Aetherous

Enlightenment, in depth

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I don't want to get into any sort of personal thing here (because there was recent discussion on this topic, which involved me saying this and that about my experience)...but I'm interested in the discussion on whether enlightenment is an experience, and if not, what it is exactly.

 

Also, if it's possible for someone to become enlightened and later lose it, or if it's only possible to become enlightened and impossible to lose it. And why.

 

What needs to be discussed:

 

1) The exact definition of enlightenment. We can't just start throwing our opinion out there without knowing precisely what it is we're having an opinion about. So as a group we should come upon something which we can agree on. Using famous authors or people's quotes is a good idea to start off with.

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience. Please, no taking sides without an argument. The point here is having somewhat of a logical discussion with one another, in the attempt to weed out our erroneous beliefs...myself included.

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience. Personally, it seem unfathomable for something to not be an experience, or not be experienced. It'd help if someone who took that side of the argument could explain that point in terms which make sense. Please, no paradoxical riddles...that's kindergarten spirituality.

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment. This might be answered by the previous answers; for instance, if we come to find that it's not something experienced (because something we don't experience can't be something we lose).

 

Those are the main things I hope others can discuss. I think with this structure we can come to agreement on many controversial issues, or at least have a good discussion.

 

I'll wait for someone else to tackle this, and if no one bites, I'll start it off some time later.

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I don't want to get into any sort of personal thing here (because there was recent discussion on this topic, which involved me saying this and that about my experience)...but I'm interested in the discussion on whether enlightenment is an experience, and if not, what it is exactly.

 

Also, if it's possible for someone to become enlightened and later lose it, or if it's only possible to become enlightened and impossible to lose it. And why.

 

What needs to be discussed:

 

1) The exact definition of enlightenment. We can't just start throwing our opinion out there without knowing precisely what it is we're having an opinion about. So as a group we should come upon something which we can agree on. Using famous authors or people's quotes is a good idea to start off with.

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience. Please, no taking sides without an argument. The point here is having somewhat of a logical discussion with one another, in the attempt to weed out our erroneous beliefs...myself included.

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience. Personally, it seem unfathomable for something to not be an experience, or not be experienced. It'd help if someone who took that side of the argument could explain that point in terms which make sense. Please, no paradoxical riddles...that's kindergarten spirituality.

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment. This might be answered by the previous answers; for instance, if we come to find that it's not something experienced (because something we don't experience can't be something we lose).

 

Those are the main things I hope others can discuss. I think with this structure we can come to agreement on many controversial issues, or at least have a good discussion.

 

I'll wait for someone else to tackle this, and if no one bites, I'll start it off some time later.

 

 

really like the topic, and appreciate the proposed format.

 

re-reading; no doubt will respond. healthy heady stuff.

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1) The exact definition of enlightenment.

Any time you try to define enlightenment you will always fall short, miss some aspect, etc. It cannot be described, only experienced. We can talk about the results of enlightenment, the aspects of it, etc. but we're limited by the words we use and the individual interpretations that the person we're communicating to has with those words.

 

Edit: Trying to define enlightenment is like trying to explain to a blind person what a color is, they will only be able to use terms that are relative to them... like "loud, quiet, smooth, rough" etc. They point to what the color is but don't define it entirely.

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience.

If it is not an experience then it must be false. If we only know enlightenment as a thing to be obtained then it's no different than any other thought - it will be colored by our prior conditioning, beliefs, etc. We'll have some idea or expectation about it which will be incorrect.

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience. If it's not an experience it's just an idea/thought about enlightenment, not enlightenment itself.

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment. Hmm I'm not sure on this one... if someone is in an enlightened state I'm not sure it's possible to go back to misidentifying your 'true self' with all of the things that aggregated together the non-enlightened person thinks they are.

Edited by Unconditioned

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1) The exact definition of enlightenment.

Any time you try to define enlightenment you will always fall short, miss some aspect, etc. It cannot be described, only experienced. We can talk about the results of enlightenment, the aspects of it, etc. but we're limited by the words we use and the individual interpretations that the person we're communicating to has with those words.

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience.

If it is not an experience then it must be false. If we only know enlightenment as a thing to be obtained then it's no different than any other thought - it will be colored by our prior conditioning, beliefs, etc. We'll have some idea or expectation about it which will be incorrect.

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience. If it's not an experience it's just an idea/thought about enlightenment, not enlightenment itself.

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment. Hmm I'm not sure on this one... if someone is in an enlightened state I'm not sure it's possible to go back to misidentifying your 'true self' with all of the things that aggregated together the non-enlightened person thinks they are.

 

 

oh yes ask enlightened questions and put on the teakettle.

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I don't want to get into any sort of personal thing here (because there was recent discussion on this topic, which involved me saying this and that about my experience)...but I'm interested in the discussion on whether enlightenment is an experience, and if not, what it is exactly.

 

Also, if it's possible for someone to become enlightened and later lose it, or if it's only possible to become enlightened and impossible to lose it. And why.

 

What needs to be discussed:

 

1) The exact definition of enlightenment. We can't just start throwing our opinion out there without knowing precisely what it is we're having an opinion about. So as a group we should come upon something which we can agree on. Using famous authors or people's quotes is a good idea to start off with.

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience. Please, no taking sides without an argument. The point here is having somewhat of a logical discussion with one another, in the attempt to weed out our erroneous beliefs...myself included.

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience. Personally, it seem unfathomable for something to not be an experience, or not be experienced. It'd help if someone who took that side of the argument could explain that point in terms which make sense. Please, no paradoxical riddles...that's kindergarten spirituality.

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment. This might be answered by the previous answers; for instance, if we come to find that it's not something experienced (because something we don't experience can't be something we lose).

 

Those are the main things I hope others can discuss. I think with this structure we can come to agreement on many controversial issues, or at least have a good discussion.

 

I'll wait for someone else to tackle this, and if no one bites, I'll start it off some time later.

 

 

right -

 

1) quotes refer any discussion back to the basics - vedas, tao te ching as translation of bhagavad gita &so.

 

2) i guess it's an experience, but you know? it was fleeting. and never long gone &so?

 

3) seems like if you go through it and recall it and feel moved to comment on it, that's discussable commentary

 

4) state of enlightenment, you know when you had a flash or maybe a good meditation close it's in you then.

and it's never long gone.

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What needs to be discussed:

 

1) The exact definition of enlightenment. We can't just start throwing our opinion out there without knowing precisely what it is we're having an opinion about. So as a group we should come upon something which we can agree on. Using famous authors or people's quotes is a good idea to start off with.

 

I think there are several context-sensitive definitions. There is something we can call an enlightening experience. An enlightening experience is an experience which elucidates some heretofore obscure relationship or pattern (which is basically a relationship with more of a 3 dimensional feel to it) or a dynamic (which is a pattern through time). The most simple and stupid and at the same great example of this, is like turning on a light bulb in a dark room. You could feel things with your hands in the dark room and you had a good idea of where things where, but when the light comes on, you can see at once, at one glance, where everything is, what size it is, etc... you don't have to feel one object at a time, and you get an overview. Further more, if those objects are moving or living, if you feel them, by the time you go around feeling one object after the other, the old one has changed. When the light is on, you see the changes instantly as they occur within a bigger space, here and now, without having to involve yourself too closely with the individual objects. So an enlightening experience is like that. As such the insight that results from this kind of experience is usually relative and context-sensitive.

 

Enlightening experiences do not have to be mystical. They can be ordinary too. They can be conceptual. For example, having a conversation with a philosopher can be enlightening. It doesn't have to be some mystical zen moment, although it can be. It's just not limited to that. Slipping on ice can be an enlightening experience, and getting yelled at can be one too. It all depends.

 

There is also a state of enlightenment as a spiritual end-goal. In that sense, it's a state that I would define as a resolution of all concerns. Most people have many many many concerns. Concerns are not sporadic. Concerns are arranged into a hierarchy and meaningful networks and all the networks merge into one network of concern. There are basic or fundamental concerns and from those flow out medium level concerns and further out you get to the trivial concerns. For a normal person, first of all, they are not even aware of the structure of that network. They are usually not aware of the deepest levels of those concerns and focus mostly on the trivial concerns while the deepest concerns remain tacit/implicit. Never mind resolutions! So an enlightened person is someone who is: a) utterly familiar with all possible concerns that people can manifest within the same realm as the enlightened person manifests in, B) knows how they can connect and flow out from one another, and c) has resolved all of these concern networks for oneself, down the the core levels. This resolution is not something extreme though. It doesn't mean the person has become insensate or insentient. It means that concerns no longer dominate the life of the mind and heart. When concerns are non-dominant, they add flavor and fun to life. When concerns dominate, they become oppressive. There is a big difference. Trying to enter into any extreme state, like into a state of extreme absence of concerns, usually masks a deep-rooted concern that's not been unearthed yet.

 

Besides having uprooted the dominance of all concerns, an enlightened person also understands how beliefs structure experience and knows, therefore, how to manifest any kind of experience into being, including magic and miracles and what have you.

 

Ideally an enlightened person not only knows this, but also practices it to some extent. But this also doesn't enter into any extremes. If the person becomes extremely reliant on magic, then something has not been dealt with at the level of concerns. It's like trying to overcompensate for a fear with magical power. When one's fears are small and needs are modest, magic is a nice to-have, but not something you have to rely on per se. It's part of life, but it's not dominant. At the same time, what is normal for such person is also different, so perhaps what is normal for an enlightened person seems magical for a non-enlightened and vice versa, what seems normal for unenlightened seems magical to the enlightened, but not in the extreme measure. It might just slightly seem so sometimes.

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience. Please, no taking sides without an argument. The point here is having somewhat of a logical discussion with one another, in the attempt to weed out our erroneous beliefs...myself included.

 

Experiences can be enlightening, but enlightenment is not an experience, because enlightenment is something that is ongoing, it does not come and go like experiences do. An enlightened man has all kinds of experience, and this experience, either all of it or some of it can be called enlightening, but I would never say that enlightenment is an experience. Enlightenment is an abstract concept. Enlightenment exists compared to unenlightenment. Enlightenment is a set of criteria that an enlightened person fulfills. Enlightenment cannot exist without experience or apart from experience, but it's not an experience per se. A person who gets tricked by the contents of their own experience time and time again begins to realize that one doesn't understand one's own mind. Then they simultaneously understand that since they don't understand their own mind, it's possible to understand it (that's the two sides of the same coin). So the labels of unenlightenment and enlightenment arise. And these labels are pretty abstract and transcendent. They transcend all specific experiences, but they also rely on all occurring experiences for their meaning.

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience. Personally, it seem unfathomable for something to not be an experience, or not be experienced. It'd help if someone who took that side of the argument could explain that point in terms which make sense. Please, no paradoxical riddles...that's kindergarten spirituality.

 

See above.

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment. This might be answered by the previous answers; for instance, if we come to find that it's not something experienced (because something we don't experience can't be something we lose).

 

I think it's impossible to fall accidentally from the state of enlightenment. But an enlightened person can choose to forget their state of enlightenment consciously and on purpose, in order to re-experience the game again.

Edited by goldisheavy

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Enlightenment is a word. Definitions are by agreement. If you get enough people to agree with you about what enlightenment means, then thats what it means.

 

I guess we can take it on faith that the word enlightenment is referring to something beyond an idea, that those who used it weren't just wasting breath. That allows us to look at famous people's words, and see what they have to say about it. One that comes to mind, is that when Buddha was asked what he had gained from Supreme Enlightenment, he replied, "I gained nothing at all from Supreme Enlightenment, and for that very reason it is called the Supreme Enlightenment." Another that comes to mind is LaoZi's insistence that it is in the not-knowing, the un-graspability of the Tao that it is known. "We meet without seeing its face/ we follow without seeing its back" (chap. 21).

 

If it were an experience, then would not Buddha have gained that experience? And would not LaoZi have metaphorically "seen" its face? But if it is not something that happens, if there were no shift, then what is this "Supreme Enlightenment", and what is "meeting" and "following"?

 

Things become a bit simpler when we recognize that Enlightenment is not separate from us. It is arriving where we have always been. It is acknowledging where we have always been. It is giving adoration to where we have always been. It is dying completely into what we have always been. Always means always, which means all the times that we are pretty darned sure that we aren't enlightened. It also means that if we think we have somehow BECOME enlightened, then we have missed something. It always, already was.

 

But if this is true, then what's all the fuss about?

 

My contention is that we have very strong tendencies to dismiss what we are in favor of what we could be, or what we were, or what we think we are. We are dying to find something tangible and real, something satisfactory. What we are missing is how satisfactory life is without that effort. What we arem issing is how amazing it is that there is something, instead of just nothing, and that it is never fixed. It is continually expressive and creative.

 

So yes, there is experience within enlightenment, since there is experience within us, but enlightenment is not any one of those experiences. If anything its is taking our hands off of those experiences, including experiences of oneness and ease and non-duality and bliss (which are not necessarily synonymous), and allowing the entirity of expression to reveal itself in each moment. it is the recognition that we are not defined, or made special or different or lesser, by any experience. It is resting in the faith that reality is self-revealing, and it is knowing this through and through and through. It is the same letting go that happens when we admit for one moment that we really don't know, but remain interested in what is, and when we have let this penetrate to a depth such that the movement to define ourselves by any experience does not gain traction on any gross level any longer. I cannot speak to that depth, or attest to whether or not it exists. But the most important thing, from my perspective, is what direction we are headed. Are we seeking an experience to define ourselves by? Or are we allowing reality to express itself, to reveal itself in its own time, and in its own way?

 

Returning to the quotes, again from LaoZi:

"Partial means whole

crooked means straight

hollow means full

worn-out means new

less means content

more means confused

thus the sage holds onto the one

to use in guiding the world

not watching himself he appears

not displaying himself he flourishes

not flattering himself he succeeds

not parading himself he leads

because he doesn't compete

no one can compete against him

the ancients who said partial means whole

came close indeed

becoming whole depends on this"

(Red Pine trans. Chap 22)

 

And from Seng T'san, the 3rd patriarch of Zen:

"To live in this realization

is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.

To live in this faith is the road to non-duality.

Because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind."

 

Both of these speak of a wholeness in the "partial" or "imperfection". And this is what brings us to true wholeness. So if we want to be strongly discriminating in our definition of enlightenment, then we might say that it is only the true wholeness, which we achieve or realize by recognizing that "partial means whole" or by being "without anxiety about non-perfection." But if we are continually seeking this rigorously defined enlightenment, how will we ever reach the moment of "partial means whole"?

 

I tend to prefer practical definitions of enlightenment-- something that points to the place of true power, because its pretty much impossible to recognize what is real when we are seeking some imagined state of perfection. It is good to be able to point out the wholeness that a person recognizes when they have a "glimpse", and to say, "yes, that is it. Rest as that wholeness (which you are) and allow it to reveal itself."

 

Another good definition, which cuts out a lot of BS is "Enlightenment isn't what you think it is."

 

Or again, from Seng T'san:

"words !

The Way is beyond language,

for in it there is

 

no yesterday

no tomorrow

no today."

 

*laughing at myself and all my words*

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Most of the teachers I respect all agree:

 

Enlightenment is a STAGE, not a STATE.

 

(I owe this useful distinction to Ken Wilbur.)

 

We can have many states of consciousness. But enlightenment is a permanent shift in being. Buddha said that enlightenment was the permanent eradication of the 10 fetters. Ramana Maharshi says its the permanent dissolution of the self delusion. This is repeated so often in the literature, across cultural lines.

 

Take the common metaphor of the snake/rope. When you look and see a snake, you think it's a snake. But if you examine it closely, you see it is actually a rope. In fact, the snake was never there. You would never go back to thinking that the rope is a snake.

 

I think this is a cause for great confusion. Many people have a particular state experience, and think they are enlightened.

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I can start off with my definiton of it, from what I have learned from several masters. I hope you guys can help me build and clarify where I am lacking:

 

1) The exact definition of enlightenment.

A) The buddha calls it "the end of suffering". I have recognized suffering in myself as the association (identification) and full immersion of belief in thought without a recognition of its surrounding space. I believe enlightenment exists in the space from which everything arises, and residing there. Concequently, spending enough time in that space gives you a great perspective on your thoughts, and also a profound sense of what jesus called "the peace that passes all understanding"

 

Furthermore, I agree with the buddha's definition, because it tells you what enlightenment is not. Suffering, which I have done my best to further define. The reason I agree with it, is ebcause I cannot speak for anyone else's experience, so there is a high degree of likelyhood that the actual experience of enlightenment is the same, but has similar traits or pointers/milestones to its ascertation.

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience.

A) Well everything that happens is an experience. I just.. Can't say more than this. It seems an arbitrary question. Does it matter at all, if we cannot experience it? I guess the question means, is it something you can think about, or is the thing that "enlightenment" refers to an experience? Thinking about it, too, is an experience, and you can definitely describe it. That much is apparent by the fact we are all here. But, they are all only a means of describing it. Like the Dao says: "The Flow of the universe is not one you can explain,

And its true name is not one you can speak." It surpasses knowledge because it is from that stillness which all knowledge arises and falls back into.

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience.

A) If a tree..... Heh. Like I said before, everything is an experience. Even the thoughts about it are experiences. So, it could be a concept, either perceived through thought forms, where one (like me) just describes it, or it can be feeling(s) that we get, changes in perception, yet even those can be arguably just figments of our imagination. If recent developments in science, religion, and meta-sciences (i.e. NLP) have taught us anything, is that we don't know what is real. Could it be, there is no reality, beyond what we perceive? That would be wonderful news indeed.

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment.

A) It is not impossible. You can go on and on playing kindergarten games on this question. "No, it isn't, I haven't done so." "Yes, it is, the bible says so." "No, the bible is wrong." "Well I have done so myself."

 

I can only subscribe to the fact that, yes, it is possible, since we were conceived from that "state" and at some point since have been removed from it. If such a large causal occurrence has happened, surely we are able to move in and out of the state of our own free will once we have achieved it again, since our will is our guide, it is our power, and before, that state was taken away without our will involved. Not willingly, of course, and I do not know, but this is my guess, by social conditioning.

 

Then there is the school of thought we are not born this way, and is something we later "achieve," in which case one can only speak from their experiences. I have experienced to a great degree, for short times, the states described by the masters, as I identified by certain characteristics they gave them - i.e. seeing everything as one thing, a profound sense of peace, stillness, or space, etc. Only to be taken away from it moments later. Because of this I am sure that the state is able to be taken away from you - by experience, it is the mind that does so. But, I am still identified with my thoughts. Is it possible, once the identity has been broken in such a way as, for example, Eckhart Tolle, whose effects lasted a long time? I do not know. Genpo Roshi says yes, though.

 

http://www.bigmind.org/Study.html In the "Path of the Human Being" he takes you through that very thing.

 

[email protected]!

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I'll have a stab at this one;-)

 

1) The exact definition of enlightenment. We'd need a desk researcher to go through all of the concepts.

My opinion (precisely what I was not asked for, but I don't have a paid desk researcher handy;-)) is that enlightenment is a sliding scale of realisations about reality, your place in that reality and how you affect it and vice versa. I would like to think that it is a big enough deal not to be culturally/religiously bound in definitions although lots of different cultures do extremely well at pointing. Hopefully I can point well enough to take a stab;-)

 

2) Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience.

Why it is an experience: because it is by my definition self-referential

Why it's not an experience: because it's a also a process by my definition

 

3) What else it could be besides an experience. A different set of perspectives through which you realise your experience of reality? I'm really just guessing;-)

 

4) Reasons why people think it's impossible to fall from a state of enlightenment. If it is in fact a state (and not a process) then I guess it's just again that specific set of perspectives. The only reason I would give for not falling is that the thing is available potentially all the time except you don't realise it. I guess once a certain level of realised perspective is gained, you can't lose it - like knowing the map is not the territory, or how to ride a bike.

I don't think all stages of realisation makes anyone better skilled (which is why we have all those moral and religious precepts, but I digress;-))

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This is why I keep urging people to read Perfect Brilliant Stillness, because it's just so damn clear about all this stuff.

 

But in short, re "Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience.", the reason why it cannot be an experience, according to David Carse, is that an experience requires an experiencer, and that awakening involves the imaginary experiencer being permanently replaced by the understanding that there isn't and never was such a creature. And understanding, in that context, does not mean understanding as we understand it ( :D ), but is simply the closest available word.

 

And anything further will be paradoxical riddles, because there's simply no alternative. As he repeatedly says "Does exist, cannot be expressed."

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"experience" at Dictionary.com

1377, from O.Fr. experience, from L. experientia "knowledge gained by repeated trials," from experientem (nom. experiens), prp. of experiri "to try, test," from ex- "out of" + peritus "experienced, tested." The v. (1533) first meant "to test, try;" sense of "feel, undergo" first recorded 1588.

 

 

In other words you do something or try to do something and the experience comes 'out of' (ex) that activity. So if for instance I ride a bicycle then from out of this activity I have the experience of it. I think this is the heart of the problem of calling enlightenment an experience. Since it is a different category of activity than anything else. It would be ok to say 'I have had an enlightening experience' as this would just mean that something you have done has given you more insight and so on about your own (and the world's ) condition. But this is using the word as an adjective.

 

When we talk about enlightenment as a noun, as a word to signify the goal of spiritual work, then things change because we expect a clearer definition to help us work towards it. If we were to try a definition like "realising the nature of reality" then we have more problems, like for instance, what do we count as 'real' anyway? More importantly it is more or less universally agreed that the nature of reality is ineffable - that is cannot be expressed directly in words. If ultimate reality is ineffable then so to is enlightenment.

 

I think that one thing that can be said is that enlightenment seen in this way cannot be a fleeting experience. The realization which enlightenment relates to must point to that which is more real, more fundamental ... the absolute. Temporary experiences happen on the way and some are confirmatory but they are not enlightenment.

Edited by apepch7

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Most of the teachers I respect all agree:

 

Enlightenment is a STAGE, not a STATE.

....

 

 

BEE EYE EN GEE OH

 

There are always Higher Levels.

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But in short, re "Reasons for why enlightenment (as we define it) either is or isn't an experience.", the reason why it cannot be an experience, according to David Carse, is that an experience requires an experiencer, and that awakening involves the imaginary experiencer being permanently replaced by the understanding that there isn't and never was such a creature. And understanding, in that context, does not mean understanding as we understand it ( :D ), but is simply the closest available word.

 

And anything further will be paradoxical riddles, because there's simply no alternative. As he repeatedly says "Does exist, cannot be expressed."

Perhaps this is a misunderstanding of terms, but I disagree with this man's stance.

 

You still have awareness of enlightenment - it is the fundamental "you" that is dissolved in enlightenment as an identified role, but the underlying awareness that allows recognition of that role is constantly there and thus makes it, as well as every moment that comes into any awareness field, an experience.

 

I would change it to "Does exist, of which everything is an expression."

 

A lot of teachers become too identified with being not identified in their teachings, thereby making the concept of disidentification a hindrance, for example, like the quotation from this man David Carse, and more popular teachers like Eckhart Tolle, are constantly "disclaiming" their descriptions with "but of course nothing is dual in that mindstate" which, should always (but unfortunately is not) be postfixed with "however, it is the world in which we function that necessitates duality for that functioning." Otherwise, you would eat dirt. Piss on the floor. Duality exists, even for those enlightened beings, however, this "disclaimer" should only be used,in my opinion, when addressing the state itself, not offering the transformative steps to getting there.

 

As for state vs stage, it is a good distinction to make that there will (hopefully) always be further to go, but even states change. In face "state" refers to the current awareness of being at any moment, which, for human consciousness, is a must to have at any said moment. Thus it is a state, and a stage. Remember that most successful paradoxes, when referring to the state of enlightenment, do not deny. That is not the state of enlightenment in its pure expression. Of course, overly clever ones may use negation to create an awareness shift or mind block, but I am not aware of any such examples now.

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Perhaps this is a misunderstanding of terms, but I disagree with this man's stance.

It's extremely possible that I have both misunderstood and misrepresented him. But I believe his point is that while the body-mind apparatus, what he calls the David-thing, can still be said to have experiences, they are not experiences of enlightenment. You can't get far enough away from enlightenment to have an experience of it. Enlightment, the understanding, what is, IS the subject, is what has whatever passes for experiences. Does that make more sense? Of course not. If we understood it, we'd be it.

You still have awareness of enlightenment - it is the fundamental "you" that is dissolved in enlightenment as an identified role, but the underlying awareness that allows recognition of that role is constantly there and thus makes it, as well as every moment that comes into any awareness field, an experience.

I would change it to "Does exist, of which everything is an expression."

As you wish. But he is very, very emphatic on the "cannot be expressed." There's no copyright on PBS, so I'll see if I can dig up some useful quotes for the scrapbook.

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Sorry if I have misunderstood anything you said.

Perhaps this is a misunderstanding of terms, but I disagree with this man's stance.

 

You still have awareness of enlightenment - it is the fundamental "you" that is dissolved in enlightenment as an identified role, but the underlying awareness that allows recognition of that role is constantly there and thus makes it, as well as every moment that comes into any awareness field, an experience.

 

I would change it to "Does exist, of which everything is an expression."

At the same there is no separation between underlying awareness and phenomena, no observer/observation apart from observed. In the beginning phases of insight, Awareness may be seen as the background space behind everything, the witness or observer of everything, i.e. a transpersonal Self. But later, non-dual awareness is realised, which has no reference point, either personal or transpersonal. There is no self, big, small or otherwise. It knows Itself. There is no localized sense of knowing standing apart from what is known. There's just the entire phenomenological world, which is self-aware. Everything, the scenery, the sound, the taste, the sensation of the floor, the smell, even the thought is 'aware' where they are without a separate experiencer.

 

Thus, no 'self' not only means no identification with personality -- it means there is really no observer and no transpersonal Self or Witness either! No experiencer! In seeing tree there is just tree, no seer. In hearing sound, just sound, no hearer. Everything is self-shining consciousness.

 

As I mentioned earlier my friend has discussed the phases of insights he went through in Thusness/PasserBy's Seven Stages of Experience

 

David Carse:

 

"There is only One. There is not ever in any sense many, or even two. All perception of distinction and separation, of duality, and therefore of what is known as physical reality, is a mind-created illusion, of the nature of a dream. What you think you are, a separate individual entity, is part of this illusion. You are not the doer of any action or the thinker of any thought. Events happen, but there is no doer. All there is, is Consciousness. That is what You truly are."

 

David Carse:

 

After the jungle, there is an intensely odd and very beau-tiful quality to the experience of life. In one sense I can only describe everything, all experience, as having a certain emptiness. This is the sense in which everything used to matter, to be vital and important, and is now seen as unreal, empty, not important, an illusion. Once it is seen that the beyond-brilliance of Sat Chit Ananda is all that is, the dream continues as a kind of shadow. Yet, at the same moment that all of what appears in the dream is experi-enced as empty, it is also seen as more deeply beautiful and perfect than ever imagined, precisely because it is not other than Sat Chit Ananda, than all that is. Everything that does not matter, that is empty illusion, is at the same time itself the beyond-brilliance, the perfect beauty. Somehow there is a balance; these two apparently opposite aspects do not cancel each other out but complement each other. This makes no 'sense,' yet it is how it is.

 

There is one tradition within Advaita which says that maya, the manifestation of the physical universe, is over-laid or superimposed on Sat Chit Ananda. I'm no scholar of these things, and can only attempt to describe what is seen here; and the Understanding here is that there is no question of one thing superimposed on another. Maya, the manifestation, the physical universe, is precisely Sat Chit Ananda, is not other than it, does not exist on its own as something separate to be overlaid on top of something else. This is the whole point! There is no maya! The only reason it appears to have its own reality and is commonly taken to be real in itself is because of a misperceiving, a mistaken perception which sees the appearance and not What Is. This is the meaning of Huang Po's comment that "no distinction should be made between the Absolute and the sentient world." No distinction! There is only One. There is not ever in any sense two. All perception of distinction and separation, all perception of duality, and all perception of what is known as physical reality, is mind-created illu-sion. When a teacher points at the physical world and says, "All this is maya," what is being said is that what you are seeing is illusion; what all this is is All That Is, pure Being Consciousness Bliss Outpouring; it is your perception of it as a physical world that is maya, illusion.

 

Dr. David Loy (a different david, a Zen Teacher and Philosopher):

 

[T]his phenomenon can be described either as no-consciousness or as all-consciousness. Early Buddhism chooses the former, claiming that consciousness is nothing more than all those things that are experienced. Sankara opts for the latter, insisting that all those things are the manifestations of consciousness. Buddhism says there is no self, there is only the world (dharmas); Sankara says the world is the Self. To say that there is no self, or that everything is the self, are then equally correct - or false, depending on how one looks at it. Both descriptions amount to the same thing. What is clear in each case is that there is no longer a duality between an object that is observed and a consciousness that observes it, or between the external world and the self which confronts it. ... Both are attempts to describe nonduality, and because each makes absolute a relative term, neither is more or less satisfactory than the other. ... Just as our usual understanding of experience is dualistic, so is the language that expresses this understanding. An attempt to describe the nondual experience will naturally tend to eliminate one or the other term. ... So there are two paradoxes; to shrink to nothing is to become everything, and to experience everything as One is again equivalent to nothing ...

As for state vs stage, it is a good distinction to make that there will (hopefully) always be further to go, but even states change. In face "state" refers to the current awareness of being at any moment, which, for human consciousness, is a must to have at any said moment. Thus it is a state, and a stage. Remember that most successful paradoxes, when referring to the state of enlightenment, do not deny. That is not the state of enlightenment in its pure expression. Of course, overly clever ones may use negation to create an awareness shift or mind block, but I am not aware of any such examples now.
States are everchanging and can be lost, can't they? Anything gained can be lost. And anything that can be lost is not ultimately 'valuable'. Including altered states of consciousness.

 

What the 'enlightenment traditions' are pointing out is 'what is already the case'. It is our every moment ordinary awareness. Do you for a moment stop seeing, hearing, etc? Awareness cannot stop functioning, is already always the case and is not the result of development or cultivation, but whether we notice it is another matter. Awareness is always already spacious, only pinpointed fixation on particular patterns of thoughts and feelings makes us 'feel' constricted. Awareness is always already non-dual, due to deep conditioning we are always projecting subject-object separation.

 

Awareness is also not the same as focused attention or concentration. Awareness is effortlessly happening right now, whether you like it or not, and whether you are paying attention or not. When causes and conditions is, manifestation is, when manifestation is, Awareness is. Naturally, sounds are effortlessly being heard, smells are effortlessly being smelled, even if the smell or sound is unpleasant and you try to avoid it, it's being awared. While paying attention to the breath, something still hears sounds. That is Buddha-Nature. It is the sum of all our parts, that which sees, hears, feels and tastes all at once as One Reality. Before you think that this awareness is a 'thing' -- a Mirror or a Witness, it's not separate -- it's just sound hearing, scenery seeing, it's not a something tangible (a Mirror or a Witness) yet is vividly manifesting.

 

Hence: awareness is not experienced through the result of contrived effort, but is self-evident when the mind is at rest, through relaxing one's pinpointed fixation to our mind and body or any particular objects, opening up to the vast vivid openness (which is already the case) through which all phenomena flows through without obstruction.

 

States are conditioned, awareness is unconditioned. Whatever you experience doesn't affect the presence of awareness. Being confused doesn't make awareness any less. Being calm, relaxed, or 'enlightened' doesn't make awareness any more. I like what John Astin said: "We often think that the appearance of certain things such as distress, seeking, struggling, or confusion is somehow evidence that awareness is not here. But actually everything that appears, regardless of its content, is the vivid proof of awareness, every appearance the perfect evidence that awareness is here."

 

 

So what is enlightenment if not an altered state? It's simply the realisation of what already and always is.

Edited by xabir2005

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Scotty,

 

The 10 fetters and stages of enlightenment are scattered throughout the Pali Canon. Here is a sampling of quotes that I think are relevant: just click on the three fetters.

 

Check out the Nan Yar Appendix in the Path of Sri Ramana Part One , especially p 186-188.

 

I don't know if they are the same thing or not.

 

By stage and states, I'm focusing on the fact that states come and go. You can have many states of consciousness during meditation, but often when we arise, they disappear. This is not enlightenment in my mind. Enlightenment would be there when you're off the cushion.

 

I don't think there is an end. The universe is infinite, how far can you go?

 

 

This can be confusing. I take the word 'stage' as meaning a step going towards something else. Is there something more than enlightenment?

 

Could you provide those two quotes?

 

Before discussing whether it's permanent or not, I hope to define what exactly it is.

 

So we could say: 1) it's when the 10 fetters are eradicated.

2) It's when there's no self delusion.

 

Are these two qualifications the same thing? Does #2 ensure that #1 happens?

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Here's a definition from Swami Kaleshwar: the ability to stop one's heart from beating at will.

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Jed McKenna defines enlightenment as abiding non-dual awareness, truth realization or rather un-truth un-realization. Non-dual awareness means that all is one, observer and observed become the same entity, abiding means that it is not a temporary state it endures.

 

Jed has a process for achieving this state he calls spiritual autolysis or spiritual self digestion. It is aptly named, as one views the maps of ego, self, and environment that we create and disassembles each individual piece of it examining it asking the question can I be absolutely certain if this is true or not, if the answer is no it is discarded. This process is continued until only what is absolutely true remains and nothing else.

 

According to Jed, this has lead many of his students into severe existential crises, as they dissemble their own egos, world views, maps of reality, belief systems. Everything that made them "them" is completely obliterated leaving a blank and perpetually empty slate. Jed likens this state to being a vampire amongst the living.

 

Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realizes it is water.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Buddha had some interesting things to say about the subject. Which leads me to believe that enlightenment may refer to the abiding non-dual awareness as McKenna describes.

 

He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

-Buddha

 

"My uncreated and unending profound Enlightenment accords with the Tathagatagarbha, which is absolute bodhi, and ensures my perfect insight into the Dharma realm [realm of Ultimate Truth], where the one is infinite and the infinite is one."

-Buddha

 

I don't claim to be enlightened or have ever experienced true enlightenment, but I have had a few experiences of non-duality, mostly while in a trance type state like right before you wake up.

One time when I was meditating, I was so deeply focused I had forgotten my own existence.

 

One of my room mates had come in my room to bother me, and didn't realize I was meditating. As he talked I didn't associate with my own body, instead it was as if both he and I were both the same entity. Both puppets being animated by the same hand. It was as if the driving force behind his consciousness was the exact same force which was behind mine. I viewed the scene just as a dream or a video on a television, except I had no body or sense of self.

 

Instead of me there was only the experience, the happening of me, of that moment. There was no body or physical substance, just an occurrence.

 

I don't really know how to put what I experienced into words but that's about the best I can do.

 

 

I guess enlightenment in that sense would really be an intellectual or unintellectual state. I think a lot of the taoist traditions seek a more physical form of enlightenment or perhaps liberation from rebirth.

 

I myself am seeking more of a physical liberation from rebirth than I am permanent non-dual awareness.

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Hi Scotty!

 

"A sliding scale of realization about reality. So if someone realizes that they exist, is that the beginning of enlightenment? This could contradict other definitions, like "enlightenment is where you don't suffer" because even according to Buddha, "life is suffering"."

 

Hum. The ideas I get from this one are:

 

- is a dog enlightened? That's just if we look at the scale of things that are alive.

 

and

 

- so is enlightenment where you don't live? That's just being very literal (possibly erroneous - it is late!) about life=suffering, enlightenment = no suffering = enlightenment = no life

 

I'm thinking that the deal with suffering is similar to wu-wei (sorry to bring this in to the lot)

 

Still mulling it all over;-)

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I've read through the material in the first book, in Jed Mckenna's series. It is a good book and describes how to conceptualize enlightenement, without any energy work. I prefer doing it with energy work.

 

I'd say that writing out everything the way he described it (Which I no longer remember) ((That I started))

Started stressing me out, I cried, got over things, cried some more... Got frustrated, angry... Wanted to yell at the guy who suggested his material.

 

Anyway, I made some progress into that but stopped. I put the brakes to it as quickly as I could becuase of the stress it put me under. I'm not stressed over it anymore, but I want to do this my own way now. Mostly by working out fears through some writing and pulling things out energeticly, targeting things with imagination and intent.. It works well, but doesn't cause the flood to come rushing out, so to speak.

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