The awakening of a new consciousness of meaning in our lives is not necessarily a euphoric experience. This is because what is awakened in us is not “new” but “old.” This primordial experience has remained dormant since our original simplicity and innocence was lost. When we quicken “new” consciousness, we attain meaning and truly recover or excavate a misplaced fortune.
All persons possess an incessant longing, however diverse in strength and depth, for that which surpasses an imbalanced and unequal world subject to change. The spatial language of “going beyond,” “transcending,” or “surpassing” is awkward and indistinct. It suggests separation and implies dualism. Yet, we re-discover meaning precisely in the world in which we are located. When we recognize our world is impermanent, we can start to feel dissatisfied and want something which is unencumbered, free from sorrow, and of enduring benefit.
This aspiration to freedom from dissatisfaction or dukkha is fundamentally religious. Each religion assigns its unique designation to this yearning based on its own tradition. Whatever utterance a tradition may use and however it is understood and disseminated, all of them express a specific impression of discontent regarding how things stand. They may not yet know how to conceive this consciousness or suggest a way to notionally represent it.
This obscure feeling disturbs a state of equilibrium and optimal equanimity. Whether identified as fear or anxiety, it is the experience of insecurity and unhappiness. This brings the experiencer to an impasse which must be bridged one of two ways, inwardly or outwardly.
The outward way is rational and impartial. The outward is characterized by a ceaseless movement which maintains the disparity and discordance between subject and object. This open-ended process of the outward mind gives rise to insecurity. It also exhausts and dissipates itself.
Logically, the inward is seemingly opposed to the outward. However, the genuine inward way is when there is no distinction or opposition between the inward and outward. The inward mind observes what is behind the movement to probe what is there. It neither stops nor resists movement and rejects distraction. The strict, devout inward way is ready to demonstrate the concrete and is more enamored of the actual and less allured by language about it. To act and not appeal to concepts is the inward way. To be direct and act without any medium is comprehensible solely from the inward way of seeing reality.
Zen’s use of the words “one” and “all” designates a movement of increasingly becoming one and all. Therefore, these terms are not closed. In the inward way, “one” is “all” and “all” is “one.” When these are reduced to absolute oneness or absolute nothingness, the inward way refines itself.
Out of the “abyss of absolute nothingness” all things come and are returned to it. This cannot be understood by the outward way in a linear reference to time or reached by philosophical inquiry. What cannot be conceptualized is beyond the grasp of language.
Zen teachers often use illogical language which becomes absurd and unintelligible from the outward viewpoint.. This contortion comes from language used in a manner not intended for it. Zen aims to be direct with no medium. A philosopher conceptualizes at great length. A Zen teacher is spontaneous, direct, and more interested in actual experience. Zen consciousness involves the whole being.
The natural spontaneity of being is revealed in our perpetual longing for something which has receded from our outward intellectualized viewpoint. We wish to be or go beyond the range of limits in this world of particulars. We use our freedom to pursue our desire to know. However, the outward way of knowing does not allow us to obtain the freedom we seek. This leaves feelings of frustration and insecurity. This is because only the inward way can lead to the spontaneous freedom of being. This is freedom in the deepest sense.
We may unintentionally quit or lose our way through forgetfulness. A stubborn willfulness may lead us astray. Try as we might, we can never really leave our original home, the abode of our original face, even before we were born. “Where ever you go, there you are!” We can never leave where we are. This is an illusion. To be conscious of this is to awaken what was thought “lost” and what appears “new.” This face of innocence can be restored, recovered by awakening the inner track of that which is already ours.
What is required is simply to decrease the outer intellect which hides our original integrity and simplicity. This primordial illumination, our native home in which we were and are, has never been lost just not visible. We could not function without it. Our actuality, our life, otherwise would have no meaning. Any outer informational or formational knowledge we acquire to function in our world is not possible without our primal identity.
To fully function from this secondary level is to separate from the inner way and regard the outer operation of our life in opposition to the inward. This is the dualistic reluctance which breaks from our authentic self. However, the authentic inner way is simultaneously the inward and outward way. This is the basis of the destiny which carries us. It is the touchstone of integrity and our Ultimate Meaning.
Supreme confidence or absolute faith from the perspective of the inner way is awakened when this consciousness is awakened. Zen refers to this absolute faith as satori. When we come home to ourselves, we experience our own is-ness—our I am-ness. With a newly awakened faith, God comes to our own knowledge subjectively (and objectively). A mutual discovery of divine and human results. God discovers man and man discovers God. Intimacy!
Satori is a radical experiential moment when the whole universe becomes nothing and everything. A “coincidence of opposites” occurs. The whole universe is, at once, annihilated and created anew. Eradication and construction are one. One can SEE. Ultimate meaning may be realized. Awakening to inner consciousness awakens a new faith creating a domain of infinite possibilities.
To embark on this endeavor, one cultivates the knowledge of the true and good so that one’s being proves one’s understanding. To know is to be. Plato stated, “The true lover of knowledge is always striving after being—that is his nature.” Aristotle said, “The soul is all that it knows.” We are endowed with the indelible gift of total consciousness. It is incumbent on us to regenerate this capacity. Awakening to new consciousness is awakening to one’s integral possibility as a human being—remembering the single chance we have to seize the immortal means to realize perfect happiness.