Enlightenment and Us

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by steveb1, Sep 30, 2019.

  1. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    Just a couple of idle questions:

    If you became enlightened - in the mystical, spiritual, Buddhist-Hindu sense - would your outward life change in a way noticeable to others? Or would you continue doing what you normally do while observing it and the world from your newly-awakened awareness?

    If you became enlightened, would you necessarily recognize it? Would you go to a guru, sensei, master or sage to help determine its validity?

    Would you keep your enlightenment to yourself?

    Would you retire to some secluded place?

    Would you keep your enlightenment to yourself, but talk about it when people notice that a change has come over you and make inquiries about the change?

    Would you go out into the world and teach spiritual truths by consulting your enlightened mind and invite others to see self and world as you now do?

    If you would decide to teach, would you teach like Krishnamurti did, without initiating students into discipleship? Or would you go the route of disciples, communes, ashrams, etc.?

    Thanks in advance to all who reply.
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Interesting questions! I don't have answers, but a question in turn:

    Which Krishnamurti do you mean, J. or U. G.?
     
  3. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    I meant "J" in Ohai.

    :)
     
  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Steve,

    You asked,

    If you became enlightened - in the mystical, spiritual, Buddhist-Hindu sense - would your outward life change in a way noticeable to others? Or would you continue doing what you normally do while observing it and the world from your newly-awakened awareness?

    I do not think it changes much at all. Anyone who is nearing enlightenment is already at a high spiritual level, so it does not mean much of a change in lifestyle from pre-enlightenment to post-enlightenment.

    If you became enlightened, would you necessarily recognize it? Would you go to a guru, sensei, master or sage to help determine its validity?

    The answer to this question really varies depending on which form of Buddhism or Hinduism you ask. Zen Buddhism is well-known for teaching that enlightenment is not much more than a kind of ‘aha experience’, more of a changing of attitude or frame of mind than anything else. I do not see it this way. The way I see it, enlightenment is a ritual that comes only at the end of a lot of very hard work. (It is said completing the training for enlightenment is the hardest thing we will ever do.) Only a particular type of master can bestow enlightenment, so no additional validity from another master is needed.

    Would you keep your enlightenment to yourself?

    Most people do. The world is not ready for enlightened people to go around announcing themselves.

    Would you retire to some secluded place?

    Some do, some don’t. It is not required. But what really matters is what happens after enlightenment, whether a person decides to go on to Nirvana or remain here as a Bodhisattva.

    Would you keep your enlightenment to yourself, but talk about it when people notice that a change has come over you and make inquiries about the change?

    It doesn’t work that way. Most common people cannot notice any difference between an almost enlightened person and an enlightened person.

    Would you go out into the world and teach spiritual truths by consulting your enlightened mind and invite others to see self and world as you now do?

    Most enlightened people who are teachers already were teachers, so no outer changes are visible to common people.

    If you would decide to teach, would you teach like Krishnamurti did, without initiating students into discipleship? Or would you go the route of disciples, communes, ashrams, etc.?

    The answer is the same as above. Some start spiritual communities, some don’t. But only a few 'people' can initiate other people into enlightenment. (Enlightenment is a ceremony and acknowledgment that human reincarnation is no longer necessary and forced upon that person. It is also the beginning of the ability to be conscious at the nirvanic level of consciousness.) Most people who have already achieved enlightenment cannot initiate other people into enlightenment. (Krishnamurti could not.) ‘People’ who initiate others into enlightenment are at a very high level and stopped having physical incarnations a long time ago.

    Thanks in advance to all who reply.

    May your journey along the path to enlightenment be auspicious.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
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  5. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    Nick, thanks very much for your informative and detailed reply, it is much appreciated. Yeah, only the topmost enlightened persons are able to initiate others, which is a standard that "seekers" should constantly keep in mind so as not to be bilked or have a "master" who is not at the very high level of which you speak. Thank you for giving me some new ideas to consider.
    :)
     
  6. KnowSelf

    KnowSelf Member

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    I can only speak to what I understand personally about enlightenment. Enlightenment is connectedness, it is completeness and oneness with what is. Enlightenment is love without boundaries or judgement. Enlightenment is forgiveness and reconciliation of past regrets and negativity, there is no freedom without forgiveness and reconciliation.
    Embrace negative and positive aspects of life in total acceptance. Love yourself and all that is to understand enlightenment and peace that is available to you.

    KnowSelf
     
  7. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    KS, thanks for replying. I especially like "Enlightenment is love without boundaries or judgement". Very nicely put.

    :)
     
  8. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Steve,

    It sounds like you are on the path to enlightenment. Congratulations.

    By the way, I believe most people in this world have not yet chosen to ‘be on the path’. Everyday they do not do so, they delay their eventual arrival at enlightenment.The opportunity will not exist forever.
     
  9. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    Thank you. Yes, the ego is a strong complex that is so fearful of its own loss or transformation that it balks at the idea of enlightenment, or turns a blind eye to it...
     
  10. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    True.

    Many Buddhists think the goal of life is for the entire person to be destroyed. Not true. We have both a lower self and a higher self. The goal is to destroy the lower self but keep and improve the higher self. The Ego is part of the lower self, and yes, it will fight any attempt by the person to discount it and focus on something higher. (This is why people always fidget when they try to meditate -- it is the Ego which causes the fidgeting as it senses a sudden loss of control.)
     
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  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Thanks for the discussion! I have more questions:

    What's the deal with denigrating the ego? What has it done to deserve the higher self's disapproval? What has the higher self done to deserve its appeal? Who gets to decide who is in the right, in this conflict of interest, and why?

    @steveb1 are you looking for an enlightened teacher? Or thinking of becoming one yourself?

    @Nick the Pilot Bodhisattva vows are taken after enlightenment? The very wording seems to imply that they should be taken beforehand, what am I missing?

    Zen students don't undergo a very rigorous training?
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  12. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    The Buddha taught that there is no real, immortal soul, thus his doctrine of Anatta, or No Self. His countrymen's religion took the opposite view of Atman/self and claimed that it is eternal and subject to reincarnation until it realizes its non-duality with Brahman.

    In Buddhism there is no Atman, so there is nobody to undergo reincarnation. Instead in Buddhism there is not reincarnation but rather rebirth. Rebirth is not the ego/self taking on another body, since there really was no self to begin with. It means that one's karma sets up the conditions for the coming into existence of a new being who will be circumscribed by those karmic conditions, but who will not be the person who set the conditions. Buddhism speaks of an eternal, Unborn, Unconditioned state and awareness, but not of an enduring ego-based person.

    I'm not looking for an enlightened teacher as I converted to Jodo Shinshu/Shin Buddhism almost ten years ago. Shin teaches utter reliance on Amida/Amitabha/Amitayus Buddha as our only enlightened master. Our enlightenment and Buddhahood will result not from our own actions, but from the Buddha's grace and merit. In Shin there are only teachers - senseis - but no enlightened people, since Shin's primary teaching is that because we are living in the predicted Age of Dharma Decline, we cannot attain Bodhi by self power methods, but only through the Buddha's merit.

    Therefore, we don't become enlightened in this life and we don't even become saints. But the Buddha himself does grant us two things:

    1) the state of non-retrogression whereby we do not fall out of our relationship with the Buddha and his Dharma,

    and

    2) Shinjin - "perfect faith" - which we express in Nembutsu recitation: "Namo Amida Butsu: I take refuge in Amida Buddha".

    This practice, unlike meditation, is not really a practice at all, as it does not grant merit or move us closer to Buddhahood (only Amida can do that), but only expresses our gratitude to the Buddha. As concerns Buddhahood itself, we attain it upon death when we enter the Buddha's Pure Land, and our ego-based personal nature drops away, and our hitherto dormant Buddha Nature takes its place. That is when we become enlightened Buddhas and commence to do the things that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do. The Pure Land is not the Christian heaven, not a static Forever spent in praise of a creator deity. Rather, it is a dynamic place - a kind of "Buddha Grand Central" - from which Buddhas operate compassionately in myriads of worlds to assist suffering sentient beings.
     
  13. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Thanks for the clarification. How do your OP questions fit in with Jodo Shinshu, then? If only Amida Buddha can grant enlightenment, and only upon birth in the pure land, then your questions seem highly hypothetical.
     
  14. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    My questions are hypothetical, mostly because I'm a student of comparative religion and enjoy collecting religious ideas and experiences for their nuances and beauty. Not too different from collecting rare art, stamps, or butterflies...
     
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  15. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Steve,

    I am glad I was able to show you another way of looking at things that is different than the way Jodo Shinshu members look at things.

    Are you a member of Honganji? Nishi? Higashi? Is your tradition’s main temple in Southern Kyoto? Have you visited it? Do you speak Japanese? 日本語が分かりますか?

    Cino,

    You asked,

    What's the deal with denigrating the ego? What has it done to deserve the higher self's disapproval?

    According to my belief system, the ego is at a lower level than where the Higher Self is. It is our job to be constantly trying to raise ourselves to a higher level of consciousness. Once we raise ourselves above the ego level of consciousness (and achieve consciousness at the Higher Self’s level), the ego will disappear, be discarded, never to appear again, never to be needed again.

    Who gets to decide who is in the right, in this conflict of interest, and why?

    Our Higher Self does. We are presently unable to be consciousness at the Higher Self’s level of consciousness. Once we become conscious at that level, trying to remain conscious at a lower level would be meaningless.

    "If only Amida Buddha can grant enlightenment..."

    I do not think it is their teaching that Amida Buddha grants enlightenment. I do not think the question even comes up in Shin Buddhism.

    Zen students don't undergo a very rigorous training?

    Yes, they do. It can be quite rigorous.



    That is ice cold water!

    But this does not include the idea that they need to complete a particular training that automatically rewards the person with enlightenment.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
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  16. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    Hi, Nick -

    Actually the two questions you cited were asked by another poster, not me. But it is true that in Shin, only Amida Buddha grants enlightenment. We cannot do it for ourselves, which differentiates Shin from all other Buddhist schools. We rely solely on the Buddha for redemption in this samsaric life, and for the fulfillment of our aspiration to Buddhahood in the Pure Land. The question is central to Shin, as it's an Other Power system only, with total reliance on the Buddha's grace and merit for salvation and the conferring of Buddhahood. As soon as we practice self power methods (meditation, contemplation, visualization, etc.), we have fallen away from true Shin doctrine.

    I acknowledge Hongwanji as the central organization of my sect. Sorry to say I have never been to Japan and don't speak Japanese. Also I'm a solitary practicer so I don't have a physical sangha. I get most of my Dharma teaching from John Paraskevopoulos, Josho Adrian Cirlea, the late Paul Roberts, George Gatenby, and a few othe Shin Dharma teachers.
     
  17. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Steve,

    I know that Honganji is nembutsu, nembutsu, nembutsu!

    By the way, I noticed you did not say if you are oriented to Nishi or Higashi. They are very picky about that, so you might want to look into one or the other.
     
  18. steveb1

    steveb1 New Member

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    I never investigated the two sub-sects. As a solitary practicer, I'm simply a Shin adherent, which I suppose is equivalent to being a non-denominational Christian. As a matter of "lineage", I adhere primarily to Shinran's and Rennyo's teachings without placing importance on subsequent teachings and historical events.
     
  19. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    Who gets to decide who is in the right, in this conflict of interest, and why?

    Our Higher Self does. We are presently unable to be consciousness at the Higher Self’s level of consciousness. Once we become conscious at that level, trying to remain conscious at a lower level would be meaningless.[/QUOTE]

    Ah, then it is more of a developmental thing, not a hierarchy of higher and lower co-existing selves, did I get that right?

    Thanks for pointing that out. Are there systems which guarantee enlightenment at the end of training?
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Steve —

    Interesting discussion. I thought I'd throw in a couple of ideas from the 'mystical, spiritual' perspective of a different tradition.

    I suppose that rather depends on the nature of the enlightenment. If it's a process thing, a journey along the path, then I would say probably not. I'm thinking the koan "Chop wood, carry water" here. I doubt even the individual would necessarily notice or think that they are particularly enlightened.

    One looks back, to see where it 'happened', and there is nowhere along the path that necessarily fixes the moment — I think this ties in with the aphorism that we are all already enlightened. And of course the Way never reaches an end, so there's always more to do.

    Others speak of an epiphany, their subjective 'blinded by the light' moment. linding flash, an epiphany.

    I've been priviliged to have met some remarkable people in my time, and some (possibly self-deluded) charlatans. Only the latter are inclined to declare their enlightenment, it seems to me.

    On the other hand, if enlightenment occurs through a moment of awakening, an epiphany, then there might be an outward change that will stop those who know you and cause them to wonder what's happened, and it might also initiate a drastic change of habit within oneself.

    Again, depends on which type, as above. I'm not sure the enlightened is necessarily conscious of a 'newly-awakened awareness', unless s/he's of the second, epiphanic type. The 'big bang' moment changes everything, but of the two, it's the more precarious.

    I'd say not in that way. Does the enlightened say, 'Oh, how enlightened am I!' (pretty sure then s/he's probably not). From broad readings, I'd say the enlightened 'suffers' in the sense that s/he is aware that others do not see what s/he sees. Suffers in the sense of a cause of compassion. As virtues such as humility seem necessary quality, generally I'd say not.

    But then again, the humble thinks, Am I going mad?

    Again this turns on the point of whether one who is enlightened is recognisably so. As the answer is no; the serenity of the saint might well be the vacuous smile of an idiot, the idiot might well be illumined beyond one's capacity to comprehend. The wise learns not to shove her/his wisdom into another's face.

    But does one keep it to oneself: No. Enlightenment is participation of the one in the One, or the All, or It, or whatever, but it is always the gracious and unmerited gift of the higher. One cannot storm the gates of heaven, nor is there a trick or technique to get there.

    From the Greek Philosophical perspective, it is in the nature of the Good to communicate itself; from a theistic perspective, it is in the nature of God to reveal Her/Himself. Is the enlightened jealous of her/his enlightenment? No.

    S/He already has a place of seclusion. One can be in the desert in the middle of the city. Does one need solitude? Not necessarily. The hermit, the monastic, whether a Tibetan temple perched on the precarious clifftop, or a monastery on a rock battered by the Atlantic — there is a great romantic appeal, but that's not what it's all about.

    Someone I knew made the journey to study at a Zen meditation centre in Japan. It was next door to a power station. Some complained that they'd paid a lot of money, but the location was hardly conducive to satori, there being a continuous hum from the station next door. The response was that anyone can meditate on a mountainside, that's easy...

    Do the enlightened ever talk about their enlightenment? The one's whom I've met (and that's just my opinion) seemed more interested in me, than telling me about them.

    Em ... I don't think so... I was hooked into a cult many years ago ... I'd say if that's where someone's coming from they're probably a fraud. Might well be self-deluded, but ... I'd class them with tv evangelists, etc.

    Wow, that's something.

    If you're initiating people into your thing, then you are declaring yourself, before heaven, entirely responsible for their psychic-spiritual health and wellbeing, and you'd better be capable of guaranteeing and securing that, else you are in a world of trouble down the line ... If you're initiating into a Tradition, then you first need to be validated by the Tradition. Initiation is the joining of a community. So you're in and you're welcome. Now you have to embrace the values of the community, and walk the Way of it.

    Initiation, I'd say, is into a Tradition. But initiation is not enlightenment, that's an age-old pseudo-gnostic con.

    Opening the eyes is easy, opening the heart is something one does from within oneself, it cannot be prised open from outside, that's tantamount to rape. Even Buddha, Jesus, Moses and Mohammed were misunderstood.
     
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