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Chapter 6: Cages of Gold

Seigen said:
If now you comprehend it, where is that which you did not comprehend before? What you were deluded about before is what you are now enlightened about, and what you are now enlightened about, is what you were deluded about before.
There are only two diseases: one is riding an ass to search for the ass; the other is riding an ass and being unwilling to dismount. You say that riding an ass to search for the ass is silly, and that he who does it should be punished. This is a very serious disease. But I tell you, do not search for the ass at all. The intelligent man, understanding my meaning, stops his error of searching for the ass, and thus the deluded state of his mind ceases to exist.
But if, having found the ass one is unwilling to dismount, this disease is most difficult to cure. I say to you, do not ride the ass at all. You yourself are the ass. Mountains, rivers and plains are all the ass. Why do you ride on it? If you ride, you cannot cure your disease. But if you do not ride, the universe in all directions becomes one wide expanse. With these two diseases expelled, nothing remains to affect your mind. This is spiritual cultivation. You need do nothing more.

Maneesha, Seigen is raising a very important question. And he not only raises the question, he also gives the answer. That is the way of a master. To raise a question is very easy, but to give the right answer is very difficult, because the right answer is only one. Millions of questions are possible, but millions of answers are not there.

Before I read you the sutra, I would like to tell you the essence of it. Because it is old Zen language, it looks complicated, but it is not.

All that he is saying is that searching for the self is stupid. It is a disease, and almost incurable. But if by chance you find the self and become enlightened, you have jumped from one disease to another.

Your enlightenment is not a cure. Your enlightenment is now another possession. Now you will be bragging about it. It will not give you freedom but new fetters - just more shiny, more beautiful, more up to date.

Seigen is saying that you have to be free from ignorance and you have to be free from enlightenment. This is called the lion’s roar. Even enlightenment is not going to be his imprisonment. He wants the whole universe without any limits.

An enlightened person has a tiny flame. But if that tiny flame makes him feel special, greater and better than others, it has already become a fetter. This is not the great enlightenment. It is simply changing dark-colored chains for light-colored chains. The great enlightenment is to not have any chains.

So ultimately the enlightened, the awakened, the buddha, drops his buddhahood too. He becomes absolutely ordinary and simple. In his simplicity radiates the whole cosmos. In his silence is contained all the music and all the rainbows and all the flowers possible. He is himself the universe, there is no more division.

Now he cannot distinguish between the ignorant and the enlightened. To him now the whole universe is nothing but an immense enlightenment in which everything is drowned. A greater dance is not possible.

Seigen said:

If now you comprehend it, where is that which you did not comprehend before? What you were deluded about before is what you are now enlightened about, and what you are now enlightened about, is what you were deluded about before.

The object of your delusion and the object of your enlightenment remain the same. It is not a great transformation as far as your subjectivity is concerned.

There are only two diseases.Nobody in the whole history has brought the issue to such clarity.

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