Gradual vs. Sudden

The debate of gradual versus sudden enlightenment is at the center of discussion for some people, whether “Buddhist” or “arm chair philosophers”, and everyone in between. For various reasons, we think that talking about this will actually bring us closer to “attaining” peace, or even better, to “convincing” another person of our beliefs!

“ha ha ha ha ha ha haha” is all I wish to say (and a thousand more hahahahas as well).

I’ll try and explain this is a somewhat linear fashion…

I just got home from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) session. I’ve been going since the beginning of this year in order to deal with feelings of anxiety and depression. I’ve been plodding along and doing the work and reading the books and reflecting and journalling…

A couple of sessions ago, my therapist and I decided it was time to start tapering our sessions down because I’ve been doing well.

This hasn’t been an easy year for me in many ways, with the most dramatic event being my father’s death. But even though life didn’t slow down or get “less stressful,” I’ve managed to find some refuge from the thoughts that have been bullying my for much of my life.

In conjunction with consistent CBT, I’ve become increasingly involved with zen and a teacher and community that are situated a mere 5 minutes walk from my house.

Most of my waking thoughts have been centered around self-improvement.

…and with all this effort, there have been stretches of time where I felt I was making no progress, where I felt I was suffering more than previously, where I thought maybe I was just irreparably damaged…

These stretches of the mundane have been punctuated by moments of intense joy and lightness, profound insight and gratitude, and this evening is a perfect exemplar of it.

Sitting and chatting about what’s gone on in the past three weeks, filling out a questionnaire which I’ve taken periodically since the first day I stepped into therapy, realizing how far I’ve come in the past 11 months, it all made me want to just ….

klfhjsdklfsdlfhsd dksfjsdlfkjdsfljsdlfkj dlsfkjs

-jump for joy


-shake those who trudge through landscapes of despair!

-laugh laugh hahahahh laugh

-and other such things

all this because it seems to easy and obvious now that I’m standing on this side of the pain/worry/doubt. I can’t believe I spent years of my life worried about this and that and planning and scrapping those plans, and brooding, and replaying, and wondering…. and not living how I want to live.

note to self and all who will listen: JUST TRY IT! JUST DO IT.

But of course, unless your ears are open and ready to hear, my words are just words.

Unless you’re ready to trust and try and leap, then you’ll find yourself standing in the exact same place one year from now.

It gets so boring.


Returning to the point of “sudden vs. gradual enlightenment”:

we’ve heard this all before. it’s both, it’s neither. Enlightenment is not a SUPER HIGH, it’s a lightening, a shedding, and when the weight comes off your shoulders, whether you toss it off, or it slickly slides, or fizzles and dissolves, that lightness will make you want to dance and sing, and those watching you may think you’ve lost it, or you’re under some strange influence, when really you are FREE, FREE, FREE of influence, of permanence, of impositions of mind, of ignorances and biases.

It took effort, it took trust, it took taking on forms and processes and structure, and in the end, it is all tossed out without lament.






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