Awakening and the Eastern Path

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chuck.drake

#1
What does it mean to awaken or become self-realized? Is this an objective state of consciousness? What does it mean to fully realize the non-dual nature of reality? Can we deny these ideas when they have been so thoroughly mapped and realized by so many thousands over so many centuries?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
Sadly I'm not sure how far anyone got on the path to become Enlightened, or what that would even mean. There was an article at Aeon talking about Buddhist logic and how Buddha believed Nirvana to be ineffable, which sadly was corrupted and translated to being a sort of oblivion due to historic comparisons...I believe with particular Western philosophers around the time of translation but don't quote me on that!

I once attended a talk that spoke of three great empirical human endeavors:

1) To understand & work to master the physical world, which was accomplished in the West via physics and the other sciences.

2) To understand & work to master the mental world, which was accomplished in the East via meditative traditions/practices

3) To live in harmony with Nature, which failed due to the subjugation of indigenous peoples.

I feel like the loss of 3) allowed for application of 1) as technology to override the value of 2), or at least make it so materialistic concerns were the goal of mental discipline. After all you have a disciplined mind, but without a sense of holistic connection the overwhelming force in consumerism and profit motive as part of the technological system.

Goes back to the importance of Waldorf schools...
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
So do you mean to say that you don't think there aren't currently any fully self-realized (or enlightened) folks alive on Earth?
I don't know if anyone has been enlightened, or at least fully enlightened. That said, I think people have set off on the path and gotten farther than those who didn't even bother.
 
#5
What does it mean to awaken or become self-realized? Is this an objective state of consciousness? What does it mean to fully realize the non-dual nature of reality? Can we deny these ideas when they have been so thoroughly mapped and realized by so many thousands over so many centuries?
Enlightenment has lots of definitions in different traditions. In Buddhism, it is not a state of mind. It is not something you gain. It is not a wonderful experience of light. It means that fetters/chains that bind us to the world of suffering are broken. In the oldest texts there is a four stage model. Sotapanna (stream enterer), sakadagami (once-returner), anagami (non-returner) and arahant (one who is worthy). All four could be referred to as enlightened, but the body/mind has not been completely brought in line with the realization before stage 4.

The fundamental realization is seeing through the illusion of self/other, me & mine. This is not merely an intellectual understanding that there is no seer of the seen, thinker of the thought, feeler of the felt, hearer of the heard etc... It means that you have seen the self for what it is, and even feelings of self (such as identifying with thoughts, feelings in the chest, pressures inside the head etc...) are no longer felt as being "me", in the sense of an inherently existing entity. It doesn't mean a mental illness where such things go away (like schizophrenia), but rather the identifying with such mental phenomena as self ceases permanently.

This creates a strange problem when it comes to talking about being enlightened. From the point of view of someone who has not become enlightened, there is such a thing as becoming enlightened. From the point of view of the one who has, there never was, is not and never will be any inherently existing entity that could become enlightened, and so someone whom this has happened to will not go around proclaiming "I am enlightened". That would be deeply contradictory to the nature of the realization. If such language is used, it must be out of compassion. When seeing someone struggling with believing there is such a thing, or thinking that it could never happen to them because they are "unworthy" or because we live in a spiritually "degenerate" age, someone enlightened might be moved to tell someone that it is possible, it happened to him or her, in order to help the other along the path.

Are there enlightened people today? There sure are. Quite many, from a variety of religious traditions (and sometimes no religious traditions at all). Are there fully enlightened people who are completely perfected in the realization? I don't know for sure, but I see no reason why there would not be.
 
#6
What does it mean to awaken or become self-realized? Is this an objective state of consciousness? What does it mean to fully realize the non-dual nature of reality? Can we deny these ideas when they have been so thoroughly mapped and realized by so many thousands over so many centuries?
Likely if we were to ask a 1000 eastern path'rs, there would be 1000 different responses. The concepts “awakened” “liberated” “realized” are split out into numerous levels and definitions of course, depending, and expanding rapidly it seems.

The concepts of non-duality are yet another rabbit hole. It seems pretty interesting down there sure, much like the psi phenomena appears interesting. Yet a pure non-dualist would respond to all the talk about NDEs, OBEs, apparitions, visions, lucid dreams, etc. as .. it is all just phenomenal appearances (maya) and is no different than what appears to be “real”. It would be recommended to stop focusing on the content of experiences as content is illusory, ephemeral, irrelevant (the cause of "suffering"); instead, “seek and find” the Dreamer, the I AM (through various mechanisms). The Dreamer being the ineffable, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, beyond space and time, omnipresent Presence.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” -Albert Einstein

Many appear to believe that once the “Dreamer” reveals, a person would become less and less a “person” and more like their “true self” (i.e. "self-realization" or, “liberated” seems a current term, depending).

And so, down and down it goes (where it leads, nobody knows). Where denial and acceptance are flip sides of the same coin.
 
#7
This creates a strange problem when it comes to talking about being enlightened. From the point of view of someone who has not become enlightened, there is such a thing as becoming enlightened. From the point of view of the one who has, there never was, is not and never will be any inherently existing entity that could become enlightened, and so someone whom this has happened to will not go around proclaiming "I am enlightened". That would be deeply contradictory to the nature of the realization. If such language is used, it must be out of compassion. When seeing someone struggling with believing there is such a thing, or thinking that it could never happen to them because they are "unworthy" or because we live in a spiritually "degenerate" age, someone enlightened might be moved to tell someone that it is possible, it happened to him or her, in order to help the other along the path.
Sounds like UG

 
#8
There seems to be similarities, yes. Judging from that video, he still seems to have problems expressing himself in a coherent fashion about the subject. That is a good thing, to an extent, as it suggests he is not faking it. But I also think his views sound a bit nihilistic. While it is true that problems have no ultimate existence (nothing does), they are experienced on the relative level. The same relative level that perceives there is a solution to the problem of suffering called enlightenment. The relative level is not non-existent. Our experience of the world may not be what we believe it to be, but the experience is real experience. Language is dualistic, and as a tool to express ultimate reality it can only serve as a signpost, it cannot transmit the real thing. If it could, someone who has never experienced an apple would only need to hear the word "apple", and it would be completely understood without any experience of it. It still has its uses, though.

And so, I do not object to the idea of wishing to become enlightened. That may be a good thing (and also a trap if it becomes an egoic thing, like wishing to become president because of power and prestige, in which case enlightenment will turn out to be a huge disappointment even if it occurs). But, when it has occurred, even it is beginning stages of development, where the body/mind still needs decades (or even lifetimes) to become in tune with the realization ("Buddhahood"), then there is no inherently existent entity there, and the fact that there is no such entity is the reason why change can occur in the first place. And then the dualistic notion of being someone who is enlightened and perceiving others who are not, breaks down. It still exist as a language construct, of course, and as a compassionate concession to the thought which believes there is a self that can become enlightened, such language may be useful.
 
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