The Round Table (Rational Pagans Forum)

Science & The Supernatural: A Discussion of the World Around us - Based on Science with an Interest in the Supernatural ...
It is currently 25 Jun 2017, 17:28

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Forum rules


Please note: Discussion here should be relatively civil. Attack the post, not the poster. Thanks!



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2008, 01:08 
Offline
First Circle Initiate
User avatar

Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 09:42
Posts: 152
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Could you please share your thoughts on what it means to be enlightened? How does one know whether one is enlightened or not? How can others tell?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 03 Apr 2008, 11:16 
Offline
Grand Poobah
User avatar

Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY
I am so tempted to do the cliche: if you think you are enlightened, you aren't.

I'm not sure it's possible to 'know', but then, I've argued that most 'spiritual' sexperiences are really 'sunsual' experiences.

I'm interested in feedback from others...

_________________
Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2008, 07:07 
Offline
Neighbor of the Beast

Joined: 03 Nov 2007, 09:17
Posts: 667
I do not see enlightenment as a state that one achieves in reality as a goal one strives for, at least not as a totality. One may be enlightened in a limited sense, for a limited time, with regards to a limited experience.

Most people who achieve this level of enlightenment may not be consciously aware of it, though they may feel confident, strong, and centered while in said condition. They may feel that everything is going right and that life is at a high point.

We perceive enlightenment in others in the same way that we perceive "coolness" or "grace". We think that a person has achieved a state of enlightenment because of something that they say or do, or some unconscious sense tells us that they have. Whether we are right or not is less relevant than whether we think we are right or not.

Belief is a powerful force.

In my (not so) humble opinion.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2008, 10:03 
Offline
Grand High Lord Admiral of Hell
User avatar

Joined: 10 Sep 2007, 13:14
Posts: 5726
Location: Buffalo, NY
HavenMage wrote:
Most people who achieve this level of enlightenment may not be consciously aware of it, though they may feel confident, strong, and centered while in said condition. They may feel that everything is going right and that life is at a high point.


Interesting observation. I've always thought of it more like it was a point of coming to an 'understanding' of how the world works, your place in it, and how you navigate it from there. The best term I can think of is Heinlein's 'grok'.

But, it would fit with your assessment, to a point; confident, strong and centered. I get the feeling though that the Buddha didn't necessarily see 'everything going right and being at a high point'. Yes, he's supposed to have grokked the world, but while for him, he could navigate it, he found that having so many people 'unenlightened' meant that he now saw the world for all it's suffering.

I'd not see that as a high point ... :?

_________________
If you can't stand the heat, don't tickle the dragon ...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2008, 11:01 
Offline
Grand Poobah
User avatar

Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY
I guess we should settle on a definition for 'enlightened' then.

Because I keep coming back to the spirtual/sensual thing in my own head...

People seem to think that spiritual things are good and sensual things are bad . But I've seen and experienced and heard people talk about things that seem to make sensual things lead to 'enlightenment' more than spirtual things do... In My Opinion.

Quote:
Main Entry: en·light·en·ment
Pronunciation: \in-ˈlī-tən-mənt, en-\
Function: noun
Date: 1654
1: the act or means of enlightening : the state of being enlightened
2capitalized : a philosophic movement of the 18th century marked by a rejection of traditional social, religious, and political ideas and an emphasis on rationalism —used with the
3Buddhism : a final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering


Quote:
Main Entry: 1spir·i·tu·al
Pronunciation: \ˈspir-i-chə-wəl, -i-chəl, -ich-wəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French espirital, spiritual, from Late Latin spiritualis, from Latin, of breathing, of wind, from spiritus
Date: 14th century
1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal <spiritual needs>
2 a: of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b: ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>
3: concerned with religious values
4: related or joined in spirit <our spiritual home> <his spiritual heir>
5 a: of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena b: of, relating to, or involving


Quote:
Main Entry: sen·su·al
Pronunciation: \ˈsen(t)-sh(ə-)wəl, -shəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin sensualis, from Latin sensus sense
Date: 15th century
1: relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite : fleshly
2: sensory 1
3 a: devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites b: voluptuous c: deficient in moral, spiritual, or intellectual interests : worldly; especially : irreligious


you see--- right there--- deficient in moral, spiritual, or intellectual interests . I don't get it.

Enlightenment--- defined as the moment you percieve your lack of being, your lack of identity where you become one with the universe, seems so difficult to acheive in a spiritual way--- you starve and suffer and stay awake and deny your body. And yet, indulging in the sensual, in music, in food, in sex, can lift youo to heights that can blow you away.

I'm specifically thinking of 'sub space', a place that people into bdsm strive for and acheive on a regular basis. It's the norm, and a main reason for the appeal.

Quote:
Subspace (also sub space, headspace, flying, or floating), in the context of a BDSM scene, is the psychological state of the submissive partner. The term is unrelated to the mathematical term subspace.

Subspace is a metaphor for the state the submissive's minds and bodies are in during a deeply involving play scene. Many types of BDSM play invoke strong physical responses. The mental aspect of BDSM also causes many submissives to mentally separate themselves from their environment as they process the experience. Deep subspace is often characterized as a state of deep recession and incoherence. Deep subspace may also cause a danger in newer submissives who are unfamiliar with the experience, and require the dominant to keep a careful watch to ensure the submissive isn't placing him or herself in danger. Many submissives require aftercare.


Physiological Processes
During the scene, the intense experiences of both pain and pleasure trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, which causes a release of epinephrine from the suprarenal glands, as well as a dump of endorphins and enkephalins. These natural chemicals, part of the fight or flight response produce the same effect as a morphine-like drug, increasing the pain tolerance of the submissive as the scene becomes more intense. Producing a sort of trance-like state due to the increase of hormones and chemicals, the submissive starts to feel out-of-body, detached from reality, and as the high comes down, and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, a deep exhaustion, as well as incoherence. Many submissives once reaching a height of subspace will lose all sensation of pain, as any stimulus causes the period to prolong.



But, because it's indulging in the phyical, it seems 'cheaper'.

I guess, on a huge level, moderation is the way to blindness--- indulging and abstaining are the paths to 'enlightenment'.

_________________
Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2008, 11:57 
Offline
Grand Poobah
User avatar

Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY
now, peaceful, is a different thing.

I was realizing that 'enlightenment' seems temporary, but 'peace' can be lo9ngterm and people can 'see' it.

_________________
Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2008, 16:56 
Offline
First Circle Initiate
User avatar

Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 09:42
Posts: 152
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
jess wrote:
I am so tempted to do the cliche: if you think you are enlightened, you aren't.

This cliché makes very little sense to me. It essentially equates enlightenment with ignorance.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2008, 17:15 
Offline
First Circle Initiate
User avatar

Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 09:42
Posts: 152
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Hex wrote:
I've always thought of it more like it was a point of coming to an 'understanding' of how the world works, your place in it, and how you navigate it from there. The best term I can think of is Heinlein's 'grok'.

This is pretty much what I had in mind as well. This is what I posted at IIDB some time ago:

Quote:
If I were to summarise my understanding of enlightenment in a single statement, I would say that it amounts to the ability to constantly live one’s life in a deliberate manner.

Expanding this a bit, I see it drawing on the following:
1) The knowledge of which goals are worthwhile
2) The courage and strength of conviction to pursue these goals
3) The awareness of one’s conduct
4) The ability to identify the consequences of one’s conduct
5) The ability to evaluate the desirability of these consequences with respect to the stated goals

I wouldn’t classify people as enlightened or non-enlightened. I see enlightenment as a matter of degree, perhaps because I haven’t had a definite eureka moment that has given rise to this kind of transition.

Expanding on this a bit, I see complete/perfect enlightenment as knowing the most desirable goals, knowing the choices that are best aligned with these goals, and making these choices at every opportunity.

I just wanted to check how similar it was to other people’s ideas.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 04 Apr 2008, 17:23 
Offline
First Circle Initiate
User avatar

Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 09:42
Posts: 152
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
jess wrote:
you see--- right there--- deficient in moral, spiritual, or intellectual interests . I don't get it.

I don’t get it either. I’ve always seen the term as positive, much the same way that ‘intellectual’ doesn’t mean “deficient in moral, spiritual, or sensual interests”. Capability in one domain doesn’t imply deficiency in others or lack of balance.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2008, 09:02 
Offline
Neighbor of the Beast

Joined: 03 Nov 2007, 09:17
Posts: 667
I believe the issue of deficiency in sensuality derives from aesthetic philosophies which teach the achievement of intellectual and/or spiritual heights by denying the body. I am not saying they are right; just that it is what some of them teach.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 05 Apr 2008, 12:25 
Offline
First Circle Initiate

Joined: 31 Oct 2007, 18:47
Posts: 194
Location: Colorado
I've sort of come to see it as a false accolade in recent times. Something which one never becomes because one already is. It's simply a matter of removing the masks which we hide it behind. I don't really like the term, because it seems to me to give a person some sort of power over others, to make one a master of something, and even make that person worthy of some sort of monetary stipend. I'm not interested in being a master of anything; a person who is enlightened is still just a person, living a life as we all are. I see the people around me as enlightened. I see the animals and vegetation as enlightened. Every living creature has it, as the light is the spirit, and its always there, just behind the mask.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2008, 09:12 
Offline
First Circle Initiate
User avatar

Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 09:42
Posts: 152
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Apsu wrote:
I've sort of come to see it as a false accolade in recent times. Something which one never becomes because one already is. It's simply a matter of removing the masks which we hide it behind. I don't really like the term, because it seems to me to give a person some sort of power over others, to make one a master of something, and even make that person worthy of some sort of monetary stipend. I'm not interested in being a master of anything; a person who is enlightened is still just a person, living a life as we all are. I see the people around me as enlightened. I see the animals and vegetation as enlightened. Every living creature has it, as the light is the spirit, and its always there, just behind the mask.

It seems to me that you are using the term to refer to one’s true nature or potential, whereas I’m using it to refer to the extent to which this potential has been realised. I do think it’s a mastery of sorts, a mastery of deliberate living. Perhaps you would find the term ‘expert’ more suitable?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2008, 09:38 
Offline
Grand Poobah
User avatar

Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY
I guess, to me, enlightenment is a realization that we are part of a whole, not merely individuals on our own.

It's a loss of self.

I've noticed that a great deal of problems Christians have with that sort of belief is the loss of identity. They want to stay intact, which strikes me as a caterpillar wanting to stay a larvae. I've also noticed a great deal of Christians seem to feel that 'enlightenment' is a Devil's Tool to trick people away from God (tm).

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.

If as a result of becoming enlightened, you try to make a difference in the world, no matter how small, then In My Opinion, you have achieved something.

So, In My Opinion, 'enlightenment' I guess would be as simple as growing up and growing less selfish.

So, I'm not in the same ballpark as you at all! ;)

_________________
Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2008, 10:21 
Offline
Neighbor of the Beast

Joined: 03 Nov 2007, 09:17
Posts: 667
Interesting thoughts.

I have always felt that Enlightenment is a personal issue. What it means to be enlightened is different for different people. An "enlightened" Buddhist would be free of "desire" as the faith propounds. An "enlightened" Christian (at least in some varieties) would feel the constant presence of Christ in their lives. An "enlightened" pagan (again, depending on the flavor) might feel the ebb and flow of nature in the world around him or her.

I also stand by my previous statement on how one knows one is enlightened, though I will expand it as well. One might feel as I stated, or also feel as Hex stated. I suppose it all goes back to what you think "Enlightenment" is.

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.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: What Is Enlightment?
PostPosted: 06 Apr 2008, 12:12 
Offline
First Circle Initiate

Joined: 31 Oct 2007, 18:47
Posts: 194
Location: Colorado
Hrvoje Butkovic wrote:
It seems to me that you are using the term to refer to one’s true nature or potential, whereas I’m using it to refer to the extent to which this potential has been realised. I do think it’s a mastery of sorts, a mastery of deliberate living. Perhaps you would find the term ‘expert’ more suitable?


Yes, I do have a tendency to use or define words in my own way. I think it mostly comes from being self-educated, and then as a result understanding some words in a sort of intuitive fashion. I don't know, maybe that's just silly, but I do end up in discussions often where I find I'm using a word in a way the others aren't, but the way I'm using the word seems more useful to me than the way they're using it. So, I'm rarely trying to bend anyone else to my views, simply expressing them to see if either anyone else finds it useful, or more likely than not, to see if I can't learn further from the discussion. Enlightenment, for instance, while Jess posted many definitions for it, to me the basics of the word and what is implied by it can be seen in the word itself.

Light is definitely in the word, and then there's the prefix en- which I understand to mean "to put into or make", and then it ends with -ment which is a "condition or result". So taking the word in its basic sense, from my understanding, it speaks of the condition of light being put into one. That seems to me to imply that the light comes from somewhere else, that one did not have it in the first place. While none of the definitions she posted used the word as I'm seeing it, again it seems more useful to me to understand that enlightenment is a claim of something which I can't really understand to be sure to exist. Where the spirit, which is already within us all, is something which I have directly experienced. So intuitively, I understand the word to refer to something which we already possess, and this understanding is more useful to me because it's then not something which I (or anyone else) have to go out looking for.

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.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 22 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group