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What Good is Enlightenment?

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What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/19/09 4:53 AM
Author: SoManyThoughts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Hello,
New member here. I've been trying to grasp what enlightenment is all about. I like how Daniel's book spells it out and de-mystifies it. He describes it as stopping the process of continually constructing the illusion of a fixed, permanent self. I've also read Saints & Psychopaths. In that , Bill Hamilton describes enlightenment as sharpening perceptions to the point that some formerly unconcious aspects of awareness become concious. So the gist of it seems to be that enlightenment is some kind of fundamental shift in perception that comes about as a result of a careful examination of the process of perception itself.

But that brings up a basic question that I haven't seen answered. It seems as if achieving enlightenment as it's discussed here is rather like climbing Mount Everest. Climbing Mt. Everest is obviously a huge accomplishment. Yet one might ask... what's the practical value in it?

I personally find altered states of awareness fascinating, so I understand the draw to the pursuit. But is life actually better once one achieves enlightenment? In what way?

I'd appreciate any perspectives on this.

Cheryl

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/19/09 2:48 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: garyrh

Hi Cheryl,

I am not Enlightened so I cannot say anything from experience about life once one achieves Enlightenment.
What I would like to say is that I was and therefore probably am drawn to this sort of enquiry without the goal of Enlightenment. And I would not say my enquiry has much to do with altered states, it is an inner drive just to know what is at the guts of reality that has been with me as long as I can reasonably remember ( 9 years old).
What is the value? the Buddha would say the end of suffering but in a way for me there could just as easily be none.

And this has probably help you none emoticon

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/19/09 3:00 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Also not speaking from experience, I'll add something that I think was posted here not too long ago: enlightenment doesn't change anything *in* your life, but it changes everything *about* your life.

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/19/09 6:19 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
This is pretty much an impossible question to answer. I'd say that there really is no telling what it will change for you. Sometimes it feels like it changed everything, sometimes it feels like nothing changed; I think these are cyclical. The complexity of the issue is maddening and largely unnecessary to dwell on. The best quote I've ever heard about it was the Hamilton quote "highly recommended, can't tell you why."

Trent

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/19/09 9:45 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
i'd say life is better after enlightenment, yes. while you could probably script yourself into feeling that its worse, if you were so inclined, what with all the extra concentration/imagination/will-power that developmental progress bestows, i think it's more likely that the palpable increase in being able to rest and enjoy things, just taking them as they come, would incline you to continue further that direction instead.

also, if you're into altered states, you're most probably above the a&p or will be eventually, so that means there's dark night phenomena to deal with, which can be a pain in the ass, and which enlightenment (of any kind, at any level) does help sort out quite well (from all accounts i've heard including my own).

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/20/09 1:29 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hello,

Personally, enlightenment has had an enormous impact on my life. Before I began meditation I had a lot of negative thinking, anxiety, addictions (to junk food, entertainment etc.) and an existential depression which made everything seem empty and meaningless with no quality in anything. Life was really quite hellish ^^

Now my days are reasonably pleasant, although I still have much to do and improve in terms of meditation and also the happiness based on conditions. Of course I still have anxiety in appropriate situations, and sometimes have negative thoughts and views about the world, but they're no longer a big problem, I'm no longer caught in them.

However, meditation can also have the opposite effect and lead to ruined careers / relationships and so on, particularly in the unpleasant stages like the dark night.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend enlightenment if you're already pretty happy and enjoying life. It's quite a tough process really. For example, I wouldn't talk about it to my family or friends, it just wouldn't make sense for them.

Hope this is helpful
- Martin

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/20/09 6:43 AM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Enlightenment is an enormous relief. It is the end of the fundamental suffering. Sickness, old age, death, and last, but not least, the insight dis-ease of the monk. Once you have caught that bug, you must ride it out to the end.

Ed

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/20/09 1:38 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Dear Ed,

Cause and effect.

Trent

RE: What Good is Enlightenment?
Answer
4/23/09 6:42 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Author: SoManyThoughts

Thanks for all of your replies. I find the possibility of such a shift of perception fascinating yet terrifying. Perhaps I'd be better off spending less time reading about enlightenment and more time meditating emoticon