Quibbling about being enlightened or not
There had been quite a heated exchange between Paul and John around the topic of enlightenment, realization or whatever 'what is' is. Their conversation eventually ended up with Paul stressing to John,
'To become 'what is' - that is to become realized or enlightened - all beliefs must be dropped! Dig that!!!'
Quite a few insults already had been flung about between the two of them, during which exchanges all the while Paul kept underlining that he himself was invulnerable to any insult. Actually, while professing that, he attempted to insult John once again by pointing out that because John was still sensitive to insults, that John therefore could not be enlightened or even become so, unless, again, he dropped all beliefs, especially the belief that he could be suffering from insults.
John responded with,
'Paul, as far as being enlightened, it is you who are still in the before stage, I'm in the after stage!'
At that point Paul felt that he finally could respond with great vindication... which he did as follows:
'That's definitely a belief your ego feeds on. Plainly, you believe that the words of others can insult someone and cause discomfort. As long as you believe that, you cannot be nor become realized!'
Paul's assumption that John apparently can and does 'believe that words of others can insult', also speaks to the conclusion that Paul - possibly underhandedly and quite likely unbeknownst to him - also still believes that very same belief, the only difference being that Paul professes not to be affected by it - him being uninsultable - which Paul interprets as a mark of himself being enlightened.
Now it may be so that Paul is uninsultable, but that is not at all the same as Paul concluding that he himself has also 'dropped that belief'...., after all he still believes that because John was insultable that he therefore could not be or become realized.
Paul's own 'belief dropping' was thus incomplete - not radical - he had not really eradicated all beliefs. He himself had also not 'dug' it... not dug deeply enough and rooted it out.
What happens when belief eradication takes place
When all beliefs are dropped altogether - radically dropped - suddenly a deep insight into suffering (and insults!) results, an insight accompanied and exemplified by what we tend to recognize in bodhisattvic beings as 'compassion' - 'divine compassion' to be more precise.
Hence, it might be good for Paul (and John too of course) to inquire for himself if he had actually fully 'dug', applied and realized his own statement that 'all beliefs must be dropped to become 'what is', e.g. realized or enlightened.'
Of course the statement '...to become 'what is'...' is in itself flawed, so he might as well inquire into that at the same time.
Obviously one cannot '...become 'what is'...' Upon realization one simply recognizes that 'what is' is already the case, hence the Sanskrit mantras from ancient Indian wisdom writings: 'Tat tuam asi' and 'Tat sat' ('Thou Art That" and 'What is, is'.
Now what about 'becoming' and 'being'?
In early Sanskrit, in root words such as 'HU' or 'BU' (etymological roots from which the English 'being' and the German 'bin' and 'bist' derive) the distinct notions of 'being' and 'becoming' had not separated out yet. If anything, initially BHU or BU expressed those two later notions still simultaneously and indistinguishably. It shows that the 'wise ones of yore' recognized an a priori oneness in the energetics of being: 'stasis' and 'dynamis' were not separated out as in their realization of pure unadulterated being there was no need for that.
The need for that subsequent separation of meaning (e.g. 'being' vs. 'becoming') became relevant only after seemingly successful attempts at 'adulteration of being' by those who exploited their seemingly convincing but still illusive power over others - an exploitation that produced various dualist distinctions and divergences such as 'being vs. becoming', 'essence vs. existence', 'us vs. them', 'me vs. you', 'good vs. bad', 'I vs. ego', even 'punishment vs. reward', etc., ergo: anything to do with the antonymity: the affliction of conflict.
Purposely, those distinctions got rationally identified and justified by those perusing them, and henceforth they became engrammatically imprinted into minds made 'fallow' and 'dependent'.
When in that manner 'illusive estrangement from direct reality' (showing up as inner and outer conflict) had been brought about by the ploys of manipulating and maneuvering power abusers, the illusion of separation between 'being' and 'becoming' - in the sense of 'not being good enough who you are but having to become what you ought to be' was made to appear more real than the reality of simple and unconditional authentic being. ('Tat tuam asi', 'Tat sat')
Only after the illusive estrangement from direct, authentic unconditional and immediate being (the affliction of conflict in suffering) was artificially forced into the minds of those that were manipulated and conditionally conditioned that way, became it important to point at the 'rip', the 'tear', the 'separation'. Thus the notions of 'becoming' and 'being' took on more and more distinct meanings and divergent connotations.
Ever since, more recent 'wise ones' (one of them being the Buddha) endeavored to help those who put themselves under their guidance, to let go of that illusion (the illusion of estrangement) by pointing at the dynamics of how that illusion was brought about, thus they enabled their 'students' to gain understanding and deep insight (vipassana) into what suffering is. 'Dukkha' 1 is the word for suffering that the Buddha used and 'vipassana' or the gaining of deep insight eventually became the practice that made their followers reclaim their original freedom and thus... stopped them from being 'followers' any longer.
1 Etymologically 'dukkha' can be understood as being 'led astray or cut away from oneself'.
Dukkha consists of two parts duk- and - kha.
The Sanskrit root DUK means 'to go' or 'to lead'. One can still find that root in English words like duct, seduction, conduct, production, etc. and in duke or... the Italian 'Il Duce' (Mussolini).
As for -kha in dukkha, the Sanskrit roots KA, GHA or KAD mean 'cut away' or 'fall away' as in 'cathode' or 'catastrophe.
Hence, the possibility of 'moksha', freeing oneself from dukkha, a return to one's authentic self, a return from that illusive quasi reality of being led astray, seemingly being lost to oneself, seemingly not feeling or being oneself.
Etymologically, it is possible (with quite a stretch actually :-) to connect 'moksha' (freedom) with the Sanskrit root 'MU' which has to do with 'mutteringly pulling a face', as in, 'Don't mock me' or 'Don't give me that look on your face.'
Humm, that's maybe what's behind that Zen koan, 'Show me your original face before your parents were born?'
But here I might also be stretching it a little too much; I might even be... pulling your leg.
Actually - no kidding now - 'moksha' is rooted on the Sanskrit MUK or MU, to cast away, to loosen, to shed.
Humm, come to think of it: 'MU!' doesn't that actually also appear in various other Zen Buddhist koan stories? Maybe I wasn't pulling anybody's leg after all.