Dr. Hubert Benoit on the state preceding Satori
- "... it is interesting to study the state which,
according to the Zen masters, precedes satori
(enlightenment). At this moment the curb on the
imagination has become so strong that it holds
in check all the affective reactions to the stimuli
of the external world. All the illusory significances
which the subject used to attribute to things
(significances which depended on his affective
reactions) now disappear, and the subject is
permanently divided into actor and spectator
but the actor has become unapparent. 'It is like
two flawless mirrors reflecting one another.'
No longer is there any distress (angoisse), and
the subject experiences a kind of pure and total
alleviation which is not, however, the state of
positive blessedness. There is now a condition of
unstable equilibrium between the forces that delude
and stupefy and the forces that tend to awake us to
reality. The subject no longer has the old, false
consciousness; but he does not yet possess the new
consciousness. (In Zen, this state is called tai-i,
literally 'great doubt.') Hence the subject who is
in this state says of himself that he is 'like an idiot.'
The screen separating him from objective reality has
worn thin and lost its opacity. Finally, in response
to some sensory stimulus, satori breaks through. In the
past, stimuli from the outside world reached the subject
through this screen and had the effect of stupefying him;
now that they reach him directly they awaken and enlighten.
The screen is imagination, is associative and discursive
thinking. And it is this screen that separated the subject
from objective reality and prevented him from realizing
the absolute identity of the 'I' and the Not-I. ('The eye
with which I see God is the same,' says [Meister] Eckhart,
'as the eye with which God sees me.')"
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