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Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"

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There are/were many different people that believe they have reached enlightenment. But what is confusing to me, is their level of metaphysical knowledge. Many of those seem to be just ordinary in every way, except that new point of view clicked and had some fancy experiences. But how come some people know a lot of how it all works, gods, devas, other realm, mechanics of karma, of rebirth etc. and other just don't know? For example, many of the latter when asked "so you will not reincarnate anymore?" would simply answer "I don't know". But isn't enlightenment all about ending the suffering and reincarnation cycle? It is, so how can you know when you have succeded when you can't even tell whether you will be reborn or not?

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/22/15 1:28 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Hi Michal,

Near the end of his life, the Buddha was denounced by a former monk, who had at one time been the Buddha's attendant, to the assembly at Vaishali. As reported in the Mahasihanada Sutta, the man, Sunakkhata, said:
The recluse Gotama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in
knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gotama teaches a dhamma
hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of inquiry as it occurs to him, and
when he teaches the dhamma to anyone, it leads him when he practices it to the
complete destruction of craving.
When told later of Sunakkhata's words, the Buddha replied:
The misguided man Sunakkhatta is angry and his words are spoken out of anger.
Thinking to discredit me, he actually praises me; for it is praise to say of me: ‘When he
teaches the dhamma to anyone, it leads him when he practices it to the complete
destruction of craving.'
You don't have to be enlightened to see gods, devas, daemons, other
realms, the mechanics of karma, rebirth, etc. These visions come out of
an altered state of consciousness that results from attaining a high
degree of concentration. In my opinion (having seen most of these and more), they
are all illusion. I believe they result when the meditator experiences
constructed events based on beliefs. If you want the details, check out the memoir I
wrote, Silicon Valley Monk, available as a free ebook for download from Smashwords.

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/22/15 2:35 PM as a reply to svmonk.
I have downloaded your book and will check it out when I find some spare time.
These visions come out of 
an altered state of consciousness that results from attaining a high 
degree of concentration. In my opinion (having seen most of these and more), they
are all illusion

This is something I have always been suspecting. I am not hardcore meditator, I have not even reached first jhana. However, I used to practice lucid dreaming when I was younger. I don't care about dreams anymore but sometimes I still get them (actually had a lucid dream last night). Every time I am in awe how real is the experience! Just as real as waking state, just with different rules. It always made me wonder, how all those guys like Buddha, Jesus and everyone else who had experienced altered states, could tell difference between illusion and truth? What about some objective and verifiable experience, like some siddhis? Have you experienced something verifiable svmonk?

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/22/15 3:17 PM as a reply to Michał G..
I have played around with these ideas and concepts a lot, which is all I can offer here.

In the 1970's my mom used to meditate with Swami Muktananda.  She would see blue lights and would bring friends who had never meditated, and soon enough, they would start seeing blue lights or feeling high, seemingly against their will.  One time, my mom saw a famous Jazz singer from the time (Roberta Flack) being brought up to the front of a huge hall to see Muktananda.  She was not a mystical person.  Muktananada immediately effortlessly put her in a trance.  He was very interested in becoming famous.  My mom said that she felt she was too critical of others at that time.  On a Muktananda retreat, for days in a row, literally every time she thought something mean about a person, that person would turn around and do something nice for her (smile, hold a door, compliment her, make a joke, etc.).  This would not happen when she would not think about a person or would think nice things about a person.

I got my first A&P on a retreat with the saint Amma (btw both Muktananda and Amma are terrible people who have exploited and abused their followers--- this has no bearing on whether or not they possess siddhis, imo).  I felt high for 3 days.  It was morelike lsd than a jhana afterglow.  I couldn't have snapped out of it, even if I wanted to.  I was having auditory and visual hallucinations, hearing "aum's" when cars in the distance would drive by and seeing bindu's on peoples foreheads.  Also, as I was leaving the retreat, there were 5 people in a crowd of 1500 that I wanted to say goodbye to.  I prayed to Amma for this to happen and ran into every single person in a 1/2 mile radius.  I didn't run into anyone who wasn't on my list.

My dad studied with Rama Murti Mishra, aka Dr. Kaushik, at his ashram in the 1970's.  While with a group of his students (including my dad) in a novelty store, one of his students accidentally locked himself to a shelf with a real pair of handcuff's that was being sold.  Before they could ask the shopkeeper for a key, Dr. Kaushik playfully fiddled with, touching the outside only, and inexplicably unlocking it.

These are all powers that occurred outside of the formless realms.  They probably were not immediately following the formless realms either.  It is wrong to say the formless realms are the only source of siddhis.

Muktananda and Amma probably meet/met the criteria for MCTB 4th Path.  More importantly, they practiced in systems which had a morphogenetic field (a field of belief) around the idea that Siddhi's exist and are connected to enlightenment because the world is very interconnected with the self.  Also, there are external energies that are real.  My mom has a really old tibetan dorje that makes most meditators high just by holding it.  Muktananda got his power from Bhagwan Nityananda, who definitely did a lot of miracles in India in the early 1900's.  Its harder to do miracles when there are a lot of witnesses who carry a strong field of disbelief.  My ideas are influenced by Daniel's essay on Magick. 

My theory is that if one's paradigm is totally locked in on siddhis and shakti and other powersy things, then those things are much more likely to happen.

In Pragmatic Dharma, we have an advantage by creating a different type of field-of-belief, one which says enlightenment is something separate from Siddhi's and therefore a lot more attainable.  If we said you had to be able to give shaktipat to be enlightened, who the hell would meet that criteria?  The same holds true for knowing metaphysical knowledge.

I think there are three different axis' of development here: 1) Being a good person, 2) Having Siddhi's, 3) Being Enlightened.... I also think one's belief system and the belief system of their tradition helps to shape the interaction between these axis'.

Edit: added Roberta Flack and axis' of development, dr. kaushik example, and relationship with formless realms

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/22/15 3:10 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
 If you want the details, check out the memoir I
wrote, Silicon Valley Monk, available as a free ebook for download from Smashwords.
Neat. I am working on a similar project. It'll be yet another 99-cent Kindle book.emoticon

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 12:07 PM as a reply to Derek.
Derek Cameron:
Neat. I am working on a similar project. It'll be yet another 99-cent Kindle book.emoticon

Hi Derek,

Cool! Hope you'll announce it here, I really enjoy reading other people's practice memoirs and I'm sure others do as well.

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 12:44 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Hi Michal,

Michał G.:
I have downloaded your book and will check it out when I find some spare time.

However, I used to practice lucid dreaming when I was younger. I don't care about dreams anymore but sometimes I still get them (actually had a lucid dream last night). Every time I am in awe how real is the experience! Just as real as waking state, just with different rules.
Right, that's exactly the problem. The experience is so real you just have to believe it.  Now, imagine you get the same lucid dream like experience walking around while nominally awake. You are even more inclined to believe that the stuff you're seeing-hearing-touching-feeling is a reflection of physical reality. Even though it's physically impossible.

One possible mechanism whereby this stuff could start showing up in your sensorium is that your brain starts acting like you are dreaming but while you are awake. So the different parts get reconnected though concentration meditation in a way that lets your beliefs show up as actual sensory experiences. Don't know whether that's what's actually happening or not, but it seems more likely to me than that there is some real mapping between the experiences and physical reality.

It always made me wonder, how all those guys like Buddha, Jesus and everyone else who had experienced altered states, could tell difference between illusion and truth?


Well, partly they couldn't. Prior to the Renaissance, people had a rather loose notion of the tie between physical reality and what people saw and heard. Lots of people had these kinds of experiences, saw angels/devas or buddhas. Even Decartes believed that the mind was nonphysical and connected to the body through the pineal gland. Personally, I think when the the Buddha was younger he actually saw many of these things, devas, people's rebirths after they died, and so forth, and that he believed them and reported on them to people around him. But they were not particularly central to his teaching, even though the tradition long after he died came to emphasize them, particularly rebirth. I do believe though that, late in his life, he began to question them and deemphasize them, hence the quote in my original post. Of course, I can't prove this, but it does seem consistent with his teaching.

What about some objective and verifiable experience, like some siddhis? Have you experienced something verifiable svmonk?


No, nothing, Usually for about a month after a very intense retreat, I see this stuff, think I can do magic, hear people's thoughts, etc. By "magic" I mean that my intentions, as expressed by thoughts or words, can get translated into the physical world without my having to take any action. But then it fades and there is no trace in the physical world that my intentions have had any effect whatsoever.

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 1:01 PM as a reply to Noah.
Hi Noah,

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't have these experiences myself during and after a particularly intense retreat. They're fun while they last, though they tend to sometimes be hard on the family and others around me. Unlike Daniel, I have a difficult time keeping what I'm experiencing from showing up in external behavior. But, in the end, they leave no lasting after effect on physical reality except to the extent that I do or say something, or, at least that's been my experience. Perhaps yours has been different.

I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on this topic. The thread on magick and the powers is one area where Daniel and I are not of the same opinion. As I see it, Daniel's approach to enlightenment, magick, and the powers is that they are ways to enhance one's aesthetic appreciation of experience. There's a long tradition in Japanese Buddhism along these lines, but it's not the tradition I've practiced in. Since I tend to follow the "ten fetters" model of enlightenment (at least as I understand it), I don't think these kinds of experiences are particularly useful in dropping the causes of suffering, and they can become a major distraction. But I've got no problem with people discussing them, and if Michal (who started the thread) wants to take the thread in that direction, I'll happily bow out here.

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 2:28 PM as a reply to svmonk.
I am a skeptic by nature and I question everything so svmonk's experience appeals to me. Even though I have never witnessed any verifiable siddhis, somehow I feel in the gut that some of them are possible to extent. But even with this assumption, there is still a problem in recognizing whether you tapped into real stuff, or you are just making things up like in a dream. This is my assumption: I see dreaming as a kind of personal sandbox. I don't think I experienced astral projection (out of body experience) but from what I know, the basic difference is that in OoBEs you have mostly contact with "real deal", I mean you can visit other world/realm, your friend can do the same and your descriptions will match. Or you can meet with your friend and in waking world verify details while in Lucid Dreams everything is made up. Funny thing is, some folks distinguish Lucid Dreaming and OoBEs while some say it is the same except the method used to enter that state. What adds to confusion, there are many testimonies of people experiencing paranormal stuff with objective result yet somehow there is nothing really documented like that. This is why I would like to experience siddhis myself. I don't care about power or anything like that, but I am interested in bigger picture of everything and if it can be done, I would like to experience it myself and be totally sure. Siddhis always took big part in spirituality and I think that in most cases it was just lies made up by followers to prove that their guru is the real deal. Even about Buddha there are different versions of the same events, some totally realistic and other just like a fairy tale. But it can't ALL be lies... or can it?

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 2:28 PM as a reply to Michał G..
The Contents, Too, Are Divine

sorta kinda addresses your post

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 2:45 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
No, nothing, Usually for about a month after a very intense retreat, I see this stuff, think I can do magic, hear people's thoughts, etc. By "magic" I mean that my intentions, as expressed by thoughts or words, can get translated into the physical world without my having to take any action. But then it fades and there is no trace in the physical world that my intentions have had any effect whatsoever.


There seems to be a lot of wishful/magical thinking on DhO these days. I often think, "well, where's the harm in it?" and then contrast with the stories of the Chinese kung fu masters during the boxer rebellion. Iron shirt qi gong was no match for bullets, no matter how much they believed/wished/willed it to be.

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 3:25 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Michał G.:
There are/were many different people that believe they have reached enlightenment. But what is confusing to me, is their level of metaphysical knowledge. Many of those seem to be just ordinary in every way, except that new point of view clicked and had some fancy experiences. But how come some people know a lot of how it all works, gods, devas, other realm, mechanics of karma, of rebirth etc. and other just don't know? For example, many of the latter when asked "so you will not reincarnate anymore?" would simply answer "I don't know". But isn't enlightenment all about ending the suffering and reincarnation cycle? It is, so how can you know when you have succeded when you can't even tell whether you will be reborn or not?
I like it simple. Here's my version of what I heard at Goenka.

Practicing good 'conduct' makes concentration possible.  Good concentration makes wisdom born of experience possible.

Wisdom acquistion is a 3 step process: hear the ideas, think about the ideas, practice the ideas (vipassana meditation).  Read it again, understanding more this time.  Think about it again, this time with deeper understanding.  Practice it again, this time with more meaningful experience.  Repeat again and again, the beneficial spiral of wisdom acquisition.

The 3 characteristics are simple to hear, and clear to see with good vipassana practice, and this leads to less suffering, all without knowing anything else about life or metaphysics.

Who can really know what happens after death, why fret that?  Would having simply read a book really matter at that point?

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/23/15 5:42 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:

Hi Derek,

Cool! Hope you'll announce it here, I really enjoy reading other people's practice memoirs and I'm sure others do as well.

For sure. I'll start a new thread for it, since you're having an interesting conversation here.

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/24/15 4:03 AM as a reply to Michał G..
Paweł K:
I consider myself enlightened and one of my my knowledges is that I am everyone and everything including all matter, energy and even empty space. 

(...)

Given that I am already everything (...)
Statements like these are something I just cannot understand. Obviously this is not to be understood intelectually, but I'll give it a try. Are you really everyone and everything or just simply can't define your boundaries? You cannot be everything, all of your experiencing is happening in you but your point of view is centered in your body/mind. If you are everything, can you feel my feelings, think my thoughts? Are you omniscient, omnipresent? I don't think so, so how can you really be everything?

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
5/24/15 1:26 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:
Hi Noah,

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't have these experiences myself during and after a particularly intense retreat. They're fun while they last, though they tend to sometimes be hard on the family and others around me. Unlike Daniel, I have a difficult time keeping what I'm experiencing from showing up in external behavior. But, in the end, they leave no lasting after effect on physical reality except to the extent that I do or say something, or, at least that's been my experience. Perhaps yours has been different.

I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on this topic. The thread on magick and the powers is one area where Daniel and I are not of the same opinion. As I see it, Daniel's approach to enlightenment, magick, and the powers is that they are ways to enhance one's aesthetic appreciation of experience. There's a long tradition in Japanese Buddhism along these lines, but it's not the tradition I've practiced in. Since I tend to follow the "ten fetters" model of enlightenment (at least as I understand it), I don't think these kinds of experiences are particularly useful in dropping the causes of suffering, and they can become a major distraction. But I've got no problem with people discussing them, and if Michal (who started the thread) wants to take the thread in that direction, I'll happily bow out here.
Hi svmonk, 
Truth is, I don't know what I'm talking about in terms of personal experience at all.  Very few magickal experiences.  I'm just sort of 'playing with ideas.'  I've read a lot of books and done a lot of fantasizing and synthesizing about different spiritual systems.  Just sharing those ideas, but they aren't my reality.
Thanks for your thoughts,
Noah

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
6/23/15 5:19 PM as a reply to Michał G..
Just wanted to confirm that Pawel K is indeed everyone and everything. And you can not understand it "intellectually" but you *will* experience it and know it on a much deeper level than what is pointed at with the phrase "intellectual knowledge". It's not a statement of arrogance or delusion, just the simple and unavoidable Truth with capital T.

RE: Relation between Enlightenment and knowledge of "stuff"
Answer
6/23/15 8:55 PM as a reply to svmonk.
svmonk:

Now, imagine you get the same lucid dream like experience walking around while nominally awake. You are even more inclined to believe that the stuff you're seeing-hearing-touching-feeling is a reflection of physical reality. Even though it's physically impossible.

One possible mechanism whereby this stuff could start showing up in your sensorium is that your brain starts acting like you are dreaming but while you are awake. So the different parts get reconnected though concentration meditation in a way that lets your beliefs show up as actual sensory experiences. Don't know whether that's what's actually happening or not, but it seems more likely to me than that there is some real mapping between the experiences and physical reality.

It always made me wonder, how all those guys like Buddha, Jesus and everyone else who had experienced altered states, could tell difference between illusion and truth?


Well, partly they couldn't. Prior to the Renaissance, people had a rather loose notion of the tie between physical reality and what people saw and heard. Lots of people had these kinds of experiences, saw angels/devas or buddhas. Even Decartes believed that the mind was nonphysical and connected to the body through the pineal gland. Personally, I think when the the Buddha was younger he actually saw many of these things, devas, people's rebirths after they died, and so forth, and that he believed them and reported on them to people around him. But they were not particularly central to his teaching, even though the tradition long after he died came to emphasize them, particularly rebirth. I do believe though that, late in his life, he began to question them and deemphasize them, hence the quote in my original post. Of course, I can't prove this, but it does seem consistent with his teaching.

What about some objective and verifiable experience, like some siddhis? Have you experienced something verifiable svmonk?


No, nothing, Usually for about a month after a very intense retreat, I see this stuff, think I can do magic, hear people's thoughts, etc. By "magic" I mean that my intentions, as expressed by thoughts or words, can get translated into the physical world without my having to take any action. But then it fades and there is no trace in the physical world that my intentions have had any effect whatsoever.
You are sure that there is a difference between dreams and reality why?  Is it because that is what current society taught you?  But if you lived in another society like those you mentioned, they would have taught you differently?   How do you know your assumptions now are correct and those of other societies are incorrect?   How are you sure what is possible and impossible when even science knows the building blocks of our reality at the quantum level act impossible on a regular basis?
-Eva