Satori Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything


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Satori1 is a term drawn from Zen Buddhism, describing a spontaneously occurring state of enlightened awareness.

In layman's terms, satori is characterised by a sudden and unexpected feeling of knowing all the answers, with an accompanying, liberating revelation that the questions themselves are blindingly unimportant. Satori is an indescribable state: yet from the above description we can deduce that it must be a little like a male praying mantis finally understanding women.

States similar to satori exist in all human religions and are usually highly exclusive, requiring that the aspirant possess the highest moral character, an extremely developed mind, or an appropriate death certificate recognised by the sponsoring deity/cosmic force in question, countersigned by the appropriate religious official. Notable exceptions include the Sufis, who set out successfully to achieve this state simply by whirling around for prolonged periods at high speeds.

There are encouraging signs that the exclusivity of the authentic satori state is becoming a thing of the past, as many gurus, books and correspondence courses are now offering routes to enlightenment at highly competitive prices.

Below are offered some sample methods of achieving satori. Use them at your own risk.

  • Go on retreat
    To a hermitage on a Tibetan mountain for 30 years. Once a very popular option, the recent proliferation of air traffic, mountaineers, and Western spiritual tourists have made this option a good deal less rewarding.

  • Ingestion
    Of a wide range of proscribed drugs. You might achieve enlightenment this way, but you will end up dribbling a lot while you try and explain it.

  • Meditate
    Be prepared to be very patient. It can take a very long time, and it won't work until you stop trying - without stopping doing. Or is that undoing? Confused?

  • Be startled
    Out of your complacency and restrictive bad mental habits by a passing monk hitting you with a paradoxical Zen koan - such as 'what did your face look like before you were born?' Any snappy answers lose karmic points. This may be the age of irony, but that's just not playing the game.

  • Spin round and round and round
    Until you achieve oneness with the universe, or until you make yourself sick. For a protracted session, protective headgear is advisable. Using any artificial aids - such as a turntable, office chair, or set of rotating doors is cheating.

  • Love the world
    And act like you mean it. Trust us on this.

1Pronounced sah-taw-ree.

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