Set Apart

“According to Bodhidharma (and to Zen), if we make enlightenment—or enlightened people—into something special and set them apart from others and from ourselves, we abuse them. In the process, we also abuse ourselves. Thus enlightenment becomes remote, otherworldly, mysterious, and (seemingly) virtually impossible to realize.” Page 53. Buddhism Is Not What You Think by Steve Hagen
This paragraph gave me Aha! Moments.
Learning about Buddhism, especially Zen, has given me an appreciation of intimacy with the immediate moment and situation. The more space there is between me and what is going on, the more opportunities there are for delusion. Life is just smoother going from one immediately obvious task to the next.
Another epiphany comes from the wording comes from “set apart.” “Set apart” is one definition of “holiness” in the Christian world. The problem is practical: How do you set something (or someone, as in the self-important clergy) apart without setting it aside? Setting something aside involves looking at it and saying, “I’ll pick you up later when the time is right.” If your life is like mine, it does not take long for that item to get buried and totally forgotten. Its purity is maintained at the expense of its usefulness and reason for existence. That’s the challenge: maintaining purity and usefulness simultaneously.
Something that is set on a shelf gets no exercise, fresh air, or exposure to the real world. It is easy and comfortable to live in one’s own little world, surrounded by people exactly like oneself. It’s just not real. No use and no circulation amount to mold-covered obsolescence. It really is a form of abuse. Living in social isolation can be a very comfortable form of self-abuse.

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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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