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From Intellect to Intuition - Chapter Eight - The Universality of Meditation
The Method in Chinese Buddhism

One of the main contributions to the process of enlightenment is an understanding of the way in which the Buddha found the Light. It demonstrates in a most remarkable way the use of the mind to overcome ignorance and its subsequent futility to carry a man on into the world of Light and spiritual being. Dr. Suzuki, Professor of Zen Buddhism at the Buddhist College at Kyoto, tells us about it in the following illuminating paragraphs. He tells us that it was through "supreme perfect knowledge" that the Buddha arrived at the wisdom which changed him from a Bodhisattva into a Buddha. This knowledge is

"...a faculty both intellectual and spiritual, through the operation of which the soul is enabled to break the fetters of intellection. The latter is always dualistic inasmuch as it is cognizant of subject and object, but in the Prajna which is exercised 'in unison with one-thought-viewing' there is no separation between knower and known, these are all viewed in one thought, and enlightenment is the outcome of this...

"Enlightenment we can thus see is an absolute state of mind in which no 'discrimination' ...takes place, and it requires a great mental effort to realize this state of viewing [187] all things 'in one thought'. In fact our logical as well as practical consciousness is too given up to analysis and ideation; that is to say, we cut up realities into elements in order to understand them; but when they are put together to make the original whole, its elements stand out too conspicuously defined, and we do not view the whole 'in one thought'. And as it is only when 'one thought' is reached that we have enlightenment, an effort is to be made to go beyond our relative empirical consciousness... The most important fact that lies behind the experience of Enlightenment, therefore, is that the Buddha made the most strenuous attempt to solve the problem of Ignorance and his utmost will-power was brought forth to bear upon a successful issue of the struggle... Enlightenment therefore must involve the will as well as the intellect. It is an act of intuition born of the will... The Buddha attained this end when a new insight came upon him at the end of his ever-circulatory reasoning from decay and death to Ignorance and from Ignorance to decay and death... But he had an indomitable will; he wanted, with the utmost efforts of his will, to get into the very truth of the matter; he knocked and knocked until the doors of Ignorance gave way; and they burst open to a new vista never before presented to his intellectual vision."
- Suzuki, Daisetz Taitaro, Essays in Zen Buddhism, pages 113-115.

Earlier he points out that the attainment of Nirvana is after all essentially the affirmation and realization of Unity. In the same essays we find the words:

"They (Buddhists) finally found out that Enlightenment was not a thing exclusively belonging to the Buddha, but that each one of us could attain it if he got rid of ignorance by abandoning the dualistic conception of life and of the world; they further concluded that Nirvana was not vanishing into a state of absolute non-existence which [188] was an impossibility as long as we had to reckon with the actual facts of life, and that Nirvana in its ultimate signification was an affirmation - an affirmation beyond opposites of all kinds."
- Suzuki, Daisetz Taitaro, Essays in Zen Buddhism, page 47.

The term Prajna used above is very interesting. It is

"the presence in every individual of a faculty... This is the principle which makes Enlightenment possible in us as well as in the Buddha. Without Prajna there could be no enlightenment, which is the highest spiritual power in our possession. The intellect... is relative in its activity... The Buddha before his Enlightenment was an ordinary mortal, and we, ordinary mortals, will be Buddhas the moment our mental eyes open in Enlightenment."
- Suzuki, Daisetz Taitaro, Essays in Zen Buddhism, pages 52-53.

Thus we have the mind focused and used to its utmost capacity, and then the cessation of its work. Next comes the use of the will to hold the mind steady in the light, and then - the Vision, Enlightenment, Illumination!

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