Kodo Sawaki: Sit immovably in the place where being superior or inferior to others doesn’t matter

 

Sit immovably in the place where being superior or inferior to others doesn’t matter.

– Kodo Sawaki in Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo

The essence is clear and there are several more specific ways to understand it. Some of these have to do with who we are and require psychological insights and transformations, and some have to do with what we are and require “spiritual” insights and transformations.

In general with these pointers, they are not meant to point to what to do. If we try to use it as a guide for behavior, it easily becomes a “should” and something we impose on ourselves and try to live up to. We may put pressure on ourselves, it tends to feel inauthentic, and it can – ironically – become another way where we feel superior or inferior.

Instead, it’s more meant as an invitation to notice when we don’t do it and notice why. If this is how I would live if I am clear, awake, and healed, and I don’t do it, what’s going on? Where am I not clear? What in me needs to heal? It becomes a pointer for inquiry and healing.

In this case, if my system believes in ideas of superior and inferior, it’s partly from culture and if it’s important to me, it may also be connected to a sense (belief) that I am not enough, not good enough, not inherently valuable, not as good as others, unlovable, and so on. The idea of inferior and superior becomes a way to deal with an underlying sense of not being good enough. (I may tell myself I am superior so I temporarily feel a little better about myself. I may tell myself I am inferior which feeds and supports the initial belief of not being enough. And, often, there is a mix of the two.)

What are some of the specific ways to understand what the quote points to?

The basic one is that to the extent we have investigated the ideas of superior and inferior – and to the extent we have found what’s more real and true, to the extent we have found healing for our own emotional issues that may otherwise make us invested in the ideas of inferior and superior, and to the extent we have aligned with reality and brought awakeness into these ideas and issues – we naturally don’t invest energy in the ideas of superior and inferior. We recognize that we are different in skills, maturity and so on but we don’t use this to feed ideas of inferior or superior.

There is one important element to this, and that is to recognize that any idea of inferior or superior is just that – an idea. It’s not inherent in reality. It comes from an overlay of thought, and the content of that overlay – the ideas of superior and inferior and what fits into each category – comes from culture.

Another helpful element is recognizing what we are, or for what we are to recognize itself. We can discover this spontaneously, or apparently following spiritual practice, or through inquiry like the Big Mind process or the Headless experiments.

For instance, through the Big Mind process, we may discover – and taste – that we are Big Mind. And Big Mind explores, experiences, and expresses itself in all the different ways we see in the world – as you and me and everything else. The “essence” of all of it is the divine, Spirit, or God. Nothing is inherently superior or inferior to anything else. (While, at the same time, it’s all different and we obviously have different levels of maturity, skills, insights, areas of expertise, and so on.)

There are also some stepping stones or supports that can be helpful for a while. For instance, at an ordinary human level, we can say that we are all 100% valuable no matter our behavior or human qualities. The more we take this in, the easier it will be to recognize differences between us while still recognizing that we are all 100% valuable.

In my experience, it’s very freeing to investigate these ideas of superior and inferior. Finding what’s more real and true for me is a relief. It feels like returning home. I am more free from placing people – including myself – on an inferior-superior scale, and I am more free from worrying about others doing that to me since I know it’s human-created and not inherent in reality.

Initial notes….

only in thought – superior / inferior
can recognize – better/worse in specifics and yet 100% valuable, equally valuable, inferior/superior only found in thought
very freeing, liberating, relief
– emotional issues, beliefs, identifications
– use as guide/pointer to notice when do not do it, and see what’s going on,

The basic one is that when we have investigated the ideas of superior and inferior – and when we have found what’s more real and true, when we have found healing for our own emotional issues that may otherwise make us invested in the ideas of inferior and superior, and when we have brought awakeness into these ideas and issues – we naturally don’t invest

….

There are also some important elements to this, and some stepping stones, that can be helpful.

In general, any ideas of better or worse are just that: ideas. They are created by thought and when they are believed, they have a “charge” on them. They are not inherently true.

At an ordinary human level, we can say that we are all 100% valuable no matter our behavior or human qualities.

As what we are – that which this experience happens within and as –

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