons are interested in their own reputation, their presentation for the sake of their image. The enlightened person just learns, has an interest: "What are those birds saying?" The only difference between being enlightened and not being enlightened is that in not being enlightened, the self gets in the way - préoccupation, réputation aux yeux des autres et pour soi-même, c'est la priorité. Pour l'éveillé c'est autre chose - In a certain way, enlightened persons are always alone, because they are not concerned with the social presentation. Enligthened persons are alone with the birds, or alone with the trees, and the same in their attitude to other people. Things are just as they are. This is at the level of the individual.

But then when we think about it more collectively - l'aspect collectif - the person in the middle of delusion - l'illusion n'est pas seulement la mienne, c'est celle de nous tous, de tout le monde - We feed each other's delusion. You give me your illusion. I give you my delusion. We live in a soup of delusion. We delude each other. So this is why sangha is important. We might say : well it all comes from within, but this is not entirely true. When you look at Buddhism, you see that Buddhism is very much concerned with creating the right environment. Here we have a special room. We are surrounded by (pictures of) teachers, great beings. We have a particular atmosphere. We have put the Buddha where we can bow and so on. So we create an environment and even deluded persons coming into a beautiful temple garden - nice little flowing river, a japanese bridge, and so on - they feel something. When you are amongst people who are peaceful and happy, it has an effect. You still have your own troubles and your delusions, but still you are touched, you are affected. So in the middle of delusion - pas seulement dans mes propres illusions mais au milieu des illusions sociales, les illusions du monde. Some of our work as Buddhists is to create a wonderful environment. Maybe we cannot create Pure Land exactly, but still something. When you have refuge in the Pure Land in your heart, then naturally you create Pure Land in your environment. This is not just for yourself, it starts for yourself like a mirror, but then it is for everybody else. Sangha means we help each other. It doesn't mean necessarly help like a social worker - sometimes perhaps - but just by our way of being, our ordinary kindness, well, just our 'ordinariness', by not making unecessary fuss, we create a clean environment - un environement pur, propre - so there is not so much self, not so much contamination. So this is refuge in the Sangha, collectively being in the middle of illumination, instead of in the middle of delusion. Often the Buddhists say: "What should we do?" He (Buddha) says: "Keep good company, be among good people". Good in the West is much in the sense of doing good, quite active, but in Buddhism, good is more in the sense of pure. It's more just having this clean space where there is no aggravation, where no new karma is created. So, keep good company!

So if we then look at the third level: the level of one to one. Good company is very important. It is very important in a good relationship. We are being good for one another and of course the epitome of this, is the disciple and the teacher or the practioner and Buddha. There is transmission. Transmission: you think the teacher gives you something. But in a way, he takes something away. Transmission is giving something or taking something away because what is transmitted is peace. What is transmitted is that cleanliness, purity. I try out my delusions on him, but he does not respond. I push forward, but there is nobody pushing back. So experience of working with a teacher is often like that. You push with your delusion, and you just fall over. There is no push back. So Buddha is good, kind and wise. Buddha is not caught up in my games and yet he is still there, he still loves me. At first you think, "He is not going to play my game", and you can be upset, if the other person doesn't play your game. But when you discover that the other person does not play your game, but still loves you, some new possibility arises in life. You see something is possible you didn't think was possible before, because you only played your game because you thought you had to, but you don't have to. Ego is just made up of these games and these heaps of stories (we tell ourselves that make us keep playing artificial games). We don't have actually have to do. So, one to one, there is this kind of very special friend. Ordinary friends often support our delusion. We have trouble – the ordinary friend says: "Have a drink! Three glasses of whisky and you will feel much better!" But this makes matters worse. Following morning, you have the same problem and you've got a headache as well. So we say, kalyana mitra - skillful friend, special friend. So we think of him as a little like that he is my special friend. We think we are receiving, but actually it is a two-way street, we help each other. The disciple helps the teacher and the teacher helps the disciple.

So this is what Dogen is talking about. When you are in the middle of delusion, either collectively, one to one, or on your own, you just make more and more. Everything you take, you take as food for your delusion. But when you are in the milieu of enlightment, illumination, awakening, then you just have more and more. There is a new exciting discovery. This it true in yourself, in your relationship and in your community.

Namo Amida Bu

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  • While this isn't everything in Genjo Koan, it feels as though, through Annette's transcription, you have captured and embodied an important part of it. The part most relevant to everyday living. Nice.
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