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TOPIC: Enlightenment

Enlightenment 17 May 2015 08:32 #98848

Matthew, I'd say that example meets my criteria for insight; I can't speak for anyone else, let alone some official authority.

For me, it is a palpable sensation of an observation reaching deeply into my body, not being just a detached, mental experience; there is a sense of seeing/knowing from the core. Sometimes it is a matter of a fresh observation in the moment; sometimes remembering something someone else said (even myself at an earlier time) with a sense of really knowing it now.

In fact, if 'enlightenment' means anything to me now, it is a sense of being whole, coherent, all on the same page with myself, integral, in alignment. And those little insight moments are shifts toward alignment AND simultaneous realizing that I was out of alignment in some way.
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Enlightenment 17 May 2015 08:46 #98850

Yeah, what Kate said. In contrast, what caused me to take up a meditation practice was a deeply felt sense of being out of sync, not coherent, disconnected, not knowing and not whole.
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Enlightenment 17 May 2015 12:58 #98853

When I was doing Zen for a number of years, "first kensho" was my holy grail. At times my practice felt ripe and I thought if I could only go to retreats right now, something could happen. But the householder situation didn't permit.
When I switched to vipassana and then Pragmatic Dharma, First Path became in my mind the door to Enlightenment, and there are lots of accounts that sound like a new experience of life has suddenly opened up for that person. I imagined that once you have Paths, you have become partially Enlightened, and are well on the way to becoming more fully Enlightened.

My teacher says her guess is that I'm post-2nd Path. I'm not sure exactly what that means and haven't asked, partly because the idea that I'm partially Enlightened seems ridiculous. I wouldn't entertain such a laughable thought in the privacy of my own mind, much less around people who I think actually are Awakened to a significant extent.

Speaking only for myself, what does seem different is that I doubt my experience a lot of the time, when I'm not lost in work-related and socially-fixated thinking (which is probably most of the time). It seems almost obvious that my experience is a fabrication, projection, imaginary and there is a troubling sense that I have clues about what's going on but not completely sure what they mean or how to relate to it.

Another thing that's different is it seems like there are new tools available, if I remember and am willing to take advantage of them. Different states or views that are available that can cast in a different light the normal naive realism (cool term from neuroscience and physics) of the outside world, the body and the first-person perspective (another nice one from neuroscience).

And it feels like there are new paradoxes. When I have the thought that life is short and I've got to get more serious, the revving up of intention to do something, get down to a project, focus on noting, inquiry, that tends to feel like a big contraction and my body doesn't want to be squeezed like that, so it kind of throws that off so it has breathing room again. And I find myself wondering about the view point of me mobilizing to do something about that. It sometimes seems apparent how motivation (from fear and longing) lead to images and feelings of me and others acting on things over time, which can feel like an imaginary contraction.

Yet, most of the time I go into (to coin a little impromptu term for myself) naive routine mode. Unquestioningly habitual, busy involvement. Or wanting to distract myself from feeling uncomfortable. So even though mobilizing keeps getting the wind cut from its sails, habitual momentum and inertia call out for some kinds of more energetic, sincere and insightful engagement.

Also, the fact that something like well springs or who knows what, now seems to be intangibly but palpably available beneath the surface possibly most of the time if I stop and relax or inquire into it, often makes me feel complacent. "Ah, OK, that's there if I feel like turning to it. Apparently, I don't have to worry about it going away."

But last night I had a dream that I was struggling with someone about something which led to me physically grappling with them and then trying to murder them and once they seemed dead, trying to crush them and make sure they were completely killed. And a few days ago I was thinking about someone who's been for several years a full time resident of a meditation center I sometimes go to who came on to my wife once when she was there. When I first heard about it, a few years ago, I thought he's mostly a good and likable person and I can kind of imagine why he mis-estimated that my wife might be available. And in any case, I can't control her or anyone else. Who knows why she has stayed with me all this time. And I can just be with this scenario openly and feel the changeable complexities in it. Cool, the fruits of practice. But the other day a memory of that occurred to me out of the blue and I was filled with images and feelings of wanting revenge. They were somewhat objectified but very vivid. And I thought what if when I die, my karma took birth under circumstances where that new embodiment didn't have the benefit of quite that much space and circumstances got a little tricky and he actually killed someone. Where would that lead?

2nd path doesn't seem to have closed the door on that. It makes me feel like this is serious business and I wish I was more serious in practice.
Last Edit: 17 May 2015 12:59 by Kacchapa.
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Enlightenment 17 May 2015 13:07 #98854

Yes. What your teacher said.
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Enlightenment 17 May 2015 14:27 #98856

Yes, what your teacher and Chris said.

And I'd add two things: there's a tipping point (that may be noticed more in retrospect than at the event) where the irritation of changing your mode is outweighed by the irritation of grinding along the same old same old habitual sequence. You just kinda lose your stomach for it, closer and closer to the initial knee-jerk.

And when a thorough-going, committed doubting Tortoise exhausts all the possibilities of denial-- then there is "reasonable UNSHAKEABLE faith," as some lama described it. Like a diamond.
Last Edit: 17 May 2015 14:27 by Kate Gowen. Reason: typo
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Enlightenment 17 May 2015 17:42 #98858

matthew sexton wrote:
I've had this experience of realizing I know just what something means, deep knowledge.

Sounds like a good insight! - seeing previous habitual 'stuff' or responses drop away. Always a beautiful thing. I would add though that it's useful to be aware of and question the idea of 'knowing just what something means.' IMHO and YMMV, there is never a final 'just what something means.' As we say in Fellowship, more will be revealed... and Kate often mentions the Great Doubt.

Worth noting in passing too, there is some lack of consensus here over the things you mention. To take myself as an e.g., there was no significant reduction of suffering at first path, and I never experienced jhanas (not to mention at this point having big question marks hanging over the whole Mahasi/MCTB model).
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Enlightenment 17 May 2015 17:44 #98859

I hope my practice is leading to effortless grace and efficiency. Like, going to the gym is a lot of work, results accrue slowly, but the benefits pop up effortlessly and randomly. If that does not happen, I imagine my practice is faulty.

I like this model: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence.

I think the pleasure felt when connecting impermanence to my current circumstance is a facet of competence and aware of competence. Next stage is I just don't sweat stuff and have no particular awareness of not sweating it.
Last Edit: 17 May 2015 17:47 by matthew sexton. Reason: additional material
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Enlightenment 17 May 2015 17:49 #98860

Effortless grace an efficiency is a great goal. I hope you don't fall short ;)
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Enlightenment 25 May 2015 16:43 #98946

Yes, thank you, I see how it works!
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