Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Image & file uploads are now fixed. Thanks for your patience.
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Enlightenment and being perfect

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited July 14 in Buddhism Basics

In my wandering across the Internet I’ve come across a place called Actualized.org, which is a forum on how to become enlightened. They are very non-buddhist, there are lots of threads on various guru’s and also a large section on psychedelics and “trip reports” where people compare their most successful substance-powered excursions into enlightenment. It made me laugh, or at least smile a lot.

On that site there are also a few people who say they are enlightened, but they behave in a far-from-perfect way. What’s your take on people’s behaviour post enlightenment?

I can think of a few cases such as George Gurdjieff, who used to drink and play pranks on his followers, or Osho who on occasion would do some pretty wild things like tell a woman follower to find a lover by tomorrow or buy expensive Mercedes cars in 1970’s India. Then there was Chogyam Trungpa who drank quite heavily or the Zen monk Ikkyu who had a scandalous affair late in life with a blind dancing girl and wrote rather pornographic poetry. All with quite serious reputations.

Perhaps in another few hundred years people will be talking about some of the people who are now smoking DMT or taking ayahuasca as pioneering mystics. It boggles the mind.

Comments

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    On that site there are also a few people who say they are enlightened, but they behave in a far-from-perfect way. What’s your take on people’s behaviour post enlightenment?

    I guess it's best not to judge...and if a person wants to say that they are enlightened, but behaves in what could be seen as an unenlightened way....each to their own...after all it's no skin off my nose...

    Different strokes for different folks ..on (or off) the raft...

    Bunkslobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    How do they define enlightenment?

    I’d say only another enlightened being could recognise one of their own so I wouldn’t pass judgement.

    🙏🙏🙏

    FoibleFull
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    A genuine question here - why are we all being PC in our replies? We're people who believe in Buddhism being the "right" way for us yes? In that case, why do we entertain the thought that any of these people on this Actualized site who claim enlightenment are anywhere near it? Sounds like a drug haven and hedonist's site.

    lobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kundo said:
    A genuine question here - why are we all being PC in our replies? We're people who believe in Buddhism being the "right" way for us yes? In that case, why do we entertain the thought that any of these people on this Actualized site who claim enlightenment are anywhere near it? Sounds like a drug haven and hedonist's site.

    Because we don't know.

    ShoshinFosdicklobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I also in another forum came across a character who called himself “Buddha” and made a thread asking “enlightened and why is the Buddha not welcome in the Sangha?” He was quite petulant that Buddhists were not falling over themselves in their haste to install him as the new teacher. It was worth a laugh.

    I’m just saying that there are some people of whom you can just say ‘I don’t think you’re enlightened, lol’, and there are others of whom you say ‘despite your bad behaviour you’ve got a certain something, I’m not sure about you’.

    There are plenty of stories of disciples with unlikely teachers.

    FoibleFull
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    There are plenty of stories of disciples with unlikely teachers.

    Indeed.
    One of my important lessons came from a street light (Hallowed be Her name and shine) 🤪
    https://newbuddhist.com/discussion/24822/does-the-source-of-wisdom-matter-to-you

    Actualisation is a term used by Maslow and the NLP hypnotist circuit.

    As to the imperfectly perfect zeniths of dharma ...
    ... enlightenment IS the purpose, fruition, goal of practice.
    Progress comes through polishing and breakthrough.

    Some things come post enlightenment:

    1. Improved and new behaviour:
    • social cohesion
    • psychological health
    • dispersion of negative into appropriate channels
    1. New thoughts and ways of thinking:
    • encouragement of learning
    • improvement of human aspiration and potential
    • development of deeper understanding on all levels
    1. Collection, concentration and sharing of virtue:
    • the store of goodness is attracted and accumulated
    • personal contact disperses the quality throughout
      ​- the sum total of goodness is increased

    http://bodhimonastery.org/what-does-it-mean-to-be-enlightened.html

    I'll join ... 😌 ... if I can just stay out of the naughty corner :3

    personFosdick
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    "Monks, a fool is characterized by his/her actions. A wise person is characterized by his/her actions. It is through the activities of one's life that one's discernment shines.

    "A person endowed with three things is to be recognized as a fool. Which three? Bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. A person endowed with these three things is to be recognized as a fool.

    "A person endowed with three things is to be recognized as a wise person. Which three? Good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct. A person endowed with these three things is to be recognized as a wise person. ~AN 3.2

    Doesn't matter what a person says. What matters is how they behave. They could give the most eloquent dharma talks, but if they behave wrong, they are still a fool.

    lobsterFosdick
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    It’s a good quote @seeker242, but it does occur to me that by expecting our wise people to exhibit “good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct” we are trying to fit them into a certain straightjacket while just maybe they are the most ultimately free people.

    Look for example at Ramana Maharshi — he was of largely undiscussed conduct, living on the mountain Arunachala for most of his life as a recluse. Not exactly a shining example of very good conduct in Buddhist terms, yet he was acknowledged as an exceptional enlightened being.

    Perhaps it is just hard to judge any enlightened being by any standards whatsoever, except maybe kindness.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran

    In the case of Ikkyu, he was living in a culture that was very regimented and orthodox. So I think it can be argued that his contrarian behavior was a useful example for his time and place.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited July 15

    @Kerome said:
    we are trying to fit them into a certain straightjacket while just maybe they are the most ultimately free people.

    I don't think that is the case. An enlightened mind has certain qualities, and does not have other qualities. A free person is NOT free to just do whatever. For example, it's literally impossible for an enlightened person to act maliciously. The cause for such behavior is gone so it simply cannot occur.

    Look for example at Ramana Maharshi — he was of largely undiscussed conduct, living on the mountain Arunachala for most of his life as a recluse. Not exactly a shining example of very good conduct in Buddhist terms

    I don't think that is the case. If he was causing no harm to himself, or others, via body, speech and mind, then his conduct was impeccable, regardless of where he lived.

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    we are trying to fit them into a certain straightjacket while just maybe they are the most ultimately free people.

    I don't think that is the case. An enlightened mind has certain qualities, and does not have other qualities. A free person is NOT free to just do whatever. For example, it's literally impossible for an enlightened person to act maliciously. The cause for such behavior is gone so it simply cannot occur.

    But he might still look as if he is acting maliciously, look at say Marpa’s tasks for Milarepa before he would teach him the dharma. Getting him to build a tower and then break it down again three times? It certainly seems as if these kinds of teachers can be quite demanding and testing.

    I do agree with you that the enlightened have evolved out of certain behaviours, but I do think that the state of enlightenment is a very free one.

    Look for example at Ramana Maharshi — he was of largely undiscussed conduct, living on the mountain Arunachala for most of his life as a recluse. Not exactly a shining example of very good conduct in Buddhist terms

    I don't think that is the case. If he was causing no harm to himself, or others, via body, speech and mind, then his conduct was impeccable, regardless of where he lived.

    What about generosity or loving-kindness? Causing no harm is only one of the aspects that is praised by the Buddha as being conducive to the path, or perhaps they have left those behind them as well.

    Osho once said that when he was talking to his sannyasins in lectures that this was his love showering on those who listened. This can take different forms, I agree.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited July 15

    @Kerome said:
    But he might still look as if he is acting maliciously, look at say Marpa’s tasks for Milarepa before he would teach him the dharma. Getting him to build a tower and then break it down again three times? It certainly seems as if these kinds of teachers can be quite demanding and testing.

    Sure, but showing up drunk to give a dharma talk, I don't think that falls in the same category. Some things are pretty clear cut.

    What about generosity or loving-kindness? Causing no harm is only one of the aspects that is praised by the Buddha as being conducive to the path, or perhaps they have left those behind them as well.

    What about it? Ramana Maharshi was kind and generous. An enlightened mind is naturally kind and generous. He was quite kind to people that came to visit him, which were many, and generous in helping them.

    lobster
  • NamadaNamada Veteran

    being perfect? Use your awarness, and do not attach and listen to monkey mind, all the stories are not true.

    lobster
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited July 15

    @seeker242 said:

    @Kerome said:
    But he might still look as if he is acting maliciously, look at say Marpa’s tasks for Milarepa before he would teach him the dharma. Getting him to build a tower and then break it down again three times? It certainly seems as if these kinds of teachers can be quite demanding and testing.

    Sure, but showing up drunk to give a dharma talk, I don't think that falls in the same category. Some things are pretty clear cut.

    Sure... who are you talking about exactly? In Ikkyu’s or Chogyam Trungpa’s case I wouldn’t be surprised, but even they were said to be “advanced teachers”.

    He was quite kind to people that came to visit him, which were many, and generous in helping them.

    I’ve not read of him being kind or generous one way or the other, no more than normal politeness would dictate, and so assume he was unremarkable in that respect.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    This is rather like debating whether someone Like Boris Johnson, or Bill Clinton were the right kinds of people to be our countries' leaders. (I discount Donald Trump as the question does not bear asking of him.) Does a person's reputation therefore affect their right to be where they are? Should it?

    I referred to my Qi Gong Teacher as my Master, but he said he would never claim himself to be. To which I replied that was fine. he was at liberty to do as he wished, but I still felt it was so...

    I would suspect that with a truly Enlightened being, s/he would simply be silent, accept but remain detached from the prestige.....

    Kerome
  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Because we don't know.

    And I'll go out on a limb here and say they definitely don't know either shrugs

    lobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited July 16

    @Kerome said:
    Sure... who are you talking about exactly? In Ikkyu’s or Chogyam Trungpa’s case I wouldn’t be surprised, but even they were said to be “advanced teachers”.

    No one in particular, it was just an example of foolish behavior. Chogyam Trungpa may have been a good teacher but certainly engaged in foolish behavior. There's a difference between being a good teacher and actually being enlightened. Not everyone who is enlightened is a good teacher, not everyone who is a good teacher is enlightened.

    I’ve not read of him being kind or generous one way or the other, no more than normal politeness would dictate, and so assume he was unremarkable in that respect.

    I don't think you can assume "unremarkable" since to be certain, you would have to be a mind reader.

    A Buddha, by definition, behaves perfectly, as they have made perfect the perfections or paramitas and removed all causes for wrongdoing. This kind of perfect behavior is the very reason why they are called enlightened to begin with, as they no longer behave in a manner that produces dukkha. One could even go so far as to say that perfect behavior is the very definition of enlightenment itself.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Not everyone who is enlightened is a good teacher, not everyone who is a good teacher is enlightened.

    :mrgreen: Tee Hee. As a responsible student (allegedly and hopefully) few of us are genuinely good and discerning of our own condition, let alone the goodly, godly and Ultimate Fish (Hallowed Be Her Sandals) ...

    As for these 'perfect puddin' buddhas ... about as rare as Mermen ... 🌈💗🙏🏽

    Kerome
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited July 16

    @lobster said:
    As for these 'perfect puddin' buddhas ... about as rare as Mermen ... 🌈💗🙏🏽

    Well quite, it’s very possible to set the bar too high, especially in a self-improving, idealistic tradition like Buddhism. You miss out on people who have gone their own way, who don’t necessarily have all the prerequisites of a Buddhist Buddha. I quite like Eckhart Tolle for example, and I don’t mind the Ikkyu’s of the world.

    At the same time you don’t want to accept just anyone as a teacher, there are so many folks in the spiritual field who say they are enlightened but then eventually show in word and deed that they are anything but. They have to have something real to bring.

    I really think it depends on their presence, and whether you connect with them. Different teachers have different personalities, but I lose respect for a teacher who tries to fit into an existing tradition, for me it’s really about that particular teacher’s unique teaching.

    lobster
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran

    @seeker242 said:

    "Monks, a fool is characterized by his/her actions. A wise person is characterized by his/her actions. It is through the activities of one's life that one's discernment shines.

    "A person endowed with three things is to be recognized as a fool. Which three? Bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct. A person endowed with these three things is to be recognized as a fool.

    "A person endowed with three things is to be recognized as a wise person. Which three? Good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct, good mental conduct. A person endowed with these three things is to be recognized as a wise person. ~AN 3.2

    Doesn't matter what a person says. What matters is how they behave. They could give the most eloquent dharma talks, but if they behave wrong, they are still a fool.

    There is a difference between realisation and actualisation.

    That person has discovered that smoking is bad and telling everyone that smoking is indeed bad. He/she hasn't actually quit smoking.

    The advice is still good and valid. Only thing is that person like everyone else is still walking the path. Not fully awakened.

    seeker242Kerome
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Whilst looking for mermen, came across ye olde Christian ...

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran
    edited July 16

    Asked [...] about enlightenment, Suzuki Roshi said, 'Strictly speaking, there are no enlightened beings; there is only enlightened activity.' If you think you are enlightened, that is not it. The goal is to let go of being anyone special and meet each moment with beginner's mind.

    Jack Kornfield, Bringing Home the Dharma
    https://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/excerpts/view/21950/bringing-home-the-dharma

    Good excerpt from his book here, discussing the different expressions of enlightenment that Jack has had the privilege of witnessing in his life.

    For me, few stories of enlightenment are wholly convincing. The foremost has to be the Buddha’s, and that’s a high standard to be held up to. But if there’s anyone alive today who embodies it full-time, I believe it’s Thich Nhat Hanh.

    When he has come to teach at Spirit Rock, two thousand people sit meditatively on the hillside and eat their apples mindfully in preparation for his arrival. A bell is rung, and he walks slowly and deliberately up the road — so mindfully that everyone sighs, 'Ahhh.' The consciousness of two thousand people is transformed just seeing this man walk, each step the whole universe.

    (ibid.)

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    A word of wisdom from a spiritual friend who spent several years up close with Osho:

    “Mystics are not these quiet, gentle creatures. If they really set out to teach they can be tough, devious and clever.”

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Before enlightenment pleased some of the people some of the time ...After enlightenment pleased some of the people some of the time (Some you win some you lose...that's Dukkha for ya)

    adamcrossley
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 16

    The Canki sutra talks about observing if someone is awakening to the truth and how to recognize that after first it talks about how do we safeguard truth and how do we regard others who say "And THIS (that I am interested in) is the only real truth worth anything!"...

    "Yes, Master Gotama, to this extent there is the safeguarding of the truth. To this extent one safeguards the truth. We regard this as the safeguarding of the truth. But to what extent is there an awakening to the truth? To what extent does one awaken to the truth? We ask Master Gotama about awakening to the truth."

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.095x.than.html

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Really when all is said and done, enlightenment is pretty much an unattainable goal we strive for whilst trying to better ourselves.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Thanks @pegembara

    ... whilst trying to better ourselves, enlightenment is pretty much an unattainable goal we strive for ...

    Really

    when all is said and done

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @pegembara said:
    It is perfectly alright to be imperfect.

    Of course it is.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @lobster said:

    Thanks @pegembara

    ... whilst trying to better ourselves, enlightenment is pretty much an unattainable goal we strive for ...

    Really

    when all is said and done

    Only upon getting enlightenment and saving all beings from suffering, can it be said that "all is said and done". =)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    No rest for the wikid then @seeker242 ...

  • adamcrossleyadamcrossley Veteran
    edited July 18

    I think Dogen said somewhere: Just as Enlightenment is infinite, Practice is also infinite.

    If anyone knows the exact quote, I’d be grateful to read it.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    There's a myriad here, and some are self-contradictory. I suppose one should know the circumstances in which he spoke them...

    adamcrossley
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited July 20

    OP, my take is, that they don't know what Enlightenment is. In the case of the people on the forum you described, they're mistaking a drug high with genuine Enlightenment, which is about non-attachment, insight, and compassion; qualities you don't acquire by popping a drug.

    The same goes for the gurus you mentioned. The DL said back in 1993, that gurus who exploit or abuse others don't have a thorough understanding of the Dharma, and that they should be denounced or reported to the police, if circumstances warrant. Most recently, he's said, that gurus who behave that way have no respect for the Dharma. It should be pretty clear, they're not Enlightened.

    The proof is in the pudding, so to speak; it's in their behavior, not in the PR too many people seem to believe unquestioningly. The Buddha said in the Kalama Sutra, that there will be false teachers, and advised the Kalamas to observe carefully and be discerning, before accepting anyone claiming to be a learned teacher. The DL many times has reiterated that.

    Keromelobsterpegembara
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited July 20

    @Dakini said:
    In the case of the people on the forum you described, they're mistaking a drug high with genuine Enlightenment, which is about non-attachment, insight, and compassion; qualities you don't acquire by popping a drug.

    It’s interesting that back in 1968 there was an institute in the USA which looked for a route to permanent enlightenment through the use of psychedelics. They operated for about two years and were headed up by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.

    It’s a pretty funny concept, popping a pill to get enlightened. I rather suspect you need to do more preliminary work before you are ready for that.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @Dakini said:
    In the case of the people on the forum you described, they're mistaking a drug high with genuine Enlightenment, which is about non-attachment, insight, and compassion; qualities you don't acquire by popping a drug.

    It’s interesting that back in 1968 there was an institute in the USA which looked for a route to permanent enlightenment through the use of psychedelics. They operated for about two years and were headed up by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.

    By coincidence I was just watching a doco on Netflix about these two gents yesterday.

    “Dying to Know - Ram Dass and Timothy Leary”

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    The way I see it when it comes to teachers whose behaviour is somewhat questionable ...

    Don't throw the baby out with the bath water

    The teacher's behaviour maybe unskillful, but perhaps some of their teachings still point in the direction of the moon...(Hold 4NTs & 8FP truths)

    In the long run it's still up to the practitioner to see for themselves "Ehipassiko"

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Indeed @Shoshin

    There are sufficient good teachers, virtuous monks and even far shore dwellers. So why hang with the dubious, controversial, celebrity guru/teacher?

    It is partly the human need for stimulation and bedazzlement.

    However in Truth we have to extend our fledgling real nature to The Teaching. I can and do find wisdom in Klingon dharma but do not require/need or indeed find Klingon any more use than so many moments/words/sources and sauces ...

    Today is a good to die
    Klingon saying

  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited July 22

    @Kerome said:

    @Dakini said:
    In the case of the people on the forum you described, they're mistaking a drug high with genuine Enlightenment, which is about non-attachment, insight, and compassion; qualities you don't acquire by popping a drug.

    It’s interesting that back in 1968 there was an institute in the USA which looked for a route to permanent enlightenment through the use of psychedelics. They operated for about two years and were headed up by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.

    It’s a pretty funny concept, popping a pill to get enlightened. I rather suspect you need to do more preliminary work before you are ready for that.

    Rather than talking of "enlightenment" with all the mystique that entails, better to describe as the removal of the veil of delusion or awakening.

    The goal is to wake up from the "Dream".

    "Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.'

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.036.than.html

    The Blessed One said, "And which is the burden? 'The five clinging-aggregates,' it should be said. Which five? Form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling as a clinging-aggregate, perception as a clinging-aggregate, fabrications as a clinging-aggregate, consciousness as a clinging-aggregate. This, monks, is called the burden.

    "And which is the carrier of the burden? 'The person,' it should be said. This venerable one with such a name, such a clan-name. This is called the carrier of the burden.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.022.than.html

    The goal of becoming "enlightened" is just yet another burden!

    adamcrossleyDakini
Sign In or Register to comment.