telling people about your enlightenment status

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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Any advice or stories from the path-attainers on telling others about their attainments? I feel like I want to share it with my close friends and family... I already told some of them that I'm working towards it earlier. I wouldn't want to say "I am the All-Enlightened Supreme One!" (also because I'm not). But something like "Yeah according to old Buddhist texts this is the first path of four path to Enlightenment... such and such is how my experience is now a little different yet also mostly the same."

I guess I have to ask myself what I want out of it. I'm not sure.. spread the good news? Heh. I'll think about that more. But I'm curious if any of you did it how they reacted. Some reactions + treatment of you afterwards might be:

Reaction:
1) What? Oh you're so silly.
2) What? That is weird. Seek help.
3) ::shrug:: you and your Buddhist stuff
4) O really what's it like?

Afterwards:
1) Think you're crazy and stop associating with you.
2) Treat you the same.
3) Revere you.
4) Ask help how to do it.

Since the ideal would be Reaction #1/#4 + Afterwards #2 (#4 would be better but all I could do really is given them MCTB, point them to the site, tell them the Dark Night is really troublesome but that it's worth getting through)... probably not much point in telling them! So maybe I answered my own question. But also curious on others' opinions.

I guess it would be funny if people are having a philosophical debate about Enlightenment to just tell them you are (at least according to some view of Enlightenment at least partly). That's more for comedic / shock value though.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Ah from [url=]this old thread, this seems to be useful:

I used to have a real burning desire to communicate what I was doing with my wife or even my older children. That's a relatively common but also an immature urge I now believe. They don't care. Really just don't care - not in a nasty or angry way but in a neutral "I've got my own stuff to deal with" way. That was hard to adjust to but yeah, that's the way it seems to work.

So Vince, yes, as I progressed in my practice it became obvious that sharing it with those around me was pretty much pointless and I now wait for at least five separate inquiries before I'll even talk about it with someone who seems the least bit curious. I never, ever, bring it up or volunteer anything, even if a related topic arises (karma being a common one, as is Eckhard Tolle since Oprah Winfrey recommended his most recent book).

immature urge is perhaps correct.
Trent H., modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 361 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Hi,

Beoman Beo Beoman:
Any advice or stories from the path-attainers on telling others about their attainments?


In the context of one's personal life, I think it is best to generally only tell a very select few people about one's attainments, and then only if it seems like it will benefit them because it seems that it will influence them to practice more seriously or to take one's advice on these matters more seriously. If I would have applied this same principle to myself over the past few years, I would not have told any of my familial relatives and perhaps only a single friend. Unless there is clearly going to be a practical result, I think it is best to avoid the topic entirely.

The main reason to avoid it is because it probably won’t help you get anywhere in your practice, but it can definitely lead to a situation which can hold you back. In the best case scenario: nothing happens. The worst case is another story (which I am aware of because I have personally experienced it): By sharing, you open yourself up to being rejected by them in that way, and as a feeling being, you are prone to feeling bad about that outcome. By feeling bad about that, an implicit association is draw in your mind which reads something like this: the dharma is causing me and my (family, friends, whatevers) pain. Now there is a deeply sown hindrance in your mind... you will then be at odds with the very thing you are trying to be more sincere about. It may be stressful for other people, too. If you don’t say anything, they may just think “he’s changing…I wonder why…oh well, I guess this is just how he is.” In that situation, it is likely to hit a dead end in their mind; they can't tack down what exactly is going on, and so they can't really channel much energy into it. If you tell them specifically what's going on, though, they will associate their feelings (including any fear and resentment) with the dharma, rather than with you only, thereby objectifying it in their minds (and just a moment before depersonalizing it). Then, it is practically impossible to remove that association, and your every action or way that you change or whatever from then on will be judged through those (possibly severe) biases. This association will actually be a part of ‘you’ for them... it is not a cleanly sectioned off piece of their mind which says “I don’t like the dharma” it is more like “I don’t like the dharma and I don't like what it has done to you.” This means that anytime they become aware of anything dharma related, they will have a propensity to feel bad about 'you,' too. It is hard for people to be rational about ‘outside forces’ which they perceive to be tampering with their comfort. And this situation can be unfortunate in another way, too, which I alluded to above: anyone you’ve shared it with who has a negative reaction will also now be much less likely to get into it for themselves (hence why I stated that it is then practically impossible to remove).

Besides, one should avoid bonding with people about these things anyway... seeking out such bonds is presumably antithetical to the whole reason that one is meditating in the first place (to end suffering).

Trent
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Trent, I think that's some very sound advice. Before reading your post I was actually wondering what it would be like to tell one friend. They feel we haven't been so close, lately, and they also think that Enlightenment would lead one to become boring, an emotionless being that accepts being content with life, neither too happy nor too sad, without any attachments that have any meaning (which is what life is about). So that would probably quickly lead to them thinking Enlightenment is drawing us apart. That can't be any good for anyone.

So yeah maybe I will tell one friend, with whom I was discussing my goals earlier, before any attainments, since he said "Well if you do it and it works, I'll try it too." But no one else that I can think of, yet.
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Steph S, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Back before I started practicing actualism and was still practicing insight regularly, I told my mom, one close friend, and two friends from work that I started meditating. I never went into details. I basically told them, it's a good exercise and it's making me calmer and happier. Their general reaction was, "Oh, that's cool. Glad it's working out for you." None of these people have brought it up again since I first told them.

From reading some of your other posts I remember you recently got stream entry, right? Your inclination to share is something I also experienced very strongly right after stream entry. Could be a post stream entry thing, and it could also be you're cycling through A&P right now. Even before stream entry I wanted to let the whole world know how epic meditation is really often during A&P. Daniel mentions this phenomenon in his book too.
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Beoman Beo Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Steph S:
Back before I started practicing actualism and was still practicing insight regularly, I told my mom, one close friend, and two friends from work that I started meditating. I never went into details. I basically told them, it's a good exercise and it's making me calmer and happier. Their general reaction was, "Oh, that's cool. Glad it's working out for you." None of these people have brought it up again since I first told them.

From reading some of your other posts I remember you recently got stream entry, right? Your inclination to share is something I also experienced very strongly right after stream entry. Could be a post stream entry thing, and it could also be you're cycling through A&P right now. Even before stream entry I wanted to let the whole world know how epic meditation is really often during A&P. Daniel mentions this phenomenon in his book too.


Hah I started evangelizing meditation like a few months after I started, which looking back at now was Mind & Body. During the first clearly-perceived A&P I had (which was maybe the only one, but I might have had one earlier), I was also really being like "Man I'm really getting into meditation! It's really cool!" (One family member said: "That's like saying you're really getting into staring at walls.") So I can only imagine (and have experienced) it being a post-stream-entry thing as well! In any case I'll have to calm down and understand it more before telling any non-dharma people.. but I think I'll follow in your steps, stop talking about Enlightenment, and just talk of it in terms of it being good for me, and jhanas (which I call "really concentrated interesting states") at most.
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Shashank Dixit, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 282 Join Date: 9/11/10 Recent Posts
Serious advice : If ever you want to share it with someone , then share it only with people who are very spiritually inclined and preferably those who are practising in the same path. There is a reason why sanghas were formed.

After my stream-entry I shared it with a spiritual Hindu friend and we kind of got into a mild discussion about what is the right way.
All it did was to agitate me a little but taught me a very important thing :- holding onto any view itself is a hindrance on this path.
no-name seems more proper, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/16/11 Recent Posts
The urge to share ones accomplishments comes from the ego, indicating a lower possibility of actual stream-entry.
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Jeremy P, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 22 Join Date: 2/2/10 Recent Posts
I was surprised to not see very much on this thread... figured it would be a common practical concern. If I understand everyone, it seems like a few of you have had negative experiences with outing yourself, or are at least as wary as I am now.

I think it was Kenneth Folk say in an interview something to the effect of "I met this teacher who told me not only enlightenment was a real thing, but that he had some of it. It really inspired me to practice." This has stuck with me.

I got stream entry not too long ago, but long enough that the vague bliss is gone. I still feel that I am better off for having done what I've done and want to share that. I don't mean standing on a soap box and throwing it at unsuspecting passersby, encouraging some friends who have put some time into meditation and are in general struggling with life. If there's a place to try outing myself, it seems to be with them.

Thus far I have told several people of my experience and it's consequences without dropping words like "stream entry" or "enlightenment." I figure there's not much point in using a Buddhist vocabulary in a secular setting. No strong reactions yet, but maybe it just doesn't sound like much.

Has anyone had positive results with dropping an E-bomb on someone in need of help? Negative? No effect? It's something I'll have to let steep in my mind for a while, but I'd be interested in good old-fashioned personal experience.

Jeremy
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Florian Weps, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi Beoman,

Announcing Stream Entry wouldn't have made any sense in the context of my workplace, acquaintances, or family, and could have led to problems like those Trent mentions.

I'm not much into evangelizing, never was, but I strongly wanted to share my discovery with people who could see what it was about. So I was awfully lucky to have the DhO and a few other online Dharma friends who would listen to me gushing forth about Stream Entry.

But I admit that I did go trolling on the German Christian usenet group, baiting a few of the regular fundamentalists with some of the Jesus sayings I suddenly understood so clearly. While that was fun and harmless (I hope), it didn't lead anywhere so I eventually let it go.

One thing I notice about me is that now I'm much more able to meet people at whatever place they are in the spiritual spectrum (provided I can go there myself...). I no longer require them to see any merit in my views, as useful as I find them myself. I think this is a very nice thing to be able to do.

Cheers,
Florian
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Basically ditto what everyone else said, and in summary: I got basically nothing good out of telling anyone who wasn't already quite into this stuff anything and some that was somewhat bad (nothing particularly terrible).

I alienated a lot of people in my post-stream-entry high for a few months running while babbling about this stuff, though maybe 10-15 years later a very few of them had admitted that at least it gave them something to think about that was different from what they were used to, but that is a long time to wait for a very small payoff. I lost a few old friends permanently, though that may have been inevitable anyway...

It nearly always seems to create division, projection, comparison, and worse.

That said, there is nothing like knowing for one's self rather than relying on the opinions of others, so I wish you luck in your disclosure adventures and hope that whatever damage is done is short-lived or, if long-lived (more likely, given the nature of the claim) that it is minimal in its smoldering, and that you rapidly attain to understanding for yourself about when is best and most skillful, realizing that it is hard to know exactly how anyone will react.

See here for more:

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/98527?_19_redirect=%2Fweb%2Fguest%2Fdiscussion%2F-%2Fmessage_boards%2Fsearch%3F_19_redirect%3D%252Fweb%252Fguest%252Fdiscussion%26_19_breadcrumbsCategoryId%3D0%26_19_searchCategoryIds%3D0%26_19_keywords%3Dtoxic

Daniel
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Uma Sarason, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 53 Join Date: 12/12/09 Recent Posts
Hi,

Just looking through some older posts and this one reminded me of a story:

Right after my first Goenka retreat (1999) when I had gone through the A&P and had all this "totally amazing blissful far out fountains of energy coming out my head pouring over my body and mind and matter melting into each other and seeing how everything is connected" ad infinitum, I have a clear (and now very embarrassing) memory of what came right after... soon before plunging into the dark night ...

I sent an email to all my friends (I was in India at the time) ... before this I had been in a party scene doing my fair share of lsd, ecstasy, etc. And I wrote this email saying, "meditation can get you higher than the best drugs!!" I don't remember what else I wrote but I'm sure it was equally awful and inappropriate. And I won't even begin to mention the amount of proselytizing I did to friends and loved ones about the 10-day course.

Anyway, thanks for the laughs.
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Jacob Henry St. Onge Casavant, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 698 Join Date: 5/22/10 Recent Posts
Hi Claudiu :-)
I'm not sure where I'm at on the maps, or exactly how much I buy into the 4-path technical model (actually I'm pretty sure I don't :-)), I do know I've at least entered the stream by this community's standards and still see more to understand an discover. That being said, after SE while I could see for the first time the broad and deep scope of what I'd undertaken, and how I'd only scratched the surface, I still had to admit that everyday life was a lot better than it had ever been. My mum was a practitioner and had stage four breast cancer so I figured I would just out myself to her and share Dan's book. If anything I think it definitely inspired her, and we had lots of good straightforward dharma talks in her last year, in which we both learned a lot from each other, which was great. But that was really a dharma-friend relationship at that point. I've been similarly straight with people who have some experience but lack confidence due to unrealistic notions about "enlightenment", and they haven't shunned me yet, and may be inspired, time will tell. Circumspection definitely seems to be the thing. I know I have lots of immature reasons for talking about dharma, so if there is no obvious practical connection with someone, potential or actual, it seems best to be silent.

The hardest thing for me in this regard is that I attend a college where meditation is often practiced in the transpersonal psychology classes I take as part of my major. I sometimes get frustrated when I see other students who are practicing in the dark being fed what I consider misleading information by professors. Although some professors are pretty cool and well-practiced, due to their dharma culture they don't appear capable of speaking straightforwardly about their self-assesment. One teacher used Dan's model of the Progress of Insight in a class session on the "Dark Night". Her description of her experience led me to believe she was at least a stream enterer, but then again, her tradition doesn't allow for straight convos. Oh well!
no-name seems more proper, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/16/11 Recent Posts
Do not share until it is a very very high level of enlightenment. If there is room to debate about it, then it is too early to share...From my understanding, every single claim I have read thus far on this site seems to overstate their achievements.
wylo ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 166 Join Date: 11/18/11 Recent Posts
Its an interesting topic.

And I can echo the negative experiences, I have never ever seen any positive outcome out of straight out telling someone of an attainment.

My best friend: He resisted sharply, thought Id joined a cult, and spent at least 2 years (from time to time) trying to catch me out and prove I wasnt enlightened (he didnt understand what it meant). This then evolved into him trying to prove that he had realized the stuff I know for years. This was quite difficult to take but we both got over it, and we barely mention it now, unless we're joking about it. He still doesnt believe, but he also doesnt care anymore, and neither do I.

Another friend: caught me on facebook talking about it where I posted in some public group. He made fun of me and asked had I joined a cult. He lost interest quite quickly.

People on forums, enlightenment topics, groups in facebook: Mostly rejection and attempts at proving why Im not enlightened.

Truth is, no one gives a crap, they really really dont. And the people that do believe something actually happened you are pretty indifferent because they dont treat it like a conscious shift, they treat it more like you had a nice epiphany. I believe people without interest in this stuff really really underestimate how different reality actually seems when you attain something.

The only people that would probably give a crap, hypothetically, are people Id be teaching. But I dont teach, I have never had, and probably never will have an interest in teaching.

Its quite a humbling experience, and as time goes on, you begin to realize that there are many wonderful traits and supposedly deep insights that you are only realizing now that many of your friends and family already have that didn't require any attainments or spiritual interest .

Ive also learned that those tremendous moments of peace where everything seems utterly joyful and calm are simply unsharable, so Ive given up wanting others to experience them too.

Someone mentioned ego, this is true too. My actual interest in sharing this stuff with anyone has dwindled into non existence, with the exception of people who I KNOW are interested (even then other topics tend to interest me more), or shamefully enough, if Im trying to impress some girl or something and I believe they'd think its cool if they have shown a passive interest already.
Trial And Error, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
The discussion here brings up a few questions in my mind.

1- Isn't wanting to share the good things you experience an act of love and compassion? I understand some people aren't interested and they can't be forced. But isn't sharing an act of love and compassion at its core? What I understand from ego is not present in sharing.

2- Is it possible for an enlightened person to display their enlightenedness in their actions and life in a way that is going to make people around them go, "hey it looks like there is something good here. I wonder what it is"?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Both are definitely true. Your points, in a vacuum, are valid and would seem so straightforwardly useful.

The thing is, there are plenty of really kind, good, helpful, saintly, moral, generous, happy people who have nary a clue about these things, and there are plenty of really technically skilled, scholarly, meditatively talented, moderately to very enlightened people who appear to be nowhere near as impressive as the first bunch.

And then we have the preconceptions, the territoriality, the paradigm threats, the competition, the religious fixations, the fantastic projections, the solidity of views, and all of the rest: very easy to underestimate until you run babbling right into them, as I have done so many, many times, like a naive school kid skipping down the back alley behind a crack house.

And then we have the fact that it is really, really, really hard to not have some subtle or overt arrogance and condescension somewhere in your presentation, even if that is just the alienating use of specialized terminology, or the knowledge of the concepts and theory you use to frame and define your realization, even if it is only something that benign, which it generally isn't.
Eva M Nie, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 831 Join Date: 3/23/14 Recent Posts
The thing is, what is most useful and helfpful to someone else is rarely going to just happen to be the same thing as the stuff that currently excites you and that you feel like talking about.  And if the stuff you are excited about just happens to fly in the face of their core belief system, and you are yammering on and on about it (at least from their perspective), they are likely to get bored at best or perhaps even irritated or threatened.  To them, it could seem similar to a born again Christian trying to convert them.  Most have had many past experiences of attempted conversion by various religions, you could easily get lumped in the same category.  People tend to be protective of their belief systems and for many, their belief systems make up a core part of their perception of their identity so you could be directly threatening what they feel is their identity.  Plus you have other disadvantages like that the current most common American belief systems do not involve enlightenment and that media info on previous gurus has yielded a picture of con artists taking money or delusional nut cases.  So from the perspective of many Americans, enlightenment doesn't exist and also there is a tendency to assume those claiming to be enlightened are wackos or greey cult leaders or both (and many probably are). 

If you really do want to help someone though, there are a lot of ways to help them without talking about yourself.  The most obvious thing is you could lead by example but beyond that, .. First it works much better if they actually want your help so that they are open to it.  Otherwise you'll likely be talking to a wall.  Second, you would want to say it in a way that does not sound couched in religion and fancy terminology and that what you talk about is an area of their interest ( not just yours).  Plus if there is even a small percentage of the ego type things like condescension, finger wagging, holier than thou, bragging, pride, etc in your message, that is going to up the chance their ego will reject both your ego as well as the whole message as well (baby out with the bathwater), and also make it so they will be more resistant to that same message in the future.  You only get one chance to make a first impression so if the message is important, be careful of how it is first presented.  On the flip side, stories from out of country make it sound like the enlightened can perform all matter of miracles on demand, so if you can't do that either, well it won't look good for you!  ;-P     
Derek Cameron, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: telling people about your enlightenment status

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem:
Any advice or stories from the path-attainers on telling others about their attainments? I feel like I want to share it with my close friends and family... I already told some of them that I'm working towards it earlier. I wouldn't want to say "I am the All-Enlightened Supreme One!" (also because I'm not). But something like "Yeah according to old Buddhist texts this is the first path of four path to Enlightenment... such and such is how my experience is now a little different yet also mostly the same."

I guess I have to ask myself what I want out of it. I'm not sure.. spread the good news? Heh. I'll think about that more. But I'm curious if any of you did it how they reacted. Some reactions + treatment of you afterwards might be:

Reaction:
1) What? Oh you're so silly.
2) What? That is weird. Seek help.
3) ::shrug:: you and your Buddhist stuff
4) O really what's it like?

Afterwards:
1) Think you're crazy and stop associating with you.
2) Treat you the same.
3) Revere you.
4) Ask help how to do it.

Since the ideal would be Reaction #1/#4 + Afterwards #2 (#4 would be better but all I could do really is given them MCTB, point them to the site, tell them the Dark Night is really troublesome but that it's worth getting through)... probably not much point in telling them! So maybe I answered my own question. But also curious on others' opinions.

I guess it would be funny if people are having a philosophical debate about Enlightenment to just tell them you are (at least according to some view of Enlightenment at least partly). That's more for comedic / shock value though.


This evangelical fervor following stream entry is a common phenomenon. I don't think it's so bad in itself. As you say, the motivation is to spread the good news, and it's such an astonishing realization that it almost demands to be talked about. The most common reaction, though, is either miscomprehension or total incomprehension.

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