What is Enlightenment?

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:31 pm

All due respect, I am not convinced about the idea of 'attaining enlightenment' in that sense of enlightenment being the distant goal of thousands of lifetimes. I think in some ways that is a mythologized view of it. Mythologized versions have some truth but they are also easily misinterpreted.

As for 'greater and lesser attainments' how can that not feed the sense of the ego, 'I am one who is going to attain great enlightenment'? The idea is self-contradictory.

I find the whole path is one of surrendering,not one of attaining. Certainly it takes constant effort and commitment, it is not an easy way or an easy thing to undertake. But it is not so much about attaining as about yielding - or at least that is how it occurs to me.

That is why even though it is true in some ways that enlightenment is a distant reality, it is also a present one, and has to be. Unless whatever efforts we make are informed by that perspective from the beginning, then we might be striving in the wrong direction.

None of which is to make the claim that 'I am enlightened' or anything of that kind. That is one of the ideas that has to be surrendered in my view.
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:32 am

Thought cannot reach this state of truth,
here feelings are of no avail.
In this true world of Emptiness
both self and other are no more.
To enter this true empty world,
immediately affirm "not-two."
In this "not-two" all is the same,
with nothing separate or outside.

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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby lobster » Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:30 am

None of which is to make the claim that 'I am enlightened' or anything of that kind. That is one of the ideas that has to be surrendered in my view.


Surrendering what is unattainable or unrealised is no transcendence. Enlightenment is giving up the sense, experience and even giving up 'not being enlightened'. :woohoo:
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby muni » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:11 am

I find the whole path is one of surrendering,not one of attaining.


Surrendering the clinging, surrendering unnecessary thoughts, surrendering me. A me-idea knowing about home( nature) and so going to attain it, looks for me actually leaving home and so not recognizing being home. But knowing, serving to recognize ( I wrote find :rolleye: ) being home is using it and let it go, is there said.

Truth arising from itself...The idea wave is going to attain the ocean.

But this is only blah blah. Just somehow I appreciate the quote very much. :namaste:
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby ovi » Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:34 am

Instead of a goal, one could perhaps think of it as a path to walk on through this life? Could Buddhist enlightenment be considered the highest form of the psychological notion of self-actualization?
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:09 am

ovi wrote:Instead of a goal, one could perhaps think of it as a path to walk on through this life? Could Buddhist enlightenment be considered the highest form of the psychological notion of self-actualization?


It could be. Such a notion would be fundamentally wrong however.
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Gwenn Dana » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:32 am

It appears to me that enlightenment is nothing you do or achieve.

Best wishes
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby kirtu » Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:45 pm

Gwenn Dana wrote:It appears to me that enlightenment is nothing you do or achieve.


Which would mean either than enlightenment doesn't occur or that it occurs randomly and without causes.

However enlightenment does not occur without causes. It is the result of the accumulation of merit and wisdom which both result in the purification of the mindstream. There are two Buddhist teachings which depart in varying degrees from this view: Zen Buddhism and Dzogchen, both of which are based, also in varying degrees, not just on one's Buddhanature (one's capacity for enlightenment), but one's actually present but still obscured or at least unrecognized Enlightenment. And even in those schools we have purification and the accumulation of merit as well as the recognition of one's innate enlightened wisdom on an experiential basis sort of as an "apprentice Buddha".

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Jinzang » Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:58 am

Enlightenment is the full blossoming of all the qualities inherent in us as well as the removal of all the temporary defilements which obscure them.
Lamrim, lojong, and mahamudra are the unmistaken path.
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:08 am

It depends on who you ask, and where you stand.

From some perspectives, awakening is indeed the end result of a long process of many lives.

From another perspective, it is the realisation of something that has always been the case.

Those perspectives are not necessarily contradictory. You have to work with both of them.

The downside of the first perspective is that if you are not awakened already, then how can you form the right view and go in the right direction? What are you doing in the meantime?

The downside of the second perspective is, what need is there to undertake any practice, study or reflection when the goal is already here.

But there is truth in both of them.
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:42 am

kirtu wrote:Which would mean either than enlightenment doesn't occur or that it occurs randomly and without causes.


You're right it doesn't occur. It isn't an event that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby kirtu » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:15 am

Vajraprajnakhadga wrote:
kirtu wrote:Which would mean either than enlightenment doesn't occur or that it occurs randomly and without causes.


You're right it doesn't occur. It isn't an event that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.


That's just saying that we can't say that events have beginning, middles and ends in general. Just prior to realization, a sentient being is unrealized. Just after realization, a sentient being develops or deepens realization (and this can take years). There is then a marked change in that being. However they are not yet enlightened.

My comment quoted above is not intended to actually permit the possibility that enlightenment doesn't occur. It does occur. The point is that it does not occur without cause. We plant tomatoes and get tomatoes. We nurture the seed of Buddhahood and eventually Buddhahood blossoms.

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"Only you can make your mind beautiful."
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:34 am

kirtu wrote:
Vajraprajnakhadga wrote:
kirtu wrote:Which would mean either than enlightenment doesn't occur or that it occurs randomly and without causes.


You're right it doesn't occur. It isn't an event that has a beginning, a middle, and an end.


That's just saying that we can't say that events have beginning, middles and ends in general. Just prior to realization, a sentient being is unrealized. Just after realization, a sentient being develops or deepens realization (and this can take years). There is then a marked change in that being. However they are not yet enlightened.

My comment quoted above is not intended to actually permit the possibility that enlightenment doesn't occur. It does occur. The point is that it does not occur without cause. We plant tomatoes and get tomatoes. We nurture the seed of Buddhahood and eventually Buddhahood blossoms.

Kirt


No really, it doesn't occur. It isn't an event. There is no before or after. It simply is.
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby kirtu » Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:24 am

Vajraprajnakhadga wrote:No really, it doesn't occur. It isn't an event. There is no before or after. It simply is.


No. From the perspective of the Southern School, Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened during the night under the Bodhi Tree. From their perspective he really wasn't enlightened when he sat down and was really enlightened before daybreak.

From the perspective of some of the Northern School his example is slightly problematic: he was already enlightened eons back but demonstrated deeds to guide others to enlightenment. Nonetheless, when he was a Sea Pirate and basically walked into a hell realm after being shipwrecked, he wasn't enlightened. The resulting experience was the first time he has raised compassion for other beings in his mind and had begun the process of enlightenment. All the Northern Schools hold that Shakyamuni Buddha went through a succession of lives in which he was not enlightened but gradually purified his mind.

Milarepa was not enlightened when he began his spiritual journey. He became enlightened. This is the same with all of the Mahasiddhas.

Therefore from the perspective of the relative, specifically from the perspective of time, we can look at their lives as phases from non-enlightenment to enlightenment.

In the Zen tradition kensho, the initial breakthrough, arises usually as a startling experience that can then take many years to work through. But moments before the kensho experience, the person who is going to experience it is untransformed. Subsequent to kensho, the person is transformed or begins transformation.

So we can in fact tie enlightenment to an experience or a series of experiences and situate them in time.

This does not negate Nagarjuna or the perspective that all sentient beings are already enlightened, etc. Sentient beings experience suffering and create it's causes, etc. If enlightenment could not in some sense be related to time, or if it just were, then all beings would already be enlightened *and* experience that enlightenment *and* would not suffer or create the causes of suffering.

"To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment."

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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Vajraprajnakhadga » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:50 am

kirtu wrote:
Vajraprajnakhadga wrote:No really, it doesn't occur. It isn't an event. There is no before or after. It simply is.


No. From the perspective of the Southern School, Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened during the night under the Bodhi Tree. From their perspective he really wasn't enlightened when he sat down and was really enlightened before daybreak.

From the perspective of some of the Northern School his example is slightly problematic: he was already enlightened eons back but demonstrated deeds to guide others to enlightenment. Nonetheless, when he was a Sea Pirate and basically walked into a hell realm after being shipwrecked, he wasn't enlightened. The resulting experience was the first time he has raised compassion for other beings in his mind and had begun the process of enlightenment. All the Northern Schools hold that Shakyamuni Buddha went through a succession of lives in which he was not enlightened but gradually purified his mind.

Milarepa was not enlightened when he began his spiritual journey. He became enlightened. This is the same with all of the Mahasiddhas.

Therefore from the perspective of the relative, specifically from the perspective of time, we can look at their lives as phases from non-enlightenment to enlightenment.

In the Zen tradition kensho, the initial breakthrough, arises usually as a startling experience that can then take many years to work through. But moments before the kensho experience, the person who is going to experience it is untransformed. Subsequent to kensho, the person is transformed or begins transformation.

So we can in fact tie enlightenment to an experience or a series of experiences and situate them in time.

This does not negate Nagarjuna or the perspective that all sentient beings are already enlightened, etc. Sentient beings experience suffering and create it's causes, etc. If enlightenment could not in some sense be related to time, or if it just were, then all beings would already be enlightened *and* experience that enlightenment *and* would not suffer or create the causes of suffering.

"To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment."

Kirt


Time is illusory. That is what I meant when I said there is no before or after.
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Gwenn Dana » Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:27 am

kirtu wrote:
Gwenn Dana wrote:It appears to me that enlightenment is nothing you do or achieve.


Which would mean either than enlightenment doesn't occur or that it occurs randomly and without causes.



Maybe it is already there?
That does not prevent one from not realizing.
Well I understand you saying that encountering the absolute is a single event, and with appropriate intention one can establish a process which will calm down all those thought/feeling bubbles in the mind. Stop valuing what we see as good or bad. But where would you ever put this process to an end? It is infinite.

Can one turn around actor and action there, to reframe it, as there is a point, where the world of things and phenomena spits "you" out and it becomes more and more difficult, attempting to "go back"? Who should go if the illusion of a goer no longer arises?

What I see suggested that there is a simple realization that can turn "you" away from this process altogether. Spit out is spit out. So even if such valuing occurs in the mind, it does not stick. There is a realization, so that it can't grab a hold of "you". Even if such thought occurs, it is seen, then it drifts off. That does not deny that those kinds of thoughts in the mind may become less also as they're not usually kept alive. I understood that to be "enlightenment". Now you may say that is not "full buddhahood".

I understand that in the lower vessel's Arhatship some suggest there still may be an underlying "motivation" prevailing, out of which ego can arise, and only turning your love "to the benefit of all beings" will eliminate that motive, so ego has no chance of sticking around anymore. I would assume that even the Arhat realizes, that ego will reappear, when such a motive prevails.

Or do I see something wrong there?
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Gwenn Dana » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:09 am

I wanted to add here "nature spits you out yet there is nothing that could be spit out".
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby lobster » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:27 am

So we can in fact tie enlightenment to an experience or a series of experiences and situate them in time.


Very good post from kirtu and correlates with my experience. The convention is that the ignorant talk about what they have not experienced and those who have an experience in place and time do not draw attention to it. However convention is just that. :popcorn:

Enlightenment is not a myth, is unmistakeable, it happens. If you feel that you have undergone such a transformation :woohoo:

. . . you will find the 'what is this' and continual 'evaluation' or transformation takes the rest of your life. :twothumbsup:
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby Wayfarer » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:00 pm

Lobster wrote:Very good post from kirtu


+1
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Re: What is Enlightenment?

Postby HappyChan339 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:56 pm

"Both formerly & now, it is only dukkha that I describe, and the cessation of dukkha."— SN 22.86


so the goal, the enlightenment, is no dukkha. :shrug:
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