Friday, July 17, 2020

What is enlightenment or awakening?

Ven. Nyanatiloka, Buddhist Dictionary (; Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly
I sat. I endured. I enjoyed. I awakened to the true nature of this thing called "I."
Wake up! Shaolin monks play kung fu style.
Enlightenment or bodhi (from the verbal root budhi, "to awaken, to understand") means full liberation through awakening, supreme insight, realization of liberating wisdom.

"[Through bodhi] one awakens from the slumber or stupor [inflicted upon the mind] by the defilements (kilesas) and comprehends the Four Noble Truths (sacca)" (Commentary to MN 10).

"Enlightenment" may be defined as the full penetration of the Four Noble Truths, which will necessarily include directly knowing-and-seeing Dependent Origination (how all things arise based on causes and conditions).

Kinds of awakening
What must it be like to live only in the NOW?
The enlightenment of a supremely awakened teaching-buddha is called sammā-sambodhi, "supreme" or "perfect" enlightenment.

The confidence/faith (saddhā) of a lay follower of the Buddha is described as "one has confidence in the enlightenment of the Wayfarer or Perfect One [the One Who Has Arrived at Suchness]" (saddahati tathāgatassa bodhim, MN 53, A.III.2).

Components of enlightenment and contributory factors to its achievement are mentioned in the texts:
  • the Seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga = bodhi-anga, "limbs of enlightenment"),
  • the 37 "Requisites of" or "Things Pertaining to Enlightenment" (bodhipakkhiya-dhammā).
In one of the later books of the sutra collection called the Buddhavamsa, ten bodhipācana-dhammā are mentioned, that is, "qualities that lead to the ripening of perfect enlightenment." These are known as the Ten Perfections (pāramīs).

There is a threefold classification of enlightenment: 
  1. of a noble disciple (sāvaka-bodhi), that is, of an arhat,
  2. of an independently-enlightened non-teaching buddha (pacceka-bodhi),
  3. of a supremely enlightened teaching buddha (sammā-sambodhi).
The Buddha (Gandharan)
This threefold division, however, is of later origin. In this form it neither occurs in the canonical texts nor in the older sutra commentaries. The closest approximation to it is found in a verse sutra that is probably of a comparatively later period, the "Treasure Store Sutra" (Nidhikkanda Sutta) of the Khuddakapātha, where the following three terms are mentioned in Stanza 15:
  1. sāvaka-pāramī,
  2. pacceka-bodhi, and
  3. buddha-bhūmi (see Khp. Tr., pp. 247f.)
The commentaries (e.g., to the Middle Length Discourses, Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka) generally give a fourfold explanation of the word bodhi
  1. the Enlightenment (Bodhi) Tree,
  2. the noble path (ariya-magga),
  3. nirvana (nibbana), and
  4. omniscience (of the Buddha, sabbaññutā-ñāna).
As regards the noble path, the commentaries quote the Cula-Nidesa, where bodhi is defined as "the knowledge relating to the four paths [of stream-entry, once returning, non-returning, arhatship/full enlightenment, or catūsu maggesu ñāna]."

Neither in the canonical texts nor in the old commentaries is it stated that a follower of the Buddha may choose between the three kinds of enlightenment and aspire either to become a supreme buddha, a non-teaching (pacceka) buddha, or an arhat-disciple.

This conception of a choice between three aspirations is, however, frequently found in modern-day Theravāda countries, like Sri Lanka. [And it seems to be the basis of Brahmanism-inspired Mahayana Buddhism.]

No comments: