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Shinzen Young

Sudden awakenings

Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 6:58 AM
Here is Shinzen's interview at Buddhist Geeks: http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/06/on-enlightenment-an-interview-with-shinzen-young/

A quote:

HPK: During the last retreat here you mentioned that
many of your students are more enlightened than they think they are.
After 30 years of working in the field, what have you observed that’s
common, and what’s different about your student’s experiences of
enlightenment? How do their experiences compare to, for instance, those
found in Kapleau’s “Three Pillars of Zen”, or Buddhagosa’s
“Vissuddhimagga”? How common is that dramatic, sudden experience of
enlightenment as compared to the more gradual and even integration.

SZY:
The sudden epiphany that’s described in many
books about enlightenment, that has definitely happened to some of my
students. And when it happens, it’s similar to what is described in
those books. How frequently does it happen? I don’t know. I don’t keep
statistics, but maybe a couple times a year.

I was surprised to see that this number is quite small, "a couple of times a year". Perhaps it actually is slightly larger if he doesn't keep a record. I haven't seen numbers of how various teachers teaching various paths do in this regard but I would expect the number to be quite higher than a couple. I don't mean to critisize anyone here but to bring up the question of how do teachings actually perform in this sense (awakenings/stream-entries).

Any idea of numbers from other teachers/guides?

Baba

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 7:10 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Hi Baba

hm, if that teacher specializes on guiding his students along a developmental, "gradual" path, why do you measure him by the number of "sudden" awakenings that he presumably considers spurious to his way of teaching?

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 9:08 AM as a reply to Florian.
That is an extremely good point Florian. I never thought of that because he has a strong Rinzai Zen/kensho-history.

Baba

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 10:45 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
yeah, it's not clear from that short quote whether he meant the one or the other. As far as I know, Shinzen Young's meditation teaching is strongly Theravada inspired, so a more developmental approach is not unlikely.

Interesting anyway.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 11:41 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Hi Baba

hm, if that teacher specializes on guiding his students along a developmental, "gradual" path, why do you measure him by the number of "sudden" awakenings that he presumably considers spurious to his way of teaching?

Cheers,
Florian

Is he strongly influenced by Therevada? I don't know much of his work but I know he has a background in Zen. In one of his talk, he also sugested that he experienced a suddent Enlightenment himself. He was comparing gradual vs sudden and and he said that in his case, it wass sudden, but only after working for years on it.

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 11:55 AM as a reply to Simon T..
His training background is Shingon, Theravada and Zen.

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 1:22 PM as a reply to Simon T..
Simon T.:
Florian Weps:
Hi Baba

hm, if that teacher specializes on guiding his students along a developmental, "gradual" path, why do you measure him by the number of "sudden" awakenings that he presumably considers spurious to his way of teaching?

Cheers,
Florian

Is he strongly influenced by Therevada? I don't know much of his work but I know he has a background in Zen. In one of his talk, he also sugested that he experienced a suddent Enlightenment himself. He was comparing gradual vs sudden and and he said that in his case, it wass sudden, but only after working for years on it.

Sudden after working on it for years? Sounds like a standard Theravadin Path moment to me...

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 3:25 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
He teaches noting mostly in his retreats, often cross referencing Mahasi instructions for clarity.  He also presents other techniques including "do nothing" (taking as broad a focus as possible while dropping any intentions or "doing" that's possible) and noting "gone" or vanishings.  He brings a lot of perspective and good stories from his Rinzai and Shingon training and shares about them, but as far as I can tell he does not teach practices based in those schools as part of his basic instruction.  He works a lot with people one on one so not sure what everyone gets in that case.

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 6:16 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Eric M W:
Simon T.:
Florian Weps:
Hi Baba

hm, if that teacher specializes on guiding his students along a developmental, "gradual" path, why do you measure him by the number of "sudden" awakenings that he presumably considers spurious to his way of teaching?

Cheers,
Florian

Is he strongly influenced by Therevada? I don't know much of his work but I know he has a background in Zen. In one of his talk, he also sugested that he experienced a suddent Enlightenment himself. He was comparing gradual vs sudden and and he said that in his case, it wass sudden, but only after working for years on it.

Sudden after working on it for years? Sounds like a standard Theravadin Path moment to me...

Yes, it's weird. The only way I could make sense of this is that he means that it all happens in one big chunk. That would mean that he didn't really have any major baseline shift before it's "final" Enlightenment. Here is a video where he talk of his enlightenment (I cannot find the video I have seen before). He got enlightened doing self-inquiry by the way.

http://youtu.be/_sCj9PDyPsg?t=6m1s

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 8:23 PM as a reply to Simon T..
Simon T.:
Eric M W:
Simon T.:
Florian Weps:
Hi Baba

hm, if that teacher specializes on guiding his students along a developmental, "gradual" path, why do you measure him by the number of "sudden" awakenings that he presumably considers spurious to his way of teaching?

Cheers,
Florian

Is he strongly influenced by Therevada? I don't know much of his work but I know he has a background in Zen. In one of his talk, he also sugested that he experienced a suddent Enlightenment himself. He was comparing gradual vs sudden and and he said that in his case, it wass sudden, but only after working for years on it.

Sudden after working on it for years? Sounds like a standard Theravadin Path moment to me...

Yes, it's weird. The only way I could make sense of this is that he means that it all happens in one big chunk. That would mean that he didn't really have any major baseline shift before it's "final" Enlightenment. Here is a video where he talk of his enlightenment (I cannot find the video I have seen before). He got enlightened doing self-inquiry by the way.

http://youtu.be/_sCj9PDyPsg?t=6m1s

Thank you for the video and the explanation. I think the most confusing thing about the sudden awakening debate is that the Path moment is sudden. So, even if one has been meditating for a long time and moving up the nanas, it still feels like "sudden enlightenment."

Isn't there also a saying in Theravada-- to simultaneously understand two characteristics is to understand the third, and is cause for immediate first awakening...?

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/7/14 8:50 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Eric M W:
Simon T.:
Eric M W:
Simon T.:
Florian Weps:
Hi Baba

hm, if that teacher specializes on guiding his students along a developmental, "gradual" path, why do you measure him by the number of "sudden" awakenings that he presumably considers spurious to his way of teaching?

Cheers,
Florian

Is he strongly influenced by Therevada? I don't know much of his work but I know he has a background in Zen. In one of his talk, he also sugested that he experienced a suddent Enlightenment himself. He was comparing gradual vs sudden and and he said that in his case, it wass sudden, but only after working for years on it.

Sudden after working on it for years? Sounds like a standard Theravadin Path moment to me...

Yes, it's weird. The only way I could make sense of this is that he means that it all happens in one big chunk. That would mean that he didn't really have any major baseline shift before it's "final" Enlightenment. Here is a video where he talk of his enlightenment (I cannot find the video I have seen before). He got enlightened doing self-inquiry by the way.

http://youtu.be/_sCj9PDyPsg?t=6m1s

Thank you for the video and the explanation. I think the most confusing thing about the sudden awakening debate is that the Path moment is sudden. So, even if one has been meditating for a long time and moving up the nanas, it still feels like "sudden enlightenment."

Isn't there also a saying in Theravada-- to simultaneously understand two characteristics is to understand the third, and is cause for immediate first awakening...?

I heard Young discuss of the 4 level of Enligthenment, from stream entry to Arahantship, but I am under the impression that he claim that someone can jump more or less straight to Arahantship. I don't know enough about his story to be sure of that but it's something that interest me. Considering that he got enlightened by doing self-inquiry practice, and the traditions involved in self-inquiry practice tend the dismiss the 4 stages of enlightenment, I see a connection there. I would like to see more exchange between the sudden and gradual camp at an intellectual level. 

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/8/14 12:24 AM as a reply to Simon T..
Simon T.:
Considering that he got enlightened by doing self-inquiry practice, and the traditions involved in self-inquiry practice tend the dismiss the 4 stages of enlightenment, I see a connection there. I would like to see more exchange between the sudden and gradual camp at an intellectual level. 
Well here is a thought....If self inquiry is looking for a specific result such as loss of the sense of agency (@4th path) then the other layers of selfing processes would be mostly ignored. So even though there are 3 layers of selfing processes that shut down prior they are not the "one" that is being looked for and therefore discounted. There is also the possibility that all four layers of selfing processes can shut down all at once.
~D

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/8/14 7:51 AM as a reply to Simon T..
Unless I'm confusing him with someone else, I'm pretty sure Shinzen claims SE for himself and this is because when referencing the 4-path model he is referencing the traditional Sutra fetters model. But maybe I'm confusing him with someone else. Here's some neat stuff I found googling "Shinzen young stream entry":

http://shinzenyoung.blogspot.com/2012/07/meet-my-new-girlfriend-tdcs.html

 this is really cool, it looks like a highly compact and clear summary of his system: "the system [of 'Basic Mindfulness'] is explicitly designed to bring people to stream entry":

http://www.shinzen.org/Articles/BMS_Summary.pdf

Of course it may be that his definition of SE, focusing as it does on the insight into a profound shift of the way identity functions, may correlate to something more like 4th path in the pragmatic dharma models.

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/8/14 2:51 AM as a reply to Kim Katami.
I was into philosophy and science.  But I was, by nature, self-reflective since my earliest memories.  Eight years ago I had borrowed a book written by Suzuki and had my sudden awakening about three chapters into it.  

Since that time, especially in the last three years, I have swallowed Mahayana Buddhism, Kabbalah, Sacred Geometry, Esoteric Christianity, and Patanjali Yoga and my enlightenment has been deepened by integrating my awakening with these new terms, the mysteries they reveal that are confirmed in my knowing, and living life in the moment with the wisdom gained.

I could put the answer best in a religious way.  If I used physics terms and obscure texts, I might pull off a more precise answer, but maybe religious terms can be enough?

Those who have sudden awakenings are reincarnated arahants.  It is inevitable that they will awaken, and most of them do not awaken in a sangha.  Many do not even care about Buddhism, knowing that they, themselves, are the great teacher.  They do not go through all the stages that are so radical and wondrous to those not yet enlightened.

They are Everywhere, in different stages of awakening.  Many belong to other religions.  Many do not even think of any spirituality with any significant deference.  Many are driven to the hardest retreats and the most fervent practices because they somehow remember that they know something and these people are in a hurry to know it again.  

Many of these special Sons of God become the most amazing teachers.  I personally think Daniel is one of these people.  If any person reads this and identifies with it, then please choose to help all of the seekers.  It is so easy to dwell in the jhanas, hanging to our temporal existences by the thinnest of threads.  But we are living in the time of The Dharma Leaving the World.  The ancient knowledge has been so twisted by misinterpretation in the last few generations that it no longer produces Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  It may be that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that reincarnate are with us, but the world is no longer a spiritual place.  

Enlightened People will awaken.  The world will need us to awaken... People are going to need us!

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/15/14 6:48 PM as a reply to Kim Katami.
Do you want to have your own sudden awakening?

Colleen has it.  She's had it in a little box under her bed.  She's kept it safe for you to give to you on your Birthday.

RE: Sudden awakenings
Answer
10/16/14 8:54 AM as a reply to Jeremy May.
Jeremy May:
Do you want to have your own sudden awakening?

Colleen has it.  She's had it in a little box under her bed.  She's kept it safe for you to give to you on your Birthday.

Ha!   Happy Birthday everybody!

You can take a person to awakening but you can't make him drink  :-))

I used to do this for awhile when I had my own realizations of my own oneness and allness simultaneously.  I simply asked myself, "What am I?" and the answer was forthright.   Then I started running that answer on some people I was working with as a spiritual psychotherapist.  

One person got the same result and another person started hearing organ music and did not wish me to ask that question any further (it was a repetitive question until they arrived).   Neither one took up any practice as a result, although they did become better at their own game of life. So I stopped doing that and now only work with people who need an orientation into my same practices because I am at such a low level that I can still relate to newbies' issues.  That's three people and I enjoyed it very much -- as much as they did.   My pay is seeing them grok it -- they can now safely take apart their own mind and have fun doing it. Nirvana.

Jeremy and I in our own ways still love to play our games, don't we.   Joy to you and me and to all our brothers and sisters.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtYnCmw2CWE