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Thread: Why do people make public claims to Enlightement?

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Element View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by chownah View Post

    The buddha used what the suttas call "conventional speech". Use of the terms "I", "me" & "mine" can be taken as "conventional speech".
    This seems to be claiming philg is a Buddha.
    My intent is to say that perhaps philg is just using conventional speech. Do you think that the buddha was the only one to use conventional speech?
    chownah

  2. #42
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    Hi guys

    It's interesting to unpick the 'I' business. In most stuff I have read, it refers to the actual enlightenment experience, that if you were thinking 'this is an enlightenment experience at the time, then it wasn't. Conscious thinking, including 'what the hell just happened to me?' comes afterwards. Of course the Buddha used 'I' afterwards; why shouldn't he? It would make conversation rather difficult if you could never refer to yourself.

    The other use of the 'enlightened people don't use I' is a kind of catch 22 designed to control the definition of enlightenment in communities which need shared understanding, such as monasteries or tightly knit sanghas. Perhaps from the best of intentions that there indeed experiences along the way which can lead one to think that enlightenment has happened, when it really hasn't.

    My book, which started this part of the thread off, is kind of the opposite to someone proclaiming themselves to be a Buddha. It is really a guide to people interested in insight meditation, maybe to experience altered states of consciousness, complete with warnings about pitfalls and potential issues arising from such a practice. The 'for grown ups' bit (which I am about to change to 'for everyone) was a warning that such things shouldn't be undertaken lightly, without a lot of research beforehand. I advise going to Buddhist teachers, but accept that people may not want to do that, and would rather do stuff in the privacy of their own homes.

    Nor does it say what might happen to them afterwards. Instead I suggest that the experience is universal to the human condition, and that each of us, going alone, will get something unique to ourselves from it, perhaps making us more of the individuals that we could be. I ask people to explore for themselves what significance the experience has for them in the future.

    About all I claim is that, through messing about with various techniques, I went through a life changing experience that, on reflection and after many years of studying what might have happened to me, led me to taking the decision to share it with others. The only language available to me had already been hijacked to some extent by Victorian translators, so is pretty laden with histories from both East and West. It was either that or invent words a la Robert Heinlein. I also claim that the book follows the Satipatthana Sutta's general structure, or at least is based on the structure as I have understood it.

    What I try to do is bring my own experiences to the whole business of changing yourself using meditation techniques, and to bring in any scientific explanations that may be relevant. The next book is around the use of mindfulness as a therapy, or even as a business strategy to make the workforce more efficient. Others half-written include the relationship between insight experiences and the spiritual side of how we explore the world and a look at meditation techniques in general.

    Can I say that I am impressed by the lack of negative language on this site? I feel grateful that you are all giving me the chance to respond to issues which are inevitable when making such material public.

  3. #43
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    On re-reading, the last sentence should be '...the chance to respond to contentious issues which are inevitable with such material in books for the general public'. By this I mean the language is directed at people not necessarily conversant with Buddhist terminology, and so is perhaps of concern for those following the path. My revisions will temper the language in the book somewhat, hopefully making it clear the aftermath of the sort of experience I am talking about will be different from, say, that experienced by someone fully immersed in Buddhist practice. What will be different is the subsequent reaction to the experience when conscious thought returns.

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by philg
    My book, which started this part of the thread off, is kind of the opposite to someone proclaiming themselves to be a Buddha. It is really a guide to people interested in insight meditation, maybe to experience altered states of consciousness, complete with warnings about pitfalls and potential issues arising from such a practice.
    Something worth remembering:

    "The most important insight is to understand how clinging works—the nature of grasping and clinging in all its gross and subtle forms. All of Buddhism will open up for you if you understand the nature of clinging, what you cling to, and how to let go."

    Excerpt from one of many helpful articles by Gil Fronsdal. (Buddhist teacher at the USA Insight Meditation Centre)

    http://www.insightmeditationcenter.o...cles/articles/

    - and just as an aside, it seems that online courses are also available:

    http://www.insightmeditationcenter.o...ails-schedule/


  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    "The most important insight is to understand how clinging works—the nature of grasping and clinging in all its gross and subtle forms. All of Buddhism will open up for you if you understand the nature of clinging, what you cling to, and how to let go."

    Excerpt from one of many helpful articles by Gil Fronsdal. (Buddhist teacher at the USA Insight Meditation Centre)

    http://www.insightmeditationcenter.o...cles/articles/

    - and just as an aside, it seems that online courses are also available:

    http://www.insightmeditationcenter.o...ails-schedule/

    Yes. That is fundamentally what the book is about. Using insight meditation to explore how clinging works. That is, after all, a key element of the Satipatthana Sutta, which the book is based on.

  6. #46
    Returning to the OP #1 at the beginning of this topic again, I looked at some comments from Ajahn Sumedho in his book "The Sound of Silence" and noticed that he said:

    The four stages on the path – the stream-enterer, the sakadā-gāmī, the anāgāmī, Arahant – this is all about reflecting on the ten fetters, not becoming, not ‘me’ becoming any of these stages. What happens so much of the time – if you don’t see through the sakkāyadiṭṭhi, sīlabbata-parāmāsa, and vicikicchā and get past them – is that you try to become a stream-enterer or become an arahant. Or feeling you are not, ‘I can’t do it, I’ve still got so many attachments I can’t possibly do that.'
    and:

    - Or did the Buddha use these terms not for identity or for becoming, but for letting go? So, as with the fetters, you don’t become a sotāpanna; you let go of the ignorance, the fetters that delude you.

    and:

    What is nibbāna? It is when you recognize and realize non-attachment. You have to recognize what attachment is before you can realize non-attachment.
    Source of quotes :http://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content/...of-Silence.pdf


    So anyway, to conclude, with respect, my personal opinion is that if there were any fully enlightened beings in the 21st century (who are followers of the teachings of the historical Buddha), they wouldn't feel any need for making attention seeking public claims in the media/internet..



  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post

    So anyway, to conclude, with respect, my personal opinion is that if there were any fully enlightened beings in the 21st century (who are followers of the teachings of the historical Buddha), they wouldn't feel any need for making attention seeking public claims in the media/internet.


    I'm always pretty skeptical about people like me too! I think it goes with the territory.

    If we go back to our early exchanges in the topic I suggested that the compassion for others which arises either compels you to say something, or compels you to keep your mouth shut. Unfortunately I appear to be in the former category.

    Fortunately, from your point of view, very few people are interested in the stuff I write anyway, so perhaps things will work out for the best, and it will all be forgotten. The good news is that the Buddha did make a public claim, and so his message is out there, and long may it be so.

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by philg
    Fortunately, from your point of view, very few people are interested in the stuff I write anyway.
    That's not what I actually said though, Phil.

    My view is that I find it quite hard to take 21st century public claims to enlightenment all that seriously. Lots of people get different kinds of experiences in meditation and it seems very likely that not everyone is able to let go of them again and move on.

    I think its also a good idea to talk to more than one experienced meditation teacher about these things if possible. I've found that talking to teachers from two different traditions about my own practice over a period of time, has been very helpful.



  9. #49
    I came across this video , which I haven't had time to watch yet - and thought I'd post it here:

    Robert Wright (author of "Why Buddhism is True"), talks to Daniel Ingram about 'What does it mean to be "enlightened."'

    Daniel has claimed in the past to be an Arhat:

    http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.co.u...el-ingram.html




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