Real freedom

This is a response to a question from a reader of Genpo Roshi’s most recent post, “Having No Preference”.  

What I mean when I say to be really free, and the reason why I call it the most difficult thing in our practice, is that in my experience one can have numerous experiences of awakening and liberation and still not manifest that liberation or freedom in the world of relationships in one’s ordinary life. There is always a gap between what one realizes and what one is truly able to actualize. Closing that gap is what we call practice. I am not talking about freedom as just doing whatever one wishes to do. I’m talking about our deeply rooted patterns, some of which go all the way back to our childhood, and being free from or at least conscious of these patterns. It is one thing to experience a state of freedom and another to really and truly actualize it from moment to moment in our daily lives. This is what Dogen Zenji meant by continuous practice.
The Buddha view is the so-called enlightened state, and to let go of it completely is not so easy. A Dharma view is what I am referring to here as the power to manifest in the world and to awaken and empower others. Again it is not so easy to drop that either. Maybe to be truly ordinary is most extra-ordinary. To drop both the Buddha and Dharma is to let go of attachment to both Buddha/Dharma. Again this is not so easy. This is considered by ancient masters the most difficult attachment to let go of. It precedes returning to the marketplace or living “Ordinary mind is the Way.” This is the way of the Bodhisattva.

All are concepts but some concepts are harder to drop than others, just as some concepts hurt more than others. When a great master once was asked by his students why he was crying, he answered, “I just received word that my mother died.” The students then asked, “don’t you tell us that all are concepts?” “Yes I do,” he replied, “but some concepts just hurt more than others.”

It is easier when we realize we have chosen something than when we think it has been imposed on us, but again it is not always so easy to see this. Of course if we can turn it around and choose it, it is easier.

In the absolute all is Zen; from the relative apparent side of the One reality, all may fall short of Zen. As a great master once said, “I don’t say there is no Zen, only that there are no teachers of Zen.”

Another ancient great master once said, “My life is just one mistake after another.”


14 thoughts on “Real freedom”

  1. You just made my day!

    I’m trying to let go two persons that have been so important in my life.
    One of them 50 years together and Gud took her by dead, the other just 5 years and we just been separated. But the pain seems the samme.

    It’s so very difficult to let them go. But I’m paying the price to try to hold them. I’m sick and very deeply sad.

    What you’ve just wrotte is perfect for me. I need to let them go, to get freedom and peace in my heart and in my soul, but just so important, to let them find and live their owner destiny.

    In Peace and Health

  2. “ZEN IS JUST ZEN. There is nothing comparable to it. It is unique — unique in the sense that it is the most ordinary and yet the most extraordinary phenomenon that has happened to human consciousness. It is the most ordinary because it does not believe in knowledge, it does not believe in mind. It is not a philosophy, not a religion either. It is the acceptance of the ordinary existence with a total heart, with one’s total being, not desiring some other world, supra-mundane, supra-mental. It has no interest in any esoteric nonsense, no interest in metaphysics at all. It does not hanker for the other shore; this shore is more than enough. Its acceptance of this shore is so tremendous that through that very acceptance it transforms this shore — and this very shore becomes the other shore. ”
    ~ Osho

  3. “one can have numerous experiences of awakening and liberation and still not manifest that liberation or freedom in the world of relationships in one’s ordinary life.”

    Perfect for what I am looking at, at the moment, thanks 🙂

  4. Beautiful wisdom. Not so easy to grasp. But it is something I badly needed to hear and work towards. Very grateful. I miss being close to a zendo and a teacher.

    David Hartley
    Flagstaff, Az

  5. Thanks Genpo,

    I’ve had a couple slight awakenings but the struggle for me is to manifest this awakening in my daily relationships and outlook towards society. I continually shut down and fall back into immature and unhealthy emotional, mental, and behavioral conditionings. It’s my fear of being crushed, defeated, ignored, deceived, marginalized, and ostracized by the Others out there in the world. I realize they are also the Way and manifesting the Dharma but I want things from them that they have no obligation to give me. It’s my endless unfulfilled desires and incessant fear of failing and losing those things I’m attached to which is my roadblock. It’s also my ego which doesn’t want to submit and adapt to the social hierarchies and power structures. And it is also my attachments to all my concepts, beliefs, and opinions. How do I let go when there is damage constantly knocking at my front door? I guess I just need to practice more. Thanks mature and healthy inner critic : )

  6. Genpo Roshi:

    Rest assured, that NO-thing like that will occur again.

    As you say, “There is always a gap between what one realises and what one is truly able to actualize. Closing the gap is what we call practice.” … perhaps another good reason why to judge is useless?

    In responding to your answer to the question: What is “Real Freedom?” please do not misunderstand; it is not to credit or discredit your version/interpretation of the Buddha’s teaching. Rather, it is to pose thoughts that your words inspired. Thank you.

    Is it but fragments of the self that one discards to close the “gap” that one may be free? Is not the strongest link in the chain the “seeking” of real freedom? Are “real freedom” and “real liberation” one and the same? Is not that which is now shadow, once was the light for an even brighter light? … Any thoughts?

    Naked & Unbound, Be Free!

  7. What is it? This freedom that goes beyond doing what one wants to do? Is it pure Being? that seem to be possible at certain times and not when we are engaged in the world, when doing is required of us, yet even when we are acting in the world,we can be unattached to the result of our actions, with an attitude of offering for the benefit of all sentient Beings. I like to think of freedom without knowing what is it. Simply contemplate freedom and it’s opposite, because both are concepts and I am somewhere in that continuum. Only when I am being, I am free.

  8. I think more important than shifting from one perspective to another or giving up attachment to this or that is to ask: who is shifting or who is giving up?
    Otherwise we can jump around endlessly from one position to another or even feel enlightened because we had an experience of it…



Leave a Comment

Yes, I want to keep in touch...

I would like to receive news updates and blog posts from Big Mind.
(Address is optional; please include if you would like to be informed of events in your area.)

Thank you...

Thank you for your interest and request.
We will answer as soon as possible…

Thank you...

…for your signup to receive news updates!

You just need to imagine...

30% OFF