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Thread: Special reading - eight types of enlightenment

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  1. #1

    Special reading - eight types of enlightenment

    Hi Ho,

    Continuing this special series of "readings that will help in understanding Zen readings" ...

    This is something that I introduced here once before, but is well worth re-reading and understanding by all of us.

    The topic is a very clear list of "Eight Types of Enlightenment" as typically found in various forms of Buddhism over its history and currently, meaning the very different and often totally inconsistent (although sometimes overlapping) visions that various schools of Buddhism propose as the ultimate "goal" at the end of the Buddha's rainbow. Different strands of Buddhism really do have very unique ideas on this whole "Enlightenment" whatever, and anyone studying Buddhism can become tangled up in the many ways that teachers of various schools, in different books and teachings, often are proposing radically different goals and different ways to get there. Even within the Zen Schools, or even contained in the vision of a single teacher, the ideas often get mixed & matched and stuck together. Thus, it is important for students to be able to recognize where a teacher's teachings are coming from and pointing to (and neither/both coming & going), and some ability to see each of these separate, sometimes tangled threads.

    Please download and read the following [PDF]:

    http://jundotreeleaf.googlepages.com...ightenment.pdf

    The list is from a book called "The New Buddhism" by David Brazier (a book primarily on the theme of Buddhism as a model for engaged, socially conscious action ... but which also touches on other subjects such as this). What is also interesting is that Mr Brazier seems --not-- to be a Zen Practitioner (I believe he is currently a Pure Land student), and thus offers some criticisms of what he sees as the "Zen" concept(s) of Enlightenment. This will give us a chance to talk about those as well, although (of course, being from within the Zen tradition) I do not think many of his criticisms of "Zen enlightenment" are accurate. Naturally, he seems to propose a "Pure Land" concept of Enlightenment as the best.

    Despite that, I really think you will find it informative, and helpful to your practice and understanding of Buddhist books and teachings.

    As always, I emphasize ... different ways up the mountain for different mountaineers and, anyway, ultimately 'what mountain?' (though, as you may see, not everyone throughout Buddhist history might agree with that!)

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-14-2014 at 03:06 AM.

  2. #2
    Hi there - Brazier's book has been sitting on the shelf for a while - I skimmed it after reading this thread but couldn't get fully engaged as his style of writing can sometimes drift off into polemics.

    Anyway _ I decided to give it another go (partly driven by bemusement that Brazier has now set up an institute of 'Zen Therapy' in the UK and also wrote a book on Zen therapy a few years back (he writes a lot of books - I enjoyed 'The feeling Buddha'). So I was curious.

    If I'm honest - reading the rest of the book did bring up questions for me and forced me to face head on niggling doubts that I'd side stepped. I'm no way near sorting this out in my mind - but my overall impression is that although Brazier can bring up factual stuff to criticize Zen he misses at some level the spirit of Zen. He also misses the fact that most of his objections are explored - with greater eloquence - by many of the authors on our Tree Leaf reading list. As he doesn't seem to have read any of these works (he mentions Dogen once but it's easy to name drop) it's a bit like reading crib notes on Zen - but there's no real heart or experience in the writing (despite his 'dropping' into the text that he had a Zen master).

    I was wondering Jundo - if you could say a bit more about the next few chapters - (Critical Buddhism) where the concept of Buddha nature is criticised and also the co-arising version of dependent origination. Brazier's also keen to point out (within his frame) that Buddha was a dualistic and that (in his view) the Non-Dual type of enlightement is 'dangerous because it unhooks enlightenment from ethics'.

    To be honest - Zen gets a real bashing in this book (but the aim is unashamedly iconoclastic and veers towards popular writing) with a kinda apologistic 'well - Zen's got its good points and will be fine in the hands (minds) of the right individuals' (towards the end of the book.)

    But the trajectory is Pure Land - and this is where I feel the book falls into a polemic of utopian politics at the expense of a pretty shallow rendering of Zen.

    After the challenge and discomfort of reading it I simply came to the conclusion that my heart belongs to Zen.

    Gassho



    Willow

  3. #3
    Fascinating. Iíve never seen the different ideas of enlightenment laid out on a timeline and according to cultural influence. An enlightenment buffet. It gives some good insight into how and why these different ideas evolved. I now realize my vague idea of enlightenment is a stirfry of several of these tossed together. I donít worry too much about enlightenment though -- have enough on my plate with the practice. Iím glad that the Dharma is a living, growing thing. This seems natural and right to me. The way I think of Buddha, I donít think he would want his teaching frozen in time... after all his last instruction was to seek your own salvation. I think as long as we keep the 4NT and the N8FP we can't go too far astray.

    Myoshin's question is really interesting...

    I was just thinking of what the Westerners have to share with Buddhism. The author touched on the fact of enlightenment was given less importance and turned into more of a goal instead of necessity through the ages. Does this mean enlightenment will eventually be phased out of Buddhism all together? Which may or may not be a good thing.
    Thank you Jundo, I'd like to see more of these "readings to help understand readings" for us newbies!

    Gassho
    Lisa

  4. #4
    Senior Member Heion's Avatar
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    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. It is always great to have nicely-written literature.

    Gassho,
    Heion

  5. #5
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Thank you for this post. I appreciate everyone's comments on this read, and especially Jundo's. I see no difference in the filtering down, changing altering, progressing of Buddhism over time any more than other faiths and paths historically. I really agree that this doesn't make what we have in Soto Zen NOW a bad thing. I would echo with Willow that this is where my heart seems to find me.

    As far as the author, he is flippant and seems somewhat derogatory to other concepts historically, obviously building up a case for his perspective. However, in doing so he seems to be hypocritical or ignorant of his theme of "selling" Buddhism, which he himself also seems to be doing. Still it is a good read generally on the idea that there have been other ideas and a historical change over what do we exactly mean by enlightenment.

    This to me, as a newbie begs the question, and I would really like to have seen more discussion about it in this thread:

    What do WE exactly mean by enlightenment, at least as far as THIS tradition, and of what import do we place on it?

    Gassho
    C

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    What do WE exactly mean by enlightenment, at least as far as THIS tradition, and of what import do we place on it?

    Gassho
    C
    Clark, I truly feel that that is the only question we talk ... and non-talk ... about around here all day.

    Now, go sit and embody such.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Clark, I truly feel that that is the only question we talk ... and non-talk ... about around here all day.

    Now, go sit and embody such.

    Gassho, J
    You are too kind to say it but yes that was a frivolous question.
    Gassho
    C

  8. #8
    Hm, frivolous, maybe, but I had the same question after reading. Granted, I am new here, so maybe I just need to stick around and it will become clear, but I do not have a specific idea of what our teachers, each, personally, think about enlightenment. I know it doesnít matter, and we each walk the path to our own understanding. Just sit, just sit, yes. It is the practice that matters. But isnít there a time to discuss the finer points? I admit, I enjoy the discussion of these things far too much, and maybe it is distracting and frivolous. Donít know.

    Gassho
    Lisa

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Hm, frivolous, maybe, but I had the same question after reading. Granted, I am new here, so maybe I just need to stick around and it will become clear, but I do not have a specific idea of what our teachers, each, personally, think about enlightenment. I know it doesn’t matter, and we each walk the path to our own understanding. Just sit, just sit, yes. It is the practice that matters. But isn’t there a time to discuss the finer points? I admit, I enjoy the discussion of these things far too much, and maybe it is distracting and frivolous. Don’t know.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    Hi Lisa,

    My bedtime now, but we recently had this chat.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post129581

    Hard to define some of this. One can describe "Strawberry Pie" in words, but such is better backed and tasted. Well, "Enlightenment" is better realized (pierced) and realized (lived and made real in life).

    This is rather long and says not much ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post39386

    Anyway, night.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  10. #10
    Yes Teacher, I understand.


    P.S. About that ďHow to attain enlightenmentĒ thread... I thought the original posting was brilliant. But the thread quickly goes off into another direction, which, although very educational and worthy in it's own right, sort of left behind the original idea. I wonder if a repost in a new thread would be of benefit to allow a fresh look? I donít want to re-write history or anything, just think the original post got lost. I say this with all respect to the posters on that thread.


    Gassho
    Lisa

  11. #11
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    I hope you don't mind, but this is so perfect I want to re-post it here:

    Jundo's words and certainly not mine, but certainly great. I think iI should print this and frame it on my wall.

    Gassho
    C


    The following is important, so BOLDFACE and UNDERLINE ...

    Different folks approach and define all this in their own way. In our Soto View, some folks way way way overvalue an experience of timelessly momentary "Kensho" ... as the be all and end all (beyond being or ending) of "Enlightenment" ... and chase after it like some gold ring on the merry go round. For Soto folks, that is like missing the point of the trip. For Soto Folks, when we realize such ... every moment of the Buddha-Bus trip, the scenery out the windows (both what we encounter as beautiful and what appears ugly), the moments of good health and moments of passing illness, the highway, the seats and windows, all the other passengers on the Bus who appear to be riding with us, when we board and someday when we are let off ... the whole Trip ... is all the Buddha-Bus, all Enlightenment and Kensho, all the "destination" beyond "coming" or "going" or "getting there", when realized as such (Kensho). This ride is what we make it.

    Most folks just don't pierce that fact and are lost in delusion about the Nature of the trip. Most sentient being "passengers" on this ride just don't realize that, feeling homesick, car sick, separated from all the other passengers, revolted or attracted to what they see ... filling the whole trip with thoughts of greed and anger, spoiling the journey, making a mess of the bus and harming themselves and the other riders, unhappy until they get to the "promised destination" somewhere down the road. They may even get to the Grand Canyon, snap a picture and buy a sovenier, then wonder "is that all it is"?

    That is why many Soto folks, like Sawaki Roshi above, think "Kensho Schmensho" ... running after some timelessly momentary fireworky experience of "Kensho" is not True "Grocking the Nature" Buddha-Bus Kensho. He says ...

    You want to become a buddha? There’s no need to become a buddha! Now is simply now. You are simply you. And tell me, since you want to leave the place where you are,where is it exactly you want to go?
    Zazen means just sitting without even thinking of becoming buddha.
    We don’t achieve satori through practice: practice is satori. Each and every step is the goal.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  12. #12
    Hi,

    I was too tired and lazy, maybe two fast to speak. But, as Katagiri Roshi used to say about such questions, "Ya Gotta Say Something!". So, below again, my best effort from another thread today. Please have a look:

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...l=1#post130111

    Nobody can describe what must be tasted and is ultimately beyond words. Even the greatest poet cannot describe "love", but they never quit trying. What is more, one does not merely talk about love ... nor simply feel love (although that is vital), for one must also LIVE LOVE, and bring it to life by being in love and living a relationship. So it is with this so-called "Enlightenment" ... not just an idea, not just a feeling (although vital), but to be brought to life and lived.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  13. #13
    Jundo,

    Yes, you know, thinking about it, I realize (for the zillionth time) that I am full of beans, as my Mom would say. I don’t care about enlightenment. I usually don’t think much about enlightenment or daydream about it or wish for it. There was a time when I did, but not for a long time now. My interest now is bringing the practice to life and living it, as you say.


    However! My brain likes to discuss things like this. My brain loves words and putting together words and finding just the right word. My brain likes chewing on ideas and parsing them out and testing them for logic, truth or meaning. My brain and my ego like doing what they are good at. And it’s just a habit -- part of my illusion of self -- that “I” like to discuss stuff like this. Ideas, views, philosophies, bla, bla, bla, who cares? Who or what is it that cares? Why am I talking about something that’s not even important to me? Because it’s fun, because there are a lot of smart interesting folks here with interesting things for my brain to chew on. The answer, duh, is in my own post earlier. Frivolous and distracting. (Bla bla bla me me me )


    Thank you Teacher, I am happy to realize (again) that I am a fool, and grateful for your kind patience.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    Last edited by raindrop; 06-19-2014 at 07:28 AM.

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