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Aloka
23 Mar 15, 19:22
This is an entry from Brad Warners Hardcore Zen blog. Your comments about what he has to say are welcome:




Enlightenment and Freedom from Suffering

"There were 325 comments on my previous post the last time I checked. I haven’t read all of them. But a number of them appear to be discussing the matter of Enlightenment. Someone said that Zen is definitely a religion because it promises Enlightenment, which is the freedom from suffering.

I never really understood that. My teachers never said anything remotely like, “This practice will bring you to Enlightenment, which is freedom from suffering.” The only places I ever saw or heard statements like that were in books and magazine articles that I did not trust, or from people who clearly had no idea what they were talking about. Those people and, of course, Yoda from Star Wars.

I can’t tell you whether the practice of Zen will lead you to Enlightenment and relieve you from suffering. I’ve done this stuff for over thirty years now, though, so I may be able to say a little about what it seems to have done for me.

To me, meditation — zazen specifically — is a way to decrease some of the distractions of the mind. We don’t realize, generally, how incredibly distracted we are by the processes going on in our own brains. But if you work on dealing with some of your distractions you discover that there was a whole world out there you had not noticed before because you were too distracted to perceive it. Do this for long enough and a shift in perception/understanding occurs. At least that’s how it was for me.

I don’t like words like “Enlightenment” or “kensho” or “satori” or “awakening” or any of the other terms commonly used to refer to what happens after you do this process for a long time. They’re inaccurate and misleading. However, after years of doing this process I had a number of interesting shifts in my understanding of things. There was one major shift and countless clusters of others that accompanied it and that keep on occurring even now.

People tend to picture these experiences as a change from confusion to certainty. In a sense that’s kind of the way it is. But the certainty is more about what’s not true than about what is true.

For example, before this stuff started happening to me, I would have pictured Enlightenment as giving me, among other things, certainty about whether there is or is not a God and whether there is or is not life after death. I thought the answer would be either yes or no. How could there be any other answer to questions like that?

Now I comprehend that there is another answer and that is; “framing such questions in the form that requires a yes or a no as an answer is absurd.”

The problem is that EVERYONE HATES THAT ANSWER. You hate it. I hate it. The Pope hates it. Pat Robertson hates it. Richard Dawkins hates and despises it so much he hacks up a giant phlegm ball and spits on it. Deepak Chopra hates it more than Oprah does. You will never make big money with that kind of answer.

I understand now that the very way I was trained to think and to communicate my thoughts to others does not allow for me to answer these questions any better than that. There is no linguistic solution to this particular problem. When I say that there is certainty, that’s what I’m referring to. This aspect of the problem is certain.

Language communicates common experience. If you have seen a plate of shrimp and I have seen a plate of shrimp, then when I say “plate of shrimp” to you, you have some idea what I’m talking about. But if you said “plate of shrimp” to an inhabitant of the planet Mephiras in the Andromeda Galaxy, zhe would have no idea what you were talking about.

CONTINUES AT THE LINK:

http://hardcorezen.info/enlightenment-and-freedom-from-suffering/3403




:hands:

PaulE
26 Mar 15, 12:19
My teachers never said anything remotely like, “This practice will bring you to Enlightenment, which is freedom from suffering.” The only places I ever saw or heard statements like that were in books and magazine articles that I did not trust, or from people who clearly had no idea what they were talking about.

I must admit that this article got me thinking about my first encounter with the English words used in translations of Buddhist texts. That Enlightenment would mean an end to suffering and that happiness would be the individual’s constant emotional state seemed an exaggerated claim. From the limited contact and conversations that I had with Buddhists in those early days the view I also encountered was that Enlightenment wasn’t something that would be experienced in one’s own lifetime either. It is undoubtedly the case that all these communications were sincere expressions of the beliefs of those individuals. On a personal level, when I was introduced to a translation of Dukkha as ‘unsatisfactoriness’ things fell into place a lot more for me as an individual.

As a response to Brad Warner’s article I want to focus on how I think we can communicate with each other about thoughts arising and the emotions that accompany them.

My own view is that you should analyse concepts, be sceptical about the spiritual experiences that others say that they have had (but not disrespectful), but over and above all of that, accept that you cannot deny your own experience. If we haven’t experienced the attributes that a state of being represents, our apprehension of meaning depends on our familiarity with the concepts that are being employed to describe that state.


I don’t like words like “Enlightenment” or “kensho” or “satori” or “awakening” or any of the other terms commonly used to refer to what happens after you do this process for a long time. They’re inaccurate and misleading. However, after years of doing this process I had a number of interesting shifts in my understanding of things. There was one major shift and countless clusters of others that accompanied it and that keep on occurring even now.

To build a building you need to start at the foundations and work your way up.

With belief you can build things up very quickly. With direct experience you build more slowly and cautiously. You realise the significance of the building, but you also realise that individuals have to build it for themselves.


I understand now that the very way I was trained to think and to communicate my thoughts to others does not allow for me to answer these questions any better than that. There is no linguistic solution to this particular problem. When I say that there is certainty, that’s what I’m referring to. This aspect of the problem is certain.
Language communicates common experience. If you have seen a plate of shrimp and I have seen a plate of shrimp, then when I say “plate of shrimp” to you, you have some idea what I’m talking about. But if you said “plate of shrimp” to an inhabitant of the planet Mephiras in the Andromeda Galaxy, zhe would have no idea what you were talking about.


We can’t haul ourselves up by our own bootstraps, so all communication that is sincerely given to help others find the right way to live and realise cognitive and emotional contentment is in my view all ‘grist to the mill’.

PaulE