When ignorance is overturned, it transmutes into enlightenment. It is like melting ice into water; it is not something apart and does not come from elsewhere. All is contained in a single moment of mind.
I seek a single moment of mind. And I find it, every single time, right where I left it. Right here. With me, in me, behind me, ahead of me, beckoning, waiting, answering and asking at once.
A single moment of mind, leading to single moments of mind, pointing to single moments of mind. Moments of mind that, collectively, constitute my self, intermingled with your self, and scattered amongst the infinity of Self itself.
The third of the Four Great Vows of the bodhisattva says: “Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.” Or, as Thomas Cleary interprets it, it is the vow “to study all truths” (Cleary, Glossary to Stopping & Seeing, 1997). Of the four, this is the one that most clearly resonates with me: the search for Truth within all truth, the quest to ask all the answers through learning all the questions. My questions, your questions, their questions, today, tomorrow, and yesterday. The questions go on, they are continuous; how can the answers be other than the questions through which they are sought?
Chih-i also wrote: “Temporary expedients do not contain the true; it is the true that contains temporary expedients.” In other words, whereas we often envision answers as endpoints, in reality they are mere waystations in an ongoing journey. Today’s answer, properly understood, becomes tomorrow’s question. And so on. Infinitely. We always find, so we never arrive. And this is life. And life is enlightenment.
Another quote, from Stargate SG-1: “If you immediately know the candlelight is fire, then the meal was cooked long ago.” To assume I have the answers is to miss the point of the questions asked: it is to choose a solution before hearing the problem; it is to decide my fate before knowing who I am. It is to abandon the journey before it ever begins.
The path to Truth is not linear, although we often believe it so. The path to Truth is not even really a path. We stand simultaneously at the beginning and the end; the beginning is the end. The path to Truth is not a path. Truth is the path, and the path is truth: no more and no less. It is not ahead; it is not behind; it is not outside of us. Truth is not a destination, it is a realization.
We are never really there, because we are already here. We never really arrive, because, in truth, we never really left.