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Bopshibobshibop
24 Jul 12, 21:38
I'm curious to know the range of opinions about enlightenment, and the relative popularity of various opinions. Couldn't figure out how to start a poll, so I'll do it this way.

Imagine two Buddhists, dedicated students of Buddhism and well-regarded teachers, though perhaps not famous. Both are very kind, very compassionate, very calm and equanimous, both are pleasant and cheerful. Both are intelligent, both have plenty of practical common sense, both have good intuition.

One is enlightened, the other isn't.

Do you think you could identify the enlightened one of the two? If so, how?

If you are skeptical or agnostic about enlightenment, please say so briefly in your reply. Feel free to quote scripture if you want, but I'm more interested in informal, personal opinions.

I don't have an axe to grind on this topic. I'm not going to agree with some replies, disagree with others.

Cheers,


Bobshibobshibop

Element
24 Jul 12, 21:43
Do you think you could identify the enlightened one of the two? If so, how?
imo, the enlightenment one must have ease & wisdom in relation to life's most difficult challenges, such as loss, sickness, death, etc

Goofaholix
24 Jul 12, 23:06
Do you think you could identify the enlightened one of the two? If so, how?


I don't believe you could, unless you could get inside the mind of each individual, otherwise you can only go on subjective gut feeling and/or observing the individuals responses to the kinds of situations Element mentioned.

It doesn't matter either way if what each individual has to teach is of value.

Bopshibobshibop
24 Jul 12, 23:49
It doesn't matter either way if what each individual has to teach is of value.

That's true, but not my main concern.

I'm trying to develop a better understanding of the nature of enlightenment. Is enlightenment possible? Are there degrees of enlightenment? How do we identify enlightened people? If I were enlightened (fat chance!) how would I know it? When people claim to be enlightened, apparently in good faith, when they are not, what has gone wrong?

I know some people who meditate assiduously because they believe that they can achieve enlightenment in this lifetime. I also know people who meditate regularly, though they think the whole idea of enlightenment is silly. At the moment, I don't have an opinion one way or the other.

I know what the scriptures say. I'm interested to know what the subscribers say.

Cheers,

Bopshibobshibop

Esho
25 Jul 12, 00:36
You will need to treat her/him a lot, in a daily basis in order to see how attached is to his 'self' how he reacts to minor things as with hate or greed, how he deals during difficult times...

There is something that maybe do not has any scientific base but... the way one smiles when a smile has to arise -and many minor gestures around that smile- can tell a lot about a woman or man that has quenched mental suffering.

Things like that.

:flower:

Goofaholix
25 Jul 12, 02:42
That's true, but not my main concern.

I'm trying to develop a better understanding of the nature of enlightenment. Is enlightenment possible? Are there degrees of enlightenment? How do we identify enlightened people? If I were enlightened (fat chance!) how would I know it? When people claim to be enlightened, apparently in good faith, when they are not, what has gone wrong?

Then you asked the wrong question.

The first thing I’d advise is to ditch the word enlightenment, it’s a period of European history and in the way it’s used nowadays evokes ideas of some kind of mystical ascension.

The terms the Buddha used were Bodhi which means awakening, and Nibbana which means cooling out, there may be others but those are the main ones.

The metaphor Nibbana uses the Indian word that means setting aside a cooking pot to let it cool off before eating, so after all that fire and agitation there is the end of heat and of agitation and so release. Another metaphor is a candle flame going out.

So just as a pot can be partially cool or a candle burns low there can be relative awakening as well as “ultimate” awakening (which you call enlightenment) where such agitation never returns. If one experiences relative awakening one develops confidence that there is more where that came from and ultimate awakening is possible.

When people claim awakening but are not in my opinion it’s usually a product of romantic ideals about “enlightenment” that people seem to latch onto, which of course is a product of delusion.

Bopshibobshibop
25 Jul 12, 03:24
Then you asked the wrong question.

The first thing I’d advise is to ditch the word enlightenment, it’s a period of European history and in the way it’s used nowadays evokes ideas of some kind of mystical ascension.

The terms the Buddha used were Bodhi which means awakening, and Nibbana which means cooling out, there may be others but those are the main ones.

Good suggestion, Goofaholix. Silly me, I knew the Pali terminology all along, yet I've been accepting the English word "enlightenment," along with some of the legend and folklore that attends it. It does make more sense to stick with bodhi and nibbana.

Still, a similar question remains, even if I ask about "awakening" rather than "enlightenment." Particularly if I ask about "ultimate" awakening rather than "relative" awakening.

Others, so far, have suggested I'd have to know the person well. That makes sense. Yet still, it seems, someone could be very calm, peaceful, equanimous, smile nicely, even under difficult circumstances, yet not be "ultimately" awakened.

Is "ultimately awakened" just one end of a continuum of awakening, or is it a qualitatively different state?

Cheers,

Bopshibobshibop

Goofaholix
25 Jul 12, 03:50
Is "ultimately awakened" just one end of a continuum of awakening, or is it a qualitatively different state?


I think it's probably both.

You're line of questioning is a bit like asking how do I tell if someone is a virgin. On one hand it's reassuring to know they still exist, on the other hand it makes no difference.

Element
25 Jul 12, 04:14
How do we identify enlightened people?
For what reason/s is this necessary? :dontknow:

nibbuti
25 Jul 12, 09:15
One is enlightened, the other isn't.

Do you think you could identify the enlightened one of the two? If so, how?

Hi Bob

Lets put the ingenuity and purpose of your question aside for a moment. ;)

Vimamsaka Sutta spoken by the Buddha is concerned with just this: how to examine un-/enlightened states?

The translation is a bit flawy, but it is enough to get the point across.



MN 47: Vimamsaka Sutta (The Examination)

I heard thus.

At one time the Blessed One was living in the monastery offered by Anaathapindika in Jeta’s grove in Saavatthi. Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus from there.

Bhikkhus, by a bhikkhu who could read the thought processes of another, an examination of the Thus Gone One should be done. Is he rightfully enlightened or not or only conscious of it? Venerable sir, the Blessed One is the origin of the Teaching, the leader and the refuge of the Teaching. Good that the meaning of these words occur to the Blessed One. Hearing it from the Blessed One, the bhikkhus will bear it in mind. Then bhikkhus, listen, I will teach.

Bhikkhus, by the bhikkhu who could examine the thought processes of another the Thus Gone One should be examined on two things. On things cognisable by eye consciousness and ear consciousness. Are defiled things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness evident in the Thus Gone One or are they not? When examining he knows. These defiled things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness (*1) are not evident in the Thus Gone One. Then he should make a further examination: Are mixed things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness evident in the Thus Gone One or are they not? When examining he knows. These mixed things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness (*2) are not evident in the Thus Gone One. Then he should make a further examination: Are pure things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness evident in the Thus Gone One or are they not? When examining he knows. The pure things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness (*3) are evident in the Thus Gone One.

Then he should make a further examination. Has the venerable one attained to these things of merit since long or are they attained to recently? When examining he knows these things of merit were attained since long, and not recently. Then he should make a further examination. Is the venerable one internally convinced of this attainment? Is there a possible danger evident? He should make a thorough examination to know whether there is some danger evident. When examining he knows the venerable one is internally convinced of the attainment and there is no danger evident.

Then he should further examine. Does the venerable one not indulge in sensuality, through destruction of greed or through fear? When examining he knows. The venerable one does not indulge in sensuality through destruction of greed, and not through fear.

Then the others should question that bhikkhu. On what grounds did the venerable one say, that the venerable one did not indulge in sensuality because greed is destroyed and not through fear? If that bhikkhu should reply rightly, he should say: Whether the venerable one is in the amidst of the community, or living alone. Living there well or miserably, if when advising a crowd, he sees someone fallen for materiality, or someone not soiled by materiality, the venerable one does not look down on him: This I heard in the presence of the Blessed One, and he acknowledged it ‘I do not indulge in sensuality because my greed is destroyed, not out of fear.’

Then further it may, even be questioned from the Thus Gone One himself: Are defiled things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness evident in the Thus Gone One or are they not? Then I would declare.‘Defiled things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness are not evident in the Thus Gone One’. Asked: Are mixed things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness evident in the Thus Gone One, or are they not? I would declare. ‘Mixed things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness are not evident in the Thus Gone One’.Asked: Are pure things cognisable by eye and ear consciousness evident in the Thus Gone One, or are they not?. I would declare. ‘Pure things cognisable by eye and ear consiousness are evident in the Thus Gone One.That is my path and pasture, but I do not make them mine’. Bhikkhus, a Teacher who says thus, is suitable to be approached to hear the Teaching. He teaches leading one to more and more exalted states, showing the dark and white counterparts’. When teaching leading to more and more exalted states, at a certain point he reaches the summit (*4) and establishes faith in the Teacher: The Blessed One is rightfully enlightened, the Teaching is well proclaimed, the Community of bhikkhus have gone well.

Then the others should question that bhikkhu. On what grounds did the venerable one say, the Blessed One is rightfully enlightened, the Teaching is well proclaimed and the Community of bhikkhus have gone well? That bhikkhu replying rightly should say, I approached the Blessed One to listen to the Teaching. The Blessed One taught me leading to more and more exalted states, showing the dark and white counterparts. When teaching, leading me to more and more exalted states, at a certain point I reached the summit, and then I established faith in the Teacher and came to the conclusion, the Blessed One is rightfully enlightened, the Teaching is well proclaimed, and the Community of bhikkhus has gone dwell.

Bhikkhus, in whomever faith is established in the Thus Gone One in this manner with these phrases and words, it becomes well established, thoroughly rooted faith and insight. It cannot be changed by a recluse, brahmin, god, Maaraa Brahmaa or by anyone in the world.

Bhikkhus, that is the search in the Teaching of the Thus Gone One, and is the propriety of reaching the summit (*5) in the Teaching of the Thus Gone One..

The Blessed One said thus and those bhikkhus delighted in the words of the Blessed One.

:read:

Deshy
25 Jul 12, 15:41
You're line of questioning is a bit like asking how do I tell if someone is a virgin. On one hand it's reassuring to know they still exist

And why is that ? :read:

Bopshibobshibop
25 Jul 12, 17:04
For what reason/s is this necessary? :dontknow:

A fair question.

--I sometimes read Shinzen Young's books and listen to his dharma talks. He casually mentions people he knows who are "totally enlightened." I can't help wondering, first, "How does he know?" and, second, "What does that mean, exactly?"

--My friend Danny thinks that he has a good chance at enlightenment in this lifetime if he studies and meditates assiduously. (He hasn't said whether he's aiming for relative enlightenment or ultimate enlightenment.) I ask myself, "Is this a realistic hope for Danny?" "Is it a realistic hope for me?"

--On a couple of occasions I have been in the presence of teachers who were enlightened, according to their students or followers. The followers told me I was very lucky to have the opportunity just to be in the presence of such a teacher. I felt uncomfortable and perplexed. What to think? What to believe? On both of these occasions, I did not feel any particular reverence for the teacher (no hostility either). Just mildly curious. Should I try to be more receptive to this teacher's wonderfulness? Didn't really know what to think. Still wonder about it.

(I ask about "enlightened," not "awakened," because this is the language they use. I agree that "awakened" is the preferable term.)

--I read the sutras, but they are not always so easy to apply to my day to day experience. In an attempt to understand better, I ask myself, "If my wife were awakened, what would that be like?" "If my receptionist were awakened would I know it? What would be the signs?"

Just a few representative examples of stuff I wonder about. By nature, I'm kinda curious, kinda skeptical.

To tell you the truth, I'm not always 100% satisfied with the sutras. Lots of good stuff there, of course, but some I just can't bring myself to believe. That's why I study philosophy and psychology, and so on. That's why I ask questions like this.


Bopshi

Aloka
25 Jul 12, 17:14
--On a couple of occasions I have been in the presence of teachers who were enlightened, according to their students or followers. The followers told me I was very lucky to have the opportunity just to be in the presence of such a teacher. I felt uncomfortable and perplexed. What to think? What to believe? On both of these occasions, I did not feel any particular reverence for the teacher (no hostility either). Just mildly curious. Should I try to be more receptive to this teacher's wonderfulness? Didn't really know what to think. Still wonder about it.



Could you give us some idea of who the teachers or the groups were, please ?

Were they Buddhist teachers ?

.

Deshy
25 Jul 12, 17:32
. That's why I ask questions like this.



Doesn't this answer your question as to what enlightenment must be like?


imo, the enlightenment one must have ease & wisdom in relation to life's most difficult challenges, such as loss, sickness, death, etc

It seems reasonable to think that enlightenment is like dwelling in a non-agitated mind which does not suffer anger, sadness, anxiety, despair and similar mental qualities.

Esho
25 Jul 12, 19:14
A fair question.

Fair doubts ;D


--I sometimes read Shinzen Young's books and listen to his dharma talks. He casually mentions people he knows who are "totally enlightened." I can't help wondering, first, "How does he know?"

Maybe in Shinzen's books are some clues about how does he know.


and, second, "What does that mean, exactly?"

Totally enlightened means a mind that is free from mental torment. Free from clinging to the five aggregates. Free from craving.


"Is this a realistic hope for Danny?"

Yes it is.


"Is it a realistic hope for me?"

A realistic hope, yes...

for you Bop... I can't know... depends on that "you".


--On a couple of occasions I have been in the presence of teachers who were enlightened, according to their students or followers. The followers told me I was very lucky to have the opportunity just to be in the presence of such a teacher.

Maybe it was. I was very lucky to work hand by hand with a Soto Zen Roshi in a project bringing Zazen to women inmates.


I felt uncomfortable and perplexed. What to think? What to believe?

You need not to believe anything but just to open to the experience of being in a group of Dhamma practitioners.

I acknowledge that it could have been quite perplexing if you were a newcomer and skeptic. It's OK.


On both of these occasions, I did not feel any particular reverence for the teacher (no hostility either).

For some traditions the reverence for a guru or a teacher is important. It can be felt sincerely or worshiping can be learnt.

In other traditions there is not such a need.

If you do not felt any particular reverence it is OK. Personally I do not worship gurus.


Just mildly curious. Should I try to be more receptive to this teacher's wonderfulness?

If one has not seen any wonderfulness in a teacher, how can one be more receptive?

There are great teachers out there. Their greatness do not depend on worshiping. So, it is not needed.

But I will doubt -as you- if worshiping is felt as something that is imposed.


--I read the sutras, but they are not always so easy to apply to my day to day experience.

I practice from the Suttas, not from traditions. Suttas are not easy. Suttas are huge in number, style and purpose. Even when I practice from Suttas I do not know the entire oeuvre of the teachings of Gotama Buddha. But any Sutta can bring you some learning.

Some Suttas are too soon to get with them. Leave it aside. Work with those that resonates with you. It is great to practice as you do. Verifying what works with your personal circumstances and what do not.


In an attempt to understand better, I ask myself, "If my wife were awakened, what would that be like?" "If my receptionist were awakened would I know it? What would be the signs?"

It is no so complex... just to see how much mental torment 'your' receptionist and 'your' wife are experiencing with daily happenings.


By nature, I'm kinda curious, kinda skeptical.

That is OK. Some practitioners are skeptical and started just by curiosity.


To tell you the truth, I'm not always 100% satisfied with the sutras.

Yes. There are Suttas that do not resonate well with us. Its OK.


Lots of good stuff there, of course, but some I just can't bring myself to believe.

Suttas are about verification through practice. If mental torment has decreased then that Sutta the a good one.


That's why I study philosophy and psychology

Psychology is good. Mostly cognitive sciences. Here and there we can find some aspects of what Buddha taught in the sciences of mind.

Aloka
25 Jul 12, 19:17
Ajahn Jayasaro talking about enlightenment and enlightened beings.

(video Just over 7 minutes in length)



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u76o7xZe3PE

.

Element
26 Jul 12, 19:50
--I sometimes read Shinzen Young's books and listen to his dharma talks. He casually mentions people he knows who are "totally enlightened." I can't help wondering, first, "How does he know?" and, second, "What does that mean, exactly?"
hi Bopshibobshibop

this just sounds like the common "name dropping" of many Western dharma teachers, which enhances their image in the eyes of their audience. apart from that, possibly you need to ask yourself: "What does enlightenment mean, exactly?", given you started this thread


--My friend Danny thinks that he has a good chance at enlightenment in this lifetime if he studies and meditates assiduously. (He hasn't said whether he's aiming for relative enlightenment or ultimate enlightenment.) I ask myself, "Is this a realistic hope for Danny?" "Is it a realistic hope for me?"
again, to me, this sounds like "supermarket Buddhism" or "department store Buddhism", where the "marketing & advertising of Buddhism" has prompted us to go shopping for something better but essentially same as our current experience; shopping for some stairway to an imagined heaven.

again, we may need to ask: "What does enlightenment mean, exactly?" it is to feel any ecstacy & love more sublime than the joys & loves we feel now? is it a better wine, a better high, a better orgasm? "What does enlightenment mean, exactly?"

is our friend Danny seeking an experience unconnected to his current reality? for example, if our current reality is suffering, then ending that reality is connected to that reality. is Danny doing that or is Danny chasing some imagined exalted state?


--On a couple of occasions I have been in the presence of teachers who were enlightened, according to their students or followers. The followers told me I was very lucky to have the opportunity just to be in the presence of such a teacher. I felt uncomfortable and perplexed. What to think? What to believe? On both of these occasions, I did not feel any particular reverence for the teacher (no hostility either). Just mildly curious. Should I try to be more receptive to this teacher's wonderfulness?
imo, "no". enlightenment i imagine is something that will happen within you so i doubt reverence towards a teacher can assist.


(I ask about "enlightened," not "awakened," because this is the language they use. I agree that "awakened" is the preferable term.)
i prefer 'enlightened', given it seems to resonate more with wisdom & knowledge rather than with some kind of exalted luminous consciousness


To tell you the truth, I'm not always 100% satisfied with the sutras. Lots of good stuff there, of course, but some I just can't bring myself to believe. That's why I study philosophy and psychology, and so on.
that's too bad. at least the Pali suttas explain suffering happens when there is ignorance, craving & attachment; suffering ends when ignorance, craving & attachment end; suffering ends when the mind can accept all conditioned things are impermanent, unsatisfactory & not-self. this is the psychology of the suttas, which are a detailed diagnosis about the reality of psychological suffering & its eradication

regards

;D