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Awakening is not bliss and a call for truly mutual support
September 29th, 2012

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Awakening is not bliss and a call for truly mutual support

It seems there is still on g+ a lot of re-definition going on…
So for the avoidance of doubt, the criteria for Awakening in Buddhism is: "seeing things as they are." Implicitly, this includes seeing how things are conditioned, even when our experience of them is limited, biased, subjective, black-and-white (i.e. nothing brings you pleasure of suffering out of a context (a context which includes space, time, other conditions, your own 'state', etc.)). Ignorance includes —but is not limited to— believing that some things or situations have an un-conditional value (of pleasure or pain).

So let's be crystal clear: bliss is not awakening. If you chase bliss, you're actually clinging —big time!— to a biased experience. Such a quest means you have prejudiced expectations —based on some previous experience or some theory— and, because of fixed expectations, you will be disappointed sooner or later. You will also miss real, blissful, opportunities because by definition you cannot recognise (or acknowledge) conditions you never met (or thought of) before.
You may note in particular that the "end of suffering" is not the same as 'bliss.' The end of suffering is a lot more neutral… Furthermore, 'bliss' in Buddhist texts is coded, so don't be naïve: remember that Siddhārtha Gautama died in pain, from food poisoning! If one lesson is clear from such an episode, it is that the "end of suffering" does clearly not refer to "continuous constant bliss;" if one confuses the two, one missed the boat entirely (in a Buddhist perspective) and is simply counting on a fairy tale to make one's life bearable now by positive-thinking or the promise of a more brilliant future.
Pretending everything is perfect as it is, or is as it should be, or is blissful, is being blind to the suffering in the world and is the best way not to do anything about it… Relinquishing all judgements is relinquishing action, and as it has been quoted many times on g+: in order to win, evil only needs good people to stay passive.

Spiritual progress is not found in calling everything 'bliss' (or 'truth' or 'illusion' or 'emptiness'…). Doing so just puts a blanket over the entirety of your experience: most people claim to take judgements away in order to reach 'bliss' but, more accurately, they only replaced a veil by another (in the guise of a now-pointless name (pointless because, in the absence of distinction, there is no information)).
In a Buddhist perspective, "seeing things as they are" still refers to 'things,' not to some unified blob under some grand name. 'Emptiness' is a grand name regularly used by Buddhists but, when they only see this 'ultimate' perspective, they actually are on an extreme and not on the "middle way"! They missed the boat and fell into the trap Nāgārjuna (and others) warned against. [ "The Middle Way is not Oneness" ]
I can see the logic: one removes the veil of explanations, of meanings projected on one's experience, of theories and, from then on, calls all these 'illusions.' It seems like seeing the nature of rationalisation and of self story-telling, it seems like seeing the nature of judgement (subjective and biased), so this seems progress. But one needs to see that replacing a complex veil of stories by a simple veil of 'all is illusion' is still maintaining a veil! The new veil is simpler (or even simplistic); it also is dangerous because it comes with the belief of having progressed spiritually! To truly see the nature of our story-telling removes the need to use grand wide labels applied uniformly on the sheer diversity of experience. Having a simplistic veil is a sign of having peeled one layer of the onion, which is great and is to be celebrated but is hardly the end of peeling…

For most readers this is not new, so why do I bother repeating this? Well, despite many readers have commented positively on my previous explanations, the next thing they do is to keep writing about Oneness, God, Truth, etc without nuance, without acknowledging the sheer diversity or stubbornness of experience, without acknowledging the comfort they get from creating a story (of a grand illusion) in which there is no need for them to act for the greater good on someone the other side of the planet, or even next door…
So I'm writing this to ask you to be truthful in your spiritual quest: either my explanations do not make sense to you, or you need to take them seriously and nuance the most simplistic views. I'm not asking you to agree with me, far from it, but it would be nice to progress together with me taking into consideration what I discover (or am reminded of) in what you write, and you also taking into consideration what you discover (or are reminded of) in what I write… It would be nice to make the effort, do the work and really cultivate our 'better' person —even if the 'person' is an illusion (let's admit we're not united with the divine yet, so let's keep realistic about some intermediate step as the goal for now)! I see no better sign than actually showing we've truly listened to each other, rather than to comment positively but then to go on with one's habits, wholly ignoring what was just exchanged. We will not always succeed in this, but we should truly exert ourselves and not take it too lightly when we don't seem to understand each other! Maintaining our ignorance due to laziness is hardly satisfactory.

[image:  via a google search for images related to 'bliss']
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