In the beginning of our practice we may have a glimpse of absolute equality. Dai-kensho is when we truly realize that there is nothing to realize. This is the true realization of absolute equality, that there’s no one higher or below us, and we’re not greater or lesser than anybody else. That’s very important, because otherwise we keep elevating others and making others into some kind of god-like creature, guru, teacher or master or whatever, and we feel inferior. We feel somehow we’re lacking something.
So absolute equality is when we see the humanness of all beings, no higher, no lower. But then we get stuck in no higher no lower, and we have to come back and appreciate the vertical, that parent is parent, child is child, teacher is teacher, student is student, and so on. Seeing that, we don’t have to elevate ourself or put ourself above anybody, but we certainly do not have to put ourself below or under anybody either.
And then we can love and appreciate the differences. So when you’re in relationship with someone, or everyone, you can appreciate we’re all uniquely different, and appreciate both the absolute equality and also love the differences. It is both. It is absolute equality — nobody is greater than anybody else — I don’t care how great their practice is, or how many years they spent in a cave, or went on and did all this teaching, myself included. There’s nobody greater or lesser. But we do appreciate the wisdom that comes from spending six years in a cave, or decades of practice.
We can appreciate the difference, but we don’t have to make someone superior, or make ourself inferior, or vice versa. You know, I’ve told this story before: back in 2016, I was walking in Long Beach along the bluff, which I did every day, and the Tibetan monks were right in front of me. They always walked past our house, every morning between 6:30 and 7:00. I just happened to be walking right behind these three old monks, and I’m thinking, “Wow, these guys are the real deal. They’re authentic monks. I’m a phony. I’m in my street clothes, I’m listening to my music in my ear buds; they’re walking mindfully and doing it appropriately.” Then I thought, “Why can’t I just appreciate that they’re the real deal and I’m just a complete fake?”
And that was such a revelation for me! Yes, they’re the real deal; I’m just me. I don’t need to be them, and I don’t need to feel inferior, nor superior. Because normally I would say, “Yeah, but they’re all stuck in their traditional robes, in their this and that.” No, they’re the real deal, true monks. That’s fine. It was such a revelation, a relief just to realize that.