Monday, June 20, 2011

Enlightenment blossoms within (gradually)

Sudhir Kumar Jha (Deccan Chronicle, June 19, 2011) with Wisdom Quarterly
Laotian temple wallpainting of the Buddha-to-be undertaking extreme ascetic practices in his quest for enlightenment. A deva or gandharva (messengers of the devas) is overseeing his striving and providing some spiritual protection. The five behind him are said to be his five fellow ascetics, but their head gear suggests they are also devas from one of the many space worlds or "heavens" (
  • "In a single moment, in one stroke, you can become enlightened. It is not a gradual process [although the Buddha's teaching, the Dharma, is a gradual training], because enlightenment is not something that you have to invent. It is something that you have to discover. It is already there. It is not something that you have to manufacture. If you have to manufacture it, of course, it will take time; but it is already there. Close your eyes and see it there. Be silent and have a taste of it. Your very nature is what I call enlightenment. Enlightenment is not something alien, outside you. It is not somewhere else in time and space. It is you, your very core." — Osho
It took the Buddha years of meditation to re[ach] enlightenment, same with other great thinkers like the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Mahavira, and so on.

While each person has a different view about how one can achieve enlightenment, the general notion is that this is a long-term process that involves continuous realization about the integration of the mind, body, and s[pirit].

The truth is that enlightenment is an experience that goes beyond the physical and material realms that we so often exist in.

It is a feeling of being connected to the entire universe, being in sync with it along with the knowledge that you are being surrounded by intelligence and all the information and the vibes that you receive from everything around you is positive.
  • [If this is all "enlightenment" (bodhi) were -- simply "nonduality" (advaita) or "oneness" -- then this article would be correct. But this is not the way Buddhism defines the enlightened state and what it means to attain it.]
During this one realizes that the physical being is just a mask, but what lives is knowledge and the soul.
  • [What is the "soul"? The Buddha defined it as the epiphenomenal result of the Five Aggregates of Clinging. These five groups or "heaps" mean what we call a "soul" is actually a functionally integrated amalgamation of form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, none of which is permanent. For this reason it is said that there is no soul or self -- even though there is much to investigate to understand why we are certain there is a self, soul, ego, personality, essence...]
At the core of each of our beings lies the soul [NOT according to the Buddha, who went to great pains to aid in liberated us of the very thing that makes enlightenment and liberation unattainable] -- this is pure and unadulterated.

But now you may ask the question, Why is it then that we have so much negativity in this world if all of our souls are pure? The thing is that a multi-layered fabric called the ego, which is sometimes so tight that it takes much time for the truth to pass through it, covers our souls. [Nonsense gets piled on top of nonsense, nonentity on top of nonentity.]

Getting to the core of one’s being is a process that takes several years, but what keeps one going is the secure knowledge that this is not just an illusion and is something that is within one’s reach. More
A Gradual Training
Access to Insight, Wisdom Quarterly edit

"Just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this Doctrine and Discipline (Dharma-Vinaya) has a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to insight only after a long stretch" (Udana 5.5).

"Meditators, I do not say that the attainment of insight is all at once. Rather, the attainment of insight is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice. And how is there the attainment of insight after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice?

"When confidence has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one listens. Having listened, one hears the Dharma. Having heard the Dharma, one remembers it.

"Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings. Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, desire (dhamma-chanda) arises.

"When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one makes an exertion. Having made an exertion, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth. And having penetrated it with wisdom, one sees it" (MN 70).

The Buddha's teachings are infused with this notion of gradual development. His method of "gradual instruction" (anupubbi-katha), which appears in various forms in countless sutras, always follows the same arc: The Buddha guides newcomers from first principles through progressively more advanced teachings, all the way to the fulfillment of the Four Noble Truths and the full realization of nirvana:

Then the Blessed One, having encompassed the awareness of the entire assembly with his awareness, asked himself, "Now who here is capable of understanding the Dharma?" He saw Suppabuddha the leper sitting in the assembly. And on seeing him the thought occurred to him, "This person here is capable of understanding the Dharma."

So aiming at Suppabuddha the leper, he gave a step-by-step talk: a talk on giving, a talk on virtue, a talk on heaven; he declared the drawbacks, degradation, and corruption of sensual passions, and the benefits of renunciation.

Then when he saw that Suppabuddha the leper's mind was ready, malleable, free from hindrances, elated, and bright, he gave the Dharma-talk peculiar to Enlightened Ones: disappointment, cause, cessation, and path.

And just as a clean cloth, free of stains, would readily absorb a dye, in the same way, as Suppabuddha the leper was sitting in that very seat, the dustless, stainless eye of the Dharma arose within him, "Whatever is subject to origination is subject to cessation" (Ud. 5.3). More

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