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Are We Already Enlightened?

Please forgive my simplification in this post, it's been a long day and i've been doing a lot if thinking.

My understanding is that at the time of The Buddha there were many people seeking answers to life, including himself, trying many different methods including self suffering. A lot seemed to think that various religious practices and ways of suffering seemed to be the answer (and a lot of people still do).

Siddhārtha Gautama sat down and thought about it and came away thinking that most of it was a waste of time and that with some simple lifestyle changes and some changes to the way we think we will realise that most of life's suffering but can free ourselves from some of the self imposed suffering.

It does seem that in the 'developed' world the majority of people have stepped away from seeking religious answers and dogma but we seem to have also moved away from healthy ways of thinking. People still like to make themslves suffer and try to find answers from inbibing in substances that they think hold the answers but are the majority of people now near enlightenment but just don't realise it?

Comments

  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran
    Well I don't think most people are enlightened.

    For myself enlightenment means realizing the four noble truths as one's life.

    So its not just intellectual but an experiential realization into the workings of suffering.

    From the POV of a Buddha yes its all pure vision, freedom from extremes, suffering, etc.

    But from the POV of a sentient being the world has inherent existence, hence the sentient being grasps/clings thus causing the 12 fold chain of dependent arising.

    If a sentient being recognizes the nature of reality from the start then ignorance would not have cause the other links to arise and instead we would then have wisdom display.

    So long story short:

    With insight/wisdom reality is the truth body free from suffering.

    With ignorance reality is samsara, something real, solid, to push and pull from.

    The Buddha offered the teachings of dependent arising. They are subtle, profound and basically impossible to access without meditation and guidance. It isn't an easy path, and a quick fix.

    I suppose it is entirely dependent upon the context of what point of view one is speaking from. Many teachings do not implicitly state the pov they are sharing.

    Some thoughts for you.
    riverflowJeffreyInvincible_summerDandelion
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    From a perspective of formlessness toast is bread.
  • Toast is a processed part of a loaf of bread?
  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran
    Bread/Toast from the pov of sentient being and a buddha:



    Sentient being see it:

    permanent, independent, inherently existent, having essence, existing from its own side, having its own selfness, able to own/possess. A sentient being will grasp at it, lust over it, be consumed by bread, he or she will want more bread, never ending grasping, more and more, not seeing how bread is merely a carrot at the end of the stick, not seeing how the mind fabricates the bread, the reward, the chase, everything.


    Buddhas see it:

    impermanent, dependent upon various causes and condition, dependent upon parts, dependent upon designation, selfless, cannot own or possess because there no "thing" there to grasp, illusion-like appearance. Toast is beyond the four extremes of existence, non-existence, both or neither because it is arisen dependent upon condition hence an illusory appearance likened to horns on a rabbits head or a rope mistaken for a snake. Seeing this dispassion arises, and suffering cannot compound or even be fabricated because a Buddha cannot lust over, crave over, something that has been seen to be empty, devoid of intrinsic existence. Yet function and responsiveness is not denied. Eating bunk bread will have certain consequences.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    but are the majority of people now near enlightenment but just don't realise it?
    People are always near, that situation has not changed. What has happened now is people are skeptical of the existence of a transcendent. They say the 'path is the goal' or 'sitting is enlightenment' or 'living in the moment' is the purpose of the path etc. They feel it is unfair that people can be different in many fields but spiritually we are all the same . . .

    You'll know. You will know you always knew. Nothing new.




    riverflow
  • Enlightenment to me is not to reach a plateau in the area of knowledge or an amount of understanding . But rather a feeling and an experience. We can practice for it, we can go by every book in the book of the book but what truly determines whether we eventually reach enlightenment or not is unknown. Sure we can say something vague like "only we can determine it" but that itself is even unknown. Enlightenment could be a process or a moment.

    Youll know your enlightened when you dont have to ask yourself if you are.
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    edited July 2013
    I think i get what you are saying fairyfeller.. And i think you are right.

    I believe 2500 ago there was alot more suffering in the world. People didnt know anything. Doctors wouldnt have had a clue. People would have been dying without cures. Pay in jobs wouldnt have been the same. Planes didnt exist for holidays to have that little break and get away from it all. Chavs wouldnt have existed. Most people 2500 years were probably thinking what is life about, why are we here?
    (In certain countries its still the same, thats why i believe they need buddhism or a religion to lean on more than we do...

    But the way the world is now (outside asia mainly) i believe we dont really have to dwell to deep on things. I dont think you have to be a buddha to realize everything is impermanent... And there is no abiding self... And everything changes constantly... Etc etc Its all naturally easier to understand.

    I dont believe people are suffering as much these days because they are not seeking

    To seek is to suffer..
    and to still seek answers in 2013 then i believe you must have a serious mental problem. The people who are still seeking lets say, enlightenment, are stick stuck and fascinated with the idea of enlightenment! They believe it to be something that it probably isnt...

    (I personally dont believe in enlightenment.. I only believe in understandings

    You dont have to be enlightened to understand life and what its all about and eventually we are not going to be here etc etc etc...

    So back to your original question;

    are people nearer enlightenment but just dont know it?

    My answer; No, they are not nearer enlightenment...They just dont need enlightenment these days..
    They are more able to just get on with life



    lobster
  • Yup...we are already enlightened....we just forgot or got distracted or karma is interfering. If the presumption that we are born of the clear light and upon death enter the clear light...aren't we already enlightened? Say that the "clear light" is a nirvana oceanic bliss state, so how do we recognize that a complex and yet unified state of transcendence i.e., samsara is also an enlighten state...in which the bodhisattvas dance and play amongst the jewels.
    Dakini
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    What @wrathfuldeity said. :) In Mahayana Buddhism, there's a school of thought that says we are already enlightened, but that fact is obscured from us by our own delusions. So all we have to do is wipe them away, and we'll realize our already pre-existing enlightenment.
    Jeffrey
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    Dakini said:

    What @wrathfuldeity said. :) In Mahayana Buddhism, there's a school of thought that says we are already enlightened, but that fact is obscured from us by our own delusions. So all we have to do is wipe them away, and we'll realize our already pre-existing enlightenment.

    I find that the distinction between Mahayana and Theravadan approaches to Enlightenment are more or less the same, just emphasized differently. This could just be my own misunderstanding due to superficial knowledge, but the Theravadan idea that one must eliminate all defilements before becoming enlightened can be seen as just another iteration of the Mahayana "wiping the dust away," can't it?
  • DakiniDakini Veteran



    I find that the distinction between Mahayana and Theravadan approaches to Enlightenment are more or less the same, just emphasized differently. This could just be my own misunderstanding due to superficial knowledge, but the Theravadan idea that one must eliminate all defilements before becoming enlightened can be seen as just another iteration of the Mahayana "wiping the dust away," can't it?

    Definitely. I didn't include Theravada because I'm not qualified to discuss it. I didn't know if they had a similar teaching or not. Thx for posting! :)

  • misterCopemisterCope PA, USA Veteran
    I've always liked the idea that everyone is already enlightened (or has Buddha nature, or however you want to say it) on the inside. So many people try to pile things on top of themselves to reach happiness: new cars, new friends, new religions, food, etc. But all anyone really needs to do is take away the excessive layers to find that, underneath it all, they are already perfect.
    riverflowJeffreyInvincible_summer
  • What good is enlightenment if we don't know that we are already enlightened?
    lobsterSabre
  • misterCopemisterCope PA, USA Veteran
    One time, I drove up to a toll booth and the driver in front of me, who I didn't know, had already paid my toll.
    lobsterInvincible_summer
  • footiam said:

    What good is enlightenment if we don't know that we are already enlightened?

    Indeed. :D

    Does it 'exist'? Yes but not as a 'knowing', in the usual sense . . .
    Will we know we know?
    Yes.
    Has someone already paid the toll fee as @misterCope experienced?
    Yes.
    The Buddha and the enlightened beings and toll payers he has inspired.

    To the Buddha for Enlightenment I go
    To the Dharma for Enlightenment I go
    To the Sangha for Enlightenment I go
  • "All beings possess the Buddha-Nature as in the example of the potential of butter which is in milk." ~ Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
    Invincible_summerJeffrey
  • Just a humble opinion...
    There is the inherent enlightened state that most would imagine to be an oceanic bliss nirvanic-like.

    However there is also an enlightened state that most would recognize as knowing, i.e., not ignorant of the concept that the myriad of samsara is illusionary.

    And again there is another enlightened state that most would recognize, that both samarsa and nirvana are one and the same and coexist.

    And lastly another enlightened state that most would recognize as...oh crap...I got to go to the bathroom and my friend needs some toilet paper.
    lobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    People still like to make themslves suffer and try to find answers from inbibing in substances that they think hold the answers but are the majority of people now near enlightenment but just don't realise it?

    I think it's more that the majority are far away from enlightenment but just don't realise it.
    ;)
    lobsterJeffrey
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