Realization and Actualization

As used in this site, the term realization is about awakening, and refers to this singular moment where the sense of a separate self suddenly falls away and we ‘lose ourselves’ in an embracing wholeness. It has to do with experiencing this underlying No-thing-ness referred to as Shunyata; insight into this fundamental non-dual awareness is also called Prajna wisdom. Awakenings can occur with various degrees of clarity, and can stay with us for longer or shorter periods of time. An initial, or kensho experience, usually provides a glimpse into this non-dual truth; but without continued practice it inevitably loses its vibrancy and gradually slips into the world of thought and memory. However, with continued practice there can be deeper insights, and more penetrating realizations (satori experiences), which can help with the weaving of a realization into the fabric of our lives.

Actualization refers to this moment-to-moment process of living out of one’s realization, which in Japanese is referred to as mujodo no taigen. It has to do with the integration of this non-dual understanding into our dualistically conditioned thoughts, feelings, and actions. Roshi Kapleau would say, “Compassion is the working out of Wisdom in the world,” and this is really the process of actualization. For whatever reasons, some people seem to naturally actualize a selfless caring without practice or realization; others, even with some degree of realization, seem to lead lives largely governed by self-interest.

A central focus of this website has to do with exploring the ways that the punitive aspects of Western unconscious can work to obscure both realization and actualization. One of the many paradoxes in Zen training is the fact that an initial realization can actually bring to the surface certain kinds of unconscious forces which may get in the way of deeper realizations, and that can even feed into a certain kind of narcissism.