One of the points argued by Jundo in the recent exchange between Jundo and Chet was that true realization manifests itself in our day-to-day behavior, and that how we can judge a person's spiritual wisdom is by how he behaves. A truly realized person would be kind, humble, and gentle, of inoffensive speech and tactful manner.

I'm not sure I agree with this.

I don't think that personality type or conditioning has much to do with understanding or wisdom. Most people use a manner of speech that is natural to them. And others respond to it who are conditioned to think and speak in that way themselves. To me, this is just a testament to the value of upaya and the need for many, many different bodhisattvas who can speak to many, many different assemblies. The real Tower of Babel is our conditioning, which splits the singular fabric of reality into a billion different ways of seeing and speaking about it. The reason we can't understand one another is because of our different conditioning. But that conditioning is also our greatest tool in learning how to communicate our experience to others.

I think it's easy for any of us to want to pat ourselves on the back for how good or wise we are, and we use our own forced episodes of goodness as evidence. I know I'm guilty of it. "Look, see how kind I was to you and how unkind you were to me." Such behavior always has a hook in it, a hidden intent and agenda. We act good because of what we think it will get us, even if that is only kudos.

As far as I understand it, realization is letting go of grasping after results. It's letting go of our ideals about the saints we would like to be. It's letting go of our ideas about how we and the world should function, including moral ideals. Realization is seeing when we are grasping, and letting go. I don't think there's any particular moral flavor to it. We can grasp after "goodness" just as much as we can grasp after "sin" and "evil." We might be the greedy "taker" who can't stop taking and using and eating everything, or the saintly "giver" so high on spiritual pride and self-righteousness that we are sated on that alone. Each is just a role. The truth isn't switching one role for another, it's dropping the roles altogether and seeing that they're just constructions of the mind, imposed on reality.

I think bodhisattvas are hidden in plain sight everywhere. And I'm not just talking about people who perform random acts of kindness. A bodhisattva might smell of heavenly perfume and she might also stink of three day old b.o. and alcohol. What matters isn't what she smells or looks like, it's whether her words wake us up, help us drop the deluded thoughts and opinions we're clinging to. And who does this for whom tends to vary from person to person. Try to tell it to me with jazz, and I'll probably just look puzzled. Tell it to me with heavy metal, and I'll give you the horns. Whereas some people cannot hear the thunderous wisdom of the metal gods but hear a thousand cosmic secrets in the lines of jazz.

I think it is possible to wake up and I don't think it has to do with becoming a nicer person or learning how to live a quieter, happier life. Nothing wrong with those things. But attachment is attachment whether we're attaching to something nice or something nasty. Of course, it's wiser to attach to something pleasant smelling than something stinky, but that sort of conventional wisdom--which is not to be sniffed at--is not the same as realization, which is seeing clearly the arbitrariness of attachment and its inability to bring us the things we desire.

I think something is to be said for the value of being urged to see through convention and morality and belief, to let go into total freedom. Aleister Crowley called it "crossing the Abyss." Because it's terrifying to let go of the familiar things that give us comfort, like our reassuring ideas of right and wrong and what kind of people we are. But you have to go through the terror to get to the freedom on the other side.