At some level, I think we are all on a search for enlightenment. Who doesn’t want complete knowledge of the mind, universe and why we are here?
Yet the spiritual guru and Zen philosopher Alan Watts has some advice that may surprise you in the video below. He says you need to give up the search for enlightenment.
What does he mean by this?
Watts begins with a story of someone who’s trying to win in a fight against a bear. The person decides on some kind of action, and then does it. The bear reads his mind and always fall stalls any attack that he makes on it.
There’s absolutely nothing this man can do to get past the bear. In the space between deciding to act and actually acting, the bear’s reflexes are good enough to defeat the opponent.
There’s no way out of this bind. Try as you might, as soon as you make the decision to do something, you are thinking before you’re acting.
You have an idea of the thing you’re trying to move towards.
So, how can you decide not to decide? That’s also creating an idea that is separating you from the person you want to become.
So how can you achieve enlightenment?
Watts says you need to totally give up. Accept that you can’t achieve something. Once you’ve accepted this and totally given up the idea, you are at the point of not caring.
It’s the same with trying to let go of your ego.
As soon as you believe that you even have an ego in the first place, you are creating the illusion of having a separate will to who you are in that moment. You are creating a separate you.
Yet splitting yourself up between the you with will and the ego is like trying to kill fire with fire. You’re creating the illusion of a separate ego.
The only way to let go of the ego is when an attempt to act from the ego center has been revealed to be completely futile. Try to destroy the ego and see where it gets you. And if it’s not working, it’s time to give up and just accept yourself for who you are.
At that point, you may discover that the search for enlightenment is really just an illusion. Perhaps at that point, something will happen.
For more articles on the search for enlightenment and some alternative perspectives, consider the following:
- Zen Buddhist Master Reveals the Ultimate Secret to Reaching Enlightenment (In 10 Quotes)
- The 4 Stages of Enlightenment According to Buddhist Scripture (And How You Can Achieve Them)
- A Zen Master Reveals 10 Essential Rules For Attaining Enlightenment