Somebody wrote me with a very interesting question when I posted on another thread this folk song ... about not knowing where we came from or are going when we die. They thought Zen, Enlightenment and such was supposed to clear all that up!
I wrote to them that Enlightenment absolutely, thoroughly, no doubt-about-it clears everything up (that's why the Way has been going strong for timeless millenia! Those old Zen Masters weren't fibbing).
And at the same time, it doesn't clear everything up.
How to explain?
Suppose this life and world is like a big ice cream Sundae! It is sweet and rich (although there may be some things in there ... like the nuts and cherry pits ... that are hard to chew and digest). This Way will teach one through and through that you are the Sundae and the Sundae is you in the richest, most wondrous sense, as much as the vanilla, chocolate syrup and cherry (the nuts two). It is a life-world-you-everyone-Buddha Sundae. A Onedae. Yummy! Dig In!.
(however, it may not provide certain other information ... like the license plate of the truck that delivered the ice cream to the ice cream store, the address of the ice cream making company, or the name of the president of the company and his wife's shoe size. Maybe science or other religions will have a thing or two to say about some of that, but we Zen folks are happy to savor ... to be ... the life-world-you-everyone-Buddha Sundae whatever the case). ++
++ although everything in moderation ... even life's hot fudge sauce!
Or (going from the sweet to the salty) suppose this life-world-self is like the ocean, and this Practice lets us dive right in ... be immersed in ... be so intimately whole with the sea ... that the sea is me, me is the sea without the least separation or divisions. Both the stormy sea or the clear days, is a big, whole, flowing Budda-sea-flowing-dance! Every taste of sea salt right this moment holds all the saltiness of all the sea, everywhere and for all time, right on the tip of our tongue ... for that taste is the taste of everything.
However, even so, who knows where this sea stretches, the name of every fish, how many grains of sand on every coastline? What are its chemical properties? Where did the sea come from, and where (if anywhere) is it flowing to? Who (if anyone) made the sea?
But even though we may not know all such things, we realize that where it flows is where we flow ... because we are the "flowing" in the most intimate sense. We may not know exactly where from or where to, but we have some deep suspicion that it is a good direction. We are like waves that rise up for a time, then fade back ... our life and death. But if the waves are just the water, so what is there to die? We might say that we come back as the other waves that spring from our wave ... and on and on. Dying is all wet!
However, whatever the case, what is most important is how we swim now, with grace and balance. Don't flip about, choke and sink! .
Anyway, this Way provides many answers, clear and true. For other things, it answers that we can be right at home with not knowing, nor needing to know. Letting the mysteries be.
Something like that.
I love this song, and letting the mysteries be: