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Is this enlightenment?

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Is this enlightenment?
Answer
12/26/17 5:34 PM
Hi

I've heard that there are people here on this forum that claim they have attained enlightenment. I was wondering how does my experience compare to yours.

I can enter a state of mind in which I can distinctly recognize these properties:

- I feel devoid of clinging, craving and aversion
- I feel peaceful and content
- I feel confident and faultless
- I feel free - free to do anything, free from influences
- I see things clearly and mindfully

Although I cannot yet sustain this state for too long (most often a few minutes, once or twice about 30 min), I've gained the ability to reproduce this state reliably.

could you tell me:

- do you think what I achieved is enlightenment? If not, why? Is it lacking something?
- do you also feel the way I described above?
- are you in that state all the time?
-- if yes - are you in that state since the first time you attained it, or did you extend the length you can be in it gradually?
-- if not - how long can you sustain it for?

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
12/27/17 5:23 AM as a reply to Tom.
Well, it certainly sounds nice, anyway.

The first jhana arises when the hindrances are suppressed and the mind is clear and able to attend to the objects of choice steadily with markedly reduced disturbances.

This is a nice, transient state relatively easy to attian. It is useful, as it can serve as a valuable foundation for further progress.

What preceeds the state you are describing, and what comes after it? How do you attain it? Depending on what comes before it, you might be achieving some higher transient jhanic state than the first.

The stages of awakening are unchanging in that they create "permanent" (while the brain remains intact) changes in perception that alter the baseline way various layers of mind are perceived. They are not state-dependent. They don't come and go like that in that way. Awakening allows for all sorts of various qualities of mind to arise, and instead is about the clear perception of something universal in all qualities that arise regardless of what they are.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
12/28/17 5:06 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
what preceeds the state you are describing, and what comes after it?

I'm not sure what exactly you want me to describe. Before I enter it and after it ends there is just the 'normal', usual me, as I always have been, as I image most people most often are - with mind occupied by thoughts, plans or worries, with actions being governed by habit, cravings or emotions, with restlessness and unsatisfactoriness (dukkha).

The stages of awakening are unchanging in that they create "permanent" (while the brain remains intact) changes in perception

Well, my perception and understanding of the world, myself and my mind, has certainly changed throughout my life, and at an intellectual level it does stay unchanged regardless of what state of mind I am in, but indeed it isn't always reflected in my behavior, or in how I feel or how I see things at the particular moment.

it can serve as a valuable foundation for further progress.

could you tell me an example of something that is further, that is not just time-extended version of what I can already do? It's hard for me to image what more could there be. Well, maybe I can image things like recollecting past lives, or gaining some supernatural powers - I've read somewhere that these also could be attained - but I am rather sceptical about such things, and I am not interested in them right now

So, to summarize your answer to my question - you don't think I achieved enlightenment, because what I describe is temporary, and awakening is something rather permanent? Yeah, I kind of expected there will be such an answer. So then, I'm really curious, do you really feel content all the time? Have you achieved permanent cessation of craving and of dukkha?

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
12/31/17 5:23 AM as a reply to Tom.
Enlightenment is the realization and perspective shift from “I am the experiencer of experience and the doer of my actions” to “in seeing only scenery, no seer” “in hearing only sounds, no hearer” and “actions arise, no doer”, etc

maybe check out http://www.spiritualteachers.org/what-is-enlightenment/

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
12/31/17 3:38 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
An Eternal Now:
Enlightenment is the realization and perspective shift from “I am the experiencer of experience and the doer of my actions” to “in seeing only scenery, no seer” “in hearing only sounds, no hearer” and “actions arise, no doer”, etc

According to one definition. There are different notions of enlightenment, the common theme being that something changed permanently and irreversibly. If the thing you "have" comes and goes a lot, there is probably no tradition calling that thing enlightenment or awakening or any word to that effect.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
12/31/17 5:06 AM as a reply to neko.
Well yes, in that definition I posted, that perspective shift is permanent as it is a realization of what is always already the case. A dharma seal or universal characteristic of all manifestations/states of consciousness/phenomena that is always already so, rather than a particular state to be achieved or sustained. Once seen, cannot be unseen. Anything else other than direct comprehension of the nature of mind/phenomena is just another transient state. That's been my experience.

The article also mentioned, "It’s like one of those 3D dot pictures, you stare and stare at those dots until bingo the picture emerges! After that, you can always see it, you can’t unlearn it. The same with enlightenment."

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
12/31/17 5:15 AM as a reply to An Eternal Now.
I should also mention that the article by Steven Norquist talks about realizing certain aspect of no-self and nondual but does not include what I call the 'nature of consciousness'. Steven norquist also subtly reifies consciousness to be some source and substratum of manifestation (as he said in an email to me, consciousness remains even in the absence of manifestation, so he still holds the view of inherency [consciousness as having inherent existence on its own side] and subtle duality) even though seeing its consciousness and manifestation as nondual. In terms of stages of realization in Thusness's map that would place him under 'Stage 4' - http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six-stages-of-experience.html

The aspect of dependent origination is also not elucidated and that pertains to the nature of consciousness. What is the purpose of dependent origination, conditionality? Why is sound heard when a bell rang, forms vividly appear when eyes open, and why do appearances appear if they are non-arisen and empty?

If we see dependent origination abstractly as a purely mechanical process devoid of consciousness, then we do not understand why. Steven norquist says things appear due to "consciousness". And that is right, but half the story. Appearances are the aspect of vivid clarity, but this alone doesn't tell us the nature of consciousness - empty and dependent arising. And it's the nature of consciousness to manifest in dependence, that is how appearances manifest, so that is the nature of consciousness - empty and dependently arising, be it afflictive or non-afflictive consciousness. Therefore emptiness is also directly pointing at clarity. So the nature of mind is spontaneous presence and emptiness inseparable - spontaneous as in presence is clearly manifest unmade, unfabricated through effort, self or agency, but not through 'other power' (like God) either but through dependent origination. Due to D.O., therefore naturally no-self.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/1/18 2:06 PM as a reply to neko.
Thanks both of you for your answers.

I admit I am not very knowledgeable in Buddhist traditions, theory and terminology so I might be mixing some terms here, sorry. I thought enlightenment to be something deeply connected to the cessation of dukkha as it is written in the four noble truths. Well, regardless of what enlightenment is or isn't, I think it is safe to say that cessation of dukkha is a major theme in Buddhism and that is what I am currently interested in. As I mentioned before I've repeatedly experienced states where to the best of my knowledge and discernment I was completely free from cravings and from dukkha. But these states were not permanent. As all of you emphasised that awakening is something permanent, I'm really curious - is there anybody here that can honestly say that he/she is permanently content? Has achieved a permanent cessation of craving and of dukkha?

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/1/18 2:28 PM as a reply to Tom.
Tom:
Thanks both of you for your answers.

I admit I am not very knowledgeable in Buddhist traditions, theory and terminology so I might be mixing some terms here, sorry. I thought enlightenment to be something deeply connected to the cessation of dukkha as it is written in the four noble truths. Well, regardless of what enlightenment is or isn't, I think it is safe to say that cessation of dukkha is a major theme in Buddhism and that is what I am currently interested in. As I mentioned before I've repeatedly experienced states where to the best of my knowledge and discernment I was completely free from cravings and from dukkha. But these states were not permanent. As all of you emphasised that awakening is something permanent, I'm really curious - is there anybody here that can honestly say that he/she is permanently content? Has achieved a permanent cessation of craving and of dukkha?

Haha, I'm asking the same thing on my thread Tom. This question seems like the elusive white whale, and the possible answers have a long history on the DhO. Did you read the forum back when a practice called Actual Freedom was all the rage? Now that was entertaining. My take: non-attachment is the goal of practice. Why, because it allows the natural expression of free awareness, which contain the qualities of love, compassion, equaniminity and bliss. Awareness isn't really a thing, and it's not not a thing either, etc etc. Realization of anatta/emptiness engenders non-attachment on an energetic level, but it's not the goal. Of course that's my view, and views are constructed, and not ultimately true (another can of worms). But knowing emptiness fully, being awareness, having no hang-ups, conflicts, attachments or fear - that's liberation. I've had experiences of freedom from dukkha as well, some lasting weeks, but nothing permanent. I couldn't generate anger, fear, frustration or ill-will even if I tried, and I did. When heavy subject/object ideas formed I could feel the thought sensations congeal and just get zapped like a bug lamp, and fly out the top of my head before they could take up residence in my body. Emotions could be intellectual but I didn't feel stress, which is half of the emotion, the uncomfortable half. Trippy stuff. I'm on the edge of my seat for a satisfactory answer to your question anyway. 

Practice well

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/1/18 8:10 PM as a reply to Tom.
Tom,

In buddhism there are stages of enlightenment, it's a continuum, not an on/off switch. And yes, at the highest stage, according to tradition, one will have permanently rid themselves of all suffering.


Does anyone actually reach this state? There are those that claim they do. But I'm skeptical, and many other people are skeptical too. There are also debates as to whether this permanent contentment include physical pain, or merely mental stress? Would this perfectly enlightened person be able to stand up to the worst torture imaginable without suffering? Suffice to say, these experiments have not been done. 

Now as to your states where you were completely free from craving..how are you describing craving? Are you in meditation as you experience these states? Or is this just walking around? How  subtle are you getting? Does this include the craving to say..move your leg? Drink water? The craving for this moment to be any different in any way?  Or are you talking about larger cravings? 

As you can see, we can really get in the weeds here as to what it means to 'crave' and what it means to 'suffer'. 

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/2/18 3:21 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
howdy tom,
yes..there is lots and lots of hair-splitting in the language of enlightenment.

the word dhukka, for example, is taken generally to mean suffering.  suffering is distinct from pain in that it is pain with attachment (the teaching of the 2nd arrow).

in Daniel's book and in other places erudite teachers point out that the translation of dhukka to english should be closer to the word "dissatisfaction" than suffering because it includes a broader spectrum of experience.  i concur with this and find it a helpful distinction.

as pointed out above by several excellent commentators, the question is not whether one stops feeling pain or joy or any other of the slings and arrows of spontaneous fortune but rather pertains to how one reacts to those things.

our "normal" reaction is to automatically bind them to our sense of a solid particulate self and the creating of either attachment or aversion.

an "enlightened" person is someone who has burned the wisdom of seeing through this constructed self into their firmware to such a degree that this automatic selfing process doesn't even get started.

being able to see this process in individual sits is really really excellent but as you noted  yourself, it is obviously temporary.  just as gotama noted with his first two teachers; their teachings were great but after each sit he was back in the world of attachment and sisatisfaction and he strove for more.

that "more" was his enlightenment, his seeing through the delusion of a permanent self that clings to an personalizes experience.

you can do that too.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/2/18 4:40 PM as a reply to Daniel - san.
Haha, I'm asking the same thing on my thread Tom. This question seems like the elusive white whale, and the possible answers have a long history on the DhO

good to hear there is someone curious about the same thing that I am!

Did you read the forum back when a practice called Actual Freedom was all the rage?

No, I am quite new to this forum and I haven't read many posts so far

I've had experiences of freedom from dukkha as well, some lasting weeks, but nothing permanent

That's impressive! Do you remember maybe what was the reason it ended? Was it your conscious decision, or was it some external factor?

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/2/18 4:45 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
at the highest stage, according to tradition, one will have permanently rid themselves of all suffering.

Does anyone actually reach this state? There are those that claim they do. But I'm skeptical, and many other people are skeptical too

Yeah, that's exactly what I am wondering. But I suppose Siddhartha Gautama did it, right? And all of his disciples who became arahants, didn't they too? Isn't it the whole purpose of his teachings? I read somewhere that the Buddha had many disciples, hundreds of which reached arahantship. It makes me wonder - why nowadays it seems like such an unreachable thing, even though we have easy access to Buddha's teachings, to many Buddhist schools, to many Buddhist teachers, to many books. Sometimes I wonder if maybe we are missing something.

Are you in meditation as you experience these states? Or is this just walking around?

funny that you ask it that way, because I actually meditate by walking around ^^ So yes, I meditate to enter these states, and I am (slowly and mindfully) walking around at the same time

Now as to your states where you were completely free from craving..how are you describing craving? [...] How  subtle are you getting? Does this include the craving to say..move your leg? Drink water? The craving for this moment to be any different in any way?  Or are you talking about larger cravings?

What I mean by craving is a desire for anything to be different than it is, in any way, no matter how small, how subtle. This includes a desire to satisfy thirst, or to stretch a numb leg, it can be something larger, like a desire to have a good paying job, and it can also be something subtler, like a desire to do something fun, or a desire to be a good / better person, or even desire to stop having desires. So when I am in this state, I don't feel these kind of cravings. I might feel a feeling of thirst, but I wouldn't have the desire to get rid of it.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/2/18 4:48 PM as a reply to tom moylan.
the word dhukka, for example, is taken generally to mean suffering.  suffering is distinct from pain in that it is pain with attachment (the teaching of the 2nd arrow).

in Daniel's book and in other places erudite teachers point out that the translation of dhukka to english should be closer to the word "dissatisfaction" than suffering because it includes a broader spectrum of experience.  i concur with this and find it a helpful distinction.

as pointed out above by several excellent commentators, the question is not whether one stops feeling pain or joy or any other of the slings and arrows of spontaneous fortune but rather pertains to how one reacts to those things.

Yes, I agree. I understand dukkha not only as plain suffering, stress, or struggle, but also as the lack of lasting satisfaction or contentment. The slightest uneasiness or slightest restlessness that can be present in us. To me being free from dukkha is the moment when I feel that everything in the world is perfectly fine the way it is, no matter what happens.

our "normal" reaction is to automatically bind them to our sense of a solid particulate self and the creating of either attachment or aversion.

an "enlightened" person is someone who has burned the wisdom of seeing through this constructed self into their firmware to such a degree that this automatic selfing process doesn't even get started.

yeah, I suppose I haven't burned that wisdom enough. But I guess that is to be expected when I dedicate most of my time and attention to things related to a home-life - like going to work and maintaining a good relation with my wife and my friends - and only small portion of my time I spend on meditation. I suspect that going into homelessness as Buddha did, is a crucial element to a complete enlightenment.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/2/18 9:11 PM as a reply to Tom.
Tom:

Yeah, that's exactly what I am wondering. But I suppose Siddhartha Gautama did it, right? And all of his disciples who became arahants, didn't they too? Isn't it the whole purpose of his teachings? I read somewhere that the Buddha had many disciples, hundreds of which reached arahantship. It makes me wonder - why nowadays it seems like such an unreachable thing, even though we have easy access to Buddha's teachings, to many Buddhist schools, to many Buddhist teachers, to many books. Sometimes I wonder if maybe we are missing something.

Two possibilites.

1. People today have frazzled attention spans, due to technology, etc and just have a harder time reaching sublime meditative accomplishments.

2. The stories of the Buddha and his disciples are largely legendary, not factual. Was there a person named the Siddhartha Gotama, did he have a high level of meditative skill, become a great teacher  did he set up monastic societies around Indian? Yea probably. But we can actually verify surprisingly little about his life historically. So we don't really know whether he was fully enlightened and ended all suffering permanently, or if any of his disciplies did. 

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
1/2/18 11:32 PM as a reply to Tom.
[quote=]
I've had experiences of freedom from dukkha as well, some lasting weeks, but nothing permanent

That's impressive! Do you remember maybe what was the reason it ended? Was it your conscious decision, or was it some external factor?


Not exactly my conscious decision, but it occurred in the midst of an intense and frightening Kundalini experience (the fright was pretty much only intellectual as the sensations of fear instantly ‘burnt up’ as they were formed within the body, or not formed at all and I only had the thoughts ‘this isn’t normal, maybe I’m crazy’) and I didn’t have guidance and I didn’t want to have weird mystical experiences in the first place. I started meditating to be happier and reduce the ‘monkey mind’, that’s all. So I gave up practice for some time and tried to be normal. I would say lack of daily meditation practice is why my energy body got clogged up again and I eventually started re-experiencing emotional discomfort/pain. This led me to understand more the importance of meditation, and why it is one of the Three Trainings, and an integral part of the Eightfold Path.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
2/23/18 1:58 PM as a reply to Tom.
[quote=
]Categorically not.

You go into the state more or less permanently, at least long-term. You would never need to ask anybody else "was this enlightenment" - you know what it is.

There isn't a single enlightenment either, there are different levels - but there are hallmarks to it.

It is not simply being in a trance or detached, these are necessary to enter it.

You are able to adapt the world and your own mind pretty much in any you want, and answer any question you want, you understand and experience what everything is.

For me at least these things have always come extremely fast, meaning a few days, just investigating myself, experience and reality and wondering how they inter-relate. I was totally ignorant to buddhism or any real meditation. Things always happened from wondering how the mind works and how to express it and its interaction with reality. I've also always asked myself why I exist, why I'm me, why anything exists, what was in 'the beginning?' ? why things happen like they do, and those things probably lend themselves to asking the right questions.

You reach it (amongst other things) by continuously listening to your whole being and balancing it and dropping furhter into it, beyond your existence, using interepretations of everything you see (seeing signs), following a deeper simpler message over and over, not knowing where it will go. 

You probably see fairly weird abstract places involving concentric rings and spheres, and for me at least a very intense 5 pointed star emblazoned on your vision, permanently (3 months) - and realise that you can control your entire movement through 3 essentially.... gyroscopes, very deep within yourself, they drive everything, but usually you are controlling bits very high up. You can already choose your own outcomes and then go to them, or try to. Your life changes as much or as little as you want.

You start to understand how you can control it, and the world you expereince, (by this point you already know that the world is just your experience and nothing is real) and you naturally want to express it, and make it simpler and simpler, trying to get to the simplest definition you can express.

You barely need to sleep, you don't eat or drink much and you are always full of energy.

You finally come to realise that there is no way to express it, and that is almost literally the definition of it. It is something that can't be described. But it is completely real and you can experience it. The simplest way I could try to put it is 3 directions which you control always imply a fourth which you don't. A 'simple' way to consider this would be the 3 spatial dimensions and time happens next in a way you can't perfectly predict. But it is also abstract, so mother, table and forever green might imply something - a movement, dance and concept. This sounds nuts because I'm trying to explain it to you from a forward-thinking (normal life) perspective. The place you go into isn't like normal life to even get near enightenment. You pass god-like states and very frightening places in between. The world around you is following your thoughts and beliefs which is pressure in itself. The places you pass on the way could only be described as magical, in the literal sense.

The non-expression is actually a good thing. It is easy to misuse something like that, and in the past buddhism and religion was very caught up with war and suffering and governments, which are undesirable. As it has drifted from its original description by buddha nad become diluted it's lost a lot of its power but also a lot of the bad things it got related to.

Every chapter of the Dao de Jing for example is a complete description of enlightenment. The first talks a bit about this. The second in a more conceptual way. Each chapter is complete in itself. Chapter 4 and 5 are probably the most directly practical. It's not a very useful 'guide' as a book, but it is very useful as a signpost

But I mean, I'm talking about things, it doesn't really lend itself to talking, it has to be experienced. 

I don't know why I experienced the things I did. It troubles me. I can only think I asked the right questions, but I don't see why anyone else much cleverer couldn't figure out the same things. It interacts perfectly with science, but shouldn't be mixed with it in my view, in the same way it shouldn't be mixed with money or power.

RE: Is this enlightenment?
Answer
2/23/18 3:49 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Tom:

Yeah, that's exactly what I am wondering. But I suppose Siddhartha Gautama did it, right? And all of his disciples who became arahants, didn't they too? Isn't it the whole purpose of his teachings? I read somewhere that the Buddha had many disciples, hundreds of which reached arahantship. It makes me wonder - why nowadays it seems like such an unreachable thing, even though we have easy access to Buddha's teachings, to many Buddhist schools, to many Buddhist teachers, to many books. Sometimes I wonder if maybe we are missing something.

Two possibilites.

1. People today have frazzled attention spans, due to technology, etc and just have a harder time reaching sublime meditative accomplishments.

2. The stories of the Buddha and his disciples are largely legendary, not factual. Was there a person named the Siddhartha Gotama, did he have a high level of meditative skill, become a great teacher  did he set up monastic societies around Indian? Yea probably. But we can actually verify surprisingly little about his life historically. So we don't really know whether he was fully enlightened and ended all suffering permanently, or if any of his disciplies did. 
It's nothing to do with technology. Technology is always rolling whatever time you're born into. We're in a time that's very easy to describe these things, but really no time is different to any other. 

It's easier to learn off someone who actually experiences the thing, like Buddha.

Buddha stressed that he wasn't to be treated like a god, just as a guy - a signpost that this is possible. Everyone these days treats him like a
god which is worthless. It doesn't do aything for them and cheapens stuff for him.

Just read the Tibetan book of the dead if you want to see how lost and distorted teachings can get - it's buddhism, but it's totally full of shit.

The Buddha legendary stuff is more than possible. He screwed up a lot as well, but you see what he was trying to achieve, which was a simple one-size fits all enlighten as many people as possible.

I highly doubt he was a prince or any of these other glamorizations. 

I would think most people who get there now wouldn't have an ineterest in trying to replicate what he did, he made a lot of screw-ups.