Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"enlightenment" questions

I put this on a Buddhist bulletin board and thought I would put it here too:
If it's not too far off topic, I have several questions. I do not mean these questions as a way of elevating myself or putting anyone else down. They are, as I say, questions.
How could anyone know what "enlightenment" was without being enlightened?
How could anyone know what "enlightenment" wasn't without being enlightened?

I mean "know" in the same sense anyone might say they "know" what tea tastes like after having tasted it.

I use the word "know" as distinct from simply believing. If Buddhism relied solely on belief, then what value would it have, considering the fact that belief relies on doubt and Buddhism is said to eradicate doubt. If Buddhism relied on belief, how could it differ from the popular appreciations of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc?

If it's not too far off topic, I would be interested in others' views.


  1. Ha, talk about a fool's errand, but what the hell . . .

    In our natural state, everyone knows exactly what enlightenment is (and isn't). However, by incarnating into this dense field of the human psycho-physical experience, we consign ourselves to working with an instrument which is utterly incapable of retaining that knowledge, at least for the duration of the human lifespan. You just can't fit 50 pounds of potatoes in a 1 pound sack. In other words, by virtue of appearing here, we must dumb way down, in order to play this particular game.

    Nevertheless, the "spiritual" aspirant will invariably adapt and expound various "views" on "enlightenment", which at best is comparable to a 5 year old elaborating on, say, quantum physics and celestial mechanics. It may be charming in a sense, but not very accurate.

    On the other hand, everyone can understand suffering, since it is a regular feature of the typical human experience, and so terms like "liberation" are approriate to describe freedom from afflictive states and conditions.

    More: http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/the-myth-of-enlightenment/

  2. Bob:


    So there are no advanced spiritual beings? I doubt that.


    1. That's not what I said, please refer to my link, where I state:
      "This is not to say that there are no past or current individuals who have awakened in an authentic sense, and are relatively liberated from the various mechanics of suffering, and the accompanying afflictive states and conditions, that characterize the usual human experience."

      In other words, even in kindergarten realms such as earth, there are some students who are further along in mastering the basics, such as how to behave, than others.

    2. Thanks for the clarification, Bob, I guess I took the spiritual aspirant characterisation to mean no-one. (Or I guess you mean those who are 'there' are no longer aspirants, which is an interesting take. I will defer to your wisdom..and correction regardless :-))

      On another point, is how to behave the basic requirement for mastering the basics? The English for example, are very polite, as are the French I have been meeting of late. I thought the basic was more than that, much more, at least in "spiritual" terms?

      Well wishes,

    3. Learning how to behave, in this context, would equate with living a life of impeccable integrity, and would be characterized by the absence of the poisons of greed, envy, hatred, and judgmentalism. Instead, it would reflect awakened Bodhicitta and genuinine humility in all relations. Such a person would be suitable for graduation to higher curriculums, beyond this relatively low-level war planet.

    4. "impeccable integrity"

      "characterized by the absence of the poisons of greed, envy, hatred, and judgmentalism."

      "Such a person would be suitable for graduation to higher curriculums, beyond this relatively low-level war planet."

      So only the pure and worthy can move to "higher" states and the ignorant and those with problems (because let's face it, spiritual so called advancement is a hard task to master for those starving or at war) are relegated to the current Earthly status? (low-level) That sounds rather churlich, and judging, but perhaps granted that is so.

      As to absence of the poison, you are saying that said saints have no more greed, anger, and hatred at all - is that correct?

      Best wishes,

    5. Yes to your first question.

      As to your second, anger may still arise, but no greed or hatred.

    6. Have you heard of Jizo, Bob? Or the Bodhisattva ideal?

      As to the second, at first you said above here was no anger or judgementalism (despite later putting forward a very judgemental scenario) - now there is, but no greed or hatred. What is hatred if not anger? what about if a cake is there? Does one salivate, have a moment of happy greed - or not? And do you have any teachings to back up your claims?

      If not, not a worry but claims ring untrue to these ears.

      Good travels.


    7. 1. Yes, I am familiar with the myth of Jizo, as well as the Bodhisattva ideal.

      2. I did not say there was no anger, which is not the same as hatred. For example, when Jesus chased the marketeers out of the temple, there was anger but no hatred.

      3. Cake -- chocolate or vanilla? :-)

      4. The teachings of this world . . . there are certainly many and often contradictory, eh. Best to find out for yourself, which you will soon enough, since your meat suit comes with an expiration code.


    8. ps: It occured to me that you might find the notion in Buddhism of "Anagami", or "non-returner" similar in many key respects to what I proposed.

    9. Hatred is nought but anger personified, that's what I intended to say above. That a Jesus might feel anger is right, that he knows enough not to pick it up and mould it is just a mark of spiritual practice, nought more. It was just one step away. In your initial post you said there was no anger, now you changed it to no greed.

      Bodhisattva, Jizo etc is an ideal of Buddhist practice, in that way it is not a myth.

      Finally, are you saying that people know the 'truth' through death of the physical body?

      Anagami, well yes sure but there are thousands of pieces of Buddhist literature, seems rather selective how you pick and choose which is truth and what is not. In addition the strict literature says anagami is beyond the hindrances, in theory ill will ie anger is beyond such a spirit, so that doesn't quite conform either..

      Of course there are people of different tendencies and in Buddhism what might be called different levels of cultivation, or development, but your proposals sound (to me) a bit straight edged and harsh in judgement and execution; whereas life has many elements of grey and evolution. Even for those who have anger, who have flashes of greed with the cake, they too are loved and will be saved always. That is the Bodhisattva work, not the condemnation you see to pass out as fact and a truth of your saying. I would urge you not to look at these as immature beings, but as people also worthy of help and assistance, should they so wish. Also for many people who have evolved suchly, that is a mark of their own karma and cultivation, but not everyone has these opportunities or these tendencies. Why would God judge them otherwise because of this? I much prefer the context of Buddhist teachings then the stances you put forth, and it is for good reason, Buddhism is a good religion.

      Thanks for the call out on the meat bag expiration, by the way, very charming. So you suggest that people can just wait till death and all will be revealed, wow how odd.

      Best wishes.

  3. If it's not too far off topic, I would be interested in others' views.

    Agree, know might be more like sense though...its something prior to the thought of knowing IMO

  4. Shunryu Suzuki was said to have expressed that there are no enlightened people per se, only enlightened actions. I'm comfortable with that, beyond the hopes for hoodoo experiences, just try to help.

  5. Thankyou Charlie :)