1 2 3 >  Last ›
 
   
 

Was Gautama Buddha Enlightened?

 
mookestink
 
Avatar
 
 
mookestink
Total Posts:  3
Joined  16-01-2016
 
 
 
17 January 2016 07:37
 

Basically, he proclaimed four truths: life is suffering (symptoms), there is a cause of the suffering (truth of causality), there is a way to stop suffering (cure), and there is a path that ends all suffering (treatment plan). The path is known as “the Noble Eightfold Path”, and most of Buddhism is an explanation of the path.

The 8-fold path is a recipe. All the ingredients are interconnected. They fall into three main groupings: wisdom, ethics, and concentration. For instance, wisdom teaches us how to have the right view and right intention, but without the necessary concentration to back it up, learning wisdom is useless. The Buddha spent 35 years teaching this path.

Is it necessary that he followed this path to the end? Certainly, a Bodhisattva understands and can teach this plan of salvation without being a Buddha. This is because it is very logical. It’s a straightforward map that could have been drawn by someone with insight. You don’t have to be an abacus to to solve problems using an abacus.

 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
17 January 2016 20:13
 

“A drop in the ocean, a change in the weather”


I think if you want to take Buddhism all the way into concepts like “enlightenment” it has to become a metaphysical system that doesn’t line up with scientific materialism. Otherwise some of the prescriptions involved don’t make a lot of sense.


I don’t think there’s a given definition for “enlightened” within Buddhism, what exactly that state is, means, or represents. And in some ways the questions you ask circle back in on themselves. Total enlightenment seems - at least in many descriptions - to align with experiencing life as “nirvana” or “heaven”, a sort of pantheistic subjective experience. Overlaid, perhaps, with the totality of seemingly fragmented existence. But one cannot really say that any one of those fragments is not part of the total picture. Perhaps a better analogy, then, would be “You don’t have to subjectively experience being the entire abacus to help solve problems by being a bead on the abacus”.

 
 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  21577
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
18 January 2016 03:45
 

I’m not a Buddhist, but it seems like a very simple and doable philosophy.  It seems that it could be used in conjunction with both other religious faiths and also non-faiths - so it may be the most universally applicable philosophy out there.  But those are just my impressions.

 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
18 January 2016 06:08
 
EN - 18 January 2016 03:45 AM

I’m not a Buddhist, but it seems like a very simple and doable philosophy.  It seems that it could be used in conjunction with both other religious faiths and also non-faiths - so it may be the most universally applicable philosophy out there.  But those are just my impressions.


I think it contains a lot of exercises that can easily be exported to other traditions with no contradiction. You can just shrug and say “I don’t know why studies should show that this exercise reduces stress or improves the immune system, but whatever, it does.” But I don’t think you can hypothesize about why many of those practices should be beneficial - find a a sort of central organizing paradigm, I guess - without bringing in some metaphysical assumptions. Not always. The practice of meditating on love, for example - that exports easily with little need for further explanation. But the idea of other kinds of awareness practice, at the very least, require philosophical assumptions about the beneficiality of some version of “truth” (What drives the belief that increased awareness is necessarily better? Or, that almost indiscriminate, open attention to minutia - the kind you might experience when focusing on the micro-qualities of the breath, or mindfulness practice - vs. selective attention should be considered beneficial?), and perhaps some assumptions about the nature of our being (In the idea of “karma”, for example - for this to be any kind of prevention against total hedonism one must posit that cause and effect is not limited to a “self” as traditionally conceived of - i.e., that a personal “self” continues in other lives in time-space; or that the current “self” actually extends to include all humans in your awareness at a subjective level. Otherwise, the concept seems easily contradicted by evidence of people who do terrible things with no ill effects and good people who suffer - you must posit that they either go on to another life; or that they actually experienced the consequences of those actions at some level, albeit a non-obvious one, in this one.)

 
 
jro
 
Avatar
 
 
jro
Total Posts:  105
Joined  27-10-2015
 
 
 
18 January 2016 06:43
 
mookestink - 17 January 2016 07:37 AM

Basically, he proclaimed four truths: life is suffering (symptoms), there is a cause of the suffering (truth of causality), there is a way to stop suffering (cure), and there is a path that ends all suffering (treatment plan). The path is known as “the Noble Eightfold Path”, and most of Buddhism is an explanation of the path.

The 8-fold path is a recipe. All the ingredients are interconnected. They fall into three main groupings: wisdom, ethics, and concentration. For instance, wisdom teaches us how to have the right view and right intention, but without the necessary concentration to back it up, learning wisdom is useless. The Buddha spent 35 years teaching this path.

Is it necessary that he followed this path to the end? Certainly, a Bodhisattva understands and can teach this plan of salvation without being a Buddha. This is because it is very logical. It’s a straightforward map that could have been drawn by someone with insight. You don’t have to be an abacus to to solve problems using an abacus.

Are you asking participants to speculate or are you asking for knowledge? We don’t even know for sure that Siddarta Gautama existed. It would make little difference if he didn’t. We also can’t say what “enlightenment” “waking up” or “Nibbana” mean. So I think all speculation is futile. Certainly you can teach a number of things without being enlightened. Certainly my meditation teachers are not enlightened, yet they are good teachers. I am not sure that anyone ever got enlightened. I think with mediation it is the same as with practising a musical instrument: You have to keep practising to keep your level. You don’t get to keep what you have achieved just like that. I understand that the traditional model of enlightenment does suppose that once you are enlightened you stay that way. I am not sure that this ever happened.

 
mookestink
 
Avatar
 
 
mookestink
Total Posts:  3
Joined  16-01-2016
 
 
 
18 January 2016 12:47
 
Niclynn - 17 January 2016 08:13 PM

I think if you want to take Buddhism all the way into concepts like “enlightenment” it has to become a metaphysical system that doesn’t line up with scientific materialism

I didn’t understand Buddhism at all until I read Bishop Berkeley, and he’s the farthest you can get from scientific materialism.  Matter doesn’t exist; to be is to be perceived.

jro - 18 January 2016 06:43 AM

Are you asking participants to speculate or are you asking for knowledge?

I’m indirectly asking if anyone has first-hand experience of Enlightenment, because I believe that only an enlightened person can detect enlightenment in others.  So, I’m asking for knowledge.

However, speculation leads to knowledge.  It’s possible that thinking enough about Enlightenment will help me become so, but only if Enlightenment is a real thing.

 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
18 January 2016 13:17
 
mookestink - 18 January 2016 12:47 PM
Niclynn - 17 January 2016 08:13 PM

I think if you want to take Buddhism all the way into concepts like “enlightenment” it has to become a metaphysical system that doesn’t line up with scientific materialism

I didn’t understand Buddhism at all until I read Bishop Berkeley, and he’s the farthest you can get from scientific materialism.  Matter doesn’t exist; to be is to be perceived.


I think it’s probably true that at a subatomic level, matter doesn’t exist in the way it appears to us at our scale. The smallest subatomic particles are more “events” or “movements” than actual solid things, no? That said, I think there is another step in the bolded above - if to be is to be perceived, then what exactly is perceiving, and how does it come to be? (I leave this as an open question, although if you’re interested in the answer from some Buddhist schools of thought, “form” is considered an aggregate that, if I understand it correctly, is interdependent with something like basic “consciousness” but precedes sensory awareness. I’m never quite sure what is meant by this type of “form” but I tend to assume it’s similar to the potentiality of mathematical equations, vs. a concrete “thing”.)

 
 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
18 January 2016 15:53
 
mookestink - 18 January 2016 12:47 PM

I’m indirectly asking if anyone has first-hand experience of Enlightenment, because I believe that only an enlightened person can detect enlightenment in others.  So, I’m asking for knowledge.


I have no idea how to describe this, but I think you are talking about an entirely different framework when you talk about things like “Enlightenment”. My understanding is it’s not a discrete ‘thing’ that can be in the possession of or an attribute of an agent, although agents may manifest various behavioral patterns when they’re attuned to features of reality we would associate with “enlightened” states. I hope that makes some sort of sense. Probably not, sorry.

 

However, speculation leads to knowledge.  It’s possible that thinking enough about Enlightenment will help me become so, but only if Enlightenment is a real thing.


So, here is a spoiler alert that I find hella irritating. This is probably like saying you’re going to get in shape by thinking about exercise, or contemplating the universal human form. There is a lot of value, I think, in the ‘thinking’ part you mention - I love listening to colorful speakers because it’s like hearing a really inspiring pep talk before you hit the gym - the history of working out, the great athletes of the world, the wonder and glory and beauty in movement - I would happily just think about that forever, but again, at some point you have to actual do the practice in order to see what it does.

 
 
mookestink
 
Avatar
 
 
mookestink
Total Posts:  3
Joined  16-01-2016
 
 
 
18 January 2016 22:31
 
Niclynn - 18 January 2016 01:17 PM

[I think it’s probably true that at a subatomic level, matter doesn’t exist in the way it appears to us at our scale.

At the time of Berkeley, mind and matter were a duality.  They were the lens that materialists used to describe the world.  Berkeley excised matter, meaning that everything was mind.  Everything not perceived by a human consciousness was still perceived by an ultimate Mind, a God with infinite intelligence.  We are all ideas in the mind of God.

Niclynn - 18 January 2016 03:53 PM

This is probably like saying you’re going to get in shape by thinking about exercise, or contemplating the universal human form.

Thinking is an activity in itself, and there are ways to become better at it.  A person can become wiser by thought alone.  The big question is, is there a way to develop perfect wisdom?  Is meditating about and following the Noble Eight-fold Path a way to become Enlightened?

 
gurugeorge
 
Avatar
 
 
gurugeorge
Total Posts:  9
Joined  18-12-2015
 
 
 
19 January 2016 03:59
 
EN - 18 January 2016 03:45 AM

I’m not a Buddhist, but it seems like a very simple and doable philosophy.  It seems that it could be used in conjunction with both other religious faiths and also non-faiths - so it may be the most universally applicable philosophy out there.  But those are just my impressions.

Actually Buddhism has analogues in the West - elements of both Stoicism and Epicureanism are reminiscent of some Buddhist points.  And going back further to some of the pre-Socratics, there’s a good argument that they taught things like Mindfulness (e.g. Parmenides’ teacher reputedly taught him “silence”, the contemporary mystic and scholar Peter Kingsley has built a fairly solid argument that Parmenides’ poem basically teaches something like Mindfulness practice).

You can look at all this as a bunch of “elements” that are combined in different ways in all these philosophies - whether Buddhism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, etc., have the right combination of those elements, is obviously difficult to say for sure.

Re. the OP, you’d think he would have to be enlightened to teach the system.  Using the hackneyed “path up the mountain” analogy, you can’t teach people how to get to the top of the mountain unless you’ve been there yourself.  Or at least, anyone who followed someone’s advice who hadn’t been up the mountain, would be being rather foolish.  I suppose that’s the element of “faith” in Buddhism - you trust (based on your intuitive feel for Buddhism on encountering it) that he was enlightened, and that his plan or path is trustworthy.

 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
19 January 2016 07:04
 
mookestink - 18 January 2016 10:31 PM

]At the time of Berkeley, mind and matter were a duality.  They were the lens that materialists used to describe the world.  Berkeley excised matter, meaning that everything was mind.  Everything not perceived by a human consciousness was still perceived by an ultimate Mind, a God with infinite intelligence.  We are all ideas in the mind of God.


I may be missing some conceptual nuance here, but to me this seems to line up with the Buddhist idea of “emptiness” which I think of as something like “pure potentiality”. Although I think if you want to take the word “perceive” all the way down to that level, you’re using a different definition of “perceive” than the common usage one, although perhaps it’s still the best fit.

 

Thinking is an activity in itself, and there are ways to become better at it.  A person can become wiser by thought alone.

 


Well that’s the thing though - in my understanding, becoming better at thinking is not really the goal in meditation. It may well be a side effect, but there’s an important distinction in approach there. I think there’s a common misconception that it’s about purposely “clearing your head” and it’s not really about that either, but the instruction tends to be to watch your thoughts without becoming attached to them vs. actively “thinking” (perhaps with a few exceptions, like analytical meditation or the history of debate within some Buddhist schools.) This is on my mind after my last meditation retreat, as my experience of trying to calm the mind there reminded me a lot of the “putting a toddler to bed” meme:

 

Getting a two year old to bed who “isn’t tired” is like putting your drunk friend to bed. There’s singing to themselves. Requesting water. Mumbling. Incoherent babble. Crying. Some weird yoga poses. Hiccups. And then they pass out.

 

Getting the mind to focus on the present moment is, I think, like that. “I’m not comfortable! I need a glass of water! Now I need to go to the bathroom! Now more water! Am I in a safe environment, I need to know I’m in a safe environment, are there locks on the doors and everybody here seems nice? Are the teachers nice? Am I sure the teachers are nice? This cushion is too hard! This one is too soft! There’s all this weird Jungian shit going on in my head, I need some advice on that! I’m lonely! There are too many people here! I want lunch! Pay attention to me! That’s too much attention! Now not enough attention!...” Etc., etc., etc.


And then, at some blissful moment in the process, you find that you have all the necessary ducks in a row, and you can finally unwind and let your mind be - um, absolutely, completely bored as hell. Like seriously bored. (And at that point, you had better like your teachers and / or find something inspiring in them, because you will need it when they morph from admirable meditators with all these great qualities to the psychological version of that personal trainer you once had who bounced around behind you at the gym instructing “Keep running! You’re doing great! How about a few more reps!” and at some point you contemplated tripping them on the treadmill because you looked like a very sweaty version of the zombies from The Walking Dead and could barely breath and they were trotting along all chipper without having ever broken a sweat and you were like “WTF man?!?!”, but at least you were like “Ok, admittedly they are in very good shape” so you kept going.)


Anyways, I don’t want to be discouraging - I hope you approach it in your own way and get started in whatever way speaks to you. But I will say that you can’t stay in the abstract forever with meditation, it has to get a little more down-to-earth at some point.

 

  The big question is, is there a way to develop perfect wisdom?  Is meditating about and following the Noble Eight-fold Path a way to become Enlightened?

 

This may seem like a minor quibble but I think the distinction is actually important - I don’t think an individual person can become enlightened, I think they realize enlightened states. You become a parent, or a teacher, or a volunteer, etc.. You realize that you have brown hair, are a certain gender, are a human, etc. Similar but not identical states. Something you become, you can un-become. Something you realize doesn’t change even when you’re not aware of it.

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  8627
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
20 January 2016 11:18
 
mookestink - 18 January 2016 10:31 PM

Thinking is an activity in itself, and there are ways to become better at it.  A person can become wiser by thought alone.  The big question is, is there a way to develop perfect wisdom?  Is meditating about and following the Noble Eight-fold Path a way to become Enlightened?

“Even a good thing isn’t as good as nothing.”  -  Zen

 

 
 
mookestink
 
Avatar
 
 
mookestink
Total Posts:  3
Joined  16-01-2016
 
 
 
20 January 2016 14:37
 
Niclynn - 19 January 2016 07:04 AM

But I will say that you can’t stay in the abstract forever with meditation, it has to get a little more down-to-earth at some point.

What would it look like to be down-to-Earth after realizing Enlightenment?  Would there be any concrete differences between pre- and post- Nirvana?

 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
20 January 2016 16:12
 
mookestink - 20 January 2016 02:37 PM
Niclynn - 19 January 2016 07:04 AM

But I will say that you can’t stay in the abstract forever with meditation, it has to get a little more down-to-earth at some point.

What would it look like to be down-to-Earth after realizing Enlightenment?  Would there be any concrete differences between pre- and post- Nirvana?


Hmm. Getting “down-to-Earth after realizing Enlightenment” is pretty much the exact opposite of what I was trying to convey (that getting down-to-earth is, in some sense, the beginning of the path - or one of the beginnings.)


As far as traits of enlightenment in Buddhism, Google “Buddhism Seven Factors of Enlightenment” and that will give you a starting point as far as reading. If you’re looking for people’s personal meditative experiences, happy to share, although I would frame it in less lofty terms - if you meet a random person on a message board who claims to be an Enlightened Being, odds are good their next post will be to ask you for donations for the palace they are building for themselves in a remote and mountainous region.

 
 
SkyPanther
 
Avatar
 
 
SkyPanther
Total Posts:  91
Joined  20-01-2016
 
 
 
21 January 2016 10:18
 

I pretty much agree with Niclynn; 

However to add my own view; In the Pali Canon to be enlightened means to have removed all the taints of “Greed, Hatred, and Delusion”.  The first two are self explanatory, the third usually means “ignorance”.

And to expand that, it means ignorance in seeing reality as it is. With things like culture, traditions, rituals, genetic tendencies all clouding your vision. What the Buddha called “having dust in your eyes”.

Do I think he was enlightened?  Yes. Do I know if he was? No. But I have trust in him saying that he was, and his consequent teachings, and “trust” (or faith) is not the same thing as knowledge;  it could always be wrong.

As for Siddhartha Gautama, the historical figure, he did exist:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha#Historical_Siddh.C4.81rtha_Gautama

Unlike Jesus, there is archeological evidence of his life; he lived and died, and never claimed to be a god.

Also something I really like about Buddhists:

“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” - Dalai Lama XIV

[ Edited: 21 January 2016 10:22 by SkyPanther]
 
sojourner
 
Avatar
 
 
sojourner
Total Posts:  5970
Joined  09-11-2012
 
 
 
21 January 2016 10:42
 
SkyPanther - 21 January 2016 10:18 AM

I pretty much agree with Niclynn; 

However to add my own view; In the Pali Canon to be enlightened means to have removed all the taints of “Greed, Hatred, and Delusion”.  The first two are self explanatory, the third usually means “ignorance”.

And to expand that, it means ignorance in seeing reality as it is. With things like culture, traditions, rituals, genetic tendencies all clouding your vision. What the Buddha called “having dust in your eyes”.

Do I think he was enlightened?  Yes. Do I know if he was? No. But I have trust in him saying that he was, and his consequent teachings, and “trust” (or faith) is not the same thing as knowledge;  it could always be wrong.

As for Siddhartha Gautama, the historical figure, he did exist:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha#Historical_Siddh.C4.81rtha_Gautama

Unlike Jesus, there is archeological evidence of his life; he lived and died, and never claimed to be a god.

Also something I really like about Buddhists:

“If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.” - Dalai Lama XIV


Thanks for the post. Something that makes me uncomfortable about the concept of “enlightenment” is that I think it causes people to see enlightenment as a sort of linear goal. In my understanding, at least, it would be more likened to understanding a pre-existing concept about yourself. So just as children “kind of get” new concepts but don’t fully integrate them into understanding and seem to understand them more or less based on the occasion, I think every human must manifest some degree of enlightenment. Perhaps the Buddha just 100% “got it” in the way that children reach a stage where they fully “get” something like Piaget’s concept of conservation, or various theory of mind concepts - but I think everyone manifests the ideas involved to some degree, even if they will vary greatly in detail depending on time and place.

 
 
 1 2 3 >  Last ›