Awakening vs Enlightenment

Re: Awakening vs Enlightenment

Postby WuMing » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:39 pm

Jikan wrote:I didn't say that the word "enlightenment" was preferable, or that I use it. I'm just observing that some people evidently find it useful for some applications. That's their prerogative in my opinion. :shrug:

I didn't say that you use it, just asked if you have experience with it, in any way. ;)

Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Most definitely! Again, I am just wondering and hope for some clarification. I most certainly don't want to deny anybody's prerogative.

We haven't started on related synonyms or close-synonyms such as liberation, realization, &c.

Once started, :crazy:
But seriously, there are some more English/Western terms used in translation, which go back to the early translators, and which should be looked at again.
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai 弘法大師 in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
new translation: Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
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Re: Awakening vs Enlightenment

Postby Yudron » Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:28 am

Actually, one of my lamas really likes the word enlightenment, because of the double meaning of light--not heavy and not dark. At the same time he often says that most Westerners don't have a clue what enlightenment is... given our value on cognitive functioning, he feels that folks think enlightenment means a really smart person.
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Re: Awakening vs Enlightenment

Postby WuMing » Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:37 am

Yudron wrote: ... that most Westerners don't have a clue what enlightenment is... given our value on cognitive functioning, he feels that folks think enlightenment means a really smart person.

agreed. living awake does not mean to be a always friendly and loving numbskull, though compassion is an important aspect of living awake.
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai 弘法大師 in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
new translation: Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
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Re: Awakening vs Enlightenment

Postby jeeprs » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:16 am

I think saying that Westerners in particular don't understand, is cultural stereotyping. Most people don't understand, because we're puttajana, uninformed worldlings. That is not peculiar to Westerners, although I suppose Westerners are unique in making a virtue out of it. But there has always been an enlightenment tradition in the West, even if it is well-hidden to most people.
He that knows it, knows it not.
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Re: Awakening vs Enlightenment

Postby WuMing » Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:25 pm

jeeprs wrote:I think saying that Westerners in particular don't understand, is cultural stereotyping. ... there has always been an enlightenment tradition in the West, even if it is well-hidden to most people.

Nobody wants to generalize here, but it is noticeable that amongst Westerns there is a huge range of definitions/understandings what enlightenment is or isn't. But I do not really want to go into that discussion, although you are quite right that there is a hidden tradition of enlightenment in the West. Three generations back in my family history there is a female saint, approved by the catholic church. She must have been a remarkable person.
今以佛眼觀之佛與眾生同住解脫之床。無此無彼無二平等。
Now, observing with the eye of the Buddha, both the Buddha and ordinary beings are in the same liberated state. There is neither this nor that: there is only non-duality and identity.
- 空海 Kūkai 弘法大師 in Unjigi 吽字義 The Meaning of the Letter Hūṃ
new translation: Kūkai on the Philosophy of Language by Takagi Shingen and Dreitlein Eijō
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Re: Awakening vs Enlightenment

Postby jeeprs » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:36 am

Really? That is very interesting.

Sometimes you hear the word 'awakening' used in the sense of 'becoming aware of a reality hitherto unknown', without this necessarily implying a state of final realization or 'beatitude'. You might read of a character's 'sexual awakening' which refers to their discovery of their sexuality...or 'political awakening' in the case of those who suddenly feel called to political action or organization. In this sense 'spiritual awakening' might only be a new awareness of a spiritual dimension to existence which had previously been unnoticed. So after this event, one remains aware of the spiritual depth of life, even if you don't necessarily spontaneously follow the behavioural patterns of 'an awakened being'.

As regards the verse quoted above, when the Buddha says 'I am awake', I think the term used in the Pali was the word 'Buddha' itself, which signifies 'knowing' in that profound sense. So here the sense of 'awakening' is associated with 'the awakening of the wisdom eye', or the ability to discern the causes and conditions of suffering.

Of course in the case of the Buddha, this is one who has 'awakened' to the point of being able to penetrate the very depths of the human condition and see something beyond it altogether. But one can still be 'awakened' to some degree, whilst falling short of that great depth of insight. Even to recognize 'the truth of suffering' represents a degree of awakening which is not possessed by everyone (similar to the point expressed above by Seeker242).
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