awakening myth?

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awakening myth?

Postby daniel p » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:37 am

Is awakening (in the Buddhist sense) a myth?
It is assumed that many great teachers were awakened. But were/are they really? One is generally discouraged from making enlightenment the focus or goal of one's practice. But occasionally we find ourselves questioning why we are even practicing.There may be some benefit, but if there is no enlightenment then why practice? Why even consider the teachings? Or to phrase it another way, does the path leading to the cessatation of dukkha actually lead to the cessatation of dukkha?
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Astus » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:24 am

How could it be a myth? It is an essential part of Buddhism, the Third Noble Truth. Without enlightenment Buddhism is meaningless. Having faith in the attainability of liberation is part of taking refuge in the Triple Jewel. So, I don't know where you got those ideas, but they're mistaken.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Sherab » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:02 am

daniel p wrote:Is awakening (in the Buddhist sense) a myth?
It is assumed that many great teachers were awakened. But were/are they really? One is generally discouraged from making enlightenment the focus or goal of one's practice. But occasionally we find ourselves questioning why we are even practicing.There may be some benefit, but if there is no enlightenment then why practice? Why even consider the teachings? Or to phrase it another way, does the path leading to the cessatation of dukkha actually lead to the cessatation of dukkha?

I have the good fortune of meeting and being close to a few masters who were really extraordinary. They were definitely different compared to ordinary people, both in personalities and in abilities. I've personally experienced instances which showed that the masters could read the future, read minds etc. These are what are termed as "common" powers. Though they are "common" powers, they are by-products of the realization of the masters.

As far as I am concerned however, the most important thing is that the Buddha's teachings is the only one where the major doctrines are internally consistent and make complete sense to me, unlike religions built around a creator god.

So yes, there are masters who are awakened and yes enlightenment is possible for all of us, if only we care to practise the teachings.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby KeithBC » Tue Sep 07, 2010 4:56 pm

daniel p wrote:Is awakening (in the Buddhist sense) a myth?
It is assumed that many great teachers were awakened. But were/are they really? One is generally discouraged from making enlightenment the focus or goal of one's practice. But occasionally we find ourselves questioning why we are even practicing.There may be some benefit, but if there is no enlightenment then why practice? Why even consider the teachings? Or to phrase it another way, does the path leading to the cessatation of dukkha actually lead to the cessatation of dukkha?

It is a myth in the technical Religious Studies sense of the word: a narrative that gives meaning to a facet of life. Probably not what you meant, though. You meant: Is it fiction?

The only way to find out for sure is to try it yourself. You won't fully experience enlightenment until you experience it. But, if you are paying attention, you can tell if you are getting closer to it. You won't experience the total cessation of suffering immediately, but you can detect that your suffering is getting less. that is a clue that you are heading in the right direction. That is why the Path is a path, not an instant magic spell.

Om mani padme hum
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:26 pm

Hmmm..."One is generally discouraged from making enlightenment the focus or goal of one's practice."

By who?...we ourselves are the greatest impediment to making enlightenment the focus of our own practice to my personal experience.
I cannot blame this on others or allow others to make a choice I myself must make.

As to elimination of or the removal of the crooked wheel so that all rolls straight and true....what in my present reality would presume that such may not be accomplished? Is there some rule to crookedness that implies all suchly considered must also be crooked....of course not.

As we can perceive a crooked path and a crooked wheel on a otherwise straight cart we can likewise envision and thusly perceive a totally straight path and a straight cart.
If we care to believe enlightenment and removal of all suffering is our lot.....that is our lot. We fulfill our prophesy as we are always inclined to do, we being responsible essentially and finally responsible for the reality we perceive and thusly the reality "we" present in.

We cannot remove suffering by attempting to exclude suffering....that is certainly true.
To understand the nature of suffering that only may release from suffering.

So believe what you want....I really don't care. But to answer the question....removal of suffering is entirely possible and suchly is the possibility of awakening which provides such. ONe is the back side of another. Other means such as exculusion will not provide that. We must seek to understand this thing before us, all of it.

Kindly don't spout lofty names of sutra sutta schools of thought in this issue, as that would only waste my precious time. Engage me in the real to support your position.

I thusly..... engage your position.... state it is wrong.... name my basic contention,,, and with logical means will devolve all counters you present.

I challenge what you claim...defend it, what you claim.
If not...take my advice, my personal advice.....yes, it is entirely possible.
I await your response.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Chaz » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:02 pm

daniel p wrote:Is awakening (in the Buddhist sense) a myth?


The answer to that depends on what you mean by "myth".

Or to phrase it another way, does the path leading to the cessatation of dukkha actually lead to the cessatation of dukkha?


Of course it does. Why wouldn't it?

That, of course, is just me talkin'.

As KeithBC points out you can find out for yourself. You don't need anyone here to give you the answer.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby daniel p » Wed Sep 08, 2010 6:45 am

So logically,
if it is a myth I could practice dilligently my whole life and never know it is.
or if it is not a myth then I could practice dilligently my whole life and maybe know it is, if I progress to the end.

The reason I have raised the issue is because someone (a former theravadin monk) made the statement "enlightenment is a myth!" I personally am unable to refute this. This is not to say he is correct or incorrect. But I have never heard anyone testify the opposite. That is "enlightenment is real! I am awakened!" because if they did, how would we react? I dont know if I am capable of recognising an enlightened being if they sat on me!
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Indrajala » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:03 am

daniel p wrote:So logically,
if it is a myth I could practice dilligently my whole life and never know it is.
or if it is not a myth then I could practice dilligently my whole life and maybe know it is, if I progress to the end.

The reason I have raised the issue is because someone (a former theravadin monk) made the statement "enlightenment is a myth!" I personally am unable to refute this. This is not to say he is correct or incorrect. But I have never heard anyone testify the opposite. That is "enlightenment is real! I am awakened!" because if they did, how would we react? I dont know if I am capable of recognising an enlightened being if they sat on me!


If you have cancer there is no guarantee that the medical treatments prescribed will cure your illness, but nevertheless you assume the doctors know their art well and you take it on faith.

With Buddhism it is like this in a sense. You assume the Buddhadharma is actually capable of producing the desired effect (reduction of and eventual elimination of suffering) after investigating, hearing and contemplating it. If you initiate some kind of genuine practice and you observe you psychologically suffer less, then you can cultivate reasonable conviction that the model works. Eventually you know the model works based on experience and first-hand knowledge of it, and faith or conviction is not the dominating motivation.

Thus it is said you enter through faith and with wisdom cross over the river of suffering.

Ideally too you meet men and women who are well advanced and demonstrate compassion and wisdom. They serve as models or examples of success.

Beyond that what else can be done?

If you have a disposition towards Buddhism you'll practice.
If you don't, then you don't and won't practice.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Sep 08, 2010 7:56 pm

To add a bit to the excellent reply by Huseng....it is absolutely true the interium result of the spiritual path is increased happiness and release from many many sufferings. All who follow Buddhism regardless of particular school could attest firmly to that as fact. Essentially Buddhism in its foundational core emphesizes compassion. With increased compassion and compassionate effect, comes human happness....that is undeniable. Buddhism provides that result.

As to the second part.."But I have never heard anyone testify the opposite. That is "enlightenment is real! I am awakened!" because if they did, how would we react?"

As a point of logic, since logic is mentioned, a I, or individual, never becomes factually enlightened. A buddha, the teacher buddha, that lived 2.5k years ago, was once asked what he was...was he this, was he that, was he human....his response was...he was awake.

At core to Buddhism is the notion of dissolution of self concept and self other determination as expressed in a foundational teacheing the 12 links of dependent origination. So basically in this field you essentially never have a individual attaining a completely enlightened state as the enlightened state is effect of consideration of noninherant existant quality and.or nonself hood. So thusly in this aspect buddhism differs. The quesstion posed is actually a impossible one logically considered in the context of buddhism.
A I, never becomes enlightened. Perhaps your friend was mistaken on his concept of such things.

To mention as qualifier to my statements...I am but a layperson with little understanding of things and no spiritual accomplishment of any sort. For your consideration. So my replies are of that sort, which may be similiar to your level of understanding of this thing...so that may actually be a benefit. But I am by no means a authority on things buddhist. I do study, and practice buddhist things... that is about it.


To the second part of the second part..how would one/we react? In a buddhist context we would react most probably, as our tendency, our inherant habitual tendency, to react to such things, would dictate, with some personal variance. The Buddha upon becomeing enlightened(in the nonself context I describe) pretty immediately met a person on a trail in the foreest, who saw him, stopped, and then kept on walking. He came upon his fellow meditators who were ascetics, and initially they thought him strayed and were to treat him with distain. Upon coming closer they saw the buddha had certain perceptable qualities about him which spoke of unspoken understandings....so they prostrated before him. A cousin of the buddha tried in fact to kill him with a bolder.....so the response to a enlightened person may vary.

More is our response to one seemingly a tale of ours, not theirs. Like a stone or river we may come upon in a forest.... they are as they are. How we are.... determines the result of the circumstance of our encounter with them, most commonly.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby daniel p » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:50 am

chaz said:

Of course it does. Why wouldn't it?

That, of course, is just me talkin'.

As KeithBC points out you can find out for yourself. You don't need anyone here to give you the answer.[/quote]

Indeed I might, but it will probably take decades, or even more than a lifetime, if the anecdotal evidence is anything to go by. Not to say it would be joyless and unfruitful, but perfecting oneself is one hell of a task.
But hey, if these are the terms and conditions of buddhism, and life, who am I to argue? I'm really just trying to clarify the buddhist position.

Sherab said:

"As far as I am concerned however, the most important thing is that the Buddha's teachings is the only one where the major doctrines are internally consistent and make complete sense to me, unlike religions built around a creator god."

Obviously this is an expression of your personal view and is one held by many other buddhists. However people of other faiths claim this also. One thing I have learned from exploring this thread and other discussions is that because there is no absolute certainty in the existence of "enlightenment", Buddhism is ultimately as much a leap of faith as any other religion.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Nosta » Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:57 pm

Probably you are correct, but so far, Buddhism is much more complete as a religion than any other.

We cant compare Jesus to Buddha for instance. Read the bible an read the suttas, you will see that buda shakyamuni, is a Buddha.

Read this ebook and you will see why one cant compare minor religions, like catholic church, to greater Paths like buddhism:

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/beyond-belief02.pdf
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Sherab » Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:01 am

daniel p wrote:The reason I have raised the issue is because someone (a former theravadin monk) made the statement "enlightenment is a myth!" I personally am unable to refute this. This is not to say he is correct or incorrect. But I have never heard anyone testify the opposite. That is "enlightenment is real! I am awakened!" because if they did, how would we react? I dont know if I am capable of recognising an enlightened being if they sat on me!

I think the monk is speaking the truth in a very provocative manner. There is indeed no enlightenment if you think that enlightenment is something that can be obtained. The Buddha has pointed in in various ways that if enlightenment is something that can be obtained it is not enlightenment. Yet without this enlightenment that cannot be obtained, there can be no liberation from the cycle of existence as pointed out by the Buddha himself in his rather famous utterance:
"There is, monks, an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated. If there were not that unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, there would not be the case that emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated would be discerned. But precisely because there is an unborn — unbecome — unmade — unfabricated, emancipation from the born — become — made — fabricated is discerned."
— Ud 8.3
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Kyosan » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:59 am

daniel p wrote:So logically,
if it is a myth I could practice dilligently my whole life and never know it is.
or if it is not a myth then I could practice dilligently my whole life and maybe know it is, if I progress to the end.

Like others have said, you need to experience for yourself whether the dharma is real or not.

If you sincerely practice, I doubt it will take you a whole lifetime to know. You probably won't experience complete enlightenment but will be able to see that you are heading in the right direction and there are real benefits. Bad things that happen to you won't bother you as much. You will be more in control and won't be driven by external events as much. You will have insights into the void nature of all things.

daniel p wrote:The reason I have raised the issue is because someone (a former theravadin monk) made the statement "enlightenment is a myth!" I personally am unable to refute this. This is not to say he is correct or incorrect. But I have never heard anyone testify the opposite. That is "enlightenment is real! I am awakened!" because if they did, how would we react? I don't know if I am capable of recognising an enlightened being if they sat on me!


You have never heard anyone say that it is real, but you won't be able to say that anymore because I'm telling you that it is real. I am not completely but partially awakened. I'll give you a hint that might help. Motivation is very important and if you practice for the sake of all sentient beings rather than for self enlightenment that will help your practice.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby ground » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:07 am

daniel p wrote:So logically,
if it is a myth I could practice dilligently my whole life and never know it is.
or if it is not a myth then I could practice dilligently my whole life and maybe know it is, if I progress to the end.

As an alternative you might practice with a so called "awakening mind" (bodhicitta) and experience your practice being worthwhile from the first moment you generated this mind. One characteristic of this mind is that it is utterly non-selfcentered since the thought "what is or when do I get my benefit?" never appears to it.

daniel p wrote:The reason I have raised the issue is because someone (a former theravadin monk) made the statement "enlightenment is a myth!"

Do not argue with the ordinary that are intent on negating the dharma. You will never succeed in convincing them.
The only dharma subject that would be accessible to proof through logical reasoning is "liberation from suffering/dukkha". So if you restrict the meaning of "enlightenment" to this meaning then you might succeed in debate ... however you should train in logical reasoning first. But still, if the opponent is not willing to accept your conventions of reasoning, you cannot convince him. So what is the use of all this?
You only can convince yourself, i.e. eliminate your own doubt.


Kind regards
Last edited by ground on Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Huifeng » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:19 am

daniel p wrote:Is awakening (in the Buddhist sense) a myth?
It is assumed that many great teachers were awakened. But were/are they really? One is generally discouraged from making enlightenment the focus or goal of one's practice. But occasionally we find ourselves questioning why we are even practicing.There may be some benefit, but if there is no enlightenment then why practice? Why even consider the teachings? Or to phrase it another way, does the path leading to the cessatation of dukkha actually lead to the cessatation of dukkha?


What do you mean by "myth"?
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Individual » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:58 am

daniel p wrote:Is awakening (in the Buddhist sense) a myth?
It is assumed that many great teachers were awakened. But were/are they really? One is generally discouraged from making enlightenment the focus or goal of one's practice. But occasionally we find ourselves questioning why we are even practicing.There may be some benefit, but if there is no enlightenment then why practice? Why even consider the teachings? Or to phrase it another way, does the path leading to the cessatation of dukkha actually lead to the cessatation of dukkha?

I don't think this is a useful question or that there even is a valid answer.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby catmoon » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:22 pm

I know lots of people who think Buddhism is a load of hooey, and I know lots of people who think quite the opposite. So there is diversity of opinion out there.

Fortunately for the Buddhist, the claims of Buddhism are to some degree testable. If one practices for a year or two, effects should become visible. A reduction in anger, attachment and a deeper understanding of the nature of the world should be seen.

These are effects I have seen in my own practice, and others have noticed and commented on them too. So I take this to mean that the enlightenment process is actually moving forward. So for me, it's not a myth, it's something happening in my life and in the lives of many of my friends.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby spiritnoname » Sat Nov 06, 2010 8:33 am

OMG.
Is :quoteunquote: Awakening :quoteunquote: a myth?

:rolling:

Look, we know completely that Buddha Shakyamuni was enlightened when we attain enlightenment because his teachings guided us there.

And until then, we can know by our practices and the results we get. More and more I practice and have a great sense of admiration and joy because Buddha Shakyamuni taught a path that I couldn't have made up on my own in a million years. My practices have given me results, it would be unbearable to go back to how I was and how much I suffered unnecessarily, I'm sure I'm heading in the right direction and I'm eager to see where the rest of the path leads.

Also until then we can know logically, we can know because we see and acknowledge karma. Suffering has causes and those causes are things we can affect, ultimately we can put an end to suffering because we can put an end to the causes of suffering.
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Cobotis » Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:46 am

Hi.. :)

Once one has awakened... awakening becomes a myth... so to speak.... as does enlightenment... and all conceptual detail...
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Individual » Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:57 am

Cobotis wrote:Hi.. :)

Once one has awakened... awakening becomes a myth... so to speak.... as does enlightenment... and all conceptual detail...

Yes, this is a certain expression of truth, but is that helpful here? It might only cause confusion.

To reiterate what Cobotis just said: Enlightenment is a myth, because there is no mind. There is no mind, because there is no self. No self, no mind, no enlightenment.

This is not conventional, logical, or straightforward; it's something you need to meditate on, to think really, really hard, often to the point of insanity.
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