The thought came up in my mind that when you are looking at the word ‘enlightenment’ there are so many different names for that. One term for it says “no more learning.” That made me think. Buddha’s teachings are interesting. It is the darkness and light. They talk a lot about ignorance. The point is that the ignorance can be either not knowing, or being confused or unclear. It is our biggest problem. That goes for everything, spiritual, material, professional – any field.
If you are a professional photographer and you don’t know what you are doing, you have a problem of limited knowledge. Everything we do is subject to limited knowledge. If you are getting beyond average knowledge then things become better. You become an expert.
When you look in Buddhism, ignorance is the problem. It is not knowing – confusion. The knowledge is building up day by day, improving. We can call it, “on the job experience.” You are dealing with it. If you have gadgets like the smart phone you keep on playing with, that and you get better and better, and you know more than you did yesterday. That is the same with computers and programs like Photoshop, or whatever it is. You get better. So our knowledge has tremendous limitations. When you push through, you can keep pushing and there is no end to it. You can become an expert, you can become brilliant, you can become a genius, and there is no end to it. There will be a time that is called, “the ultimate level,” and then there is nothing more to learn. I think that is what Buddhahood is. There is nothing more to learn. So that is not just reserved for Buddhists. Everybody is eligible and everybody is capable.
We put limits on ourselves. We know we can improve day by day, week by week and month by month in every field where we put in efforts. If you don’t put any efforts in, and sit there like a couch potato like me, then nothing is going to happen. But even then, you can learn something from the television. I picked up many more terms and expressions of Western culture from television than anybody else. That’s why “Days of Our Lives,” was not so bad for me. I used to watch that all the time.
That’s why enlightenment is for everybody, not only for Buddhists. The improvement is possible for everybody and there will be a time where you have learnt all and there is nothing more to pick up. The issue of something to learn is completely exhausted, not the knowledge. When you are competing, what is there to learn and can you learn it, that’s what is happening.
So we are putting limits on ourselves when we “specialize.” We give it a nice name. We think that our human capacity may not be able to cope, but we know that our human capacity can cope. There is no limit for the human capacity, because there is no limit to existence. There is no limit to ideas that have materialized and there are always ideas popping up. Ideas will translate into material [reality]. So the human mind has no limit. The full capacity of the human mind is enlightenment. It is Buddhahood. Please don’t feel that I made Buddhahood cheap. But that’s what I see. It is for everybody. It doesn’t have to be just for Buddhists, or just for liberals or just for yuppies or for hippies, but for everybody.
These are the things that you examine. Check if they are right or wrong. Give yourself some suggestions. Your homework is to think about and talk about it. Talk to people. Don’t think that you know all. “Know all” is a sarcastic expression. It is somebody who has everything to say and it may not all be right. I could be all wrong. That’s “Mr. Know All.” But when you put two minds together, there is tremendous improvement. When you put three minds together, there is more tremendous improvement and then four, five, six, seven and more. There is tremendous improvement. However, with that come also clashes and territorial issues.
Then people don’t get along. Their minds will clash. We really want to have concern and get everybody together and get along well, and all that. It’s like Rodney King said, “Can we all get along?” That’s what we want, but the moment we interact, there are mental clashes and there are contradictions. On the one hand, that is difficult. On the other hand, it is a tremendous advantage. If you can take advantage of the opposite, clashing ideas, and analyze them, you are going to find gold in it. But if you don’t know how to handle it, you get yourself into a huge mess. That’s it. But don’t take the mess home. Take the gold home, okay?
~ Gelek Rimpoche, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor, May 16, 2013