409. Satori

The Japanese word satori is variously translated as realisation, verification, awakening and enlightenment, amongst others. The reason for this breadth is that it encompasses three distinct Chinese Expressions. 

The first is ‘practice realisation/verification: one hears the Buddhist teachings on impermanence, interdependence and so on. One then  practices and the practice verifies the teaching— you realise it’s true.

The second is something like asleep/awakening. We  awaken from the dream of the self or we awaken within the dream of the self. 

The third is delusion/enlightenment. The ideogram for it is quite interesting. The top part is something like ‘mind’ and the bottom part of it has these little legs.  The suggestion is that in a state of delusion these little legs, prompted by thoughts, carry us to this place, that place, and this other place, all without ceasing. By implication Enlightenment is the stopping of this -not  of the thought but being carried hither and thither without cease. And thus, by necessary  implication,  our aim as practitioners is not to void the mind, but it is to understand our egoic latching on to thoughts and those thoughts then taking us everywhere in the kind of habitual distracted agitated way that many of us experience.

What we need to understand is that these little legs of delusion can only take us somewhere when we’re on the ground of the self. Otherwise, the little legs don’t work. When we’re ‘standing’ on emptiness, they don’t work. 

This, all our mental activity, all our thinking doesn’t remain the distraction that (from a self-centred point of view) we think it is,  but rather becomes a manifestation of the interdependence of everything. So we don’t need to go looking for somewhere outside of ourselves to find the truth of what the Buddha was talking about. The very mundane activity of banal thought which, when we start meditation we think we need to get away from, is that very thing which, when seen from other than a self-centred perspective is, in itself, interdependence.