CRITICAL CONCERNS WITH AWAKENING 101



Not everybody considers AWAKENING 101 as a valid vehicle. A while back someone posted a message on one of the major internet Buddhism Message Boards indentifying themselves as "a new student seeking guidance and mentor." Shortly thereafter a message was posted in response informing the person about AWAKENING 101. Several messages later the following post showed up from another person pretty much knocking the whole idea of even considering AWAKENING 101 as any sort of a viable possibility (date and poster's name changed):


Re: new student needs guidance, mentor

by: concerned_Dharma_message_sender 00/00/00 08:58 pm

Msg: 15 of 19

  • web-based enlightenment? get real

  • information presented is biased, sketchy, and mostly incomplete, he presents what he wants in his way

  • and worse, it's a nightmare to navigate through the morass of links

  • better to go to the source - not some wannabe guru


In response to the above message the following message, below, was posted by one Upaka the Ascetic, presented here with some minor editing and the addition of some click through links that for one reason or the other the Message Board does not always allow for:


"Most of what Concerned relates is for the most part fairly accurate. I cannot speak for the Wanderling personally, but I can address some of the issues in that in an offhand sort of way I assist in some of the goings on. For one thing the Wanderling has been "gone" for nearly two years with very little if any contact. Some say the desert southwest, others the Yukon Territory. He has been to both and he did cross paths with one person I know at Cadillac Ranch. I know for a fact, although I DON'T know where, he had, at least for a time, taken a professorship incognito "just for the heck of it" at a rather large west coast university (30,000 student body) in a totally unrelated area and without anybody knowing who he is as well as spending time in and around his High Mountain Zendo and a variety of Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan for a couple of spring equinoxes. He was also seen by a former fellow Peace Corps volunteer at the Lucy exhibit in Houston.




"On the surface Concerned is correct in stating that what is presented is "a nightmare to navigate through the morass of links." Even Sarlo, who refused to "recognize" the Wanderling for years, says, albeit with somewhat more reverence and tongue in cheek, the same thing about him. However, not everyone, primarily because of drawing conceptual construct inferences while being firmly implanted in the Samsaric side of any equation, are willing to do so (i.e. as the poster calls it, navigate). Once the seeker realizes what is going on, things change. The problem is is that the Wanderling is not time-lineal. It is like throwing a rock into a still pond. The concentric rings radiate outward one after the other. The outer ring was once the inner ring and the inner ring will become the outer ring. For the Wanderling there is no difference, ring, rock, pond, first or last. All well and good for him, but what about us. It is like a joke. If you get it it doesn't need to be explained. If it needs to be explained something is lost.

"The Wanderling writes, as a young boy, of his Uncle taking him to meet Albert Einstein one warm summer afternoon and how he skipped rocks for some distance across the surface of the lake as they walked. Years later he was reminded of a comment attributed to Larry Darrell, the main character in the novel The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham wherein at the end of the all-important Chapter Six Larry says:


'Nothing that happens is without effect. If you throw a stone in a pond the universe isn't quite the same as it was before. . . It may be that if I lead the life I've planned for myself it may affect others; the effect may be no greater than a ripple caused by a stone thrown in a pond, but one ripple causes another, and that one a third; it's just possible that a few people will see that my way of life offers happiness and peace, and the they in turn will teach what they have learnt to others.'


"When Awakening 101 was on Blackboard it was a lot more lineal. When that platform was lost because of costs there was a scramble to save everything (the Wanderling makes do with what is available to ensure no cost or charge is passed on to seekers along the path). It started with just one page years ago (actually it was a page and a half, up to "end of 1972 typed notes" of ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds followed sometime later with the two page offering on his Zen Mentor). From that one page over and over questions began to dribble in. Then in torrents. In that the same questions were continually being asked and re-asked, rather than continuing to re-answer and re-answer, the questioners were being refered to a specifically selected page already on the net with relevant answers. Then that page had questions, etc., etc. A person calling himself Zen Bodhisattva came along and offered to put the whole thing on Blackboard for free. It was Zen Bodhisattva, who was almost like an internet version to the Wanderling like Palaniswami was to the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, that was able to fine tune the pages. A few years later after the costs continued to rise AWAKENING 101 was transfered to the net generally with no need for particpants to register. With that came a much wider audience with a whole slew of not nearly so specifically directed questions...inturn requiring more and more personal attention or additional page links. Spam controls had to be put on everything. Even so, for example just the day prior to this being written there were 153 relevant emails that got through. Mundane ones related to downed or broken links, typos, that sort of thing a few of us take care of. Others are forwarded to the Wanderling. He accesses the main emails on occasion as well. The thing is, biased or otherwise it is just another offering. To him the whole thing is like one big Koan. It is the quest seeker's job to find the answer. It is not the Wizard of Oz handing out paper diplomas instead of brains. Whatever transpired with the Buddha for that which has come down to us transpired before any texts and sutras or rise of formalized sects. The samething is still available to all that so seek it. What is presented is an indication of a way to harken back to the source.

"As for the web-based Enlightenment I can cite at least two examples. The first appears as Number "9" on a whole list of people that offer their experiences from a varitey of sources titled The Awakening Experience in the Modern Era, a page that relates the accounts of ten-plus individuals that experienced Awakening in the present day world. By Awakening, we are talking Enlightenment as described in the historic texts and Sutras of the masters, BUT with everyday people in right now's regular world going about their everyday business.

"The second example is from YAHOO: Answers and appears in Getting Letters and Emails, wherein one Ajuna answers the question, "Are there any online Buddhist teachers?"

"As far as the information being biased, sketchy, incomplete, and presented HIS way, the same could be said of what is presented by the author in the post --- unless the content results was arrived at by some major widebreadth consensus --- and if not, would tend to lend credence that such an approach is an acceptable method. Buddhism, Zen and Enlightenment is a huge field. The total fund of information is enormous and reaching to the core of What the Buddha Said and What the Buddha Taught is still argued to this day...and most likely will continued to be argued. It would be practically impossible to encompass every single minute ambience that weaves its way through that which Zen and Buddhism is. However, for a person to select out what "worked for them, so that in return it might work for YOU" is to narrow down that broadband width of information. There is no need, in all cases, to remake the Dharma Wheel. The following from Buddhism parallels the Wanderling on the subject:


THOSE WHO HAVE NOT ATTAINED AWAKENING SHOULD PENETRATE INTO THE MEANING OF REALITY, WHILE THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY ATTAINED SHOULD PRACTICE GIVING VERBAL EXPRESSION TO THAT REALITY [1]


"One could argue all verbal statements are expressions of a dualistic way of thinking involving seeming contradictions. Even so, the Buddha himself made a continuing string of verbal statements in order for sentient beings to understand his message and gain Enlightenment.

"As for a guru, wannabe or otherwise, perhaps one could make such a case, but you would probably have more luck nailing mercury to a wall with a hammer made of nose mucus than pinning down the Wanderling to become anybody's personal guru --- and let me tell you a lot of famous and some not so famous people have tried. At the bottom of his page on Enlightenment titled Dark Luminosity the Wanderling offers the following:


Hui-k'o, the Second Patriarch of Zen passed on the bowl and robe to his successor, the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts'an, signifying the Transmission of the Dharma. Hui-k'o, who had received the seal of approval from Bodhidharma himself, then went everywhere drinking and carousing around like a wildman and partaking in the offerings of the brothel districts. When people asked how he could do such a thing, being a Patriarch of the Zen school and all, he would respond with: "What business is it of yours?" [2]


Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.


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AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM


ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL




GASSHO
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CLICK
HERE FOR
ENLIGHTENMENT

ON THE RAZOR'S
EDGE

PRESENTED BY
UPAKA THE ASCETIC





FOOTNOTE [1]:

SPIRITUAL ATTAINMENT AND VERBAL EXPRESSION TO THAT REALITY


FOOTNOTE [2]:

Master Nan Huai-Chin, "Working Toward Enlightenment" (Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1993). See also: HUI-K'O: The Second Patriarch in the Chinese Lineage


As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.