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Maybe not as hard as I thought

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Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/13/19 10:35 PM
I've had this suspicion lately that "full enlightenment" might not be as impossibly difficult as I for some reason thought it had to be.

I feel like I've broken through a certain wall within the last couple days, after asking myself repeatedly, "How do I know I'm not there yet?". And, I've realized:

- The eagerness and agitation aren't going away. They're just "there".
- My psychological problems and personality flaws are just "there".
- All sorts of negative emotions are just "there".

Somehow, the ideal seems to be that enlightenment requires:

- Perfect, emotionless equanimity
- Complete lack of agitation
- An absence of negative thoughts
- A total rewrite of history to ensure that I'm automatically set up to be the most skillful person in every facet of life from here on out

Really? That seems like a fantasy.

It seems to me that most discussions of "enlightenment" need to just be thrown in the trash, because they assume these ideals which are clearly based on fairy tales and salvation myths.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/13/19 10:53 PM as a reply to spatial.
Let me give some more context by saying that this was prompted by a discussion about enlightenment at a local dharma group last week. After listening to several comments, I suddenly realized, "wow, these people simply don't have a concept of what 'enlightenment' means. To them, it's just a placeholder term for 'perfect human being'". I noticed that I clearly did have a concept of what it meant, but it seemed wise to question myself on this.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 3:41 AM as a reply to spatial.
Yes, very wise to question it. Everybody makes mistakes. Dealing with the consequences and trying to make the best of it can be skillful too. There must be room for mistakes in the world. What kind of life would we have otherwise?

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 5:36 AM as a reply to spatial.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 6:32 AM as a reply to spatial.
I've had this suspicion lately that "full enlightenment" might not be as impossibly difficult as I for some reason thought it had to be.

Hey, when you figure out what it is will you please let me know?

emoticon

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 7:23 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:



That is good advice. I’m currently reading it, and it takes away a lot of pressure and (no)self-doubt.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 8:24 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
Yes...I think this paragraph speaks to what I was trying to get at:

"Further, nearly all meditative practices and traditions are based at least to some degree on idealized views of how the specifics should be. Views so easily become reified, absolutized, and thus the temptation is to not investigate the sensations that make up thoughts about that view, but rather to imitate the ideal expressed in the content of that view. These traps are very easy for people to fall into. This attempt at imitative versus applied practice can seem so much like actual insight practice, but it is not. It is true that good outcomes and positive personal development can arise from this sort of practice, so it is not that I am criticizing those who focus primarily on positive qualities, meaning, and high ideals regarding the specifics their lives, but I am instead stating that many will miss what is more fundamental than these skillful emphases."

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 8:25 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
I've had this suspicion lately that "full enlightenment" might not be as impossibly difficult as I for some reason thought it had to be.

Hey, when you figure out what it is will you please let me know?

emoticon
Haha, when I get there, you'll be the first to know! emoticon

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 8:34 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yes, very wise to question it. Everybody makes mistakes. Dealing with the consequences and trying to make the best of it can be skillful too. There must be room for mistakes in the world. What kind of life would we have otherwise?

On the one hand, yeah, I think you're right. On the other, it seems like a totally separate issue.

It's like... these concepts of "wise", "mistakes", "everybody", "consequences", "skillful", "must", "world", "kind of life", "we would have", and "otherwise"... They are all part of the "story", which it seems to me  is just a completely different domain from what this whole "enlightenment" thing is all about.

Like, you could define those terms any way you want, and relate to them any way you want, and it would just say more about your personal history and culture than it would say about your level of progress on the path. (Because the only thing that's relevant is what's happening RIGHT NOW).

Maybe I'm being overly reductionistic?

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 8:47 AM as a reply to spatial.
Being a "perfect human" is not a requirement for becoming an olympic-caliber athlete, but the amount of time, effort, and dedication required is still a huge commitment (both in training and in terms of diet, rest, coaching, sleep, injury prevention, etc). It becomes a lifestyle. 

Awakening as I've seen some people describe it here, requires a similar amount of commitment. Perfection may not be required, but morality (life specifics) is still a pillar that supports the practice and the overall goal. It becomes a lifestyle.

A large part of my practice has been coming to terms with the fact that a lot of my default behaviors are damaging in the long run and don't support my meditation practice or long term goals/sanity/mental & physical health/relationships/career/hobbies/etc. No, I'll never be perfect, which is okay. I can try to be better and try to change the behaviors that hold me back though. I will hopefully stop shooting myself in the foot one day emoticon 

It's a bit like throwing darts: we aim at the target, throw the dart as best as we can, and we still may miss a shot here or there. That's life: rarely sanitary. Still a lot of work in my opinion though.   

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 1:31 PM as a reply to spatial.
It's like... these concepts of "wise", "mistakes", "everybody", "consequences", "skillful", "must", "world", "kind of life", "we would have", and "otherwise"... They are all part of the "story", which it seems to me  is just a completely different domain from what this whole "enlightenment" thing is all about.

Indeed.

All of these things are concepts and labels applied to whatever just is. Understanding, grokking this, is wisdom. There are no special categories of things that it's okay to ignore the nature of. All phenomena come to us in the same way, every time we experience them.


RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 12:01 PM as a reply to spatial.
spatial:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Yes, very wise to question it. Everybody makes mistakes. Dealing with the consequences and trying to make the best of it can be skillful too. There must be room for mistakes in the world. What kind of life would we have otherwise?

On the one hand, yeah, I think you're right. On the other, it seems like a totally separate issue.

It's like... these concepts of "wise", "mistakes", "everybody", "consequences", "skillful", "must", "world", "kind of life", "we would have", and "otherwise"... They are all part of the "story", which it seems to me  is just a completely different domain from what this whole "enlightenment" thing is all about.

Like, you could define those terms any way you want, and relate to them any way you want, and it would just say more about your personal history and culture than it would say about your level of progress on the path. (Because the only thing that's relevant is what's happening RIGHT NOW).

Maybe I'm being overly reductionistic?


Sure, they are not part of the perceptual awakening. They are more about the morality training part. I guess that part is optional, but I think it may come in handy as one awakens to this world.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 1:39 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Truth is, we can't avoid concepts, emotions, and ideas. The point of awakening is to understand how they occur and to accommodate that wisdom in our moment to moment daily lives. We're all have sympathies and preferences. We don't have to react to them blindly. We're all going to have some sense of morality and ethics, but those do not have to be divorced from the wisdom we gain in practice. If we can leverage that wisdom then we can have an effect on ourselves and others that reflects that, and not ignorance (ignorance meaning the opposite of wisdom, not stupidity).

My experience was that a different sense of ethics and morality arose from my practice. It was not reactive. It was not a result of habit and training. It was a by-product of the investigation into the mind an how it works to present reality to me. I would call this sense "authenticity" for want of a better descriptor. It was a sense that something either was or was not being constructed or manipulated so as to skew my perception and evaluation of it. 

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 2:32 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Thankyou for sharing! Makes sense.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 6:13 PM as a reply to spatial.
I don't really like the term enlightenment, and I'm not sure that enlightenment is the right translation.  It seems more a western religious concept that smuggles in conceptions of saintliness that are, I think, foreign to buddha dharma.

I like the terms liberation or unbinding.  You don't destroy all these negative things, rather you become unbound from them - they no longer attach to your old concept of self. And so you become liberated.

Doesn't stop you stepping in dog poo.  Doesn't stop you laughing at the wrong thing.  Doesn't stop you doing something 'stupid'.  Stupid is just a fabrication anyway, right? emoticon

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 6:30 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Personally I think that getting some realization without morality is pretty dangerous: it can make you an unpleasant person to be around, unable to navigate this relative reality in which you are still taking part, even potentially sociopathic. There's plenty of evidence on this forum.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 6:32 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Well put.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/14/19 6:37 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Chris Marti:
It's like... these concepts of "wise", "mistakes", "everybody", "consequences", "skillful", "must", "world", "kind of life", "we would have", and "otherwise"... They are all part of the "story", which it seems to me  is just a completely different domain from what this whole "enlightenment" thing is all about.

Indeed.

All of these things are concepts and labels applied to whatever just is. Understanding, grokking this, is wisdom. There are no special categories of things that it's okay to ignore the nature of. All phenomena come to us in the same way, every time we experience them.

That's my understanding as well. We escape the second arrow but still have to deal with the first.

RE: Maybe not as hard as I thought
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5/15/19 12:15 AM as a reply to Milo.
Milo:
Personally I think that getting some realization without morality is pretty dangerous: it can make you an unpleasant person to be around, unable to navigate this relative reality in which you are still taking part, even potentially sociopathic.

Yeah, I think so too. I was trying to be diplomatic. I seem to get the nuances wrong all the time.

Navigating new insights is indeed a challenge. Even though I was theoretically prepared for them, realizing them on a sensate level is pretty cataclysmic.