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BeyondTheRim

What is enlightenment? My take. What's yours?

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What is enlightenment? My take. What's yours?

The meaning of enlightenment takes on different meaning dependent on context. That is in line with my current understanding. The western or European context originates back to the Greeks. Enlightenment is knowledge and insight through the correct application of reasoning to any question.

During the 18th century an 'Era of Enlightenment', a philosophy that originated Europe with an emphasis on the betterment of humanity to create an enlightened society. Such a knowledge quest was attempted in both secular and religious matters. One of the secular flavor is science which used the applied logic of induction and deduction. A religious flavor lead to Deism a more radical approach to Christianity with such questions as "Question the very existence of God...."  This is the western definition of enlightenment.

The eastern philosophy treats enlightenment as a state of being, not a philosophy. It is a state of being of mind, body and spirit notable for the absence of desire or suffering. It is treated it as a final permanent state. I've come across of differing opinions as to it being in the moment an all, but that doesn't quite jive. That sounds like when 'you're in the zone'. That is more of a highly focused moment than a state of being. I've been in the zone before and can enter the zone at will most of the time. But it is ultimately a draining experience. Further study revealed that part of the confusion lies in translation. No shock there. Some words are difficult to translate as they need context to more fully understand. Believe it or not, you can learn a lot through watching foreign kung fu movies. Especially the dubbed ones. You actually start to pick up words and the various mistranslated ones. I guess another dimension to words is pitch and intonation, which can radically alter how a word is perceived. That is difficult to express in written languages. Some languages use extra marks for this purpose, but what about early languages.

Further study and keep in mind I'm no Buddhist, just curious and have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, lead me to Buddhism and the four truths.

1. Life is suffering. Easy. "Life is not all gum drops and lollipops." Questions that naturally arises from this is: Why? As was put in one article. We don't understand the true nature of things. How are things interconnected? How does this 'machination' work? If you dwell upon it a little: What do you know? What do you think you know? What do you need to know that you don't know? For this solid reality to exist, of course there are underlying mechanisms that glue it all together. A single particle missing could have devastating consequences. Just look at how physics of the small has changed. New theories every day because? One thing outta place ruins it. Yeh, I kinda get that things are connected. Been self studying that for decades. 'I' is just a piece of the machine, philosophically speaking.

2. The reasons for our suffering. A better translation might be. Why does it feel at times like I'm missing something or something is not quite right. There is so much chaos where the chains of actions and reactions, including mine sometimes, are not logical and don't make sense. You know, I designed a ship for myself and forgot to include myself in the calculations. The ship was too heavy on liftoff. I forgot I am a part of the machine/experience. That is why you feel uneasy. The reason for your suffering. You're not just an observer, you're a participant and maybe even a gear. Navigating life is sometime like hunting yourself and not shooting yourself.

3. it is possible to end suffering. To achieve this is to recognize that you are a part of this machine/experience. You recognize that I gives rise to the notion that I am not a part of the machine. False, because YOU ARE part of the machine.  Sounds a little like the Borg collective, but its not. I strive to be my own devils advocate when absorbing my observations at the end of the day to give me more perspective and it helps to filter this out.. This often does make me pause a little before I form an opinion. If you ever get into a heated argument or 'better yet' watching a heated debate, try to find the flaws in BOTH sides. Then try to find the strengths in BOTH sides. Then look for other outside forces that are influencing BOTH sides. Tell me it doesn't start to feel like kindergarten, the adult version.

I think I have at times reached the boundary of nirvana while meditating. I can only describe it as being. Not like the Zen-like "An ocean with no ripples." No. Just being. 'I' becomes everything. Don't try to visualize this as that is not what I mean. It's not a visualization.

4.  Supposed to represent a set of rules and methods to achieve a permanent state of nirvana. I've heard its called the Eight-fold Path. I haven't had time to look into, research and digest this. I might in the future. Please feel free to expand on this subject if you can. I think the 'antidote' is unique to each individual. Similar in nature to:

We all need air, water, shelter. But, our diets and exercise regimes WILL vary due to many factors. Pretty much how I choose to live.

I'll just follow my Eyes Wide Open philosophy.

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I have heard it said that samadhi (sometimes translates as absorption) is enlightenment. This is a state of consciousness where you feel “at one” with everything.  

I have also heard it said that samadhi is often mistaken for enlightenment but actually it is not enlightenment.

In the Maslow hierarchy, Maslow placed “self-actualization” as the peak of his pyramid (depending on the version).   But I think I can say with confidence that self-actualization is not enlightenment.

In eastern religion, especially Hinduism, “self-realization” is considered a peak of experience, if not enlightenment.  In the state of samadhi, you realize that Atman is Brahman and you realize the Oneness of everything.  But I think I can say with confidence that self-realization is not enlightenment.

I do not claim to be enlightened, and I can’t say for sure what enlightenment is, but I think enlightenment is not a destination but a process.   Every time you learn something new, you become a little more enlightened. It starts when you first start to understand the world and first start to understand yourself or others  And it ends when you completely understand all of your own motivations, the motivations of other people, and understand how the whole universe works.  In other words, it never ends.

Edited by Scot

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