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Thread: What is Buddhist enlightenment?

  1. #21
    I'm reviving this topic with a video of Ajahn Brahm talking about enlightenment. (Approx. 6 minutes)



  2. #22
    Forums Member trusolo's Avatar
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    @Aloka Did you specifically mean Buddhist understanding of enlightenment or just enlightenment?

    From the video and the rest of the earlier thread, I am inclined to say that enlightenment is just enlightenment - complete contentment (for the right reasons) and end of all craving and clinging - we can actually imagine even conceptually and conventionally the amount of free mental space we would have if there was complete absence of craving and clinging and hence being reactive! What I cannot imagine is how it would feel to be in that state perpetually and what would I do with all that mind space at disposal.

    The state may be achievable by all sorts of means. I find the Buddhist path to be the most critically analyzed, exceptionally well laid out, least sentimental, and if you want, the one with the least number of unwarranted assumptions and reliance on external agencies. So if anyone reaches it via following the Buddhist path, you could call it as an observer Buddhist enlightenment but that person wouldn’t call it that. She/he may have some fondness for the path but won’t be “carrying the boat used to cross the river on the shoulders” afterwards I guess.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by trusolo View Post
    @Aloka Did you specifically mean Buddhist understanding of enlightenment or just enlightenment?
    Both -- in that I think perhaps one needs a basic understanding of what is thought to be the experience of "enlightenment" in Buddhism, in order to discuss it.

  4. #24
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    I was looking at the previous comments, and mine from three years ago. I don't think I would change what I said about enlightenment, which I consider arises from an instance of when we drop out of time and thought and lose our sense of identity, finding a 'oneness' with everything in an overwhelming emotional experience. It is a consequence of what happens when we just sit and let go of our thoughts and allow an area of the brain to activate. What we can't do easily is understand what happened to us, or even communicate what went on in that instance. Which is where the Buddha came in, to show us how to deal with such insight experiences, both in the lead up to them and in how to live with the aftermath.

    In terms of what Ajahn Brahm said, my wishes would be a little different. I would use my first wish to have the wisdom and compassion to use the other two. As to contentment, it's an interesting word that has a large number of meanings. I don't know if it's the opposite of 'dissatisfied' or 'suffering' or any of the words used to describe why we need to follow the path. All I know is that I wanted to find the meaning of life before I died and I did. Maybe it means that you can move on to another stage in your life where that kind of suffering is gone for good.

  5. #25
    I'm adding this article by Ajahn Amaro to the thread "Unshakeable Well Being"(which I already posted in another topic in the past) :


    https://link.springer.com/article/10...71-019-01179-7

  6. #26
    Forums Member trusolo's Avatar
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    This is a fantastic article! thanks aloka!

    I have always had a doubt regarding something mentioned in the article and in other things I have read. There seems to be two very different criteria for stream entry. On the one hand, the first fetter itself seems exceedingly difficult to overcome. On the other hand, sometimes it is described as if pretty much anyone with some common sense and decency can achieve it.
    From the article:

    Even if these great sal trees, Mahānāma, could understand what is well spoken and what is badly spoken, then I would declare these great sal trees to be stream- enterers, no longer bound to the nether world, fixed in destiny, with enlightenment as their destination
    I am either misunderstanding one or the other statements. Can anyone explain what is going on and how to reconcile these two descriptions?

  7. #27
    The quote in your post is from sutta SN 55.24, so perhaps reading the whole sutta will clarify things for you:

    https://suttacentral.net/sn55.24/en/sujato



  8. #28
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that I can explain anything, Trusolo, but I'll have a go at answering you.

    I read the piece by Ajahn Amaro, as you did. To let go of the first three fetters is not easy, it's not trivial in our Western life, bound as we are to society, economics and status.

    It takes faith confidence and commitment to drop these fetters. The person who makes the decision to be no longer bound by self-view, who has not the slightest doubt about the path to liberation, who simply drops social conditioning, such a person has what is needed to reach stream-entry.

    Now that person, having taken the decision to live life without those fetters, can certainly recognise right view, right resolve and right speech.

    It's reasonable then to apply the metaphor in the quoted teaching. That person is like one of the great sal trees, but like a tree that could understand what is well spoken and what is badly spoken.

    And to put the whole statement into other words completely, once you've properly dropped the first three fetters you are so well on your way that you can be described as a stream-enterer.

  9. #29
    Forums Member trusolo's Avatar
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    Thanks Woodscooter! That was very helpful. I uderstand it better now. In the meanwhile, I was thinking along the following lines. To be able to consistently decipher things that are “well spoken”, one has to be able to see that it is in accordance with the dhamma and the path. That means it has to reflect right view and right speech at the very least. To be able to do that one has to recognize that there was no self view involved in the speech or the speaker. One can do that consistently and correctly only if one has removed the fetter of self view in oneself. So the Sala tree description sounds simple but it implies having right view and right speech and as you said right resolve in the listener.

  10. #30
    Just as an aside, "stream enterer/winner"(sotapanna) is considered to be the same as the first Bodhisattva level in Tibetan Buddhism.(See page 41 in "Path to Buddhahood" by Ringu Tulku).


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