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awakening myth? - Dhamma Wheel

awakening myth?

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible.
daniel p
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awakening myth?

Postby daniel p » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:08 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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tiltbillings
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:23 am


daniel p
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby daniel p » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:41 am

perhaps I should emphasise cessatation

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tiltbillings
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 07, 2010 6:43 am


Paññāsikhara
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:51 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

daniel p
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby daniel p » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:02 am

By that I mean an absolute end to suffering.
thanks for your reply by the way. I am tring to use this forum to thrash out a few doubts I have, promted by a statement someone (a former monk)
made. Words to the effect "Enlightenment is a Myth!" I have to concede that I could not counter this contention. It's a bit like trying to proove God exists.

daniel p
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby daniel p » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:06 am

Doubt is what helps me discriminate.

Kenshou
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Kenshou » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:11 am

Surely for every monk who thinks enlightenment is a myth there are 15 who think it isn't, why get hung up over it? If the path makes sense to you and looks like it ought to work, why not try it?

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tiltbillings
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:12 am


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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Reductor » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:13 am


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Modus.Ponens
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Tue Sep 07, 2010 9:34 am

What helps me when I'm in doubt is to remember the huge amount of happiness shining in the eyes of the experienced practicioners. They are the living witnesses that the path leads to happiness.

Plus, on a more mundane level, meditation has multiple health beneficts, such as anti aging and cardiovascular beneficts.

So even if there was no enlightenment there were still very good reasons to practice meditation abundantly.
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

5heaps
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby 5heaps » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:13 am

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Ben
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Ben » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:28 am

Hi daniel p and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!

I'm not sure what your monastic friend was getting at. Perhaps he was expressing his own frustration or perhaps it was a form of 'skilful means' to get his friends to focus on the here-and-now and great task of the eradication of dukkha. Or perhaps he really does feel that enlightenment, for him, is a myth. In which case its just his personal opinion and it doesn't make it right.

One way to answer your question is to say that until one has directly experienced enlightenment, it is still a notion that is taken with some belief, some confidence in the teachings, reason, and as one matures - one's own direct experience. Long standing practitioners will tell you that their experience infers the truth of enlightenment as they slowly but surely walk the path from gross dukkha to nanna (knowledge) and panna (wisdom).

I think its a mistake, as some people do, to conclude that since people within the Theravada generally do not openly discuss their attainment that it is something that is held to be unattainable. Apart from the Vinaya rules which forbid a monk to disclose his attainment to a layperson, it is held to be a significant faux pas in Asiatic Buddhist cultures and claims of attainment are treated with grave skepticism. And rightly so. Personal declarations of attainment indicate evidence of the disease of conceit. The Pali Canon tells us that we will know an enlightened person through the way they behave. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, "An arahant is what an arahant does".

You will find that many Theravadins have enlightenment as their goal. Others will cite the complete cessation of dukkha, while others it is just the path they walk. I don't think it matters what one cites as their goal so long as they are putting one foot in front of the other.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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e: [email protected]..

Shonin
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Shonin » Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:04 am

The benefits of practice - our own unfolding awakening and steady release from the grip of suffering - can be verified for ourselves and makes Buddhist practice worthwhile, whether there is such a thing as Enlightenment is an absolute sense or not.

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beeblebrox
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby beeblebrox » Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:03 pm


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tiltbillings
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:01 pm


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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Goedert » Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:53 pm


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Re: awakening myth?

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Re: awakening myth?

Postby christopher::: » Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:17 am

Last edited by christopher::: on Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

Bankei
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Re: awakening myth?

Postby Bankei » Wed Sep 08, 2010 3:21 am

Was the Buddha a Buddha?
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Bankei


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