Yes and no. I mean “yes” in that everything is allowed, accepted, and perhaps even appreciated. However, enlightenment or awakening is not just that. I mean “no” in that thought, by and large, ceases. I mean “no, in that sadness and most negative emotions may no longer arise. Suffering ceases.
Being “transcended” from the ebb and flow of life…and just being “awareness” of it…this is often spoken about and taught as awakening. But then I also hear it is allowing thoughts, feelings (often sadness or anxiety is mentioned), and everything else to arise and pass in awareness. This misses the fact that once the illusions of the mind are seen through and understanding has dawned, that the reactions and actions to life’s happenings changes.
If you are in a car and hit a traffic jam, perhaps (due to your current understanding and being) you will react with thoughts of frustration or anger. Perhaps you start complaining or yelling at the other drivers (as if they could hear you). Now, you could claim that you are somehow above all of this…you have accepted and allowed it and are just aware of it as awareness. But this would be a bypass, because if the understanding that there is no “me” was fully realized…then a “me” would not be riled up…a “me” would not be inconvenienced.
Saying you have accepted and allowed what is and are just aware of it as a “witness” is a way to dismiss what is really going on. There is still ignorance and lack of understanding. The illusions of the mind are still believed. Thought about the past, future, and pure imaginations are still rampant…and mostly believed. This is not awakening.
Awakening is not simply being a “witness” to the patterns of life, because this overlooks understanding. Awakening is a change in understanding. Basically, ignorance is dispelled with enlightenment. Just being a “witness” to thoughts, sadness, anxiety, guilt, etc. is not enough, because these continue due to ignorance.
Be careful now. I am not saying we are trying to get rid of thoughts, sadness, anxiety, guilt, etc. as a need to improve ourselves or seek a better “me”.
I am not resisting or denying thoughts when they do arise (some thought is useful). But when you have no need to think about something, can you just sit without thinking? Also, do any of your thoughts cause you suffering?
I am not resisting or denying any negative emotion that may arise either, but it is fairly infrequent that a negative emotion arises and when it does I know that I need to embrace it, feel it, and look at it deeply to gain understanding about what is happening and why. I am curious about why it arises and in understanding it I find it ceases to arise. I am also curious about joy and bliss arising as well…and embrace it, feel it, and look at it deeply as well. It is a curiosity about whatever arises and why.
Letting what comes come, letting what goes go, and enjoying what is as long as it is…but how do you enjoy what is happening? With understanding. In just allowing the ebb and flow of life to happen and remain as a “witness”…this means you can be very unhappy and still claim to be awake because you allow your unhappiness and remain as the “witness” to you unhappiness. This is incorrect and a misunderstanding of what it is to be awake.
In the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, it is said that life is dukkha. Dukkha could be translated as suffering, but also means discontent or dissatisfaction. We just are not satisfied or content in life. Another of the Four Noble Truths says that dukkha can cease. The cessation of dissatisfaction and discontent…the cessation of suffering. The Buddha said awakening brings the cessation of dukkha and I agree. It is the dispelling of ignorance and seeing through the illusions of the mind…it is the dawning of understanding…that brings the cessation of dukkha. Buddhism teaches the the way to end dukkha is the Noble Eight-fold Path…the first, most important, and root of all the others is right view. It all comes down to the right viewing of the world…that is right understanding.
So without understanding – which dispels suffering (by and large), how could one claim to be awakened or enlightened? Now, what causes part of the confusion is that allowing the ebb and flow of life is part of right view or right understanding. All things are temporary and change…and we have little to no control over when or how things change. Resisting and denying this causes suffering. But if you really accepted and allowed the ebb and flow of life, then why would you be sad if your favorite coffee cup was dropped and broke? That would be discontentment…suffering…don’t you see? That is a denying and resistance to the temporary nature of the coffee cup and lack of control over when and how it would inevitably leave your life. So this sadness (if you are sad over the loss of your coffee cup), would be attachment and identification…which means you are still trapped in ignorance and the illusions of the mind. This would mean you are probably not awake or enlightened.
Realization, awakening, enlightenment, or whatever term you want to you use…it changes how you act/react in the world. The world is not seen the same way anymore (that is, it is understood differently). As such, thought may mostly cease…sadness may no longer arise…anxiety may be only a memory…etc. It is not simply allowing the ebb and flow of life to happen. Understanding must also dawn.