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 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2008, 12:46 
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The reason that I think it's a false accolade, is because superiority (often resulting in monetary compensation) is generally attached to it.


Which completely seems incompatable with my concept of a resulting desire to make the world a 'better' place.

During infertility treatments, I likened what Hex and I went through as finding a door we didn't know existed and going through it into a hell we didn't know existed. We went deeply enough into that room to open other doors we didn't know existed and peek through. We chose not to enter them, but could see more doors through the crowds in those hells.

This experience has let us know that there are many many doors and many many hells we are never capable of seeing in our little lives, and, I guess, we are now 'enlightened' enough to adjust our worldview accordningly.

I wonder if 'enlightenment' is merely shining a light in your little hell to see the doors, and possibly glimpsing through them.

(sorry for the negative outlook. But I have seen no 'heaven' rooms)

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 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 07 Apr 2008, 00:34 
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jess wrote:
Personally, if feel that if enlightenment (which I feel is temporary, or would lead to madness) is 'unproductive', then it's not much different than elightenment as a result of indulging in mind altering drugs.

Would you mind explaining the bold bit?

HavenMage wrote:
This is one of the reasons that I also agree with Jess: enlightenment is temporary. We are never completely enlightened. There is always some new enlightenment to achieve.

I think the word you are looking for is limitless or boundless.


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 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 07 Apr 2008, 13:05 
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Apsu wrote:
I really like your understanding of it as deliberate living. I also like Jess's as being a loss of self. I don't disagree with either of them. To me, both deliberate living and loss of self imply removing the mask with which we hide behind. However, the master or expert part is where I suddenly disagree because of the parts that I see the mask composed of. To me the basic element of the mask is fear. However we also hide fear behind self-importance and self-pity. Without self-importance, one (to my mind) would not accept the praise of being a master of anything, or what seems to me to be the common next steps of gathering followers, accepting monetary payment for their spiritual teachings or blessings, and in other ways asserting their superiority over others. An enlightened person (again to my understanding) would teach by example, and hope to empower others through not taking away their personal sovereignty, freedom, or money. A person would be on their own to learn from such a person's example as they would not be encouraging followers, preaching their truth as the "one" truth, and spending their time lecturing others on the path instead of living it.

Again, I understand the way you and Jess have described the state of enlightenment, and don't disagree with it. The reason that I think it's a false accolade, is because superiority (often resulting in monetary compensation) is generally attached to it. They are corrupting influences in my opinion. Seeing it as the spirit, it is simple, something everyone has access to if they desire it without waiting for god above to bestow it upon them, without paying large amounts of money for workshops and retreats, and without relying on an authority figure to say that you've found it. Like Sam Harris in the other thread admitting that you might find there is more to your consciousness if you actually took the time to do the work, the spirit is free and accessible to anyone. Those who reach it are no better or filled with anything that the rest of us aren't, and the rewards they receive for the work are in my mind far more valuable than human veneration or getting rich.

To get off the high-horse of my usage of the word, and to try to honestly look at yours, you said "whereas I’m using it to refer to the extent to which this potential has been realised". Is this extent measurable? I think of it as a path, not an ultimate result, so I do understand that one can be at different places along the path. Still, there is no physical road map, so how does one define how far along the path one is compared to others? Here again we're faced with the idea of superiority, i.e. am I further along the path than you, should you be following me because I have already walked through here or here or here, is the guru at whose feet I kneel standing upon the peak while I am wandering lost along the base of the mountain, etc. It doesn't seem to me to do any good to spend my time looking about for others on the path, to be comparing my progress to theirs, when I should be keeping my eyes to the ground before me, actually walking the path. So perhaps you could tell me of the value of this measurement, how one goes about taking it, where I might be misunderstanding concerning ideas of self-importance, or maybe why that doesn't matter.

I’m glad you’ve brought this up. I’m in the process of going down the ‘guru’ path, so I’m very interested in your objections. I will attempt to explain it the way I have come to understand it and welcome further criticism. The way I see it, it lies somewhere between the approach that you are railing against and the one that you are advocating.

I will start with the question of measurability. I don’t think that enlightenment can be expressed quantitatively, only qualitatively. We can examine our reaction to a set of circumstances and compare it to another person’s reaction to similar circumstances to decide which of the two is more enlightened (functional), even if we may lack objective units of measurement with which to express it. This is the value of looking for others on the path. On the one hand, we might find people who live their lives in ways that we wished we could live ours. Exposure to them broadens our horizons to possibilities that we may not have conceived of before. Interaction with them gives us tools with which to realise these possibilities. On the other hand, we may find people whose lives are more dysfunctional than ours. This enables us to help them on their journey if they so desire, as others have helped us.

An analogy with other skills may help. A person who has spent years perfecting her violin-playing skills makes for a better violin player than a person who’s only been at it for a few months, who still plays violin better than a complete novice, even if their talents are all the same. We might not be able to quantify the difference, but we can nevertheless ascertain that it exists. If both the novice and the more experienced musician recognise the difference and wish to help the novice improve his quality of play, then their association is of mutual benefit. The goal of the association is to help the novice master the skill of playing the violin to his satisfaction, not necessarily the same as the more experienced musician.

To answer your question “How does one define how far along the path one is compared to others?”, it is a subjective evaluation. The question can be rephrased to “Has another person made progress along his path that I wish I had made along mine?”. If so, then it is correct and instructive to acknowledge that his progress is superior to mine, at least in this particular respect if not overall. However, it doesn’t follow that I cannot make the same progress, that I have to make the same progress, or that I need his help to do so (though it may take me longer without it). It certainly doesn’t follow that he is a superior human being by virtue of being further along his path.

On the subject of praise, I don’t see a problem with it. At its core, it is no different from praising an accomplished violin player for an outstanding performance. It is when praise turns to worship that problems arise. The trick is not to turn admiration into a perceived difference in value or an unreachable ideal.

Regarding material compensation for one’s teachings, it makes sense to me to the extent that it facilitates those teachings. In the absence of payment, the would-be teacher has no choice but to earn income in other ways, which requires investment of time and effort and takes away from the teaching. Payment is a way of stating that the teacher’s services are sufficiently valued not to require her to contribute to society in other ways as well in order to earn a living. The pursuit of wealth, on the other hand, detracts from the teaching. It constitutes misuse of the relationship and is therefore undesirable.

I see fear as one of the two basic elements of the mask. The other is ignorance. We often lack the courage to do what we know should be done. However, we often also lack the knowledge of what it is that we should do. Learning what to do is something that more knowledgeable people can help us with. Learning how to discover for ourselves what it is that we should do is even better. This is the task that I’ve set for myself. :)


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 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 11 Apr 2008, 22:29 
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Hey Hrvoje,

Sorry for the long time between posts. I haven't had the time to type out my thoughts, but your post has been on my mind, and I've read over it a couple of times since you posted.

First of all, I don't intend to criticize your path in a personal way. I appreciate a diversity of views and paths and only meant to speak my thoughts on the abstract idea of enlightenment.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
I will start with the question of measurability. I don’t think that enlightenment can be expressed quantitatively, only qualitatively. We can examine our reaction to a set of circumstances and compare it to another person’s reaction to similar circumstances to decide which of the two is more enlightened (functional), even if we may lack objective units of measurement with which to express it. This is the value of looking for others on the path. On the one hand, we might find people who live their lives in ways that we wished we could live ours. Exposure to them broadens our horizons to possibilities that we may not have conceived of before. Interaction with them gives us tools with which to realise these possibilities. On the other hand, we may find people whose lives are more dysfunctional than ours. This enables us to help them on their journey if they so desire, as others have helped us.


I completely agree with what I've quoted above. I wouldn't get very far if I didn't. There is wisdom in learning from other's virtues and faults. I would explain why this is different than what I criticized about the term enlightenment, but I think I wrote that pretty thoroughly in my previous post, so I don't want to just repeat myself.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
An analogy with other skills may help. A person who has spent years perfecting her violin-playing skills makes for a better violin player than a person who’s only been at it for a few months, who still plays violin better than a complete novice, even if their talents are all the same. We might not be able to quantify the difference, but we can nevertheless ascertain that it exists. If both the novice and the more experienced musician recognise the difference and wish to help the novice improve his quality of play, then their association is of mutual benefit. The goal of the association is to help the novice master the skill of playing the violin to his satisfaction, not necessarily the same as the more experienced musician.


Again, I don't disagree.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
To answer your question “How does one define how far along the path one is compared to others?”, it is a subjective evaluation. The question can be rephrased to “Has another person made progress along his path that I wish I had made along mine?”. If so, then it is correct and instructive to acknowledge that his progress is superior to mine, at least in this particular respect if not overall. However, it doesn’t follow that I cannot make the same progress, that I have to make the same progress, or that I need his help to do so (though it may take me longer without it). It certainly doesn’t follow that he is a superior human being by virtue of being further along his path.


Yep, I'm still with you.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
On the subject of praise, I don’t see a problem with it. At its core, it is no different from praising an accomplished violin player for an outstanding performance. It is when praise turns to worship that problems arise. The trick is not to turn admiration into a perceived difference in value or an unreachable ideal.


Well, I wasn't really criticizing praise. I like to be patted on the back as much as the next guy. I just don't want to be called a master of anything. You called enlightenment the act of constantly living life in a deliberate manner. The universe, especially when one takes into account the realms of spiritual activity, is an endless place to explore and learn. One can never master that, because to claim mastery over it you would need to stop moving to the next step in order to turn around and declare it. At least on my path, there never will be a final step where I may turn around and declare I am now master of this and begin collecting followers, worshipers, or donations. I call it a path for a reason; I'm not looking for an end goal. Of course, as I said, I agree with what you said above, that it is useful to find others walking the path to learn from them, and it is good to give a brother a hand when you seem him on the road, but that doesn't make me a master of anything. And particularly, if I have done my job well in offering my brother a hand, then he will then be walking beside me, and he's free to stop and turn around and tell others how to get where he's reached. But I'm not going to stop with him. I'm going to continue walking it.


Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
Regarding material compensation for one’s teachings, it makes sense to me to the extent that it facilitates those teachings. In the absence of payment, the would-be teacher has no choice but to earn income in other ways, which requires investment of time and effort and takes away from the teaching. Payment is a way of stating that the teacher’s services are sufficiently valued not to require her to contribute to society in other ways as well in order to earn a living. The pursuit of wealth, on the other hand, detracts from the teaching. It constitutes misuse of the relationship and is therefore undesirable.


This is where I find myself often in disagreement with others. Money, political power, and things of that sort have proven themselves to me to be corrupting influences on any "spiritual" path. It's a simple principle of mine that I'll listen to any discipline's thought until they start asking for money from me or anyone else. At that point I generally stop listening. Of course, whenever I express this in any kind of "spiritual" circle, there is generally an immediate uproar against what I've said, so I'm definitely in the minority here and respect that what you say is the more generally accepted principle. Personally I've found wisdom in the poorest of people, in libraries where the knowledge is free, in the wilderness among people without any money at all, and among the homeless in various cities. I don't need to pay for teachings along my path, and I don't recommend that anyone else pay for them either. I've walked this path throughout my life, and I'm happy to die without any material possessions at all.

Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
I see fear as one of the two basic elements of the mask. The other is ignorance. We often lack the courage to do what we know should be done. However, we often also lack the knowledge of what it is that we should do. Learning what to do is something that more knowledgeable people can help us with. Learning how to discover for ourselves what it is that we should do is even better. This is the task that I’ve set for myself.


I can respect that :)


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 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 11 Apr 2008, 22:51 
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Joined: 31 Oct 2007, 18:47
Posts: 194
Location: Colorado
jess wrote:
Quote:
The reason that I think it's a false accolade, is because superiority (often resulting in monetary compensation) is generally attached to it.

Which completely seems incompatable with my concept of a resulting desire to make the world a 'better' place.


I'm not sure that I'm understanding what you're saying here correctly or not, so please forgive me if my response is out of the spirit of your post. Does the desire to make the world a better place make one superior, make one think of oneself as superior, mean that one has a superior idea, or what? I mean there are many people and organizations who are working from a spirit of trying to make the world a better place. I doubt any of us would agree with them all. I don't think I need to go into ideas of intended genocide and other horrors (not to mention smaller groups with more "benign" intentions) done with the intent to make the world a better place to make my point, so I'm probably just misunderstanding you.

jess wrote:
During infertility treatments, I likened what Hex and I went through as finding a door we didn't know existed and going through it into a hell we didn't know existed. We went deeply enough into that room to open other doors we didn't know existed and peek through. We chose not to enter them, but could see more doors through the crowds in those hells.

This experience has let us know that there are many many doors and many many hells we are never capable of seeing in our little lives, and, I guess, we are now 'enlightened' enough to adjust our worldview accordningly.

I wonder if 'enlightenment' is merely shining a light in your little hell to see the doors, and possibly glimpsing through them.

(sorry for the negative outlook. But I have seen no 'heaven' rooms)


It sounds like you're saying that you learned from a difficult experience. Is enlightenment what you are wondering here that it is? I don't know. I already said that I think it's a false accolade. So I don't mind it being called it whatever you like. Taking what you're saying to mean that one can learn by looking at reality for what it actually is, I can agree with it. Again, maybe I'm misunderstanding.


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 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 14 Apr 2008, 01:26 
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Apsu wrote:
First of all, I don't intend to criticize your path in a personal way. I appreciate a diversity of views and paths and only meant to speak my thoughts on the abstract idea of enlightenment.

No worries. I appreciate constructive criticism, personal or otherwise.

Apsu wrote:
Well, I wasn't really criticizing praise. I like to be patted on the back as much as the next guy. I just don't want to be called a master of anything. You called enlightenment the act of constantly living life in a deliberate manner. The universe, especially when one takes into account the realms of spiritual activity, is an endless place to explore and learn. One can never master that, because to claim mastery over it you would need to stop moving to the next step in order to turn around and declare it. At least on my path, there never will be a final step where I may turn around and declare I am now master of this and begin collecting followers, worshipers, or donations. I call it a path for a reason; I'm not looking for an end goal. Of course, as I said, I agree with what you said above, that it is useful to find others walking the path to learn from them, and it is good to give a brother a hand when you seem him on the road, but that doesn't make me a master of anything. And particularly, if I have done my job well in offering my brother a hand, then he will then be walking beside me, and he's free to stop and turn around and tell others how to get where he's reached. But I'm not going to stop with him. I'm going to continue walking it.

I also mentioned that I see enlightenment as a matter of degree. This means that we can recognise the progress that we have made, even see ourselves as enlightened, without implying that we have reached the end of the road.

Apsu wrote:
This is where I find myself often in disagreement with others. Money, political power, and things of that sort have proven themselves to me to be corrupting influences on any "spiritual" path. It's a simple principle of mine that I'll listen to any discipline's thought until they start asking for money from me or anyone else. At that point I generally stop listening. Of course, whenever I express this in any kind of "spiritual" circle, there is generally an immediate uproar against what I've said, so I'm definitely in the minority here and respect that what you say is the more generally accepted principle. Personally I've found wisdom in the poorest of people, in libraries where the knowledge is free, in the wilderness among people without any money at all, and among the homeless in various cities. I don't need to pay for teachings along my path, and I don't recommend that anyone else pay for them either. I've walked this path throughout my life, and I'm happy to die without any material possessions at all.

My thoughts on this are not too dissimilar from yours. I’m also reluctant to go on seminars or workshops in an effort to pursue spiritual growth, though this might have more to do with my distrust of the approach than with the financial considerations that are invariably associated with it. A lot of the insights that I’ve adopted originate from books and have been verified through nothing more than mindfulness of daily experience. On the other hand, I have attended two sessions with a medium and paid for her services. My sister has gone for a number of sessions with a “psychologist” (really a life coach with a spiritual bend) and paid for them. We both recognise that, if the services of these people were not financially rewarded, they would most probably not be available because the people in question would be preoccupied doing something else.

I’m curious what kind of service you consider to be worth financial reward.


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 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 15 Apr 2008, 01:20 
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Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
I’m curious what kind of service you consider to be worth financial reward.


It's not a matter of value. As I said, I just see them as corrupting influences on "spiritual" disciplines. I can't think of any other product or service that I would balk at myself or others paying for.


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