Enlightenment stopped by consciousness?

The Buddha taught that the false self (the self of the five aggregates) is not our true self.  But then how does a Buddha wean people off of their attachment to the false self?  The simple answer is not easily!  Culture with its dominant assumptions prevails, many of which act as a barrier to finding our self.

While it is true that the Buddha taught us to abandon desire for whatever is not the self, namely, the five aggregates, this is not enough to take us to the other shore which is never other than unconditioned.  Our attachment to the false self remains strong. 

Regrettably, the interpretations of modern Buddhism have shifted the Buddha’s message to the belief that he taught that there is no self.  Just reject the self that’s all you need to do.  It’s just a construct.  But he never said to reject or abandon the self.  He said, more precisely, abandon desire for whatever is not the self.

The truth of human life is that it is a grand illusion from which we have been unable to find an escape.  Death is no more than the passage from one illusion to another.  A continuity of consciousness exists which the Buddha says is like a magician’s illusion.  The continuity of consciousness also guarantees a subject and object duality which is inimical to enlightenment.

The central problem that we face is not the problem of self, whether or not it is real or just a construct, but the problem of consciousness or vijñāna. It guarantees the continuity of this life to yet another life and many more. 

What enlightenment is really all about is overcoming this consciousness thus being able to converge, directly, with the true self.  This process is always stopped by the imposition of consciousness which splits and distorts the original one into subject and object which then beholds a pluralized illusory World.

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The Zennist

Author of The Zennist blog since 2007.

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