What is enlightenment?

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djkjr
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:48 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:But the actual existence of enlightenment is completely unrelated to the belief in enlightenment, or at least it would be if enlightenment cannot in sense, however crude, be shown to the unenlightened. What you describe as effect on the world is the result of the belief, not of the actual existence of enlightenment.

Existence and belief are entangled in this. God only exists to a believer because they believe in him. There's no proof or evidence. Just like there is nothing that proves there's a purpose to enlightenment other than reaching the top of your own understanding. It's a lofty goal, one that is believed to be achievable. And since it is believed, it is possible. Science desires things to be achievable all the time through the belief that it is, and because they believe it is possible, it comes into existence. An example of Existence from belief.
What is actual existence if not our own belief?
The world may very well exist after we pass, but to what purpose? For all we know the world only exists during our lifetime for its existence is meaningless outside of it.
If I'm not understanding you, I apologize and I want to understand you better. If I am not understanding I guess it would be because I'm not exactly clear of what point you are trying to make against mine.
I'm saying it doesn't exist for me. That it does exist if you believe it. That if we both believe it and you achieve it, you can't teach it to me because in order for me to achieve it, I must find my own path. Again, you can lead a horse to water...
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Ghavrel » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:35 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Note that Buddhism, even in its mystical versions, does have enlightened people who tell us that enlightenment exists and give some guidelines how we can reach it. Siddhartha Gautama himself is of course the prime example.


I'm going to take this opportunity to point out that the finger/moon saying was given to me by a Zen student. I'm fairly confident in saying that most practitioners of Zen, if not of most forms of Buddhism, would agree that there are a variety of ways to reach enlightenment. After all, Jesus is seen as a bodhisattva, if I recall correctly, and he lived a different life than the Buddha. I'm not sure that you're arguing against this, though... the debate seems to have shifted somewhat.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Soralin » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:06 pm UTC

djkjr wrote:What is actual existence if not our own belief?

Exactly, that's why I never look to see if a car is coming when I cross the street, if I don't believe it exists, then it doesn't exist, right? ;)

As for an actual definition of existence, I'd go more along the lines of: "Reality is that which, when we stop believing in it, doesn't go away".

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:48 pm UTC

Soralin wrote:
djkjr wrote:What is actual existence if not our own belief?

Exactly, that's why I never look to see if a car is coming when I cross the street, if I don't believe it exists, then it doesn't exist, right? ;)

As for an actual definition of existence, I'd go more along the lines of: "Reality is that which, when we stop believing in it, doesn't go away".

Haha, clever one! :)
I'm not saying that reality ceases to exist if we don't believe it. Only that our belief in the reality of the world and things in it (especially abstract things like enlightenment) are a lot less black and white then say, a speeding car that you would be better to look for before crossing.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby addams » Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

Well, the topic seems to be winding down, so I'll give my thoughts.

What is genius? Putting aside the ooh-aah factor, it's just unusual intelligence or capability. We call Mozart a genius because his talent for composition was so far beyond the average person's capabilities as to put him on another level. We call Einstein a genius because his intelligence and proclivity for understanding scientific phenomena was so far beyond the average person's capabilities as to put him on another level. Simply being smart or being talented doesn't make you a genius, though; what defines a genius is other people's non-genius. After all, if everyone were capable of the feats of the likes of Mozart and Einstein, we wouldn't call them geniuses.

I see enlightenment in the same way. Just as genius is simply "being really smart/talented," enlightenment is simply "being really understanding/accepting." Indeed, those are the two central traits of enlightenment, as I see them -- understanding and acceptance. As for the former, I mean the verb; a tendency to be understanding towards other human beings. But just as Einstein's genius was on another level, enlightened understanding is, too. It's not merely forgiving humans for being imperfect, it's a visceral, gut reaction. It's not something you have to think about, you're merely that understanding by default. And not just in your actions and words, but in your feelings.

As to the latter, acceptance, it's merely the opposite side of the same coin as understanding, only where understanding concerns thinking humans, acceptance concerns the unthinking world -- events beyond any one person's control, weather, disease, sickness, the behaviors of animals and nature of plants. Where an unenlightened person whines, laments or self-pities, wishes that something bad hadn't happened, the enlightened person simply accepts that the bad thing happened, and moves on. Acceptance isn't passivitiy or apathy, however -- the Dalai Llama, for instance, is very enlightened but is often to be seen pleading to world leaders for peace and championed autonomy for Tibet, and of course Ghandi had his salt march and fought for Indian independence.

Unlike genius, however, enlightenment is something that literally anybody can achieve; it's a matter of choice, not capability. It's a matter of cultivating in your heart, your mind, your behavior and your words that unusual understanding and acceptance. From that understanding and acceptance are born a host of things; kindness, empathy, altruism, selflessness, and other traits we think of when we examine enlightened luminaries, but those are all outgrowths. The central traits are understanding and acceptance. To put it in other words; oneness between yourself and the whole world.

**So, very well written. Thank you.
p.s. I don't know how to put a written text into a quote box.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Mittagessen » Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:11 am UTC

I believe the classic, Kantian definition of Enlightenment is still the most appropriate, generic, but still applicable definition of the term. For everybody not knowing it, here's the short version:

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! "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Greyarcher » Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:51 pm UTC

For a structural response to the title question: I suppose that "enlightenment" is a term that refers to a set of character traits and/or views that are ostensibly positive.

I don't have much taste for the term; it does not seem to me that grouping a set of traits under a term such as "enlightenment" adds much. Not if the traits are already known as virtues in their own right. After all, if the traits are already known as virtues, I can't imagine grouping them under a special title would cause me to accord the traits extra value.

But, well, such a title...I suppose it might add a bit of "je ne sais quoi" that draws in some people, or emphasize that they are desirable traits for other people. And if accompanied with some associated cultural pomp and/or mystique, it might draw in yet more folk (or maybe that would be the "je ne sais quoi" which I mentioned earlier?). Of course, I imagine for other folk it would just encourage self-righteous arrogance and a sense of condescending superiority, what with the self-importance they acquire from being "enlightened" or "in pursuit of enlightenment" (unlike those unenlightened folk). So eh.

Mittagessen wrote:I believe the classic, Kantian definition of Enlightenment is still the most appropriate, generic, but still applicable definition of the term. For everybody not knowing it, here's the short version:

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! "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.
Huh. That seems to describe surprisingly well some themes of the Enlightenment. Come to think of it, I think I dimly remember seeing those lines before in relation to the Enlightenment. Wouldn't surprise me.

Considering the associated history, I like it.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Nov 09, 2010 4:37 pm UTC

There are two completely different concepts, that just happen to be both translated to "enlightenment" in English.

One is the Enlightenment of Buddhism, a translation of Sanskrit "Bodhi", which apparently means something like "waking up" or "noticing"

The other one is the 18th century movement, a translation of French "Lumieres", which comes from lumiere, "light". The same movement was called "Aufklarung" in German, which means something closer to "explanation" or "teaching", which is what Kant wrote about.

Both concepts are in some way about people getting better, but for the rest they don't have much in common

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby PedroSanchez » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:09 pm UTC

Enlightenment is an acceptance of what you are, and a harmony with it. It requires no Knowledge, is almost the opposite of knowledge. it is a moment where you allow yourself to be whatever you are, and have no quarrels with what that is, whatever it is. It is not an understanding of the world, or of yourself, but a moment when neither matter, as the world will be what it is, and you will be the world, from beginning to end. Whatever will be, will be. what is, is that that is.

take a look at the beauty in the self evidence of the world, and then realise that that's what you are.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:33 pm UTC

djkjr wrote:
King Author wrote:That's not what I'm talking about. djkjr was suggesting that enlightenment - if it existed - would be so far beyond mortal ken that it's not something you could be taught or learn or read; you'd have to discover it for yourself. I'm asking why he believes that.

To answer:
Ghavrel wrote:it's hard not to end up examining the finger instead of the moon.

I'm not sure I could've said it better myself.
It seems to me that those who would be enlightened are not going to attempt to sell their individual blessing of understanding. Though I'm sure, someone would want to and definitely have tried to do just that. My point is, much like the finger/moon example, one persons understanding will not translate to the ability to teach another. Enlightenment is unlike anything else. You can't "learn" it. It can't be shown to you through documents and (traditional) research. It's an experience. It's a lifetime. It's a never ending journey. I just don't see how one could teach another that. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Oh, I understand what you were saying now. I disagree, but I won't ask you to justify your position, I just wanted to understand what you meant.

Zamfir wrote:Note that Buddhism, even in its mystical versions, does have enlightened people who tell us that enlightenment exists and give some guidelines how we can reach it. Siddhartha Gautama himself is of course the prime example.

I always chuckle at that. A wealthy, privileged nobleman who doesn't know that hunger or death exist sees it outside his pristine palace for the first time and is so mind-blown he decides to become enlightened, and in about a month he says, "Score! I did it. I became enlightened." And then proceeds to tell everybody the best way to live.

Mittagessen wrote:I believe the classic, Kantian definition of Enlightenment is still the most appropriate, generic, but still applicable definition of the term. For everybody not knowing it, here's the short version:

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! "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.

Interesting. Basically the same thing I was saying, only I added acceptance. And actually, I'd say the acceptance is more requisite for enlightenment than the understanding. Knowing the apple is made of molecules isn't as important as accepting that the apple exists. There is a spoon. You can look away from it, you can tell others it doesn't exist, you can even destroy it, but that's doesn't change the fact that it exists, and you have to live in the same world as it.

Greyarcher wrote:But, well, such a title...I suppose it might add a bit of "je ne sais quoi" that draws in some people, or emphasize that they are desirable traits for other people. And if accompanied with some associated cultural pomp and/or mystique, it might draw in yet more folk (or maybe that would be the "je ne sais quoi" which I mentioned earlier?). Of course, I imagine for other folk it would just encourage self-righteous arrogance and a sense of condescending superiority, what with the self-importance they acquire from being "enlightened" or "in pursuit of enlightenment" (unlike those unenlightened folk). So eh.

You could apply that worry to absolutely anything you'd ever consider remotely "good." Some people actually do see art house movies because they like them, not just to lourde over everyone else. Some people even listen to NPR because they like it.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:45 pm UTC

King Author wrote:I always chuckle at that. A wealthy, privileged nobleman who doesn't know that hunger or death exist sees it outside his pristine palace for the first time and is so mind-blown he decides to become enlightened, and in about a month he says, "Score! I did it. I became enlightened." And then proceeds to tell everybody the best way to live.

Well, makes still more sense then listening to a guy because his mother screwed around and didn't want to admit it.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:40 pm UTC

@KingAuthor
I admit that occurred to me shortly after I posted. But it wasn't a concern about something simply considered "good", it was about the effects of adding an extra title.
I found a title like "enlightened" a bit superfluous, and a bit like indulgent self-flattery. That list was just me mulling over the extra title's effects, positive and negative.

Consider: 'teaching someone a set of traits/views because you think they're positive' versus 'teaching someone a set of traits/views because you think they're positive...and then calling the person "enlightened"'. The traits/views are considered good in both cases, but one adds a special title on top of that. Could that extra title and its connotations boost a person's sense of self-importance, self-righteousness, superiority, etc? Sure. Of course, it would depend on the person...but so would the other effects I listed, so nothing's out of place.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby addams » Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:07 am UTC

I have spent a great deal of thought on this subject.
Zen masters are enlightened. Agreed?
We are still who we are enlightened or not.
I think some of us come into this party
pretty darned enlightened.
I think that I knew myself as an enlightened being,
when, I was five years old.

The Unsmiling Zen.= Existential Angst.

To live in the world as an enlightened being is hard.
The world is complicated. Enlightenment is simple.

For me it is like math. I have a formula that works.
Different real numbers produce a different result.

Then, when I am faced with a new real problem. I need
a new real equation.

Yes. We can help one another.
But, the choice toward enlightenment is personal.
The moment of enlightenment is personal.
How far out on the rings of thought one must be, is, also, personal.

I do not mind typing about my enlightenment; This lifetime.

I am the unsmiling Zen at the moment.

Enlightenment and smooth sailing are not the same thing.

I have experienced a paradox. Persons in the world say, "The enlightened have everything going well for them at all the times."
Persons in the world say, "If you have luxuries, then, you can not be enlightened."

I have a bunch of other paradox. paradoxi? Paradoxium?

I am getting tired. Here are three rules.
1. Be Simple.
2. Be Elegant.
3. Be Obvious.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby ms_taglioni » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:53 am UTC

Enlightenment is, simply put, when a person has obtained full knowledge of themselves and the world around them. I don't think that one necessarily must suddenly come into understanding of the precise workings of relativity or be able to speak in every language present on earth fluently, but rather to have an understanding of how people work, how they themselves work, and how this all fits into the larger picture of the universe. It is that feeling of wonder and awe that you get when looking into the ocean or up at a cliff bumped up about 3 levels.

This is exceedingly rare, and as such there have only been a handful of people in history to have been given this title by their comrades (eg. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed). I don't think that anyone can bestow this title on another though, as then it would become a way of others expressing their opinion of you as opposed to you coming into full realisation of yourself and others. So while there is a (contradicting) air of both majesty and modesty one would exude from becoming enlightened, the only person who can truly judge whether they have acheived enlightenment or not is the person themself.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby inhahe » Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:36 am UTC

King Author wrote:This is not a philosophical exercise. This is not an argument. This is not a debate. Rather, I want to hear your own opinion on what enlightenment is. What does it mean to be enlightened? Who is and isn't enlightened, and how can you become enlightened? How rare is enlightenment? Et cetera.

Sorry for making such a short topic post in SB, but I don't want to say anything else; I don't want to express any of my own thoughts or opinions and taint anyone else's post. So actually, if you choose to respond to this topic, doing so before reading anybody else's replies would produce something rawer, purer and less influenced by other people's posts, which I would appreciate.


I was actually hoping you'd give an opinion, because that makes it much easier for me to speak on what enlightenment is.. i honestly have no idea... at least a framework of some kind of vaguely fishing ignorance is convenient for sparking thought on the issue, heh.

My teacher Neale says that you're enlightened if you say that you are. I just can't accept that kind of simplicity, though I understand where it's coming from..maybe..

Some might call being enlightened knowing a lot of stuff, being sagely. but not because you read too much, but because your mind entered a state in which you were able to apprehend it. i think this is close to the truth, but it's not exactly it..

enlightenment is probably much simpler, and 'knowing things' [probably more than you'd ever let on] is just one symptom of the fact - ideal enlightenment should produce happiness - or should it..? maybe that's all a big myth, because anybody aware is starkly connected with all of the suffering in the world and can hardly bear it and just wants to do something immediately to fix it. and meanwhile those calling themselves enlightened while breathing fairy dust are mental escape artists.. i dunno, just guessing.

basically, if you want to become enlightened, seek it. and what does enlightened mean, in that case? maybe it's whatever you think the word or token means.

but i could offer a little bit of elaboration, because some aspects of the land, which isn't pathless, are treacherously broken - and in that light enlightenment is getting PAST those broken thought-modes that -fuck- the way we think. that's what Alice was all about. that's what Neo was all about. that's what Alfred Korzybski was all about. that's what Iain McGilchrist is all about. that's what Laurel Thompson was all about. and Darin de Stefano a.k.a. Darin Stevenson. and believe me, our birthrights that come to light in this shedding of our semiotical bondages far eclipse those 'abilities' or the 'bliss' you might see in a contemporary so-called 'enlightened' one.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby uncivlengr » Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:08 am UTC

"Enlightened" to me comes across as similar to "educated" - it's only relevant within a certain specific context or framework.

Given this, where "education" might refer to specific knowledge of a given topic, I would say enlightenment is to adopt a point of view that is not immediately obvious from a cursory consideration of the topic being considered - that's not to say that there's a definitive goalpost that must be achieved to reach such a state, but rather the state of enlightenment is a relative scale, with no discernible benchmarks.

Another way to phrase it might be that enlightenment is the diversion away from our natural/basal tendencies, which again can only be considered in a relative context.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby PopeDarren » Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:00 am UTC

I apologize for pulling a thread out of the mire and giving it CPR, but I haven't been able to meditate without thinking about how I would answer this question. Whether that’s my ego pushing me to find pride in my uber geniusnessity :roll: or some sense of duty that I don’t understand yet, I hope this will help my mind to be still. Sorry for the length and wandering somewhat off topic.

This question is literally impossible to answer because of exactly what has been said, "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao." The opposite of enlightenment, however, is suffering.

I struggled with the concept of enlightenment a long time because I was once Baptist, and enlightenment seemed like the same BS that any system of control would contrive, making the have-nots look for something beyond what is available. Philosophy and religion, however, have always been passions of mine, so I pressed on to try and understand what others believe and why. I’ve read everything from the Qur’an to the Satanic Bible, and have found that there were reasons why all of these ideas were written down. They were never meant – at least at first – to be systems of control; they were meant to be pointers. If one is able to get past what is being said and see the intention of the writer, one can uncover so much more. That being said, I must acknowledge that some – if not all readers – will not truly read what’s written, but compare what was read against everything thought to be truth, filter the information through years of programmed habits and beliefs, and ultimately judge and dismiss what is felt to be appropriate without further thought. I know this because it is exactly what I have done with most of the replies in this thread. (No, I am not enlightened.) This is what I do every time I read something… or when I see, hear, taste, smell, or feel something. And this is normal. It’s just what we’re wired to do.

Our egos, that which takes chaos and creates a story, create barriers between ourselves and others. It also creates barriers to keep us from inner peace. The long and the short of it is that we’re all insane and we stick so tightly to our insanity that we are willing to defend, fight and even kill to keep our insanity intact. So, if I must give an answer, I guess my short answer is: Enlightenment is the realization that what you've been programmed to believe may not be completely correct. And I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about every aspect of our lives.

You have no doubt heard this statement in one form or another, and some of you might think that the ego must be killed in order to reach enlightenment; however, this cannot be done and will cause much more suffering than you can imagine. Our egos can create havoc, but can keep us safe in other situations. The trick is to watch the ego to try to understand why thoughts arise. Watch and see how the ego ties itself to time to create suffering. Example: I, myself, have sat alone and gone through depression, addiction, shame spirals, anxiety about the future, and on, and on. Even to the point where I was making myself physically ill. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we hold on to the anger for hours after a person does something as small as cut us off in traffic? We do it because we need to believe that we are noticed and justified in this technicolored dream we call life.

Honestly, I believe it’s easy to be enlightened. Just take a breath and be curious about how your body feels. Can you feel the life that has always been there? Maybe you notice a tingling in your hands. If you’re interested, you’ll notice a change almost immediately; however, as with all learning curves, there are times when you fall down. This will happen all too soon. You’ll notice that what you were reaching for was given and quickly taken away. This happens because we start with curiosity, but our ego sneaks in and creates a definition for this state. Some give up, some continue on to find that there might be much more falling down than they ever imagined could be possible. Most give up after finding this out.

If curiosity is still the driving factor, then progress can still be made; if personal gain is the interest, desire will bring about failure. And grasping for something you don’t understand hurts. It hurts much worse than I thought it could. I lost 6 months of my life trying to suppress this desire with whatever I could consume, which obviously made me even more confused. Luckily, I have an incredible support system and my family set me back on my feet. I’ve since realized how much meditation can offer by leaning into support. Not out in the world, but in myself. If you don’t care for anything I’ve written, fine. Please, though, try to use this: We are more often than not leaning into a problem, which opens the door for more problems, more suffering; however, there is a medium of support within each of us. It has always been there and it will always be there. When this is found, do not try to grasp it like we do with everything else in our lives! Just let it be support. The more we try to hold to this support, the more it will slip away. It's like trying to grab fog. You can see it, but when you go up to it, it's not as noticeable, and you definitely can't get a handle on it. Just let support be support and you will find enlightenment.

We can’t do anything to make enlightenment happen. You can read 1000s of books. You can talk to the smartest people in the world. You can meditate in a monastery for a year, but if you don’t allow yourself to just be, then you will never understand what could be. Relax. Breathe. Watch your thoughts, but do not shun them. Be aware of your interactions, both internal and external. Above all, though, remain curious. Listen to EVERYONE! I believe djkjr was trying to say, “Everyone can teach you something if you’re willing to listen.” Once you’ve decided that enlightenment is this or that, or judge others on their view of enlightenment, then you have completely negated it. I know because I was briefly allowed to see pure inner peace and I’ve had it taken away.

The doorway to enlightenment cannot be approached through desire. You have to approach it through curiosity and allow yourself to go through it. If you ever think, “Wow, I rule!” Or become addicted to the feeling, you’ll be jerked right back out.

It’s confusing because I’m sure most of us think of enlightenment as walking around in a daze of happiness; however, enlightenment doesn’t provoke happiness, or put you on another plane of existence ("Chop wood, carry water"). In fact, happiness can be another form of suffering. When you reach certain levels – and you will if you keep getting back up - you’ll realize that inner peace is so much greater than happiness. Perhaps you will be able to allow it to become joy, perhaps ecstasy, but you can’t want it!

I apologize if I’m not being clear, but enlightenment is extremely confusing, and a tricky concept. It's available right now, but you can wait a lifetime to see this, if you see it at all. It’s one of the easiest things you will ever achieve in your life when you allow it to happen, but it’s so hard because you can’t do anything to make it happen. There is no penance or steps you have to endure. Some can snap into it, most will have to work.

Remain curious and positive. Breathe. Don’t hold onto emotion. Don’t create stories about so and so and how they're ruining your life. Realize that you and only you can allow emotion to take hold. You are in control.

As many religious texts say, “Look at life as if looking through the eyes of a child.” Above all… enjoy! If there is a god (jury's still out), then I doubt it would create all of this for us to be miserable.

Because I have needed help so many times, please feel free to email me if you need a road sign to point you, hopefully, in a good direction.

MrConor
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby MrConor » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:46 pm UTC

This is enlightenment:

Albert Camus wrote:I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.


Actually, I would say that in truth I thought enlightenment as it is traditionally conceived (in Hinduism/Buddhism etc) was mere mysticism, with no greater depth than the Christian conception of the soul or divination using the I Ching: a mere superstition, in this case a superstition recurrent in the Indian transcendental tradition. In this case, enlightenment is an illusory spiritual state which simply does not exist (since it requires some kind of soul, and souls do not exist). Alternatively, I might be referring to the historical period known as the Enlightenment, in which case I would consider someone's being enlightened as their being an educated, rational and humanist individual.

I don't see much else can be made of the idea of 'enlightenment'. I've heard people talk about it before, vaguely referring to some sort of 'understanding' or other - and yet, they never seem to be able to explain quite what it is one needs to understand to be enlightened. It seems to be, more than anything, that those who are seeking 'enlightenment' in the mystic tradition are simply looking for an answer to their existensial doubt. The quotation above, from The Myth of Sisyphus, is my answer to those who suffer from such doubts.
Last edited by MrConor on Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:10 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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An Enraged Platypus
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby An Enraged Platypus » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:30 pm UTC

Seeing as we're being asked for a subjective, intuitive definition:

Enlightenment is that moment where you can navigate an intellectual environment skilfully. It's the mental equivalent of your second or third visit to a house, when you no longer have to ask where the bathroom is or where they keep the snacks. Generally, I find, when that sort of thing clicks into place then all the kinds of problems associated with existentialist thought seem to lose power, and break off.
We consider every day a plus/To spend it with a platypus/We're always so ecstatic/'Cause he's semi-aquatic!

- Phineas & Ferb

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby jules.LT » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:41 am UTC

Posting before reading the thread, as per OP.

To me, enlightenment is mostly:
- thinking by oneself
- moderation of the desires and enjoyment of everyday pleasures
- changing what you can and accepting what you can't
Bertrand Russell wrote:Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.
Richard Feynman & many others wrote:Keep an open mind – but not so open that your brain falls out

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Buddha » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:12 pm UTC

Enlightenment is seeing the moon, and the moon sees you, and being entirely aware of your position relative to the moon, and its position relative to you.
Enlightenment is more of a spiritual awakening than anything else. It is finding your place in the universe, and being wholly aware of oneself. The way to enlightenment is different for every person, but for every person, there is a way. You need only the courage to seek it. The results of enlightenment vary widely as well. For some, enlightenment means going back to your desk job and retiring in forty years. For some, it means never going back to a desk.
Unless otherwise explicitly stated, I not a recognized authority in any field, nor am I a credible source.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby rkr1410 » Wed May 25, 2011 1:34 pm UTC

Enlightenment is reaching the next level.
Newton's laws were enightenment.
Then came enlightenment in the form of Einstein's theories.

When I learned how to program, it was a hobby and a fascination. But when I was well into the thing, and read on Lisp... that was enlightenment. The next level of abstraction. For more than a day I walked around with my (methaporical) jaw dropped, experiencing world as if I saw it for the first time again.

Enlightenment is an idea which allows you to interact with the world as if you were a child again, but a child already possessing some knowledge, and able to actually appreciate the world in both emotional and anylitical sense (whereas the child is more on the emotional side of the slider).

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Bharrata » Sat May 28, 2011 11:42 pm UTC

@Mr.Conor: That Camus quote sums up enlightenment perfectly.

Actually, I would say that in truth I thought enlightenment as it is traditionally conceived (in Hinduism/Buddhism etc) was mere mysticism, with no greater depth than the Christian conception of the soul or divination using the I Ching: a mere superstition, in this case a superstition recurrent in the Indian transcendental tradition.


It's easy to throw out enlightenment of Hindu/Buddhist conception as mere mysticism, however the problem with criticizing them in this way is that mystical traditions are not meant to be intellectualized but rather lived, and so to an outsider they appear as superstition and ignorance, whereas to the practitioner they confer benefits which are very real.

The historical Buddha was special within the Hindu tradition because he reminded people that enlightenment was not some mystical device/state that would only be reachable if they had lived countless previous lives well, but rather that it was attainable and attainable for any person during their lifetime.

Buddhism and Zen Buddhism, in particular, are very much about practicality, no spiritual non-sense, no intellectual navel-gazing: that all things in this world are already enlightened and it is only through intellectual distortion that we cause ourselves to suffer and live unenlightened.

Enlightenment is looking at a piece of fruit and instead of saying "I'd like to eat this apple," - just eating it.

I'm sure scientifically for most of this board that's not appealing, but spiritually it's equivalent to SOHCAHTOA. :mrgreen:

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby addams » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:55 am UTC

King Author wrote:@djkjr: Interesting. What would you say to someone who sought enlightenment, or considered himself enlightened, but who openly admitted that there's no inherent meaning to life, and that reality is what we make of it?

dumbzebra wrote:I think it is a state of mind where you can see a truth/meaning behind all things.
As somewhat of a nihilst, I can´t really accept this concept though...

Do you think it possible to "see the truth/meaning behind all things" inherently, as a basic personality trait? Could an enlightened monk, living his whole life in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, be introduced to American banking regulation and patently see the truth and meaning behind it?


I can answer that one; Sort of. I know one story about two monks.
Some Buddhist monks were living along quite nicely, when, some modern fancy pants guys went to the monastery. The fancy pants guys asked for a monk to go with them to answer some questions. The head guy said that there were two monks that were enlightened enough to answer questions. The monks should have gone together. They often do.
This time one went and one stayed behind. When the monk that went came home his friend asked, "Well?"
The monk that went gave his friend a bottle cap. The monk took the bottle cap and thought about it. He took it with him where ever he went. He sat it in front of him while he sat. At the end of the week, he was asked, "Well?"

He said, "Without context I can not know what the thing is or what it means."

Then the monks went back to being friends again. The monk that went had some things to talk about. Sometimes monks like to get out and see the world. It is nice that some of them, still, have places to go that are not down town Bangkok.
The answer is, "No. An enlightened monk does not know how to do business calculus unless he or she learned it at some school. Math is a language. We are born with the ability to learn language. No one language is written on the DNA."
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby grayvsgrey » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:26 am UTC

Ghavrel wrote:I propose that enlightenment is a permanent (i.e. lasting) experience in which one realizes a transcendent truth about existence.

I would have to agree with this statement. Also, kudos to Ghavrel for not using any religious terms and still providing an excellent working definition.
In my experience: enlightenment may come during studies, both scientific and non-scientific in nature; as a philosophical epiphany; or as a realization of some supernatural truth(s). It's when you see behind the surface and past the layers to the true essence of a thing/concept/being, whether or not you're trying to.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby MrConor » Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:07 pm UTC

Bharrata wrote:Enlightenment is looking at a piece of fruit and instead of saying "I'd like to eat this apple," - just eating it.


If you give a pig an apple it will eat the apple rather than saying, "I'd like to eat this apple." Would you consider the pig to be enlightened? The pig is not aware of any transcendent truths about existence: it may not even be self-aware.
The pig lacks 'intellectual navel-gazing' because the pig is irrational and it is this which I find objectionable about enlightenment-mysticism because they deny the value of human rationality and intelligence. The mystics deny the reality of the world and tell their followers to 'liberate' themselves from their desires in order to find release from suffering. The Buddha's Four Noble Truths are a rationalisation of man's inability to completely prevent suffering through control of their environment, and a suggestion that we deny our most basic human motivations (because without desires, what motivations do we have to act?) rather than struggle against the vicissitudes of fate - and it is that selfsame struggle which has accounted for all of human progress. Enlightenment-mysticism is nothing more than man's metaphysical doubts and fear of death given a veneer of spirituality.

Bharrata wrote:It's easy to throw out enlightenment of Hindu/Buddhist conception as mere mysticism, however the problem with criticizing them in this way is that mystical traditions are not meant to be intellectualized but rather lived, and so to an outsider they appear as superstition and ignorance, whereas to the practitioner they confer benefits which are very real.


Theism may confer psychological benefits which are very real to believers: belief in an afterlife can free an individual from the fear of death which plagues all of humankind. That doesn't make the belief anything more than superstition and ignorance, regardless of whether the tradition is meant to be lived or intellectualised (and most theists would say that it is more important that one believes than one is able to rationalise or justify their belief).
I will concede that the meditation which is part and parcel of the Indian transcendental tradition can indeed have benefits for the practitioner. Regular meditation gives one an opportunity to reflect, to relax, and to practice mental self-discipline. These benefits are still retained when one discards the enlightenment-concept as mere mysticism, because the enlightenment-concept doesn't add anything of real value to the practice.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Bharrata » Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:21 pm UTC

If you give a pig an apple it will eat the apple rather than saying, "I'd like to eat this apple." Would you consider the pig to be enlightened? The pig is not aware of any transcendent truths about existence: it may not even be self-aware.
The pig lacks 'intellectual navel-gazing' because the pig is irrational and it is this which I find objectionable about enlightenment-mysticism because they deny the value of human rationality and intelligence. The mystics deny the reality of the world and tell their followers to 'liberate' themselves from their desires in order to find release from suffering.


I can't speak for all of Buddhism but at least in the Kwan Um Bosal Korean Zen school that I've begun to practice the Zen Master at my center explained that traditionally all things have Buddha-nature, or are enlightened if you like, the paradox of considering ourselves self-aware is that it makes many of us less self-aware and keeps us from enlightenment.

That pig is not irrational, it just lacks the capability of using rational thought, it can't explain why it does what it does, but it also doesn't start jumping off cliffs because it doesn't know if it wants the apple or not...that would be irrational.

My response to your criticism of enlightenment mysticism is that they do not deny the value of human rationality and intelligence, they do however sometimes make an effort to un-deify it. Especially Zen and the Rinzai (koan's) school make a point of going beyond logic and rationality but most enlightenment traditions very much support the human and individual ability to use rationality and intelligence to improve oneself and society.

Mystics, unless they're suffering from their own delusions of grandeur (which is found in scientific intellectuals as well), don't deny the reality of the world, meditation is a means by which the individual is to become more aware of the world around them, their place in it, and acceptance of that place. I'm not sure if you're criticizing the actual Tathagata/Transcendental Buddhists from Tibet (Dalai Lama) or "mystical" meditation in general. Bear in mind that the term mysticism is a generally new description in the religious debate, as is fundamentalist by the way.

The Buddha's Four Noble Truths are a rationalisation of man's inability to completely prevent suffering through control of their environment, and a suggestion that we deny our most basic human motivations (because without desires, what motivations do we have to act?) rather than struggle against the vicissitudes of fate - and it is that selfsame struggle which has accounted for all of human progress.


You're denying that one of the, if not the, most basic human motivations is to prevent suffering? The suggestion is not that we deny our most basic human motivations, and this probably comes from the Western misunderstandings of Hinduism (again the Buddha was a reform figure akin to Martin Luther in the Christian tradition). Hinduism never says it's a bad thing to want pleasure or have material desires, in fact it expects people to have them, but it realizes that eventually everyone will tire of those pursuits because they truly want something deeper and more meaningful, whether you want to call this a deep relationship with God, enlightenment, a paradigm shifting philosophy or life's work, call it what you will, but everyone eventually comes to that point and that's where Buddhism starts. The only difference is that the Buddha said anyone could gain it within their lifetime; during that period of history Hinduism was telling the people that unless they were born into the priest-class they hadn't built up the necessary karma to attain enlightenment, but that gets into the caste system which is an entirely different issue. The suggestion is that we become more aware of them and discard those which are hurtful and keep those which are helpful.

So mystical-transcendental-meditation-enlightenment-seeking-behavior begins at the point where an individual is not satisfied with these material things, most will have denied the 'realness' of reality, but most 'mystical' teachers will show them instead that reality is true, they were simply paying attention to the wrong parts. I fail to see how that is not spiritual progress or not a scientific approach to relieving mental suffering, how that is rationalizing/justifying the human inability to escape suffering. That is the very same struggling against the vicissitudes of fate, however it's providing an answer, and all I have said about mystical traditions is that if you haven't actually sat and meditated (i.e. just sat down and observed your breath, nothing more nothing less) then you can't actually say it works or it doesn't, just like a scientific experiment.

Furthermore, Buddhism does not ask one to just curl up and die, it does however ask one to control, and in some sense kill, the ego. Even in a capitalist framework the laying down of the ego does not get rid of progress, rather when one sees one role and comes to learn oneself they will continue working, perhaps even harder, but with more awareness of how their actions benefit or harm the whole, and really I can see nothing wrong with that.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby webgrunt » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:06 pm UTC

savanik wrote:There's enlightenment, then there's being enlightened. Enlightenment is when a concept suddenly 'clicks' with you, and your understanding of the world is fundamentally altered, overwhelming your previous way of looking at the world.

Being enlightened is when that enlightenment finally sticks with you instead of you forgetting that earth-shattering realization in the next five minutes.


This's exactly how I feel. I can't say it better. I would add that with enlightenment, there is a boundless sense of joy that has actually been shown in brain scans that indicated more activity in pleasure areas of the brains of people who are enlightened. I have also heard that enlightenment allows one to see one's unavoidable death as an acceptable fact rather than a horrific one.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby webgrunt » Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:33 pm UTC

MrConor wrote:The Buddha's Four Noble Truths are a rationalisation of man's inability to completely prevent suffering through control of their environment, and a suggestion that we deny our most basic human motivations (because without desires, what motivations do we have to act?) rather than struggle against the vicissitudes of fate - and it is that selfsame struggle which has accounted for all of human progress. Enlightenment-mysticism is nothing more than man's metaphysical doubts and fear of death given a veneer of spirituality.


Denying one's motivations may be part of the training, but it's certainly not the end goal of following the eightfold path (which flows from the four noble truths.) Neither is giving up desires. You can't give up desires, it's a wasted effort to try. The goal, as I understand it, is to be free from attachments. So, you have desires, but you're not attached to those desires. Without enlightenment, people seem to be puppets controlled by their emotions. After enlightenment, you can still feel the puppet strings of emotion pulling you, but they are trivial rather than impelling.

I once heard all Buddha's teachings explained like this: "The whole framework of Buddhist teachings is inherently false and is designed to collapse like a house of cards. This can trigger enlightenment in people who are ready for it. To focus on any particular aspect of the teaching is to (to use a trite analogy) focus on the hand pointing at the moon rather than the moon it's pointing at. Enlightenment is something you see, not something you can learn. Everything you learn about Buddhism is wrong, but it's designed to get you to see, rather than teach you a bunch of facts."

That's just one guy's opinion, and not necessarily even mine. For what it's worth, I like it. On the other hand, I don't really know much about Buddhism and I'm certainly not enlightened.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Mambo4 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:53 pm UTC

some interesting (if misguided) representations of Buddhism going on here.

The portrayal of buddhist enlightenment as deeply mysterious and indescribable came about centuries after Siddhartha Gotama passed away.
Personally, based on readings of theravada /pali buddhist writings, I don't think Buddhist enlightenment is anything mystical, ineffable, or beyond rational grasp.
It's simply being aware of your thoughts, speech and actions to the degree that you see clearly what ultimately leads to suffering and what ultimately leads to happiness.
Perhaps also realizing that you can in fact choose to respond to life with thoughts, speech and actions that reduce suffering and increase happiness.
It is certainly easier said than done, however.

Wrapping the concept in a mystical or religious aura,or presenting it as an afterlife reward to dangle before the unsophisticated layman,
may have impelled many to value and pursue it more ardently -presumably encouraging the ethical/moral conduct, thus benefiting others.
so it's not an entirely bad thing. In fact there is technical term for such teachings, translated as "Skillful Means"
But in this post (western) enlightenment era, such religiosity rubs a lot of skeptics the wrong way -as evidenced by some comments here.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby webgrunt » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:59 pm UTC

Mambo4 wrote:some interesting (if misguided) representations of Buddhism going on here.

The portrayal of buddhist enlightenment as deeply mysterious and indescribable came about centuries after Siddhartha Gotama passed away.
Personally, based on readings of theravada /pali buddhist writings, I don't think Buddhist enlightenment is anything mystical, ineffable, or beyond rational grasp.
It's simply being aware of your thoughts, speech and actions to the degree that you see clearly what ultimately leads to suffering and what ultimately leads to happiness.
Perhaps also realizing that you can in fact choose to respond to life with thoughts, speech and actions that reduce suffering and increase happiness.
It is certainly easier said than done, however.

Wrapping the concept in a mystical or religious aura,or presenting it as an afterlife reward to dangle before the unsophisticated layman,
may have impelled many to value and pursue it more ardently -presumably encouraging the ethical/moral conduct, thus benefiting others.
so it's not an entirely bad thing. In fact there is technical term for such teachings, translated as "Skillful Means"
But in this post (western) enlightenment era, such religiosity rubs a lot of skeptics the wrong way -as evidenced by some comments here.

I really like this. If you put a lot more words in this post, you could sell a book. And I'd be happy to buy one. :-)

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby fuzzycuzzy » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:00 pm UTC

Before I speak, I'd just like to say that I love all the posts so far, and they've helped me realize how far I have to go.

Enlightenment in two simple steps:
1. Identify the person within you that is speaking to rationalize the world around you.
2.
Spoiler:
SHUT HIM THE HELL UP!


I said "simple"; not easy. I've managed to get mine to be quiet for the most part but he just won't wait his turn to speak. He's a lot like me in some ways, I guess. ...I gotta get more mental duct-tape.

Should I post the comic to make a point?
I'm going to post the comic to make the point.
http://www.xkcd.com/470/

Do you think monks would enjoy scrabble?

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby webgrunt » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:27 pm UTC

fuzzycuzzy wrote:Before I speak, I'd just like to say that I love all the posts so far, and they've helped me realize how far I have to go.

Enlightenment in two simple steps:
1. Identify the person within you that is speaking to rationalize the world around you.
2.
Spoiler:
SHUT HIM THE HELL UP!


I said "simple"; not easy. I've managed to get mine to be quiet for the most part but he just won't wait his turn to speak. He's a lot like me in some ways, I guess. ...I gotta get more mental duct-tape.

Should I post the comic to make a point?
I'm going to post the comic to make the point.
http://www.xkcd.com/470/

Do you think monks would enjoy scrabble?

I really like this one, too. :-)
EDIT: But why is step 2 necessary? Wouldn't #1 be enough in itself?
Last edited by webgrunt on Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:13 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Praevalere » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:48 am UTC

Knowledge of the true nature of reality in its most fundamental function
Experience of the significance of that knowledge

I originally attempted to post this and assuming it worked went on to enjoy this thread immensely.
Re-posting I of course have not altered my first thought but I would like to add that whilst an incredible array of opinions have been presented, particularly PopeDarrens testament to the falsity of the ego construct and many others' perspective on the child-like innocence or curiosity in which to view the world, we must constantly remind ourselves that it is all a chemical synthesis occurring within the brain.

I personally believe in an objective, permanent 'outside' reality given colour and shape etc. by our physiological interpretation of our experiences, but wherein but the mind can one find the capacity for inner reflection? rationalization of the internal environment births the self or ego as a by-product to keeping us functional, I suppose how the mind fundamentally can and must operate. Imagine a child that never experiences society, merely instinct. Do they still behave as a person with similar desires? Is the voice in their head any different from yours?

I am also a proponent of the idea that the mind-brain relationship is as complex and interdependent as can be. We create the juice (emotion) that saturates the soil (gray matter) that grows the trees (neural pathways) that bear fruit (more juice)

Do you think in english? pictures? vibes like a gist sort of thing? emotionally based creatures we are, there are only two paths to 'enlightenment' in the definition of "Moving from ignorance to understanding" in any given context imaginable; add flavour to the juice, or get in there with a microscope and a scalpel and start planting some trees.

The real goal of enlightenment then, in my opinion, is to eliminate context.
Is that even possible for a cranially endowed monkey? for any thing capable of sentience? The terms sentience and enlightenment (in the goal of eliminating context) seem completely contradictory. Suppose the brain/mind dynamic is capable of full or at least apparently full control of the brain organ through the mind, is it not still being shaped by the brain in some form? the consciousness or mind is completely based from it, though not according to some OBE and other transcendental experience supporters, but assuming so, doesn't that discount the plausibility of the dismantling of the ego through pure brain power? not having performed an EEG or listened to the consciousness of greatly meditated mental energies I can't say whether or not there is credibility to the dissipation of the ego or merely its incredibly sophisticated cover-up in the guise of assumption that it (the ego) is in fact dead by its own head. But given that possibility, neither can they.

This would have only been the first two lines if it posted the first time >,>

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby fuzzycuzzy » Thu Jun 23, 2011 6:21 pm UTC

webgrunt wrote:EDIT: But why is step 2 necessary? Wouldn't #1 be enough in itself?

because if you're letting that voice trying to rationalize the universe speak out of turn, you're missing the things that the other voices in your head want to say

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby addams » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:28 am UTC

Maybe; Just maybe; The enlightened must look the world in the eye and know it for what it is.
The fortunate enlightened get to live a wonderful dream of loving and being loved in return, anyway.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Kyleb » Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:27 pm UTC

Enlightenment to me, just means that you're at peace with yourself. You are calm, and at peace with the universe and it's many mysteries. All that happens when you meditate is breathing and thinking to yourself, there's nothing supernatural or overly complicated about it, it just is.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby addams » Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:24 am UTC

I think there are as many ways to be enlightened as there are persons to be enlightened.

I also think that each enlightened person has many moments of enlightenment.

It is like opening a Box. What is in the box?
It is like turning a light on in a dark room. What was hidden in darkness is simply visible.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby TimXCampbell » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:21 pm UTC

What is Enlightenment? If I may answer a question with a question, I'll say this: Do enlightened people necessarily call themselves enlightened? In my experience they typically steer away from the word, though not always for the same reason.

What does it mean to be enlightened? The best definition I've ever seen is, "To see things as they truly are." The flip side of this is, "To not impose bias on what one sees." Finding the source of that bias is a huge step in this direction.

Who Is and Isn't Enlightened? If we are tied to the word "enlightened", then if a person says they're enlightened, then they are. Who am I to quibble at the level of words? However, I'm being pedantic. I can form a fair guess about what the question is intended to mean. I've noticed that a lot of “enlightened” people seem utterly unable to answer a plain question!

So I'll say this: anybody who can detach themselves from their cultural milieu is more enlightened than those who cannot. In my opinion, though, nobody has ever succeeded completely. Not the Buddha (who seems to have believed in reincarnation), nor Jesus (who phrased his message elliptically in terms of a tribal God), nor Mohammed, to name some standard names. I also exclude our latter-day sages such as Eckhart Tolle, who (it seems to me) has focused on one subjective aspect of enlightenment, or Adyashanti, who seems like he could convey his message using more familiar terms but does not do so.

Having said this, I should be emphatic that I do not consider enlightenment a linear scale! In my view Tolle and Adyashanti are light years ahead of many sages in some areas, but lag behind in others. This is probably inevitable, since it is simply not practical for someone to utterly detach from their cultural milieu. If they did, nobody would understand them.

I have had close, direct contact with one fellow — an American — who could have called himself enlightened. He was not effective at explaining his state to others. (That's part of the reason why he asked me to ghost-write his first book.) I had second-hand contact with a similar fellow from Australia who was, in my judgment, in the same boat as the first fellow. The two of them never got along. To me this is highly significant, as is the fact that it's exceedingly rare for “enlightened” people to consult with each other to discover how best to communicate the message.

How can you become enlightened? I'm writing about that in my blog. The link's in my profile, I think. (And here.) Short answer: We need to define the problem before we can work on the solution.

How Rare is Enlightement? As I implied earlier, enlightenment is a matter of degree, and it's not a linear scale of achievement. So this question is unanswerable.


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