Seeing absolute equality and appreciating the differences

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.

4 thoughts on “Blog”

  1. The real koans present themselves in very real ways and the truth of the non-rational approach makes them seem absurd to start the practice in the first place. A waste of time until you are ready to test your nondual Western mind and find out that Siddhartha is also Steppenwolf.

  2. Projection. The question seems to be not whether I am projecting, but what I am projecting. If I can accept it is all projection, I have to soften my judgments of my teacher, and myself. Thank you for this, Roshi.

  3. The shoe fits, as you know! As for me the expectations, the ‘glamour’ of my own inflation and others projections, ‘not good enough’ and ‘better than…’ the comparing, it’s a full life’s work.

  4. Thank you Roshi for your comment on this topic.
    Drilling down a bit more, I would say, there is nothing wrong with seeing the weak points and appreciating the good qualities of a teacher. I believe the point is to have a clear view and work all one’s life with this clarity.
    Trying to copy our teacher blindly brings problems, as problematic as trying to live up to our projections and the unrealistic expectations we impose on our teacher. Through these 37 years I saw many moments you were involved in I considered to be mistakes, but that never broke my trust in you in a deeper sense, and with time many appeared as my mistakes much more than yours.
    This doesn`t mean every point of view of our teacher has to be exactly the same as ours, or ours exactly the same as our teacher’s. In regard to the absolute, yes, but not the relative. Respect is crucial, as I learn all the time, rather than imposing my expectations. (So if my students make a choice I’m not enthusiastic about, I do my best to respect it, which doesn’t mean I fully support it).
    My respect for you, Roshi, deepens through time, replacing my unrealistic expectations. I am always glad that thanks to your brave approach I can learn from your mistakes. Sometimes I had to do my own falls to really get it, but many times your honest sharing about your falls has been a great help and support to me. I am very, very grateful for everything I have received from you… and hopefully will receive, no matter what life brings.
    Thank you.
    PS. You said: “You had this ideal which you were trying to live up to. And that’s the problem, because when we have an ideal we’re trying to live up to, we can never live up to it.” Maybe the biggest problem is trying to fix others so they live up to our ideals of them? I would say it is great to have ideals, but as guidelines, accepting we may never live up to them? Maybe acting from the Apex? Owned ideals, and the opposite (having no)?


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