Is it possible to believe that one has just attained Buddhahood? And is it possible just to believe like that only because of the ego? And if it is possible, then how to avoid it?
IT IS VERY MUCH POSSIBLE. Many times your ego will I deceive you. It will say, “You have arrived, you have attained.” By saying that it will prevent you from attaining, because when you have attained there is no need to make any more effort. When you have already attained, then what is the point of going on troubling yourself? That is the last trap ego throws at you.
First it says, “It is foolish to try to attain Buddhahood. It does not happen in the very nature of things. It is all nonsense, fiction. Don’t be mystified by these words!” First the ego will say, “It is impossible. It has never happened and it is not going to happen.” But if you don’t listen and you go on and on, the ego will try many other ways to distract you.
The last will be: one day, seeing that now you don’t listen, the ego can say to you, “Now look! You have had it, it has happened. This is satori, this is samadhi. You have become a Buddha.” This has to be encountered by every seeker.
The real enemy is not outside you, and the real distraction never comes from the outside – it comes from the inside. Buddha has said, “The enemy is within, and the friend is within – both are within you.” If you listen to the enemy, the ego, it will go on befooling you, deluding you.
Naturally, there is nothing much more than Buddhahood. If the ego can feel that “I have attained” then you are at the top of the world. Even an Alexander is nothing before you. The richest man is just poor before you; the most powerful man is nothing, helpless before you. You have become omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent – you have become a god. The ego can do that. And it will! unless you are very, very alert.
And when it starts playing such tricks on you, you will tend to accept it because it is so sweet. It is so beautiful to accept these ideas. Knowing well that nothing has happened – because how can you befool yourself? – knowing well that nothing has happened, still you will tend to become a victim.
Two old men meet on a corner. First old man: “Where have you been for the past eight weeks?”
Second old man: “In jail.”
First old man: “You in jail? How come?”
Second old man: “Well, about eight weeks ago I was standing on a corner, and this beautiful young girl rushes up with a policeman and says, ‘He’s the man, officer. He’s the one who attacked me.’ I tell you, I felt so flattered, I admitted it.”
It is possible. A man of eighty, if a beautiful girl rushes up with a policeman and says, “This man has attacked me,” can feel flattered. It is worth going to jail for a few weeks. He could not say no.
When the idea is thrown at you from your ego that you have attained, it is so charming, it is so hypnotizing, it is so attractive, it is incomparably attractive. And knowing well somewhere deep down – how can you not know? – knowing well, perfectly, that it has not happened! You are just the same, with the same anger, with the same jealousy, with the same possessiveness, with all the nonsense that has been there – it is still there. But still you would like to accept it.
Then you ask me: And if it can happen like that, how to avoid it?
The only way to know, the only way to judge whether it has really happened or is just an ego trap, is that when it really happens you don’t have the feeling of attainment at all. When it REALLY happens you don’t feel that you have attained. You don’t feel that you have arrived, that you have achieved. There is no trace of achievement at all – because WHO can achieve it? In the very process of achieving it you have disappeared, so who call claim it? Who can say, “I have come, I have attained”? The ‘I’ is no more!
This is the only criterion: when you really attain, there is no feeling of attainment at all. There is
NOBODY to attain it and nobody to claim it. There is immense silence. All that garbage of attainment– of attaining this and attaining that – has all disappeared. The whole crowd has gone. You are left utterly in silence. Not even for a single moment does the idea arises: “Now I have attained!”
And you know it has happened, but there is no feeling of attainment. Let me repeat: You know it has happened. But remember, it is a happening – because you don’t find yourself at all! You are not there! It HAS happened! You are empty, you are absent; you look in all directions and you don’t find yourself at all. You are nowhere to be found. That old guy has disappeared without leaving a trace.
You KNOW it! It has happened, but there is no feeling of attainment.
Attainment is an ego feeling; achievement is the desire of the ego. So remember the difference between a happening and an achieving. Ego is the achiever. So if any trace of achievement lingers in you, and any feeling of attainment comes to you, and you start feeling strong, worthy, great – then you can be certain you have missed again.
When it really happens, there is no claimant left. One simply is it. Not that you become Buddha– suddenly you understand you are not, only Buddha is. It brings great humbleness. There is no assertion.
Excerpted from Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol. 3, Chapter 6
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