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OfflineMainlyMind
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Enlightenment/Realisation
    #9397743 - 12/09/08 06:08 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Sorry about the length of this, I hope this might help to clear up at least some ideas about what enlightenment is and isn't. Note that I'm not here to defend the reality of enlightenment - if you don't consider it to be possible then I do understand - this is more for those who are trying to make sense of what they might have felt whilst on entheogens or in meditation, or even in daily life.

  I was going to tag it onto a couple of the existing threads on the subject, but I don't want it to seem as though I'm pointing this at anyone in particular, it's purely for reference. It's not meant as a criticism of those who think they have had such experiences, on the contrary, I hope that it might make their progress forwards easier. Just my background briefly: I'm a Buddhist in a Tibetan tradition (Nyingma) and write/lecture on states of enlightenment.

    Sadly, there are quite a few well known claimants to enlightenment who, it's very obvious from their descriptions of their event, aren't truly enlightened at all, which doesn't help those who are trying to find out about their own experiences.

    I've read some accounts of 'enlightenment' that were based on, say, an experience of having one or more bliss states, or periods of non-conceptuality, or even a dream that contains what the person feels is a meaningful esoteric understanding. Whilst wonderful and a hint of things to come, dreams are dreams, and bliss is just bliss (unless it also contains a direct intuition of the true nature of reality). Bliss is more an indicator that you've entered into a state of mental pliancy, rather than a transcendent experience. It can be triggered in countless ways: some mundane, some not, such as when generating metta; or just by becoming fully mindful. Do not be misled: enlightenment isn't about blissful experiences and feeling the freedom of non-conceptuality, but about an understanding of reality.

  There's a feeling amongst some that there is no concrete definition of what enlightenment is, that the experience is so ineffable that it can mean many different things, and, as such, is open to personal interpretation, but enlightenment has the same meaning in every eastern tradition. In the West we tend to misunderstand what those who defined the term in the East meant by it. We also confuse it with the Western connotations that have been attributed to the word, and now, commonly, it can mean anything from 'quite clever really', to someone who is 'spiritually advanced'. But there is only one real enlightenment, and it has been precisely graded into levels (the 'Five Degrees of Tozan' in Zen for example - or Hinduism's levels of 'Samadhi'), in every tradition for well over 2,000 years, in part at least, to avoid erroneous claims.

For Buddhists, Sufis and Hindus, the core of the experience, and the things which qualify it as first stage enlightenment, or 'Kensho', (literally, 'seeing into one's own nature', in Zen) is that:

a) the state should be based on the direct perception of reality as non-dual 'emptiness'. This is experienced literally from the point of view of the whole of reality itself. 

b) This POV is also experienced as what Tibetan traditions sometimes call 'Infinite Awareness', where all matter and even the mind of the meditator himself are discovered to be just facets of this greater consciousness. But be careful, this is not consciousness in the sense of being a mind that might belong to a person or deity, it is just pure, infinite, lucidity, and the terms I use here to describe the above are generalisations for the purpose of this post.

There are three experiences which can seem very similar to the above:

1) Having an experience where you understand the self as being a part of a single unity, a non-duality.
2) Having an experience where you feel yourself to be actually integrated in this one-ness.
3) Having an experience where you are non-duality in its entirety - the only one of the three which is Kensho.

  However, although just perceiving non-duality in this way is a great step, without also having the experience of self as 'awareness' it's incomplete. Also, as you move towards completion,it's no longer about reaching states of non-duality,  but about gaining various understandings IN these experiences concerning the true nature of reality too, which are sometimes called the 'super-knowledges'. This idea is very important, because enlightenment (realisation) can only be sustained and deepened with this knowledge.

  The journey from Satori to Kensho is usually made by entering into Mahamudra or Dzogchen Buddhist practises, to draw together all experiences of Kensho and understanding, so that the practitioner can remain in permanent awareness of number 3. Dzogchen in particular is termed the 'completion stage' because of this. This 'final' stage can take anywhere from months to many years to traverse, but many have done it successfully over the years.

  There are a lot of misconceptions about the kinds of practises that will allow you to reach enlightenment. What isn't obvious to outsiders looking at Buddhism for instance, is that its teachings are graded into levels of understanding appropriate to the student. So, if you were to look at basic Mahayana Buddhism you might think that it's all about not thinking, stopping desires and focussing strongly on morality. But this level is preparation for the next stage, where traditional focussing meditation is left behind in favour of using gained knowledge of reality as a means to reach deep states of awareness and further understanding. It isn't that Mahayana is wrong: it's like the difference between Newtonian physics and QM, they don't agree on everything, but neither is wrong, it's just 'expedient means' the best teaching for a student at any given level. Sitting in shamatha, year in, year out, may help you reach enlightenment, but it can be very slow. Using 'mind-only' (yogachara) methods instead, and it's something that can be reached in a single lifetime, if you're lucky.

  I know that what might happen at this point is that those who've long considered themselves to be enlightened, but now find that they might not be, can become very defensive. But please, don't shoot the messenger:) If you have any concerns or disagreements concerning the definition above I'm happy to point you to relevant Buddhist/Hindu texts (the source of the original meaning of the term) for confirmation.

  If anyone is hoping to move up a stage from where they are in meditation I would be happy to try to point them in the right direction where I can.

MM

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InvisibleChronic7

Registered: 05/08/04
Posts: 13,679
Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9397779 - 12/09/08 06:34 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Self inquiry?

:peace:

EDIT: i just saw you mentioned yogachara


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OfflineMainlyMind
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: Chronic7]
    #9397858 - 12/09/08 07:27 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

Chronic777 said:
Self inquiry?

:peace:

EDIT: i just saw you mentioned yogachara




Sorry, I'm being dense - I'm not sure what you're asking? Do you mean where does self-inquiry (not in terms of Vipassana, that's a different approach) fit into the scheme of Yogachara?

MM

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InvisibleChronic7

Registered: 05/08/04
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9397885 - 12/09/08 07:41 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

at first i wondered why you didn't mention self inquiry as its the most direct path to Realization

but self inquiry comes under the yoga of knowledge, yogachara includes self inquiry & or vipasanna, it includes everything :wink:

its all the same to me, insight
learning about the myriad of systems taught in different countries is fruitless

'one need only know oneself if one seeks truth'


:peace:


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OfflineMainlyMind
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: Chronic7]
    #9397978 - 12/09/08 08:24 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

Chronic777 said:
at first i wondered why you didn't mention self inquiry as its the most direct path to Realization

but self inquiry comes under the yoga of knowledge, yogachara includes self inquiry & or vipasanna, it includes everything :wink:

its all the same to me, insight
learning about the myriad of systems taught in different countries is fruitless

'one need only know oneself if one seeks truth'"

:peace:




Very true:)

I wonder if we might be talking at slightly different purposes though, as the term self-inquiry (in a Vipassana sense) is different from the Dzogchen approach, which is more focussed on what we might call 'reality-acceptance', not any form of inquiry, as Vipassana is. It's knowing reality to be 'X', and learning how to develop confidence in that, and resting in enlightened awareness, not meditating in the usual sense.
 
I'm not sure I'd agree that there's no sense in exploring other traditions than the one you may currently be following, the higher traditions are there to help you in a sequential way, and give very useful tools that aren't available in earlier practises.

I definitely agree with the gist of your post though:)

MM

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InvisibleChronic7

Registered: 05/08/04
Posts: 13,679
Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9398086 - 12/09/08 08:57 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

inquiry is definately about seeing reality
it brings the attention back to awareness each time

exploring traditions is good & fun for a while
as each place has pointers to that
but no teaching can really lead to awareness
as awareness is there already

alot of people tie themselves to teachings or practice to bring them somewhere
but when jumping into infinity there cant be a tether rope :wink:

thanks for making this post

:peace:


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OfflineMainlyMind
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: Chronic7]
    #9398193 - 12/09/08 09:26 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Ahhh, I see, we're on the same page:)


>> exploring traditions is good & fun for a while
as each place has pointers to that
but no teaching can really lead to awareness
as awareness is there already.

Yes, of course;  'The monk leaves home with the jewel he seeks already sewn into the hem of his coat'. Dzogchen and Mahamudra work on precisely the understanding you post above. They're not about reaching anywhere or changing your condition - or even ultimately having particular experiences - but knowing what you already are. Other approaches use this same understanding, but only these two traditions show you how to rest in what you already are in a way that brings very rapid progress.



MM

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InvisibleChronic7

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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9398239 - 12/09/08 09:35 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

im so happy to see someone who sees this :grin:

the tradition of Self inquiry does do the same though
theres nothing more rapid then looking directly as what you already are
through the inquiry 'who am i?'

even the teachings your referring to are pretty much this same method
getting the mind to stop & look at what is here

its all to see the essence of mind as voidness, empty awareness

we can share some links via PM....


:peace:


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InvisibleRoyal_Shroom
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9398427 - 12/09/08 10:18 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Doesn't Buddha define enlightenment as simply "the end of suffering." So in other words there's no plateau that one must reach but to stop any negativity right now. If you are happy and harming no one or yourself how are you not enlightened. Enlightenment as just being and appreciating everything around you and seeing the purpose and beauty of everything in the world? It seems we obviously put way too much into what enlightenment and in a way prevent ourselves from reaching it because we actually seem to put ego into it and it being some great accomplishment...


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Embrace your soul, color, and the light

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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: Royal_Shroom]
    #9398438 - 12/09/08 10:21 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

It seems we obviously put way too much into what enlightenment and in a way prevent ourselves from reaching it because we actually seem to put ego into it and it being some great accomplishment...

Thank you for addressing the fact that most "spiritual" people (see above) are really religious people.


--------------------
"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC

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InvisibleWhiskeyClone
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: Royal_Shroom]
    #9398503 - 12/09/08 10:35 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

Royal_Shroom said:
Doesn't Buddha define enlightenment as simply "the end of suffering." So in other words there's no plateau that one must reach but to stop any negativity right now. If you are happy and harming no one or yourself how are you not enlightened. Enlightenment as just being and appreciating everything around you and seeing the purpose and beauty of everything in the world? It seems we obviously put way too much into what enlightenment and in a way prevent ourselves from reaching it because we actually seem to put ego into it and it being some great accomplishment...




Nailed it


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Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man.  For him all doors are flung wide: him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire.  Our love goes out to him and embraces him, because he did not need it.

~ R.W. Emerson, "Self-Reliance"

:heartpump:

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Invisibleredgreenvines
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: WhiskeyClone]
    #9398622 - 12/09/08 10:58 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

that's nirvana
i don't think enlightenment ever got defined
it has always been like a direction rather than a place
kinda more up


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InvisibleWhiskeyClone
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: redgreenvines]
    #9398690 - 12/09/08 11:12 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

It has been defined many times.  "Enlightenment is the end of suffering" is the one I hear most.


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Welcome evermore to gods and men is the self-helping man.  For him all doors are flung wide: him all tongues greet, all honors crown, all eyes follow with desire.  Our love goes out to him and embraces him, because he did not need it.

~ R.W. Emerson, "Self-Reliance"

:heartpump:

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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: WhiskeyClone]
    #9398735 - 12/09/08 11:19 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

The only one that makes any sense to me.


--------------------
"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC

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InvisibleRecondicom
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9399423 - 12/09/08 01:09 PM (15 years, 4 months ago)

The human mind does not perceived enlightment as actually existing, except through the ideas of the programming/sensations of its own body. That is if the mind is not in contact with enlightment, the mind will not perceive enlightment. So… it could only imagine enlightment because it does not know it.
  The clear mechanism is contact with absolute truth. Therefore; ideas we believe to be truth.


--------------------
Wave.
'And for this reason repentance (metanoia) is an elevating means. For he who feels impatience with the circunstances in which he finds himself, devises means of escape.
  Now the chief thing in purification is the will. For then both deeds and words lend a helping hand. But, when the will is absent, the whole purificatory discipline of initiation is...'

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Invisibleredgreenvines
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: WhiskeyClone]
    #9399484 - 12/09/08 01:19 PM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Quote:

WhiskeyClone said:
It has been defined many times.  "Enlightenment is the end of suffering" is the one I hear most.



nirvana
or nibbanna
enlightenment can be achieved without nibbanna


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OfflineMainlyMind
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: redgreenvines]
    #9399955 - 12/09/08 02:22 PM (15 years, 4 months ago)

>>>Doesn't Buddha define enlightenment as simply "the end of suffering."

Hi:) Yes and no. The original word was 'dukha', which means 'unsatisfactoryness'. The word originally derived from the words that meant a wheel with an uneven rim. a state of unbalance and stress. The reason why enlightenment is 'the end of suffering' is for a couple of reasons: (briefly) one is that the state gives a deep state of contentment that makes you stop wanting things, you stop needing anything other than be where you are at any one second. But there are deeper effects than this too, which are inherent in the experience and together they give a profound contentment, and freedom from 'stress and dissatisfaction.'


>>So in other words there's no plateau that one must reach but to stop any negativity right now.

  The plateau is the actual experience of non-duality/samadhi, which is a well studied state that happens fairly frequently.

I know this will sound odd, but negativity, morality, good and bad have nothing to do with reaching enlightenment, though I do understand that that's the common image that it all has. Morality helps, it's a tool in the same way that meditation is, but it is just one tool of many. As I said in the OP, morality is certainly a part of basic Mahayana, so you're right, but it's not used by everyone by all means as a main route to realisation, nor in many cases is even the idea of being 'spiritual'. Even Hinduism began by being a non-theistic philosophy, derived from direct experience, and not a religion.

The Mahayana Buddhist approach has tended to get Buddhism as a whole branded as being purely about reaching a state of ultimate goodness. But that's purely because here in the west we don't see the full 'path' in Buddhism or Hinduism, we just see those small element that are made popular in modern literature, and of course we can only define things by what we're told of them, so I understand why you think like you do, you have no other frame of reference.

  >>>If you are happy and harming no one or yourself how are you not enlightened. Enlightenment as just being and appreciating everything around you and seeing the purpose and beauty of everything in the world?

No, unfortunately not, that's a western interpretation of the word. 'Enlightenment' is more accurately called 'realisation', meaning that it's a realisation of the true nature of reality in an experience of Kensho. You can certainly say that someone who acts as you say above is good and kind and doing the best they can with their lives, that is beyond doubt - but that doesn't make them enlightened. I do understand that the idea of a good, spiritually developed person being called 'enlightened' is popular here in the west, but it really does have a completely different meaning here than it does in Buddhism and Hinduism. There are very strict definitions on its meaning in these traditions, and obviously, understandably so.

Anyone can of course say here, 'I am enlightened', and mean it in whatever way they want, why not? But it would be regarded as a bit silly by those who actually invented the word in proper traditions, though again, if anyone wants to do that and is happy to pretend, why not do it?

>>It seems we obviously put way too much into what enlightenment and in a way prevent ourselves from reaching it because we actually seem to put ego into it and it being some great accomplishment...

That is very true, well said.

This is something that does stand in the way of people who are trying to 'reach' it. But luckily, as you rise through levels of meditation and have these experiences, you realise that it isn't necessary to strive, because as in our conversation above, we already are what many are trying to reach, which negates any need to become anything, and ego is no longer an issue. There is no barrier, there is no reaching, there just 'is'.


MM

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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9400930 - 12/09/08 04:30 PM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Pundit


--------------------
"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC

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OfflineMainlyMind
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation [Re: Icelander]
    #9404166 - 12/10/08 02:50 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Here are a few excerpts from a sutra (something said by the Buddha) regarding the state of Buddhahood:

The Demonstration of the Inconceivable State of Buddhahood Sutra

"...The Buddha said, "It is the state of emptiness, because all views are equal. It is the state of sign-less-ness, because all signs are equal. It is the state of wish-less-ness, because the three realms are equal. It is the state of non-action, because all actions are equal. It is the state of the unconditioned, because all conditioned things are equal."

Note the mention of the word 'emptiness' In the above as a requisite. 'Emptiness' does not mean non-existence, or that Buddhists are nihilists, it means that all of samsaric reality is an interconnected flow of unity which has no inherent self-existence, and is just an empty aspect of ultimate reality.

"...The Buddha asked, "Manjusri, where should the state of Buddhahood be sought?"
Manjusri answered, "It should be sought right in the defilements of sentient beings. Why, because by nature the defilements of sentient beings are inapprehensible. Realization of this is beyond the comprehension of Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas; therefore, it is called the state of Buddhahood."


The above means that (one of the ways) realisation can be found is to look at samsara and the acts of human beings and realise that they are all 'inapprehensible', i.e., they cannot be found, as they too are empty.

"...The Buddha asked further, "In what equality do you think the Tathágata abides?"

Equality has a number of aspects. Reality as a whole is equal in being empty, equal in being a non-duality, and equal in being 'awareness'.

"...The Buddha asked, "Manjusri, do you detach yourself from the defilements or abide in them?"
Manjusri said, "All defilements are equal [in reality]. I have realized that equality through right practice. Therefore, I neither detach myself from the defilements nor abide in them. If a sramaga or Brahmin claims that he has overcome passions and sees other beings as defiled, he has fallen into the two extreme views. What are the two? One is the view of Eternalism, maintaining that defilements exist; the other is the view of nihilism, maintaining that defilements do not exist.
World-Honored One, he who practices rightly sees no such things as self or other, existence or nonexistence. Why? Because he clearly comprehends all dharmas."

The Buddha asked, "Manjusri, what should one rely upon for right practice?"
"He who practices rightly relies upon nothing."
The Buddha asked, "Does he not practice according to the path?"
"If he practices in accordance with anything, his practice will be conditioned. A conditioned practice is not one of equality. Why? Because it is not exempt from arising, abiding, and perishing."

(The Buddhas asked:) "Why are you a Pratyekabuddha?" (someone who has become realised)
"Because I thoroughly comprehend the dependent origination of all dharmas."


Dependent origination is of course emptiness (properly called 'Sunyata')

(The Buddhas asked:) "Why are you a Worthy One, a Supremely Enlightened One?"
"Because I realize that all things are equal in the Dharmadhatu "


They are equal in unity, open-ness and emptiness.

Manjusri answered, "As an illustration, consider the empty space in the ten directions. People speak of the eastern space, the southern space, the western space, the northern space, the four intermediate spaces, the space above, the space below, and so forth. Such distinctions are spoken of, although the empty space itself is devoid of distinctions. In like manner, virtuous one, the various stages are established in the ultimate emptiness of all things, although the emptiness itself is devoid of distinctions "

Imagine that there is nothing here at all other than a single infinite sea. At times the water turns and moves, and if we look closely at the movements we might see faces, houses, people - but the movements have never been anything other than the sea that they have seemed to emerge from. Non-duality (the sea, a 'one-ness') still remains.

If waves appear on the surface of the sea, through convention, we say that there are waves and sea as though they're to different things, but non-duality still remains. In the same way, there is a non-duality 'here'. The sea is Ultimate Nature, the waves are samsaric reality. Samsara can not  exist in its own right, all is non-duality.

Subhuti said, "Manjusri, please tell me how they transcend the mundane world."
Manjusri said, "The five aggregates constitute what we call the mundane world. Of these, the aggregate of form has the nature of accumulated foam, the aggregate of feeling has the nature of a bubble, the aggregate of conception has the nature of a mirage, the aggregate of impulse has the nature of a hollow plantain, and the aggregate of consciousness has the nature of an illusion. Thus, One should know that the essential nature of the mundane world is none other than that of foam, bubbles, mirages, plantains, and illusions; ill it there are neither aggregates nor the names of aggregates, neither sentient beings nor the names of sentient beings, neither the mundane world nor the supra-mundane world. Such a right understanding of the five aggregates is called the supreme understanding. If one attains this supreme understanding, then he is liberated, as he [actually] always has been. If he is so liberated, he is not attached to mundane things. If he is not attached to mundane things, he transcends the mundane world.
"Furthermore, Subhuti, the basic nature of the five aggregates is emptiness. If that nature is emptiness, there is neither 'I' nor 'mine.' If there is neither 'I' nor 'mine,' there is no duality. If there is no duality, there is neither grasping nor abandoning. If there is neither grasping nor abandoning, there is no attachment. Thus, free of attachment, one transcends the mundane world.

"Furthermore, Subhuti, the five aggregates belong to causes and conditions. If they belong to causes and conditions, they do not belong to oneself or to others. If they do not belong to oneself or to others, they have no owner. If they have no owner, there is no one who grasps them. If there is no grasping, there is no contention, and non-contention is the practice of religious devotees. Just as a hand moving in empty space touches no object and meets no obstacle, so the Bodhisattvas who practice the equality of emptiness transcend the mundane world.

"Moreover, Subhuti, because all the elements of the five aggregates merge in the Dharmadhatu, there are no realms. If there are no realms, there are no elements of earth, water, fire, or air; there is no ego, sentient being, or life; no Realm of Desire, Realm of Form or Realm of Formlessness: no realm of the conditioned or realm of the unconditioned; no realm of samsara or realm of nirvana. When Bodhisattvas enter such a domain free of distinctions, they do not abide in anything, though they remain in the midst of worldly beings. If they do not abide in anything, they transcend the mundane world." When this Dharma of transcending the world was explained, two hundred monks became detached from all dharmas, ended all their defilements, and become liberated in mind. One by one they took off their upper garments to offer to Manjusri, saying, "Any person who does not have faith in or understand this doctrine will achieve nothing and realize nothing."
Then Subhuti asked these monks, "Elders, have you ever achieved or realized anything?"
The monks replied, "Only presumptuous persons will claim they have achieved and realized something. To a humble religious devotee, nothing is achieved or realized. How, then, would such a person think of saying to himself, 'This I have achieved; this I have realized'? If such an idea occurs to him, then it is a demon's deed."
Subhuti asked, "Elders, according to your understanding, what achievement and realization cause you to say so?"

"What is the nature of suffering? It is the very nature of non-arising. The same is true concerning the characteristic of the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering. The nature of non-arising is sign-less and unattainable. In it, there is no suffering to be known, no cause of suffering to be eradicated, no cessation of suffering to be realized, and no path leading to the cessation of suffering to be followed. Those who are not frightened terrified, or awestricken upon hearing these Noble Truths are not presumptuous. Those who are frightened and terrified are the presumptuous ones."


This is a very important text in many tradition, again I hope it clarifies what enlightenment and Buddhahood are.

MM

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InvisibleIcelander
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Re: Enlightenment/Realisation *DELETED* [Re: MainlyMind]
    #9404932 - 12/10/08 09:39 AM (15 years, 4 months ago)

Post deleted by Veritas

Reason for deletion: Let's keep it impersonal, please.



--------------------
"Don't believe everything you think". -Anom.

" All that lives was born to die"-Anom.

With much wisdom comes much sorrow,
The more knowledge, the more grief.
Ecclesiastes circa 350 BC

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