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Doubting Enlightenment - Dhamma Wheel

Doubting Enlightenment

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Laurens
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Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Laurens » Sat Jan 30, 2010 11:49 pm

Hello all,

When it comes to it we essentially have to take other people's word on enlightenment. There is no evidence that we are pursuing something real.

Is there really such a thing as enlightenment?

Why do you believe that?

**DISCLAIMER!! I personally am not having such grave doubts myself, but I thought I would post the question, to see if it ends up with any interesting discussions**
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

rowyourboat
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jan 31, 2010 12:57 am

I believe it because I see progress in that direction in my own mind
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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David N. Snyder
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:14 am

Like RYB says, progress in myself. But also the Tipitaka, teachings of the Buddha. The spirit and the letter of the teachings show the stamp of one great genius. I don't think any other scholar at that time or after him could have produced such profound teachings without being fully enlightened. Scholarly knowledge, especially at that time could not have produced such genius.
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Laurens
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Laurens » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:20 am

"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:25 am


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David N. Snyder
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:27 am

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Laurens
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Laurens » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:07 am

Good answers so far :)

You mention the Brahma-vihara, does that equate to enlightenment? Or can one have those qualities and be unenlightened?

How does one tell between the near-enemies and the Brahma-vihara? Is is plausable that one could delude oneself into thinking that the near-enemies are the real thing?
"For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Carl Sagan

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retrofuturist
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:59 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Guy
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Guy » Sun Jan 31, 2010 3:14 am

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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Chula
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Chula » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:29 am

I think this sutta answers your question:

MN 27: Cūḷahatthipadopama Sutta - The Shorter Discourse on the Elephant Footprint Simile
"This, too, is called a footprint of the Tathagata, a scratch mark of the Tathagata, a tusk slash of the Tathagata, but a disciple of the noble ones would not yet come to the conclusion, 'The Blessed One is rightly self-awakened; the Dhamma is well-taught by the Blessed One; the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples has practiced rightly.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Until we actually attain Arahantship, we only get footprints and scratch marks alluding to the elephant (the Buddha's Awakening). This is why saddhā (conviction) is essential for progress in the practice.

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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby pt1 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:36 am


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Dan74
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:32 am

Since defilements are dependently arisen, when conditions that give rise to them end, so do the defilements. I think most of us here have seen this work to some extent in our lives, so why could it not work till its completion?

In the end it's down to ignorance. Once we see into the whole charade, the house of cards that is the notion of the self that gains and loses, collapses and with it the rest of the chain.

I'm convinced. The rest is up to us - do we really want to? To me, that's the $1mil question rather that the existence or possibility of enlightenment.

It's sort of like a smoker asking is it possible to give up smoking. Is it possible to give up all attachment?

Yes, if you really mean it.

_/|\_
Last edited by Dan74 on Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
_/|\_

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Guy
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Guy » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:35 am

Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm

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retrofuturist
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:50 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

rowyourboat
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:53 am

With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Kim OHara
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:13 am

If enlightenment is a result of incremental 'reduction in craving, aversion and delusion', can one flip from 'unenlightened' to 'enlightened' or can one only, un-dramatically, progress from 'less enlightened' to 'more enlightened'?
If the former, how can the flipping point be defined?
If the latter, the answer to the OP is negative, simply because there is no definable state of enlightenment. (I know Guy already said there is no such thing but he didn't give a reason; maybe he has a better reason than this one?)

:meditate:
Kim

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appicchato
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby appicchato » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:42 am


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Dan74
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Dan74 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:46 am

_/|\_

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Stiphan
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Stiphan » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:03 pm


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Guy
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Re: Doubting Enlightenment

Postby Guy » Sun Jan 31, 2010 1:14 pm

Hi Kim,

Perhaps this is just a case of semantics but the point I was trying to make was that Enlightenment is not a [conditioned] "thing" to be grasped. It is the unconditioned state to be realized when we let go/give up/renounce all forms of craving/clinging. This is by no means an absolute statement, it is just a way of looking at Enlightenment that I have found helpful in my own practice since it helps counter-act the overly goal oriented way of thinking that many of us (including myself) suffer from. Enlightenment can also be referred to in the positive sense as "Ultimate Happiness" as well as other phrases which other people may find to be a skilful way of looking at it.

On the other hand, I'm not Enlightened yet so I may be way off! I suspect that when we "get" Enlightened such semantics will just be completely trivial.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm


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