- Satori is a Japanese term often confused with enlightenment (bodhi). It literally means "understanding," akin to the term epiphany. In Japanese Zen Buddhist tradition, it refers to an intuitive flash of sudden awareness, considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana, the result of enlightenment. It is typically juxtaposed with the related term kensho, "seeing one's nature" [as not separate from others or other things]. These tend to be briefer glimpses, while satori is considered deeper. It has been described as similar to awakening one day with an additional pair of arms and only later learning how to use them. Charlotte Joko Beck explains further.
What are we binding? First of all, we bind our self to itself -- because even within ourselves we're separated. And we bind ourselves to others, and eventually to all things, sentient and insentient. And we bind others to others.
Now that sounds nice! But in fact we don't very often see life that way.
And any true religious practice is to see once again that which is already so: to see the fundamental unity of all things, to see our true face. It's to remove the barrier between ourselves and another person or another thing -- to remove or to see through the nature of the barrier.
People often ask me, If this fundamental unity is the true state of affairs, why is it almost never seen?
The main cause of the barrier, and the main reason we fail to see that which is already so, is our fear of being hurt by that which seems separate from us.
Our innate capacities are exerted in the direction of avoidance, in the direction of complaining, of being the victim, of trying to set things up so that we maintain control. And the true life, the fundamental unity, escapes us.
Now in many religious traditions, and particularly in the Zen tradition, there is great stock placed in having what are called "openings" [satori] or enlightenment experiences. Such experiences are quite varied. But if they are genuine they illuminate or bring to our attention that which is always so -- the true nature of life, the fundamental unity.