What is enlightenment?

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King Author
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What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:32 am UTC

This is not a philosophical exercise. This is not an argument. This is not a debate. Rather, I want to hear your own opinion on what enlightenment is. What does it mean to be enlightened? Who is and isn't enlightened, and how can you become enlightened? How rare is enlightenment? Et cetera.

Sorry for making such a short topic post in SB, but I don't want to say anything else; I don't want to express any of my own thoughts or opinions and taint anyone else's post. So actually, if you choose to respond to this topic, doing so before reading anybody else's replies would produce something rawer, purer and less influenced by other people's posts, which I would appreciate.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Vaniver » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:31 am UTC

Enlightenment is that which cannot be explained in words.


One non-mystical form of enlightenment is attuning oneself to an ideal; the ideal I would associate with it is individualism. But clearly other ideals are possible. As well, enlightenment can refers to understanding that casts light on the relationships between concepts previously thought disparate. The visual depiction of a light bulb going on over someone's head comes to mind- something clicks and you see something you did not see before. Enlightenment, then, is the process of realizing those conceptual links- and so one is "enlightened" or not when it comes to particular concepts, instead of it being a global binary. One could still refer to some people as enlightened, but only in reference to others that are not enlightened (or that individual's previous state).
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Amarantha » Wed Oct 13, 2010 2:37 am UTC

I know very little on the subject, but I really like a quote that a friend once told me:
"Before enlightenment; chop wood, draw water. After enlightenment; chop wood, draw water."
Dunno who originally said it.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby savanik » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:38 am UTC

There's enlightenment, then there's being enlightened. Enlightenment is when a concept suddenly 'clicks' with you, and your understanding of the world is fundamentally altered, overwhelming your previous way of looking at the world.

Being enlightened is when that enlightenment finally sticks with you instead of you forgetting that earth-shattering realization in the next five minutes.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Hambone Johnson » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:46 am UTC

Enlightenment is allowing yourself to think of the answer. Then, after you've stated the answer, full enlightenment is checking the answer.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby addams » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:00 am UTC

Epiphany or enlightenment? Fine line difference there.

I studied a little science. I was studying electron transport systems. I fell asleep. When, I woke up, I was done studying science the way I had been studying.
I woke up to a realization that, 'Life is just an exchange of electrons. It is up to us to give it meaning.'
Is this enlightenment? Or, Just a lowly epiphany?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Ghavrel » Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:14 am UTC

I propose that enlightenment is a permanent (i.e. lasting) experience in which one realizes a transcendent truth about existence. Being theistic (Christian with pretty heterodox theology), it probably comes as little surprise that I view enlightenment in a similar way that the Orthodox view theosis.

I deliberately chose non-theistic terms in my definition, because I don't think they're strictly necessary to establish a framework about what enlightenment entails.

Regarding enlightenment vs. being enlightened, I propose that true enlightenment without exception leads to being enlightened.

Amarantha wrote:I know very little on the subject, but I really like a quote that a friend once told me:
"Before enlightenment; chop wood, draw water. After enlightenment; chop wood, draw water."
Dunno who originally said it.

I don't know the original source, but this is a Zen proverb. One of my (many) favorites. I love Zen.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Glmclain » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:28 pm UTC

In my opinion, being truly enlightened is to be able to look at problems in the world and solve them without bias.

Someone who is able to do evil to achieve good, and not be burdened by conscious or trivial morality.

Someone who will push the human race forward no matter the cost.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby mister k » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:00 pm UTC

I would tend to agree with gmclaim's simple argument there. A truly enlightened culture is not afraid of new ideas, and is willing to challenge its beliefs, and to only hold that which is true. Perhaps I tie rationalism and enlightenment too closely together, but I believe they are mostly the same thing. An increased tolerance is a key element for me, although I think rationalism should lead to that as well.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Dangermouse » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:27 pm UTC

Enlightenment is using your reason freely and not letting others thing for you.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby BoomFrog » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:21 am UTC

Before reading the rest of the thread: Enlightenment is a perfect knowing of yourself. All your hidden and subconscious desires have been revealed and analyzed. You always do what you intend to do, and you always know why you do what you do. Your emotions are never a surprise to you and you are never out of control. This does not mean you are an emotionless robot, but rather, if you are angry it is because you choose to let yourself be angry, you know why your angry, and you use that anger for constructive purposes.

After reading the thread: I suppose my definition is more like Self-enlightenment, or self-actualization. When I think of enlightenment I think of what monks and Buddhists are trying to achieve. Know yourself.

I disagree that an enlightened person would be willing to use "evil" means to achieve a good end. Evil is evil because it has long lasting consequences on society if it is accepted. One evil act may be justifiable. An entire society willing to be evil breaks down, but this is a tangent discussion I think.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:42 am UTC

I don't want to fully respond, yet. For some reason, the entire boards have been really, really slow lately. I hope to get more responses before I go all-out.

However, I will offer this -- I think it can be useful to work backwards, in order to arrive a definition of enlightenment, by listing those things which are definitely not enlightened.

I would say that the following mindsets, thoughts and emotions are unenlightened...
Bitterness
Anger (even if it's for a good reason)
Jealousy
Hatred (even at someone truly reprehensible)
Resentment
Self-pity (even inoccuous "I'm so unlucky" type stuff)
Dominance (as in the desire to control what other people do and say)
Fear (even when it's justified)
Greed
Gluttony
Desire (I agree with Buddhist doctrine that it's the root of all suffering)
Denial ("that's not fair, that shouldn't have happened!")
Judgement (even when it would be appropriate)
Ill-wishes ("I hope that jerk gets hit by a truck")
Laziness
Apathy
Self-aggrandizing
Arrogance
Comfort-seeking (to the point where you seek to take the easy way out)
Aversion to hard work

As for actions, obviously, any actions spurred on by unenlightened thoughts are going to be unenlightened actions. So for instance, if you cheat on a test because you're too lazy to study but still want to pass (taking the easy way out), those are unenlightened actions due to the mindset behind them. In addition, actions which cause pointless harm would also be unenlightened actions. When harm presents itself as necessary (a man is attacking a child and you try to stop him), I don't think it's unenlightened to intervene, but a key thing to keep in mind is 1) it would be terribly unenlightened to enjoy the violence you were inflicting or to think "oh man, I'm so great, I'm such a hero for saving this little child" and 2) doing any more than is absolutely necessary to intervene would be terribly unenlightened, as well (so no kicking him while he's down, no continuing his beating even after the child is safe in order to teach him a lesson, or anything like that).
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby dumbzebra » Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:24 pm UTC

I think it is a state of mind where you can see a truth/meaning behind all things.
As somewhat of a nihilst, I can´t really accept this concept though...
As the great philosopher Socrates once said: "No."

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Dark567 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

dumbzebra wrote:I think it is a state of mind where you can see a truth/meaning behind all things.
As somewhat of a nihilst, I can´t really accept this concept though...

That depends on what kinda Nihilist you are. If your a moral nihilist, than enlightenment can exist, its just not any better than being unenlightened. If your an epistemological nihilist, well, than your right.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Fri Oct 15, 2010 11:55 pm UTC

Enlightenment is trickery. The desire for it is mere masturbation and the belief in it is self deceiving. We aspire for it because it feels good to find worth in ourselves, our lives and the world around us. Believing that we could find more by becoming enlightened fools us into believing that the course is not wasted and thus worth taking. For example, one who finds god through Christianity and devotes their life to that belief finds enlightenment and enrichment in their lives (at least that seems to be the purpose) and, by giving themselves to have faith in something "greater" allows that individual to fall back on those beliefs when things become difficult or hard to understand. That embodies the prime purpose of enlightenment. To obtain an understanding that can carry us through our days so that we don't have to worry any longer as to why we do so in the first place.

This belief in enlightenment is based off of my understanding that life is deterministic and the only way to exist in it is to understand absurdism. With these two beliefs I've found my own enlightenment to come to fruition, but that enlightenment holding any meaning whatsoever is ridiculous. Only because I continue to exist do I give it meaning. Only after the point of understanding do I start tricking myself to believe that adverse and contradictory things are true. Love, war, hunger, wealth, success and poverty; whether desiring to obtain or abstain from these things the choices I make here are based off of learned responses and it is only in the trick of my inner monologue that I give importance to those determined decisions.

The irony of this belief (or any belief as time goes by) is that circumstance seems to wear it down. The necessity for us to live our daily lives trapped in a society where very meaningless things are inherently important (money, success, knowledge, power) eludes to NEEDING things to have meaning. For if one constantly maintained an understanding of its sheer and complete absurdity there would be little else to do. We are forced to give meaning. To trick ourselves that there is some so that, while existing day to day, we don't go insane with the madness of it all. Without this trick, the world as we know it now would cease to exist. (which may or may not be a good thing)

Enlightenment is a way to trick ourselves into believing that we have a purpose, because what other purpose could we have than to find one? We couldn't possibly just exist on this world with no rhyme or reason going to and fro like a colony of ants, right? No, now that would just be absurd.

I understand I am making some bold claims. I have every desire to back them up with my own elaboration, but know this is just my opinion. I don't expect anyone to truly understand because it is even difficult to understand it myself.

Enlightenment is a fool’s errand that everyone must make.

No one is enlightened and so, everyone is.

(This was written without reading any others as the original poster desired)
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:25 am UTC

@djkjr: Interesting. What would you say to someone who sought enlightenment, or considered himself enlightened, but who openly admitted that there's no inherent meaning to life, and that reality is what we make of it?

dumbzebra wrote:I think it is a state of mind where you can see a truth/meaning behind all things.
As somewhat of a nihilst, I can´t really accept this concept though...

Do you think it possible to "see the truth/meaning behind all things" inherently, as a basic personality trait? Could an enlightened monk, living his whole life in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, be introduced to American banking regulation and patently see the truth and meaning behind it?
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby phonon266737 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:51 pm UTC

King Author wrote:I don't want to fully respond, yet. For some reason, the entire boards have been really, really slow lately. I hope to get more responses before I go all-out.
.........
Comfort-seeking (to the point where you seek to take the easy way out)
Aversion to hard work


I don't buy it. As an engineer I see this as a direct attack on me as "un-enlightened" - I can't stand doing hard work. There's often a way to the same ends with less work. Why not find it?

ex: helping a friend in design/ construction of a large 2 story steel building. When it came to assembly, he was beating himself up (and a few drills) drilling holes in the I beams. It was progressing, but slowly, and it was hard work. Rather than "help" that day I came up with a way to protect the already-in-place foam panels, and came back with an acetylene torch the next day, torching out the rest 10 times faster and with ~ 25 times less "hard work"

I might be totally misinterpreting you, but aversion to work drives advancement, in my opinion!

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:07 pm UTC

King Author wrote:@djkjr: Interesting. What would you say to someone who sought enlightenment, or considered himself enlightened, but who openly admitted that there's no inherent meaning to life, and that reality is what we make of it?

dumbzebra wrote:I think it is a state of mind where you can see a truth/meaning behind all things.
As somewhat of a nihilst, I can´t really accept this concept though...

Do you think it possible to "see the truth/meaning behind all things" inherently, as a basic personality trait? Could an enlightened monk, living his whole life in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, be introduced to American banking regulation and patently see the truth and meaning behind it?

@"King Author":

To someone who sought enlightenment I would say "good luck" and mean it. One of my most prized beliefs is that "we're both right". Meaning that if you believe something is true, how can/am I able to truly refute that? I may feel that seeking enlightenment is a fool's errand, but I have to admit I've done it myself and could not belittle someone for wishing to obtain the same. Everyone's desire for their own knowledge is different. That contributes to the fact that enlightenment is different for everyone. For me, it is the understanding that it is absurd and allowing that to just be the case.
To someone who considered themselves enlightened I would say "congratulations" and mean it, all the while knowing that by this time tomorrow that could change completely. Knowledge is not static. Enlightenment is like an epiphany. Sought after and combed for, often occurring from out of nowhere and inexplicably. Regarded and cherished. Diluted and forgotten (taken advantage of). Though, I do feel that if someone were so bold as to claim there own enlightenment I'd think them ignorant. Myself included, for how can I truly know what I have yet to learn or experience?

@"King Author" and "dumbzebra":

Enlightenment is not an achievement of overall knowledge and understanding. Only an acceptance of one individuals state of being and the knowledge and meaning they would find important in their lives. Even a nihilist exists in a category of enlightenment, for how could they come to the conclusion that everything is inherently meaningless unless they were to focus first on the meaning of them?
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:14 pm UTC

phonon wrote:I don't buy it. As an engineer I see this as a direct attack on me as "un-enlightened" - I can't stand doing hard work. There's often a way to the same ends with less work. Why not find it?

Did you think I specifically intended it to be an insult against engineers? If not, if you think what I said was innocently spoken, what use is there in perceiving it as an attack and taking defensive measures?

phonon wrote:ex: helping a friend in design/ construction of a large 2 story steel building. When it came to assembly, he was beating himself up (and a few drills) drilling holes in the I beams. It was progressing, but slowly, and it was hard work. Rather than "help" that day I came up with a way to protect the already-in-place foam panels, and came back with an acetylene torch the next day, torching out the rest 10 times faster and with ~ 25 times less "hard work"

I might be totally misinterpreting you, but aversion to work drives advancement, in my opinion!

Indeed, you are misinterpreting me. What you described was not an instance of hardness of work, but of efficiency of work. You found a way to perform a task more efficiently than it was being performed. What I was describing as unenlightened is the lack of a willingness to perform hard work when it's necessary. That is to say, if someone who was living with others was the first to notice that the dishwasher needed to be loaded, and he or she decided not to do it his or her self, even though he or she had the time and ability, by rationalizing "meh, I don't feel like it -- someone else will get it," that'd be an aversion to, in this case, any work, not just hard work. That is something I'd considered unenlightened.

djkjr wrote:To someone who sought enlightenment I would say "good luck" and mean it. One of my most prized beliefs is that "we're both right". Meaning that if you believe something is true, how can/am I able to truly refute that? I may feel that seeking enlightenment is a fool's errand, but I have to admit I've done it myself and could not belittle someone for wishing to obtain the same. Everyone's desire for their own knowledge is different. That contributes to the fact that enlightenment is different for everyone. For me, it is the understanding that it is absurd and allowing that to just be the case.
To someone who considered themselves enlightened I would say "congratulations" and mean it, all the while knowing that by this time tomorrow that could change completely. Knowledge is not static. Enlightenment is like an epiphany. Sought after and combed for, often occurring from out of nowhere and inexplicably. Regarded and cherished. Diluted and forgotten (taken advantage of). Though, I do feel that if someone were so bold as to claim there own enlightenment I'd think them ignorant. Myself included, for how can I truly know what I have yet to learn or experience?

And what would you think of a person who was persuing or obtained enlightenment, but agreed with you that there was no inherent meaning to life?

Also, to me, it doesn't sound like you're espousing a belief of "we're both right." You say that, just because you think seeking enlightenment is a fool's errand, you'd never think less of someone for seeking enlightenment. That's not "we're both right." You're saying that you think you're right and that seeking enlightenment is a fool's errand, it's just that you're gracious enough that you wouldn't think less of someone for being wrong and foolish.

djkjr wrote:Enlightenment is not an achievement of overall knowledge and understanding. Only an acceptance of one individuals state of being and the knowledge and meaning they would find important in their lives. Even a nihilist exists in a category of enlightenment, for how could they come to the conclusion that everything is inherently meaningless unless they were to focus first on the meaning of them?

Do you feel quite certain that this is the only possible explanation? And do you think a nihilist would agree with your characterization of nihilism?
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:48 pm UTC

King Author wrote:
djkjr wrote:To someone who sought enlightenment I would say "good luck" and mean it. One of my most prized beliefs is that "we're both right". Meaning that if you believe something is true, how can/am I able to truly refute that? I may feel that seeking enlightenment is a fool's errand, but I have to admit I've done it myself and could not belittle someone for wishing to obtain the same. Everyone's desire for their own knowledge is different. That contributes to the fact that enlightenment is different for everyone. For me, it is the understanding that it is absurd and allowing that to just be the case.
To someone who considered themselves enlightened I would say "congratulations" and mean it, all the while knowing that by this time tomorrow that could change completely. Knowledge is not static. Enlightenment is like an epiphany. Sought after and combed for, often occurring from out of nowhere and inexplicably. Regarded and cherished. Diluted and forgotten (taken advantage of). Though, I do feel that if someone were so bold as to claim their own enlightenment I'd think them ignorant. Myself included, for how can I truly know what I have yet to learn or experience?

And what would you think of a person who was pursuing or obtained enlightenment, but agreed with you that there was no inherent meaning to life?

Also, to me, it doesn't sound like you're espousing a belief of "we're both right." You say that, just because you think seeking enlightenment is a fool's errand, you'd never think less of someone for seeking enlightenment. That's not "we're both right." You're saying that you think you're right and that seeking enlightenment is a fool's errand, it's just that you're gracious enough that you wouldn't think less of someone for being wrong and foolish.


At first enlightenment deducing there to be no meaning in life seems contradictory. If one were to agree with me that there is no real meaning but still seek enlightenment, that would be their prerogative, for perhaps they have not truly found what they are looking for. And perhaps I have not either, seeing how I continue to present my beliefs as if I am trying to rationalize them to be correct.

We are both right. Though I may feel that I am correct in my findings, that isn't to say that I am not "gracious" enough to allow the possibility that someone else's opinion, however opposing, is less "correct" just because it combats my own. I do attempt, very diligently, to look through others eyes when conversing. Perhaps I am not as open minded in written word as I am in spoken word when it comes to "We're both right", but I could never discredit or truly oppose another person's view to such a vile extent as to completely discard it. For example, I do not believe in the existence of God (let's not get into that, it's just an easy example) but I would defend another individuals belief in God to someone who tried to attack it, for that faithful individual truly does believe! Belief eludes to evidence of it being a reality. Mind over matter if you will. If someone truly believes in God, then there is no place to refute that. Their belief crafts it into a reality and I respect that disposition. I do not believe in God, just as I do not believe in enlightenment (as an achievable or viable thing) but do believe that those who believe in those things are completely right to do so. I have not lived their life, I have not the same crafted thought they have. If solipsism has taught me anything, it is that if someone believes it, then to them it is true. I'm repeating myself. End.

A fool's errand does not mean that it is foolish to accomplish. One could know that sacrificing great efforts in life for the sake of love would be a fool's errand, but that wouldn't stop me or many from doing it just the same.

King Author wrote:
djkjr wrote:Enlightenment is not an achievement of overall knowledge and understanding. Only an acceptance of one individual’s state of being and the knowledge and meaning they would find important in their lives. Even a nihilist exists in a category of enlightenment, for how could they come to the conclusion that everything is inherently meaningless unless they were to focus first on the meaning of them?

Do you feel quite certain that this is the only possible explanation? And do you think a nihilist would agree with your characterization of nihilism?


Of course it is not the only explanation. Merely the explanation that seemed most appropriate at the time. And no, I don't think a nihilist would agree. There is an inherent need in our lives to defend our beliefs, sometimes to the death, that illicit an enormous amount of pride. Nihilists are prideful creatures and I don't believe they could admit to the hypocrisy I see evident in their beliefs. It's like an Atheist stating they are an Atheist. If they truly believed in nothing, then they wouldn't need the label to produce a foundation for their belief of non-belief. Everyone just needs/wants a title. It's human nature, no?
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:36 am UTC

King Author wrote:Aversion to hard work


Whoa, Lorem ipsum dude...

If people weren't adverse towards hard work then we wouldn't have an economy. Then again I guess economy is just the machinations of unenlightened individuals exchanging unenlightened services for objects that are the source of unenlightened desires.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:33 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:If people weren't adverse towards hard work then we wouldn't have an economy. Then again I guess economy is just the machinations of unenlightened individuals exchanging unenlightened services for objects that are the source of unenlightened desires.

I dare say that is a very ignorant way of looking at our society. That's assuming an enlightened individual would be making "better decisions" which is a complete load. Enlightenment is for the individual only and serves to purpose to those around them except for maybe a friendly companion. No monk is going to run the stock exchange. And it is very ignorant to assume that, just because one would exist in a world to make money, that they would be unenlightened. Look at Warren Buffett! He's one of the most enlightened individuals in his field and one of the richest men in the world. He's made decisions that have had the ability to affect many of our everyday lives as far as consumable goods go. Just because his enlightenment doesn't mirror match your own does not make it wrong. Enlightenment is not static. Reaching it is never the same for two people.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Azrael » Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:50 pm UTC

I think that with a second reading, you'll realize that you've misunderstood Gesamel. I believe he was speaking sarcastically, trying to illustrate a problem he saw with King Author's statement.

Interestingly, I think Gesamel *also* misread King Author, but oh well.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:42 pm UTC

djkjr wrote:At first enlightenment deducing there to be no meaning in life seems contradictory. If one were to agree with me that there is no real meaning but still seek enlightenment, that would be their prerogative, for perhaps they have not truly found what they are looking for. And perhaps I have not either, seeing how I continue to present my beliefs as if I am trying to rationalize them to be correct.

You keep adding your own stipulations ("well, maybe they're just not as enlightened as they think, maybe they haven't actually found what they're looking for") and emphasizing that you wouldn't disrespect someone for disagreeing with you, but forgive me, this doesn't answer my question. You have no obligation to, of course, but I get the feeling that you think you have answered the question.

djkjr wrote:We are both right. Though I may feel that I am correct in my findings, that isn't to say that I am not "gracious" enough to allow the possibility that someone else's opinion, however opposing, is less "correct" just because it combats my own. I do attempt, very diligently, to look through others eyes when conversing. Perhaps I am not as open minded in written word as I am in spoken word when it comes to "We're both right", but I could never discredit or truly oppose another person's view to such a vile extent as to completely discard it. For example, I do not believe in the existence of God (let's not get into that, it's just an easy example) but I would defend another individuals belief in God to someone who tried to attack it, for that faithful individual truly does believe! Belief eludes to evidence of it being a reality. Mind over matter if you will. If someone truly believes in God, then there is no place to refute that. Their belief crafts it into a reality and I respect that disposition. I do not believe in God, just as I do not believe in enlightenment (as an achievable or viable thing) but do believe that those who believe in those things are completely right to do so. I have not lived their life, I have not the same crafted thought they have. If solipsism has taught me anything, it is that if someone believes it, then to them it is true. I'm repeating myself. End.

That's still not "we're both right" or "to each his own" that's "I respect those who disagree with me." For example, you said that just because you don't believe in a god, you wouldn't think less of someone who does, and you would defend their right to believe. That's not "we're both right." "We're both right" would be if you said, "I don't believe in god, but I know that I may be wrong, and there might actually be a god." You're still saying, "I'm right, my opinions and beliefs are the correct ones, but I don't think less of those who disagree with me (i.e. are wrong) and I defend their right to disagree (i.e. be wrong)."

djkjr wrote:Of course it is not the only explanation. Merely the explanation that seemed most appropriate at the time. And no, I don't think a nihilist would agree. There is an inherent need in our lives to defend our beliefs, sometimes to the death, that illicit an enormous amount of pride. Nihilists are prideful creatures and I don't believe they could admit to the hypocrisy I see evident in their beliefs. It's like an Atheist stating they are an Atheist. If they truly believed in nothing, then they wouldn't need the label to produce a foundation for their belief of non-belief. Everyone just needs/wants a title. It's human nature, no?

Do you think yourself immune to this pride? You say things like "oh, I don't think I'm any more right or better than anyone," yet you also call Nihilists "prideful creatures" who refuse to admit to the "hypocrisy" you see as so evident in their silly beliefs. This sounds less and less like "to each his own" and more and more like "everyone who has different beliefs than me is stupid, but I don't think less of them for being so unbelievably stupid."

djkjr wrote:I dare say that is a very ignorant way of looking at our society. That's assuming an enlightened individual would be making "better decisions" which is a complete load. Enlightenment is for the individual only and serves to purpose to those around them except for maybe a friendly companion. No monk is going to run the stock exchange. And it is very ignorant to assume that, just because one would exist in a world to make money, that they would be unenlightened. Look at Warren Buffett! He's one of the most enlightened individuals in his field and one of the richest men in the world. He's made decisions that have had the ability to affect many of our everyday lives as far as consumable goods go. Just because his enlightenment doesn't mirror match your own does not make it wrong. Enlightenment is not static. Reaching it is never the same for two people.

Please remember that I did request we not debate. I'm merely looking for individual opinions. I have no interest in telling someone their view of enlightenment is right or wrong, but neither would I like the posters in this topic to debate one another or question each others conceptions of enlightenment.

Gelsamel wrote:
King Author wrote:Aversion to hard work


Whoa, Lorem ipsum dude...

If people weren't adverse towards hard work then we wouldn't have an economy. Then again I guess economy is just the machinations of unenlightened individuals exchanging unenlightened services for objects that are the source of unenlightened desires.

I don't understand what you mean by lorem ipsum. As to the economy, note I did not claim that my list of unenlightened attitudes were also bad. I'm not making a value judgement, just listing things I think are unenlightened. As for what I meant by aversion to hard work, see my last post, where I replied to phonon regarding the same.

You know, I find it interesting that two apparently unrelated people both took issue, out of that very long list of unenlightened things, with "aversion to hard work," leaving the others unquestioned. Especially interesting that, presumably, you and phonon noticed and took issue with "aversion to hard work" on your own, without collaborating. I wonder, are both of you Americans?

Azrael wrote:I think that with a second reading, you'll realize that you've misunderstood Gesamel. I believe he was speaking sarcastically, trying to illustrate a problem he saw with King Author's statement.

Interestingly, I think Gesamel *also* misread King Author, but oh well.

To both thinks you think, I say, "Indeed."
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Charlie! » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:40 am UTC

King Author wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:
King Author wrote:Aversion to hard work


Whoa, Lorem ipsum dude...

If people weren't adverse towards hard work then we wouldn't have an economy. Then again I guess economy is just the machinations of unenlightened individuals exchanging unenlightened services for objects that are the source of unenlightened desires.

I don't understand what you mean by lorem ipsum.

It's a reference to a standard typesetting filler: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua," and so on.

The text is a slightly mangled quotation of Cicero, which goes "Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?"

So Gelsamel is referencing the idea that people don't love pain and hard work - that's why they're called pain and hard work. And neither should we find fault with people solely because they dislike pain or hard work.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:48 pm UTC

I've decided to take more time answering these things so that I may better be understood and articulate my thoughts more appropriately. I feel I've been misheard mostly because I've been too quick to write.
(Spoilers placed to save space)
King Author wrote:You keep adding your own stipulations ("well, maybe they're just not as enlightened as they think, maybe they haven't actually found what they're looking for") and emphasizing that you wouldn't disrespect someone for disagreeing with you, but forgive me, this doesn't answer my question. You have no obligation to, of course, but I get the feeling that you think you have answered the question.

Spoiler:
Your original questions are: "1)What does it mean to be enlightened? 2)Who is and isn't enlightened, and 3)how can you become enlightened? 4)How rare is enlightenment?"
to which my responses would be: "1)To be enlightened is to feel that you've gained an understanding in your place in the world and what that means. 2)I don't feel anyone truly reaches complete enlightenment. If enlightenment were to happen one day, there would still be the experiences of the next day and every day after to contemplate and consider. 3) Becoming enlightened is an exercise in self-discipline, patience and perseverance. Though it may seem we have bits and piece of enlightenment through our lives, they may be more accurately defined as epiphanies. Enlightenment is not "reaching a summit" but rather "seeing the entire journey" 4) With these statements, and my prior statements having been said I feel true enlightenment is a very rare thing.
I definitely know that I am not. This thread has proven that to myself. My apologies on being so pertentious with my opinions. I know I'm not right but merely working toward my own understanding, however foolish I may find that to be.

King Author wrote:That's still not "we're both right" or "to each his own" that's "I respect those who disagree with me." For example, you said that just because you don't believe in a god, you wouldn't think less of someone who does, and you would defend their right to believe. That's not "we're both right." "We're both right" would be if you said, "I don't believe in god, but I know that I may be wrong, and there might actually be a god." You're still saying, "I'm right, my opinions and beliefs are the correct ones, but I don't think less of those who disagree with me (i.e. are wrong) and I defend their right to disagree (i.e. be wrong).".

Spoiler:
As I stated at the beginning of this post, I feel I've been too quick to try and say what I want to say without reading what it is I am actually saying, and how that could be interpreted. I do strongly feel toward "We're both right" but I can't be so ignorant to believe that I am not inclined toward my own opinions. Taking God as the example once again. I do not believe in God. Person X does believe in God. Regardless of what I think, he believe and is correct because I am not him and cannot understand. Person X's belief in God creates God in his mind therefore he is right. To say he is wrong is only my opinion of him and I were to have a conversation. I accept what he would say to be true. If this is not "We are both right" perhaps it is not possible to truly hold stock in "We're both right". ?

King Author wrote:Do you think yourself immune to this pride? You say things like "oh, I don't think I'm any more right or better than anyone," yet you also call Nihilists "prideful creatures" who refuse to admit to the "hypocrisy" you see as so evident in their silly beliefs. This sounds less and less like "to each his own" and more and more like "everyone who has different beliefs than me is stupid, but I don't think less of them for being so unbelievably stupid."
Spoiler:
I certainly do not put myself above pride. If it were not for pride I would not feel the need to defend myself. I feel in my writing I do not write exactly what I mean to say. My intentions are just as I state them, but then I do say things that would seem to contradict it. I try not to put myself above others, but I have to admit that I have a tendency of feeling superior in my beliefs. I have to admit my flaw here. I only do so as to have a heavier disposition in my opinion. I must admit though, that certainly has backfired in forum debates than actual in person debates. I must remember that this is a different medium and the confines of that need to be respected lol

King Author wrote:Please remember that I did request we not debate. I'm merely looking for individual opinions. I have no interest in telling someone their view of enlightenment is right or wrong, but neither would I like the posters in this topic to debate one another or question each others conceptions of enlightenment.

I have a natural tendancy to debate and soon forgot that was not your intentions. My apologies again sir. After having posted though, I can't help but be excited about what others have to say. Perhaps too excited...? :?
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:35 am UTC

@Charlie!: Oh, I see. As I explained, though, that's not what I was talking about.

djkjr wrote:Your original questions are: "1)What does it mean to be enlightened? 2)Who is and isn't enlightened, and 3)how can you become enlightened? 4)How rare is enlightenment?"
to which my responses would be: "1)To be enlightened is to feel that you've gained an understanding in your place in the world and what that means. 2)I don't feel anyone truly reaches complete enlightenment. If enlightenment were to happen one day, there would still be the experiences of the next day and every day after to contemplate and consider. 3) Becoming enlightened is an exercise in self-discipline, patience and perseverance. Though it may seem we have bits and piece of enlightenment through our lives, they may be more accurately defined as epiphanies. Enlightenment is not "reaching a summit" but rather "seeing the entire journey" 4) With these statements, and my prior statements having been said I feel true enlightenment is a very rare thing.
I definitely know that I am not. This thread has proven that to myself. My apologies on being so pertentious with my opinions. I know I'm not right but merely working toward my own understanding, however foolish I may find that to be.

Those questions in the initial post weren't meant to be answered one-by-one, just as general suggestions to get the ball rolling. The question I was referring to that you didn't answer was, "what if an enlightened person agreed with you that there's no inherent meaning to life?" I ask because, as you've said, you equate enlightenment with irrational fuzzy feelings like religion - lies we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better - which you feel is contradictory to what you see as truth, which is that there is no inherent meaning in life. So I was asking what you would think of someone who is considered or claims to be enlightened but agrees with you that there's no magical aspect to it and that there's no inherent meaning to life; that is, to someone who contradicts your view of enlightenment as religious-like feel-good nonsense.

djkjr wrote:As I stated at the beginning of this post, I feel I've been too quick to try and say what I want to say without reading what it is I am actually saying, and how that could be interpreted. I do strongly feel toward "We're both right" but I can't be so ignorant to believe that I am not inclined toward my own opinions. Taking God as the example once again. I do not believe in God. Person X does believe in God. Regardless of what I think, he believe and is correct because I am not him and cannot understand. Person X's belief in God creates God in his mind therefore he is right. To say he is wrong is only my opinion of him and I were to have a conversation. I accept what he would say to be true. If this is not "We are both right" perhaps it is not possible to truly hold stock in "We're both right". ?

You're still saying "I'm right and he's wrong but so be it." Either God does objectively exist or God does not objectively exist. You believe God does not exist. If someone believes God does exist, either he's right or you're right. Saying "he's right in his mind" is the same thing as saying, "he's wrong, there is no God, but I respect his right to be wrong."

Don't mistake me, I'm not chastising you, I'm not saying you shouldn't be like this, but if you think your view is "no one's right / everyone's right" then you're wrong.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:10 pm UTC

King Author wrote:The question I was referring to that you didn't answer was, "what if an enlightened person agreed with you that there's no inherent meaning to life?" I ask because, as you've said, you equate enlightenment with irrational fuzzy feelings like religion - lies we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better - which you feel is contradictory to what you see as truth, which is that there is no inherent meaning in life. So I was asking what you would think of someone who is considered or claims to be enlightened but agrees with you that there's no magical aspect to it and that there's no inherent meaning to life; that is, to someone who contradicts your view of enlightenment as religious-like feel-good nonsense.

I myself do not believe I am enlightened. Though, if someone were to agree with me that, in their enlightenment, they agreed with me, than that will have been their path in life and I just happened to share their opinions. I couldn't say "well believing that alludes to a contradiction to the fact of your enlightenment" because I believe enlightenment is a personal experience/goal. One that I just happen to believe, for myself, holds no actual weight in my life. I'll always be learning. My beliefs, always changing.

King Author wrote:You're still saying "I'm right and he's wrong but so be it." Either God does objectively exist or God does not objectively exist. You believe God does not exist. If someone believes God does exist, either he's right or you're right. Saying "he's right in his mind" is the same thing as saying, "he's wrong, there is no God, but I respect his right to be wrong."

Don't mistake me, I'm not chastising you, I'm not saying you shouldn't be like this, but if you think your view is "no one's right / everyone's right" then you're wrong.

You're not mistook. I do not feel chastised. I feel that you've made an amazing point and that it's quite possible that the definition of my beliefs do not accurately translate to "we're both right".
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby ganglion » Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:53 am UTC

When I was about 20, having just finished a physics degree, the thought struck me that although physics and science in general does a pretty good job of explaining much of what happens in the physical world that we are aware of through our senses, it has little to say about the nature of our conscious awareness of ourselves and the world around us. I'm finding it hard to explain clearly what I mean here. I'm not looking for some kind of psychophysics explanation of how light falls on the retina and makes nerves trigger, which trigger other nerves and then give rise to certain inner or outer actions and so on. It's more the question of how I am aware of myself as a (being, thinking, feeling, observing, acting) self in the first place.

This still seems like a mystery to me 20 years later. I think that the koans ('what is the sound of one hand clapping' etc) of zen buddhism may have been developed as a way for the mind to break through some kind of habitual barrier that we need to get through to understand this sort of question, but haven't pursued it seriously enough to be sure. It definitely seems to me that what is needed is a qualitative change in our mode and manner of explanation, rather than just more facts and theories within the standard scientific mould.

So to answer the original question, to me enlightenment would be about being able to answer questions like this.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Outchanter » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:56 am UTC

Enlightenment isn't a state, it's a process. Due to physical limitations on brainpower, no human can ever be fully enlightened. But we can be more enlightened tomorrow than we were yesterday.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:45 pm UTC

ganglion wrote:So to answer the original question, to me enlightenment would be about being able to answer questions like this.

I seemed to be able to answer this question. Of course any answer to any question is left up to interpretation. Especially when that question/answer is so open ended (as this one most obviously is). But that isn't to say that I know at all what I'm talking about, only that I have a strong enough opinion on it in order to be able to formulate enough of a position to state a point.
It seems to me that the traditional understanding of an enlightened individual would see this question as a bit trite and wouldn't even be bothered to answer it seriously. Some Buddhist monk sitting there stating "If you have to ask, you'll never know." seems to be more appropriate to actual enlightenment than being able to define it.
I don't think any one person could actually define it. If you could, there wouldn't be lifetimes spent aspiring to reach it. If it could go easily into a text than what is it that it's really teaching? Books are powerful tools and can give us great education on an infinite amount of matters, but they're also bias. They don't talk back. It's a take it or leave it kind of deal. You either agree and therefore your mind is almost being made up for you, or you don't agree and the book holds no weight.
Outchanter wrote:Enlightenment isn't a state, it's a process. Due to physical limitations on brainpower, no human can ever be fully enlightened. But we can be more enlightened tomorrow than we were yesterday.

We, as humans, use a small portion of our potential brainpower. This seems to have developed into some kind of mystical fact. But how then are we unable to become enlightened. I would agree that no one person could be enlightened, but that's only because I believe that enlightenment doesn't truly exist. But if one person were to believe that it did and reach it and believe/know that they had accomplished what they had set out to do, how does brainpower come into factor? That's almost as if saying that we aren't able to understand any amount of learned information or our own ability to process it because we don't have the brainpower. An ant doesn't have the brainpower, certainly (at least in the best way that we can understand/believe we understand) but I beg to differ, if we're able to ask these questions and understand them enough to come to our own conclusions, how then do we not have the brainpower to do so?

Just immediate curiosities.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:01 pm UTC

Well, the topic seems to be winding down, so I'll give my thoughts.

What is genius? Putting aside the ooh-aah factor, it's just unusual intelligence or capability. We call Mozart a genius because his talent for composition was so far beyond the average person's capabilities as to put him on another level. We call Einstein a genius because his intelligence and proclivity for understanding scientific phenomena was so far beyond the average person's capabilities as to put him on another level. Simply being smart or being talented doesn't make you a genius, though; what defines a genius is other people's non-genius. After all, if everyone were capable of the feats of the likes of Mozart and Einstein, we wouldn't call them geniuses.

I see enlightenment in the same way. Just as genius is simply "being really smart/talented," enlightenment is simply "being really understanding/accepting." Indeed, those are the two central traits of enlightenment, as I see them -- understanding and acceptance. As for the former, I mean the verb; a tendency to be understanding towards other human beings. But just as Einstein's genius was on another level, enlightened understanding is, too. It's not merely forgiving humans for being imperfect, it's a visceral, gut reaction. It's not something you have to think about, you're merely that understanding by default. And not just in your actions and words, but in your feelings.

As to the latter, acceptance, it's merely the opposite side of the same coin as understanding, only where understanding concerns thinking humans, acceptance concerns the unthinking world -- events beyond any one person's control, weather, disease, sickness, the behaviors of animals and nature of plants. Where an unenlightened person whines, laments or self-pities, wishes that something bad hadn't happened, the enlightened person simply accepts that the bad thing happened, and moves on. Acceptance isn't passivitiy or apathy, however -- the Dalai Llama, for instance, is very enlightened but is often to be seen pleading to world leaders for peace and championed autonomy for Tibet, and of course Ghandi had his salt march and fought for Indian independence.

Unlike genius, however, enlightenment is something that literally anybody can achieve; it's a matter of choice, not capability. It's a matter of cultivating in your heart, your mind, your behavior and your words that unusual understanding and acceptance. From that understanding and acceptance are born a host of things; kindness, empathy, altruism, selflessness, and other traits we think of when we examine enlightened luminaries, but those are all outgrowths. The central traits are understanding and acceptance. To put it in other words; oneness between yourself and the whole world.

@djkjr: The "humans only use Xsmall% of their brains" thing is untrue -- in fact, we use 100% of our brains; ask any neurologist or biopsych professor. Also, why can't you put enlightenment in a book and just let anybody read it? Do you think that enlightenment is necessarily difficult and something that could only be grasped by the few? Something for the elite of elites?
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Ghavrel » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:12 am UTC

King Author wrote:Also, why can't you put enlightenment in a book and just let anybody read it?


The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders


Or, to put it another way, virtually all Christians would agree that it is by living the commands of Jesus, not by reading them, that one comes closer to God. Reading is easy; living is hard.

Or, to put it another another way, imagine a person pointing at the moon. You can spend a lot of time examining the finger, but the finger isn't important. What is important is the moon. When we read things talking about enlightenment, it's hard not to end up examining the finger instead of the moon.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby King Author » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:57 pm UTC

That's not what I'm talking about. djkjr was suggesting that enlightenment - if it existed - would be so far beyond mortal ken that it's not something you could be taught or learn or read; you'd have to discover it for yourself. I'm asking why he believes that.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:26 pm UTC

King Author wrote:That's not what I'm talking about. djkjr was suggesting that enlightenment - if it existed - would be so far beyond mortal ken that it's not something you could be taught or learn or read; you'd have to discover it for yourself. I'm asking why he believes that.

To answer:
Ghavrel wrote:it's hard not to end up examining the finger instead of the moon.

I'm not sure I could've said it better myself.
It seems to me that those who would be enlightened are not going to attempt to sell their individual blessing of understanding. Though I'm sure, someone would want to and definitely have tried to do just that. My point is, much like the finger/moon example, one persons understanding will not translate to the ability to teach another. Enlightenment is unlike anything else. You can't "learn" it. It can't be shown to you through documents and (traditional) research. It's an experience. It's a lifetime. It's a never ending journey. I just don't see how one could teach another that. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:36 pm UTC

djkjr wrote:It seems to me that those who would be enlightened are not going to attempt to sell their individual blessing of understanding. Though I'm sure, someone would want to and definitely have tried to do just that. My point is, much like the finger/moon example, one persons understanding will not translate to the ability to teach another. Enlightenment is unlike anything else. You can't "learn" it. It can't be shown to you through documents and (traditional) research. It's an experience. It's a lifetime. It's a never ending journey. I just don't see how one could teach another that. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

But what makes you assume such a state exist? Or even if it never fully exists, why would you assume there exists such a direction to move in? If enlightenment is something the enlightened will not, or even cannot inform others about, it will be a an unobservable phenomenon.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:44 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:But what makes you assume such a state exist? Or even if it never fully exists, why would you assume there exists such a direction to move in? If enlightenment is something the enlightened will not, or even cannot inform others about, it will be a an unobservable phenomenon.

As I had written earlier. I don't believe in enlightenment. I'm simply stating an answer to a question on the pretence that it does/could exist (or that it does exist for others, just not myself).
And you're right, it would be an unobservable phenomenon. That doesn't make its definition any less knowable. Consider a black hole. Most everyone you could ask would be able to tell you something about what they believe it would do, even though there is no way to "know". Much like enlightenment. Even if an "enlightened" were to tell you the "meaning of existence" through what (s)he came to believe, that isn't to say that you would believe it or understand it or even appreciate it, mostly based on the fact that you and (s)he are two different beings with two different lives of experience.
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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:04 pm UTC

Just a nitpick: black holes are not "unobservable" at all. I can observe a teapot here at my table because it reflects light rays to my eyes in a way only tea pot would do, but also for example because it triggers nerves in my fingers in teapot-like way when I touch it. In the similar way, black holes interact with stuff around them in ways only black holes would do, and in that way they have definitely been observed. "Black" just means that our standard way of observation with the reflected light rays doesn't work.

The zen-like enlightenment you describe would be unobservable in much more fundamental way. The physical analogy would be an object that is not only black, but doesn't have any other interaction with the world either. Arguably, it doesn't make any sense to discuss such an object, since its existence or non existence wouldn't affect the world at all.

Note that Buddhism, even in its mystical versions, does have enlightened people who tell us that enlightenment exists and give some guidelines how we can reach it. Siddhartha Gautama himself is of course the prime example.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby djkjr » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:21 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Just a nitpick: black holes are not "unobservable" at all. I can observe a teapot here at my table because it reflects light rays to my eyes in a way only tea pot would do, but also for example because it triggers nerves in my fingers in teapot-like way when I touch it. In the similar way, black holes interact with stuff around them in ways only black holes would do, and in that way they have definitely been observed. "Black" just means that our standard way of observation with the reflected light rays doesn't work.

lol! Yes, I'm glad you stated "Just a nitpick" because you animated my point beautifully. I said "black hole" you had a definition of the understanding toward it. As for myself, I would have said something to the effect of "that thing that Stephen Hawking wrote about once or twice!" :-P

Zamfir wrote:The zen-like enlightenment you describe would be unobservable in much more fundamental way. The physical analogy would be an object that is not only black, but doesn't have any other interaction with the world either. Arguably, it doesn't make any sense to discuss such an object, since its existence or non existence wouldn't affect the world at all.

Just to play devil's advocate, but how would it not affect the world?! If it was believed that one person could possibly achieve a "zen-like enlightenment" of course the world would change. Given that the world only exists in our observational mind, if you were to know about it then it changes you just by knowing that it exists. When you were a child, someone told you the story of Santa Claus and now he exists. Much like Dinosaurs, Jesus Christ or The Big Bang Theory. Taking away the obvious discussions about any of those topics, just the knowledge of them and the stories one would tell you about any one of them changes your world. And your world really is the only one that matters.
For me, knowing how to "achieve enlightenment" wouldn't change my views on enlightenment, because those bias's have already been developed from my knowledge of enlightenment. It has changed me, regardless of what my opinion about it is. It's impossible for it not to. Even if that change is menial.
Zamfir wrote:Note that Buddhism, even in its mystical versions, does have enlightened people who tell us that enlightenment exists and give some guidelines how we can reach it. Siddhartha Gautama himself is of course the prime example.

But that is there desired goal of enlightenment. They say "this is enlightenment and so this is what you must acheive if you wish to be enlightened. Follow my road lest you be enlightened." Much like Jesus says "Embrace me as your savior and be granted eternal life". If you boil down the foundations of those two desirable principles, they aren't that much different.

Enlightenment, much like anything else, is what you believe it to be. It could be different for anyone. Much like different religions have different congregations. It all stems from the foundation of one belief, but there are alterations. My alteration of enlightenment? It doesn't exist. Even if it did, it would only last for a moment, like an epiphany, altered uncontrollably by the next day’s events.
War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.

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Re: What is enlightenment?

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:31 pm UTC

djkjr wrote:Just to play devil's advocate, but how would it not affect the world?! If it was believed that one person could possibly achieve a "zen-like enlightenment" of course the world would change. Given that the world only exists in our observational mind, if you were to know about it then it changes you just by knowing that it exists. When you were a child, someone told you the story of Santa Claus and now he exists. Much like Dinosaurs, Jesus Christ or The Big Bang Theory. Taking away the obvious discussions about any of those topics, just the knowledge of them and the stories one would tell you about any one of them changes your world. And your world really is the only one that matters.
For me, knowing how to "achieve enlightenment" wouldn't change my views on enlightenment, because those bias's have already been developed from my knowledge of enlightenment. It has changed me, regardless of what my opinion about it is. It's impossible for it not to. Even if that change is menial.

But the actual existence of enlightenment is completely unrelated to the belief in enlightenment, or at least it would be if enlightenment cannot in sense, however crude, be shown to the unenlightened. What you describe as effect on the world is the result of the belief, not of the actual existence of enlightenment.


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