In a discussion in another forum a couple of weeks ago, the idea that Enlightenment will fix our broken selves came up.
What you have to remember is that this business of “living up to standards” and “failure” is the ego, using the minds judgment and making it personal. Anything that makes life about “me” is the ego. Something happens and the mind says “bad” and the ego jumps in and makes it personal. It happened to ME! That of course brings in all the emotions, etc. and the story of drama is enlivened.
Because we’re in the middle of the story, this is difficult to see. But sometimes, we have a chance to step back and witness the story at play. Step off the stage for a moment. We see the drama and we see the judgment and the emotional triggers.
When waking occurs, that identification with the little me ends. We shift from a person experiencing the Self, to Self experiencing a person. Without the core there, the habits of mind around that winds down over time.
We might say (and experience) the end of the small self. Or we might say (or experience) the self becoming the Self or some such. Same thing.
After this point, “failure” becomes increasingly meaningless. Who is there that failed? Who is there to take it personally? Something may happen that is annoying or frustrating. But quickly the present is on to something else. It’s past.
There’s another big caveat to throw in here though. I’ve noticed a tendency in many spiritual circles to idealize enlightenment. Make it some future place where it’s all bliss and paradise and your personal stuff is gone. “It will go away when I’m awake”. “Enlightenment will make it better.”
But if you recall the old saying – Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. One thing many people notice after waking is how ordinary and normal it is. That can be very, very, very funny. Pop THAT expectation. This also means that the person, their karma and tendencies – all that is still there.
Genpo Roshi points out that karma can seem to end after waking. But that gets clearer later.
This is not to say it’s the same because it’s not. Not remotely. It IS bliss. And how we are with all that stuff changes a great deal. But that process can take some time. And if there’s junk we haven’t dealt with yet, that nice open space awakening creates is the perfect forum for it to be in our face.
Have bad habits? Have some stuff needing to be cleaned out? Best time to look at it is now. Don’t save it up for later. Then it’s just more junk you have to deal with then. And if you wake up, you might not care anymore, so you’re stuck with it. (laughs)