Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment, Realization!!!
Lynn, on another thread, asked THE BIG QUESTION!!!
Well, if you had never in your life tasted sugary, vanilla ice cream, yet asked someone to describe --- in words alone --- the coolness and sweetness of that, could it be done? I dare say not! The only way to truly understand what is the taste of that ice cream is to taste it on one's own tongue. So, anything said in words will not capture the experience.
Originally Posted by Lynn
That being said, however, the closest that words can come to conveying the experience, I believe, is through writings such as Master Dogen's Genjo Koan and the like (small plug, as I am currently discussing the Genjo daily on the Leaf blog). The Genjo Koan, I believe, is both a description of what is perceived during the Realization of Truth ... plus, it is a road map leading us to the experience of all that, through our Zazen.
If you are asking, Lynn, whether Kensho is like a dream or a hallucination, I dare say not. When it is known, its presence is as ordinary as a pair of eye glasses that were perched right on your brow though you hunt everywhere for them. Simply place them on your nose, and the ordinary is seen as the wonder that is. It's as simple as the sweet taste of that vanilla on your own tongue. No need for golden Buddhas floating on Lotus Flowers, choruses of angels upon heavenly clouds and such ... it is this very Suchness on the tip of one's tongue.
Go with me through the Genjo Koan and, I expect, you will get a feel for it (or, if you know the place already, a good guide to the scenery).
As was pointed out by many, yes, in the Soto School we tend not to make a big deal about 'Kensho'. Even the word can be misleading, and is, as Jun said, "to see the original nature" right here. I like to say there's a very nice, very wondeful "Aha Experience", and these come in all sizes big and small. Most of us (especially most of us doing Zazen for any time) probably have had the "Aha Experience" here and there in life, even if just the proverbial "time stood still" of watching a beautiful sunset or awakening from bed on a Spring morning. Even the "Big Kensho" are typically not made into a "once and for all" big deal in the Soto School, and we just tend to take them as a reference point, a bit of a peek at something (a peak experience peek?), before moving on with life. (The Rinzai folks tend to shoot for Kensho more than Soto folk, although both Rinzai and Soto style Zazen can lead to such things and the Rinzai folks also take them, usually, as stepping stones on the path ... not the end of the path).
But, in Soto practice, the key matter is not "Kensho". Nor is it some miraculous "Satori' that "once you've got it, once and for all, your done and the job is finished". That is a grave misconception found in many Buddhist story books that mislead with their "happily ever after" style. It is like saying that the diamond (really, clusters of diamond insights, large and small) are ready for wearing merely by pulling them out of the ground. No, a diamond is ever the diamond, and that does not change in the least. But, it must be cut and polished to fit onto our own finger.
Thus, it is, instead, the long haul of living life and making the realizations of Zazen the foundation for life, day by day. Practice never ends or should end ... not so long as the heart keeps beating in this world.
How to tell the difference between True Realization and a dream, a fantasy, an hallucination (some mystics, all through time, have been prone to the latter and have often confused one for the other)??? I think that a dream or a fantasy is eye candy, and will capture our attention for a time with its wild colors and images ... talking dragons and flying elephants, a disney movie that lasts for a time. We tend to think, in our boring and struggling lives, that the ordinary is just ordinary and, thus, "Enlightenment" must look like Oz or Candyland. Some teachers, mystics prone to epilepsy (and Buddhist story books written by imaginative authors) would lead us to think we are looking for that, wild feelings and fantasies right out of a children's story book.
Do not be so easily dazzled. When it is truly present, you will know the difference ... more fantastic that all the flying dragons, right here in the ordinary. I would say.