Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

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Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby Challenge23 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:06 pm


During my practice..more doubts have come up. How odd, huh? :smile:

One of the things that has worried me is what, exactly, Enlightenment is at a "brass tacks" level. One of the definitions that I have seen come up over and over again is that one becomes Enlightened when they destroy their Ego or eliminate the sense of "I".

One thing comes to mind that worries me.

If Enlightenment is the elimination of the Ego or I, how would an Enlightened being do mundane things? For example, even though there may be disagreement in regards to what the Buddha said exactly, we do know that after Enlightenment the Buddha walked from place to place, communicated with people, ate food on his own, etc. How did he do that if he didn't have a separate "I"? As in, how does that work out on a mental level? As an unenlightened being, when I do something in my head it is something like, "I get up, walk into the kitchen, get out the bread, knife, peanut butter, and jelly, etc." There is a lot of entity that I think of as "I" doing things with objects that I see as external. I believe that becoming a Buddha doesn't make one some sort of vegetable unable to interact with the outside world(otherwise we would only have praeka Buddhas and I wouldn't be typing this) but from the traditional definition of Enlightenment verses Ego that seems to be the only option that really makes any sense. Now, if Enlightenment is not the elimination of the Ego or "I" then what is it, exactly?

Also, please note that defining Enlightenment in the negative isn't really effective, so saying Enlightenment is not X, Y, or Z doesn't say what it is. Just like saying something isn't a cat, dog, or houseplant doesn't define it in the same way that saying something is a chair does. I add that because almost all of the definitions of Enlightenment and Nirvana that I have read define it in the negative(not suffering, not unpleasant, not this or not that).

Thank you for your help.
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Re: Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:44 pm

I don't think the Buddha ever used the term 'enlightenment'.
He described the end of suffering and the end of the cause of suffering.
So, try the same questions , but apply that instead of the word "enlightenment".

"Ego" is the experience one has of their place in the middle of everything.
How can you destroy that?
Instead of using the word "destroy", try "liberate".
It is a bit more accurate.
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Re: Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby DarwidHalim » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:33 am

Challenge23 wrote:Also, please note that defining Enlightenment in the negative isn't really effective, so saying Enlightenment is not X, Y, or Z doesn't say what it is.

We have to know that it is not the intention of prajnaparamitha sutta for example, not to express thing in the positive or affirmative way. But, it is because you cannot define the thing at all.

When you define something in the positive way, it give rise a sense of self. If you can define something, you are having self that you can define.

But, reality has no self. HOw do you want to define something which is not there?

You can define something as such or such or such or such. But, no matter how many ways you define, none of them will be true.

That is why Prajnaparamitha sutta teach us everything in the negative way. TO wake us up, please stop please stop wondering how to define this.

It is not because we don't want to define this reality in the positive way, but it is because we simply cannot define it. Just because there is no self in all appearances of dependent origination.

THere is nothing for you to define.

THere is also no such thing as there is something which is undefineable.

It is because you have nothing, that is why you cannot define that.

People confuse because when we say there is nothing, for them it is completely non-existence.

They cannot know inside the appearance of dependent origination, you actually cannot find anything.

That is the consequence of dependent origination.

Nothing there, but appearances are there. Appearances are there, but you cannot define it, because in dependent orignation, you cannot have the self (entity) for you to define.
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I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
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Re: Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby LastLegend » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:53 am

If you don't suffer anymore, you are liberated.
If you suffer a lot because you think about yourself alot.

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must not be afraid of losing your bodies and your lives―
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Re: Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby Seishin » Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:02 pm

Challenge23 wrote:If Enlightenment is the elimination of the Ego or I, how would an Enlightened being do mundane things? ..... How did he do that if he didn't have a separate "I"? ....

The idea of there not being an "I" is quite difficult to grasp the first time we come across it. The reason for this is because we invest this "I" in everything we do and think, to the point where we cannot even imagine a life without this "I", just as you pointed out.

Try reading about sunyata (emptiness)

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Re: Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby Wesley1982 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:27 pm

Perhaps someone who is in awareness of the truth or is in enlightenment sees value in the ordinary things of life.
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Re: Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby White Lotus » Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:43 pm

sutta Nipatta 761: ''the holy ones know it as highest bliss, the personality's cessation, repugnant to worldly folks but not to those that clearly see''.
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Re: Ego, Enlightenment, and Activity

Postby Jinzang » Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:24 pm

If Enlightenment is the elimination of the Ego or I, how would an Enlightened being do mundane things?

The same way unenlightened beings do them. Enlightenment doesn't destroy your ego. It lets you realize you never had one to begin with. All things arise through causes and conditions. The ego, which as we usually conceive it, stands apart from these, has no bearing on what we can or cannot do.
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