Chapter 34: Enlightenment
Enlightenment: The Key
Some take sitting wordlessly with eyes shut beneath the black mountain, inside the ghost cave, and consider it as the scene on the other side of the primordial buddha, the scene before their parents were born - they also call it “silent yet ever illuminating,” and consider it Ch’an. This lot don’t seek subtle wondrous enlightenment: they consider enlightenment as falling into the secondary. They think that enlightenment deceives people, that enlightenment is a fabrication. Since they’ve never awakened themselves, they don’t believe anyone has awakened.
There’s a kind acting as teachers spreading false talk who tell students, “Just preserve stillness.” Asked, “What thing is this, preserving? Who is the still one?” they say, “The still one is the basis.” Yet they don’t believe that the enlightened one exists: they say that the enlightened one is an offshoot, and quote this from Yang Shan:
A monk asked Yang Shan, “Do people these days still make use of enlightenment or not?” Yang Shan said, “Though enlightenment is not absent, nevertheless it falls into the secondary: don’t talk of dreams in front of fools.” Then they understand this literally as a real doctrine, and say that enlightenment is secondary.
Such people scarcely realize that Kuei Shan himself had a saying to alert students; indeed,it’s very cogent: “Enlightenment is the standard for investigating the ultimate truth through to the end.”
Where do those false teachers put these words? It’s impossible that Kuei Shan was bringing doubts and error to later people by having them fall into the secondary.
Enlightenment is certainly the key, but almost all the traditions are against it - and there is a reason why they are against it. The most fundamental reason is that if enlightenment is a reality, God becomes an unreality. If your own illumination is the ultimate, then nothing can be above it. Then man’s own consciousness becomes the highest reality.
Religions and traditions believing in God cannot allow enlightenment. It goes against all their fictions. Their fictions can exist only in the darkness, not in the light. To keep their fictions alive, to keep their dreams real, they don’t allow human beings to be awake. You don’t hear of Christian mystics as enlightened, you don’t hear of Jewish mystics as awakened. In fact, enlightenment is the alternative of God.
All that belongs to the ritualistic religions is endangered by enlightenment, because enlightenment has no ritual, it has no prayer, it has no scriptures. It so totally believes in you, its respect for humanity is so absolute and irrevocable.It is natural that all the priests are going to be against it, because the whole profession of the priests depends on fictions, and enlightenment destroys fictions.