"Salvation" and "Enlightenment"

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by CobblersApprentice, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Onward and Upward!

    But if enlightenment is just an intellectual knowledge-acquisition exercise, then @CobblersApprentice 's book-shelf is enlightened.

    However, I've been itching to quote Kant on this, and you just gave me the cue:

    Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] “Have courage to use your own understanding!”–that is the motto of enlightenment.​

    (To be fair, in German there are separate words for spiritual and intellectual enlightenment, "Erleuchtung" vs. "Aufklärung" - Kant meant the latter, which is also the German word for explaining sexuality to children for the first time, or for investigating a crime)
     
  2. Bringing together disparate chords on this thread - of "gushing forth", of some "taking a side road", of falling into wells, salvation and enlightenment, even "understanding without guidance" - an autobiographical note. Once a member of a rather intense Christian congregation, we would gather on sunday mornings with placards and a loudspeaker, find a suitable street corner, then begin. Our main speaker loved most the placard that asked the question "Where will YOU spend eternity?" Microphone in hand he would begin: - "Yes my friends, where will you spend eternity? There are only two choices, heaven or hell. Many say that they will be happy in hell as many of their friends will be there (here he would chuckle to demonstrate his sense of humour) but, no, friendship is a God given gift and hell is where God is not. No my friends (friends?) you will not find friends in hell." Here he would pause awhile, to allow the full depths and subtleties of his theology to sink into the ears of his listeners, which by then had often been reduced to a stray dog or cat - the rich in spirit having disappeared down a convenient side alley. Well, so it went on. Once a drunk guy stumbled by while we were in full swing. He cried out "Bastards!" and thinking back, I can't help but see his point. This was actually at the point in the sermon where our speaker would proclaim the NT verse "he who had the Son had life but he who has not has no life". After passing us, the drunkard turned and threw out "we all have the Son."

    Which gets me back on topic. If we indeed "all have the son", if we were all "chosen before the foundation of the world"..........why do anything. What exactly is the point? Which was the conundrum faced by the zen master Dogen, who subscribed to the Mahayana notion of original enlightenment. And so, he asked, why did all the Buddhas of the past tread the path of practice?

    "Love has no why" says Eckhart.

    Loving history, I often dip into books of various ages and seek out the lives of the common folk. I am always amused and inspired by many of the rhymes and jingles that were passed around, which would often debunk the pretensions of the proud, the ultra-seriousness of the creeds. This displays what I would call a "folk wisdom", ingrained perhaps.

    Whatever, myself I question "arrival", and any state of "being" where I would see myself as "teacher". Pure Land itself, ideally, is very egalitarian. All can learn from each other and sometimes lean on each other. Compassion is an exchange between equals. Pity reaches down. I prefer compassion.
     
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  3. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Some disjointed thoughts:

    Jesus taught the parable of the treasure hidden in the field. You may already own the treasure buried in your field (original enlightenment), but you still have to dig up the entire field to get at it (path of practice). That's what the heavenly kingdom is like, according to Jesus, and it applies to enlightenment as well, as I understand him.

    The Buddha claimed to have acted out of compassion, in answer to the "why" question.

    The Dharma, our birth-right, is timeless, but we live in time, exploring and applying it piece by piece.

    The Holy Guardian Angel of Magick is our future enlightened self. It's always there, (already enlightened) but we have to cross the abyss first.
     
  4. I like disjointed thoughts, yet something in me always seeks clarity which in a sense is seeking to bring everything together in some sort of existential Theory of Everything.

    I know - as I am now - that the word "arrival" jars on my sensitivities. Phrases like "the road goes on forever" and - more "mystical" perhaps - that "the journey itself is home" I can surrender to.

    In my mind "arrival" - however conceived - will always evolve and morph into some sort of hierarchical power structure, those who have "arrived" taking the driving seat.

    Once, reading about the Friends of the World Buddhist Order (FWBO) of Sangarakshita (aka Dennis Lingwood from Romford), I found that members wore different colour sashes to denote different levels of "attainment". Horrific!
     
  5. On a more vague note, I also link "arrival" with "expectation", an expectation that actually corrupts the present moment. I'm interested at the moment in the zen idea of "meaninglessness" as being the "ground", which also links with God as being seen as "radical freedom" (see the post by Thomas on the Merton thread, "The Gift of Freedom")

    "Love has no why" again.

    Another guy I have opened to is Kiyozawa Manshi and his writings "The Great Path of Absolute Other Power" and "My Faith". In short, he has absolute faith in Reality-as-is (aka the Tathagata, he who has thus come) as "absolute compassion, absolute wisdom and absolute potential". "Arrival" is not staying as we are.

    Anyway, must go.
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi CA —
    This question spans a lot of ground, not least the understanding of origins in the East.

    In the West, the idea of cycles was the template, everything was cyclical, the concept of linear time is a modern construct.

    So the Greek philosophers struggled with the idea of an original perfect or paradisical state, 'the Golden Age', etc., and a subsequent, never adequately explained, Fall.

    The Hebrews made a good stab at it in Genesis, and the metaphysical model still holds, and is probably the best viable solution, and underpins a later Christian metaphysic, which revised a Platonic triad and answered all its incongruities.

    Where I have something of a raw nerve is the modernist error which tends to read 'we all have the Son' as 'we all are the Son', as if 'the Son' was something in our possession, or inhering in our nature.

    It's a failure to properly understand the nature of Immanence/Grace ... ?
     
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  7. Related, as I see it to Merton's assertion (to Aldous Huxley in an exchange of letters) that any genuine mystical experience must at heart be a contact of two liberties. Quite how Merton would have advanced from this position - if at all - after his further study of "eastern ways" is obviously conjecture.

    Again, for me, as I see it, it revolves around the Person, the true person (obviously not the ego self as such)

    Involves a correct understanding, experience of, anatta (no-self)

    "We all ARE the son" I associate with New Age mumbo jumbo and I come to see more cleary that such has little, if anything, to do with the Buddhadharma.

    Thank you. I really must go. Tescos has just delivered and now I must pop into town.

    PS. I did not understand your previous sentence beginning "The Hebrews". Beyond my knowledge.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2019
  8. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Again, for me, as I see it, it revolves around the Person, the true person (obviously not the ego self as such)
    Care to elaborate? These words I can't help reading as in psychology.
     
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  9. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    I think the Jungian reading would fit nicely with this discussion.
     
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  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    CA I just think another welcome back is in order.
     
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  11. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    There is this verse in the bhagavata-purana:

    We know that You are the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead,
    who manifests His transcendental form in the uncontaminated mode of pure goodness.
    This transcendental, eternal form of Your personality can be understood only by Your
    mercy, through unflinching devotional service, by great sages whose hearts have been
    purified in the devotional way. 3.15.47

    Bhakti-vedanta Swami comments on this verse:
    The Absolute Truth can be understood in three features—impersonal Brahman, localized
    Paramatma, and Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here it is admitted that
    the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the last word in understanding the Absolute Truth. ...
    here it is confirmed that all the variegatedness of the absolute platform is constituted of
    shuddha-sattva, pure goodness. In the material world, any quality—goodness, passion or
    ignorance—is contaminated. Even the quality of goodness here in the material world is
    not free from tinges of passion and ignorance. But in the transcendental world, only pure
    goodness, without any tinge of passion or ignorance, exists; therefore the form of the
    Supreme Personality of Godhead and His variegated pastimes and paraphernalia are all
    pure sattva-guna.

    Such variegatedness in pure goodness is exhibited eternally by the Lord for the satisfaction
    of the devotee. The devotee does not want to see the Supreme Personality of Absolute Truth
    in voidness or impersonalism. In one sense, absolute transcendental variegatedness is meant
    only for the devotees, not for others, because this distinct feature of transcendental variegatedness
    can be understood only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord and not by mental speculation or
    the ascending process. It is said that one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead
    when one is even slightly favored by Him; otherwise, without His mercy, a man may speculate
    for thousands of years and not understand what is actually the Absolute Truth.

    This mercy can be perceived by the devotee when he is completely freed from contamination.
    It is stated, therefore, that only when all contamination is rooted out and the devotee is completely
    detached from material attractions can he receive this mercy of the Lord.
     
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  12. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Continued...
    A person may be a great academician, scholar or professor, but he cannot speculate and
    expect to understand the Absolute Truth, for his senses are limited. The cause of all causes,
    the Absolute Truth, can be known from the Absolute Truth Himself, and not by our ascending
    process
    to reach Him. When the sun is not visible at night or when it is covered by a cloud
    in the day, it is not possible to uncover it, either by bodily or mental strength or by scientific
    instruments, although the sun is there in the sky. No one can say that he has discovered a
    torchlight so powerful that if one goes on a roof and focuses the torchlight on the night sky,
    the sun will then be seen. There is no such torchlight, nor is it possible.

    The word avyakta, “unmanifested,” in this verse indicates that the Absolute Truth cannot be
    manifested by any strain of so-called scientific advancement of knowledge. Transcendence is
    not the subject matter of direct experience. The Absolute Truth may be known in the same
    way as the sun covered by a cloud or covered by night, for when the sun rises in the morning,
    in its own way, then everyone can see the sun, everyone can see the world, and everyone can
    see himself. This understanding of self-realization is called atma-tattva. Unless, however, one
    comes to this point of understanding atma-tattva, one remains in the darkness in which he
    was born. Under the circumstances, no one can understand the plan of the Supreme
    Personality of Godhead. The Lord is equipped with varieties of energies, as stated in the
    Vedic literature (parasya shaktir vividhaiva shruyate). He is equipped with the energy of
    eternal time. Not only does He have the material energy which we see and experience,
    but He has also many reserve energies that He can manifest in due course of time when
    necessary. The material scientist can simply study the partial understanding of the varieties
    of energies; he can take up one of the energies and try to understand it with limited knowledge,
    but still it is not possible to understand the Absolute Truth in full by dint of material science.
    No material scientist can foretell what is going to happen in the future. The bhakti-yoga process,
    however, is completely different from so-called scientific advancement of knowledge. A devotee
    completely surrenders unto the Supreme, who reveals Himself by His causeless mercy.

    As stated in Bhagavad-gita, dadami buddhi-yogam tam. The Lord says, “I give him intelligence.”
    What is that intelligence? Yena mam upayanti te. The Lord gives one the intelligence to cross
    over the ocean of nescience and come back home, back to Godhead. In conclusion, the cause
    of all causes, the Absolute Truth, or Supreme Brahman, cannot be understood by philosophical
    speculation, but He reveals Himself to His devotee because the devotee fully surrenders unto
    His lotus feet. Bhagavad-gita is therefore to be accepted as a revealed scripture spoken by the
    Absolute Truth Himself when He descended to this planet. If any intelligent man wants to know
    what God is, he should study this transcendental literature under the guidance of a bona fide
    spiritual master. Then it is very easy to understand Krishna as He is.
     
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  13. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Continued...

    We cannot discover the mysteries of the Lord by our mundane endeavors;
    they are only revealed, by His grace, to the proper devotees. These mysteries are
    gradually disclosed to the various grades of devotees in proportion to the gradual
    development of their service attitude. In other words, impersonalists who depend
    upon the strength of their poor fund of knowledge and morbid speculative habits,
    without submission and service in the forms of hearing, chanting and the others
    mentioned above, cannot penetrate to the mysterious region of transcendence
    where the Supreme Truth is a transcendental person, free from all tinges of the
    material elements. Discovering the mystery of the Lord eliminates the impersonal
    feature realized by common spiritualists who are merely trying to enter the spiritual
    region from the mundane platform.

    The truth of these mysteries was revealed by the descending process, without the help
    of the ascending one. The Lord’s mercy descends to a devotee like Brahma
    [and, through Brahma, to Narada, from Narada to Vyasa, from Vyasadeva to Shukadeva]
    and so on in the bona fide chain of disciplic succession.
     
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  14. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    [The Personality of Godhead, Shree Krishna, said:] “What more shall I say to you?
    I live throughout this cosmic manifestation merely by My single plenary portion.”

    [Grandfather Brahma said:] “As the one sun appears differently situated to different seers,
    so also do You, the unborn, appear differently represented as the Param-atma in every
    living being. But when a seer knows himself to be one of Your own servitors, no longer
    does he maintain such duality. Thus I am now able to comprehend Your eternal forms,
    knowing well the Param-atma to be only Your plenary portion.”

    Lord Narayana, who dominates the transcendental world, is full in six opulences.
    He is the Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the goddess of fortune.
    Adi-lila 2.23

    The Personality of Godhead is He who is described as the Absolute Whole in the Vedas,
    Bhagavatam, Upanishads and other transcendental literatures. No one is equal to Him.

    Through their service, devotees see that Personality of Godhead, just as the denizens
    of heaven see the personality of the sun.

    PURPORT
    The Supreme Personality of Godhead has His eternal form, which cannot be seen by
    material eyes or mental speculation. Only by transcendental devotional service can
    one understand the transcendental form of the Lord. The comparison is made here
    to the qualifications for viewing the personal features of the sun-god. The sun-god
    is a person who, although not visible to our eyes, is seen from the higher planets by the demigods, whose eyes are suitable for seeing through the glaring sunshine that surrounds him. Every planet has its own atmosphere according to the influence of
    the arrangement of material nature. It is therefore necessary to have a particular
    type of bodily construction to reach a particular planet. The inhabitants of earth
    may be able to reach the moon, but the inhabitants of heaven can reach even the
    fiery sphere called the sun. What is impossible for man on earth is easy for the
    demigods in heaven because of their different bodies. Similarly, to see the
    Supreme Lord one must have the spiritual eyes of devotional service.

    The Personality of Godhead is unapproachable by those who are habituated to
    speculation about the Absolute Truth in terms of experimental scientific thought,
    without reference to the transcendental vibration. The ascending approach to the
    Absolute Truth ends in the realization of impersonal Brahman and the localized
    Param-atma but not the Supreme Transcendental Personality.
     
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  15. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    If a Bodhisattva had amnesia ---that would dukk'd-up!
     
  16. I think, if you are familiar with the various psychological terms, that you could give a better clarification/elaboration than myself. I'm more into asking questions and my reference to the "true Person" was more along the lines of just where the next questions in Inter-faith dialogue will be found to reside; this rather than me hinting/suggesting that I had any answers, least of all had come to any conclusions.

    Even mention of the ego self as not being the true Person is problematic, in as much as Suzuki states that following the "return to paradise" we shall find ourselves the same old Tom, Dick or Harry we have always been (or maybe, Earl Grey or Darjeeling) This, though, as far as I can see, would relate to the words of T.S.Eliot (who was conversant with the Christian mystics and eastern thought) that the "end of all our exploring will be to return to the place where we started and know it for the first time." Though now not as created robots but as radically free? Where "the rose and the flame are one."

    There is a poem, Resurrection, by Vladimir Holan...

    "Is it true that after this life of ours we shall one day be a awakened
    by a terrifying clamour of trumpets?
    Forgive me God, but I console myself
    that the beginning and resurrection of all of us dead
    will simply be announced by the crowing of the cock.

    After that we'll remain lying down a while....
    The first to get up
    will be Mother......We'll hear her
    quietly laying the fire,
    quietly putting the kettle on the stove
    and cosily taking the teapot out of the cupboard.
    We'll be home once more."

    Really, I'm a simple soul. That is it for me.

    Maybe, as far as progress in inter-faith dialogue, "east" and "west" are tunnelling towards each other and one day will meet at the centre. Then again, they might miss each other and come out on opposite sides, both none the wiser.

    Sorry, I am not over familiar with Jung, apart from knowing some of the key terms he used. I do know that early on he had what was for him an influential dream, of a giant turd crashing down upon a Cathedral. I will leave that for others to explicate.
     
  17. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Interesting. Can you explain this attitude some more?
     
  18. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Not sure - they would live in the Eternal Now, after all.
     
  19. Some might wonder if the Buddha"s message would appeal to a masochist
     
  20. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Since the "person" can only be revealed by personally approaching and revealing themselves to the seeker.

    In the mundane case, I make this comparison, changing the key words:

    We cannot discover the mysteries of the Magnificently Beautiful woman by our mundane endeavors;
    they are only revealed, by Her grace, to the proper paramours. These mysteries are
    gradually disclosed to the various grades of paramours in proportion to the gradual
    development of their service attitude, said she.
     
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