Share on Facebook
Page 2 of 8 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 ... LastLast

Thread: Why do people make public claims to Enlightement?

  1. #11
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    384
    Hi woodscooter. The more the merrier! Like with science, the only times I feel that I've moved forward are those when I've been shown to be wrong. There's no particular point in people only agreeing with you (although it's quite nice in the rare times it happens ).

    I'm glad you have had good experiences, but wanted to air a different perspective to consider. There seems to be something of a contradiction when you can say, "Experiences were discussed one-to-one in private, with the teacher." and then say, "That's not to say there was an air of secrecy about it", although of course your other statement, "What are we to believe and who will guide us?" is pretty valid.

    I think my concern is with secrecy, not so much the need for it within the context of "sincere students with a competent teacher" but:

    1.The rest of people,who are interested, but who do not have access to regular sessions of that kind.

    2.The loss of stuff that isn't shared because people don't talk about it. Perhaps stuff that could encourage people to meditate, or even to go seek out further help if they can, or even stuff to help people interpret things which have happened to them.

    3.If the good stuff is held back in this way, then the only stuff people can access will be, "claims being made by all comers, good, bad, indifferent and self-styled gurus", with consequent less help in choosing between them.

    4.Maybe, was my thought, some kind of bank of experiences, good, bad and indifferent, could be put together to help interpret the rather vague and hard to follow traditional translations we have from early Buddhism.

  2. #12
    Interestingly, I was looking at this book which you wrote, phil , and which you used to have in your profile details at another forum.

    The title is:

    "Enlightenment for Grown ups : a practical guide"

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1530865565/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

    and on the back of the cover the description of the book says:


    "This book is a practical guide to enlightenment using meditation techniques to rewire the brain, "reverse engineering" the things I did to see the world in a different way. Enlightenment for grown-ups gives it to you straight. Develop meditation techniques, use them in a structured way to revisit key ideas that are responsible for how your brain is wired up and you too will experience the world as an enlightened being. And the journey isn't bad either."

  3. #13
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    384
    I guess it depends on your definition of enlightenment. It's probably the same for everyone, but who knows, because who is stupid enough to stick their heads above the parapet and say? Well, since apparently I fall into the stupid category, I did actually write a book about my experiences.

    As a science teacher, I was continuing my interest in the science of perception by experimenting on myself. I was trained to teach science to A-level, but decided to teach in Primary schools instead, so I was keeping my hand in, so to speak. Drugs and electromagnetic stimulation were right out (as a biology specialist I knew not to go anywhere near them) so I decided to try various meditation techniques and record what happened. Things tend not to work out as we think they will, and I actually started to enjoy some of these techniques, particularly zen insight meditations. The first flashes of insight kind of took me by surprise, so I started to delve deeper into eastern meditation practices, and the corresponding religious backgrounds.

    The life of a teacher is pretty busy, but meant I could use some of the longer holidays to practice two or three hour meditations first thing of a morning. And, as it says in the blurb, I started to get interested in the deeper stuff such as different ways of seeing the same thing. The quote in Aloka's last post misses out this bit of the book's description: "Interested in finding the meaning of life? I was, and as a trained teacher and researcher decided to do something about it. Eventually, I decided to experiment with my mind, playing around with different types of meditation to see what they could do. And I mean ‘playing’; hoping they would have some effect, but not really expecting anything to happen. So what happened? The unexpected."

    So things happened arising from undertaking these practices, but, not having been to any meditation classes or Buddhist centres, I decided to go along to a local centre to get some help. It didn't work out quite like that, and after going there for a few years I went to Mitra classes and eventually became a Buddhist. Of course, one of the first things you learn to do there is to keep your mouth shut about your own experiences, as things are geared to their own particular take on Buddhism, and other views weren't really welcome. Eventually I stopped going to the centre and thought about putting my ideas to paper.

    It was only when I retired that I could spend the time researching what happened to me, trying to track down both contemporary scientific explanations and those from older traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. I spent a couple of years doing this, and a sort of book idea gradually formed. No publisher was interested (believe me, I tried so I decided to publish it myself on Amazon. In it I try to show how the brain is in a continual state of change, both with new neurons being created and with neural pathways being created and erased in a gradual process. I then look at how behaviors can be both the result of such pathways, and can create and diminish others.

    My own idea was to use insight meditation techniques as described in the Satipatthana Sutta, but updated using some key areas from things such as western philosophy as objects of meditation, to use as part of the practice. The book gives ideas for guided practice, but allows you to use whatever ideas suit you.

    Sorry if this is a long post, but even so I've only just scraped the surface. If you are interested, post any questions here and I'll try to get back to you. As I post this I'm in the process of rewriting parts of the book, to be republished with another I'm finishing on mindfulness meditation. My more recent ideas are around understanding enlightenment as a fundamental aspect of our experience as human beings, one we should all go through but one that society persuades us to ignore as part of the socialisation process. More of which in future books.

  4. #14
    Previous Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    98
    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    My more recent ideas are around understanding enlightenment as a fundamental aspect of our experience as human beings, one we should all go through but one that society persuades us to ignore as part of the socialisation process. More of which in future books.
    I'm interested in what you mean by "fundamental". This seems to put enlightenment at the base of human experience while I think most people think of it as the cherry on top.
    chownah

  5. #15
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    384
    Quote Originally Posted by chownah View Post
    I'm interested in what you mean by "fundamental". This seems to put enlightenment at the base of human experience while I think most people think of it as the cherry on top.
    chownah
    That's my recent thinking in a nutshell. I was researching about evidence for prehistoric religiousness through analysing art work such as early carvings and cave paintings. It seems that a form of shamanism shows up through some artwork, which set me thinking about my own work on mindfulness. In our modern times we seem to have trouble sitting in mindfulness for long periods of time, just letting thoughts rise and fade away. What if our far ancestors, without our modern ideas and distractions, found it far easier to slip into insight experiences? Imagine sitting for long periods, perhaps in the dark but being on watch, without any of the ideas developed over the last 40,000 years. What would a mind like that make of the world?

    With recent work on how meditation can change our rather plastic brains, creating new brain cells and changing neural networks pointing the way, it seems to me that rather than advancing to new, advanced brain settings to get to enlightenment, we need to get back to something more fundamental to allow our brains to return to insight settings. In this case enlightenment is a fundamental aspect of human experience, but is made increasingly more difficult by the societies we are born into, and by the wealth of human experience (not necessarily a bad thing) that creates us, quite literally, in the structure of our brains and minds.

    I've been trying to imagine using the best of traditional Buddhist practice, but designed to bring about changes that will give us back this birthright brain setting, where we can indeed all go through enlightenment experiences as a matter of course, not as something rare and happening once every few thousand years.

  6. #16
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    384
    Extracts from book- 1

    Aloka suggested I share some extracts from my book 'Enlightenment for Grown Ups'. It wont be in that form for long as I am in the process of rewriting it, but much of it will be the same. Here's the synopsis I used to try, unsuccessfully, to persuade publishers to go with it:

    "Synopsis- Enlightenment for Grown Ups

    This book is a consequence of my changing the way I perceived the world by rewiring my own brain. It is a practical guide that invites the reader to try meditation techniques that bring such changes about, and is written in a chatty style, but one based on authoritative sources. It follows ‘reverse engineering’ of all the things I put myself through to see the world in a different way.

    The first part of the book convinces the reader that we can, and need to, change how we ‘see’ the world. We can do this by utilising the plasticity of the brain which allows for its own wiring to be permanently changed. The section includes a look at modern research into strategies that others can use on us before describing somewhat less scary methods that we can use on ourselves. It leads to the second part which introduces safe and fun methods to try at home, sitting in a state of meditation. Current scientific evidence is used to show that meditation can in fact bring about permanent rewiring of the brain, and to explain what these changes would mean for how we perceive the world.

    The third part helps the reader develop insight meditations which are vital in bringing about this structured rewiring. They reset the brain to a more natural, integrated state by inviting the reader to mindfully reflect on fundamental ideas, ideas which control how we see the world whether we know about them or not. Starting with the body and how it works, the programme moves on to looking at key ideas drawn from philosophy, religion and science. Ideas which are neither to be taken on board nor rejected, but which provide a focus that allows for changes to take place in and between various areas of the brain.

    The last part deals with the aftermath of enlightenment experiences, and reflects on how such experiences have been glimpsed and expressed in literature and other works of art. It invites the reader to explore what their new brains will bring to the rest of their lives."

    To be fair, it's not quite as scientifically based as this suggests, as the whole book is really a re-working of the Satipatthana Sutta, but in modern form.

  7. #17
    Hello again Phil

    I'm not at all clear what your own description of "enlightenment" is, - and if you actually consider yourself to be "enlightened"?

    In Buddhism, enlightenment is described as the complete cessation of desire, hatred and delusion. For example the Buddha said in sutta SN 35.152:


    "Is there, monks, any criterion whereby a monk, apart from faith, apart from persuasion, apart from inclination, apart from rational speculation, apart from delight in views and theories, could affirm the attainment of enlightenment: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been accomplished, what was to be done is done, there is no further living in this world'?"

    "For us, Lord, all things have the Blessed One as their root, their guide, their refuge. It would be well, Lord, if the meaning of these words were to be made clear by the Blessed One. Hearing it from the Blessed One, the monks will remember it."

    "There is such a criterion, monks, whereby a monk... could affirm the attainment of enlightenment... What is that method?

    "In this, monks, a monk seeing an object with the eye recognizes within himself the presence of lust, hatred or delusion, knowing 'Lust, hatred or delusion is present in me,' or he recognizes the absence of these things, knowing 'There is no lust, hatred or delusion present in me.' Now, monks, as regards that recognition of the presence or absence of these things within him, are these matters to be perceived by faith, by persuasion, by inclination, by rational speculation, by delight in views and theories?"

    "No, indeed, Lord."

    "Are not these matters to be perceived by the eye of wisdom?"

    "Indeed, Lord."

    "Then, monks, this is the criterion whereby a monk, apart from faith, apart from persuasion, apart from inclination, apart from rational speculation, apart from delight in views and theories, could affirm the attainment of enlightenment: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been accomplished, what was to be done is done, there is no further living in this world.'"

    [Similarly for ear, nose, tongue, body (touch), mind.]

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....152.wlsh.html

    In your book's "look inside" section at the Amazon website, it says in the Introduction:



    So why do it? You won't be given access to secret knowledge or even be guided in ways to behave in your everyday life. Instead you'll be given the chance to re-examine your relationship with the world as a newly enlightened being. A person otherwise indistinguishable from others, but with that uniqueness that makes you even more 'you', enhanced and developed in ways that no-one can predict.

    https://www.amazon.com/Enlightenment.../dp/1530865565

    I'm bewidered about all of this and wondering if you feel that you've reached the same enlightenment as the Buddha and can transmit it to others in your book ?....and just as an aside, the idea of "that uniqueness that makes you even more 'you', " appears to contradict anatta! (see link below)

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipit....059.mend.html



  8. #18
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    384
    Hi Aloka

    The idea of enlightenment is an interesting one, but with lots of issues surrounding it. Currently, my understanding is that the enlightenment experience is the same for everyone, in it's timeless quality, and in the feeling of oneness with everything. Actually, there is no thought in that instance, so you rely on the memory of something that cant be described or communicated in any way.

    Which leaves it open to interpretation both in terms of expectation in the lead-up to it, and in the aftermath, where you attempt to reconcile the experience with the help of others. In which case the same thing now becomes something different, depending on the culture you find yourself embedded within. A Christian would interpret it as divine, perhaps receiving the grace of God. A shaman would, perhaps, link it with an animal spirit guide, or with the spirit world, as depicted in some of the cave and rock art which has been found.

    Someone well versed in Buddhist explanations would indeed look at the quote you gave and identify what they went through with that. Of course there are other writings, such as the Diamond Sutra, where the Buddha says there is no way of telling when someone is enlightened, no characteristics, no way of behaving, and so on, not even following behaviors in your extract which are often seen as fundamental to Buddhism.

    Which is how the 'same' enlightenment can be different for different people. The actual experience is the same, but what it means for people afterwards depends on their particular circumstances, both leading up to and following that instance of insight. A bit like seeing a great work of art or listening to a great piece of music- the thing remains the same, but the experience of those observing it is different. I don't attempt to transmit my interpretation in the book, but to describe how others could get their own experience, one that would be unique for them.

    If you read the words of the Annata link closely, they are a description of what happens during the enlightenment experience to those who have not yet gone through it, and then a guide to using the experience afterwards, as a constant reminder of how to view thoughts and all things arising from consciousness in this particular way. The Buddha was hijacking their experience before it happened, although from the best of intentions.

    My book is for anyone wishing to have such an experience for themselves. It is full of warnings about doing stuff like that, and suggests that people may want to seek help from Buddhist practitioners, but in the end it is up to people to do what they will with their own minds, and go along their own paths. I don't know what the long term effects will be for individuals, but I suspect that it will indeed make them more themselves, more individual, if they deal with the aftermath in their own way.

    Am I enlightened? Maybe not by anyone else's definition, but then so what? I have felt the sun on my face with my eyes closed and known that it was the sun and not someone shining a torch in my eyes. I wasn't looking for enlightenment, but whatever I experienced is good enough for me.

  9. #19
    Previous Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    98
    philg,

    It seems that your "enlightenment" is very similar if not identical to what is often called "mystical exerience" and it seems that you are of the view that the buddha's teachings have "mystical experience" as their goal. But what you have done is rather than collect all of these experiences under the term "mystical experience" which is the usual approach in presenting a unified view of them you have instead collected them under the term "enlightenment".

    Seems that this article might be related to what you are doing:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schola...s_of_mysticism

    Am I way off base with this?

    chownah

  10. #20
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    384
    Hi Chownah. Thanks for being interested.

    Like I said, there are different definitions of enlightenment. Maybe it's me redefining enlightenment as the experience itself rather than the later interpretation put on it for the benefit of those still bemused by what they went through. The trouble with the term is it's origins in the English language, used in different ways before we discovered the East. It was then hijacked by early translators of Buddhist texts, and so it became, like many other terms, open to misinterpretation.

    I've read quite a bit about mysticism, particularly the western mystics such as St John of the Cross, and even William Blake, and there is a glimmer of the same attempt to describe the indescribable. The difference of course is in what you term the 'goal' of Buddhist teachings, which is what I said about the context of such experiences. The Buddhist context is the lead up to and the subsequent interpretation of, the experience itself. Hence my current understanding, that the overwhelming momentary experience is the same, but the significance for the individual is different.

    If you choose the Buddhist path, you get to interpret it in a Buddhist context. Choose the path of, say, Masonic mysticism, and you get to interpret it in a Masonic context, or whatever. I personally would use the term 'pranja wisdom' for Buddhist enlightenment, as I rather like the Heart Sutra, and the Sanskrit term 'Bodhi' works just as well for me, especially in the sense of awakening (to the truth of the Buddhist interpretation of things). I think I use 'enlightenment' because I opted for Buddhism as an understanding of what happened to me afterwards, and because I used mainly Buddhist meditation techniques in the lead up, and in the context of the terminology that came with those techniques.

    I personally think that the term 'mysticism' is loaded with its own history and context, so isn't quite the word I would use. Maybe I could invent a word like 'grok' in 'Stranger in a Strange Land'?

Page 2 of 8 FirstFirst 1 2 3 4 ... LastLast
Los Angeles Mexico City London Colombo Kuala Lumpur Sydney
Mon, 3:37 PM Mon, 5:37 PM Mon, 11:37 PM Tue, 4:07 AM Tue, 6:37 AM Tue, 8:37 AM