Several practicioners of philosophy sat at a light dinner. The star student of the last few years finished his bowl of soup so that he could speak. Then he expounded to his roshi on his newest thoughts. His friends and his spiritual guide, the roshi, all nodded in agreement.
"Very good," said the roshi to his student. "Your words show great progress."
"But I have just had the same realization that your fellow teacher had last year!" the student complained. He felt his comprehension had marked the end of a journey. "Then you declared it was a sign of enlightenment. Now it is just progress."
"You have expressed the same realization. That does not mean it is the same."
"How can it be different?"
"You have expressed a realization of the mind. That is progress. When you understand it completely with all of your emotions, that is better progress."
"Is it still just progress? What can you say lies behind the mind and emotions?"
"Some might express it as a realization of the body, of the whole self. When you realize love for another with your mind, body, and all of your spirit, is that not close to total love?"
"Just close? Whether it's total love or total enlightenment, what progress can there be beyond realizing it with all of our mind, body, and spirit?"
"As you realize that your body extends outward as part of the whole universe, that everything you do is connected with everything else, then you can love someone with the force of the universe. Likewise, you can realize your enlightenment with the whole of creation. It is not a matter of understanding with your mind that you and the universe are the same. It is not a matter of the heart. It is not just an action of the body."
The student laughed. His friends looked bewildered. The roshi responded to the laughter with his own.
"When I completely realize that I am so very connected, maybe there will be no 'I,'" the student said when he was calm.
The roshi nodded. They sat in silence for a while. Then others continued their conversations.