Posts tagged: Buddha

Nov 04 2010

Attaining Enlightenment Through Seeking Spiritual Merits Is the Longest Way!

This statement will surely provoke hostile reactions from the majority of spiritual seekers. However, if you’re one of those “seeking” Enlightenment, this writing is not for you anyway.
In different religions, merit-gathering activities play various importance; with the emphasis on the word “importance” being common to all.
Indeed, we are told to do good for those in need, to help those small and oppressed, and expect to be paid back when the judgment day comes. Majority of spiritually aware people interprets these meritorious activities as one of many ways to Enlightenment. And although there are many examples of the “servants of the poor” – Mother Theresa and Mary MacKillop to name just two, who attained Enlightenment and were rewarded by their ecclesiastic authorities with the sainthood, for the great majority of us gathering merits has one major benefit only – adding to our good karma.

We can argue forever about apparent or hidden correlations between Enlightenment and karma; purpose of this writing is to awaken those who thing that they can expedite their Enlightenment by dedicating their lives to gaining merits, however unselfishly.
I base this writing on Buddhist Zen teachings of Huang Po. Why? Because his teachings carry the mark of unsurpassed integrity. That’s good enough for me.
In Buddhism teaching, performing paramitas (charity, morality, patience under affliction, zealous application, right control of mind and the application of the highest wisdom) is highly regarded as being advantageous to one’s spiritual progress. Huang Po’s take on this is as follows: “As to performing the six paramitas and vast number of similar practices, or gaining merits as countless as the sands of the Ganges, since you are fundamentally complete in every respect, you should not try to supplement that perfection by such meaningless practices. When there is occasion for them, perform them; and when the occasion is passed, remain quiescent. If you are not absolutely convinced that the Mind is the Buddha, and if you are attached to forms, practices and meritorious performances, your way of thinking is false and quite incompatible with the Way.”
His words make it clear, for those who think that engaging in meritorious activities can advance you along the Way (to Enlightenment), to stop deluding oneself.

Huang Po also said: “The Buddha-Nature is like the Void; though you were to adorn it with inestimable merit and wisdom, how could they remain there?” Yes, if Enlightenment is your goal, there’s no point in seeking opportunities to gain merits; all action must be concentrated on self-enquiry, as the only way available to us to obtain the intuitive knowledge and resulting Realization.
Yes, it’s much easier to do good deeds; and even easier to indulge in countless hours of studying scriptures, sutras and sacred texts. That’s why the majority of spiritually awakened people go that way, not knowing that eons will pass and they will still be on the Way.

Worse still, many of those who have chosen doing good do it with expectation of a reward: Enlightenment. Unselfish? No. Meritorious? No. Huang Po gives these words of warning:
“The Bodhisattva’s mind is like void, for he relinquishes everything and does not even desire to accumulate merits. There are three kinds of relinquishment. When everything inside and outside, bodily and mental, has been relinquished; when as in the Void, no attachments are left; when all action is dictated purely by place and circumstance; when subjectivity and objectivity are forgotten – that is the highest form of relinquishment.
When on the other hand, the Way is followed by the performance of virtuous acts; while, on the other, relinquishment of merits takes place and hope of reward is entertained – that is the medium form of relinquishment.
When all sorts of virtuous actions are performed in the hope of reward by those who, nevertheless, know of the Void by hearing the Dharma and who are therefore unattached – that is the lowest form of relinquishment.
The first is like a blazing torch held to the front which makes it impossible to mistake the path; the second is like a blazing torch held to one side, so that it sometimes light and sometimes dark; the third is like a blazing torch held behind, so that pitfalls in front are not seen.”

Now, everything is clear. Do virtuous acts and gain merits the right way, and only as the opportunity appears spontaneously. Instead of spending your time and energy on seeking opportunities to do good to others, do the highest good to your Self. Practice Dhyana and get all the intuitive knowledge you need to realize that you are That, and Enlightenment is your true nature. Why would you choose the longest way, if there is a map showing you the shortcut?