"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

October 6, 2011

The Problems of Thinking About Enlightenment

"The temptation when thinking about enlightenment is to come up with something defined that you can imagine, such as a state or quality of being, and then fixate on that ideal rather than doing the practices that lead to freedom.

It is absolutely guaranteed that anything you can imagine or define as being enlightenment is a limited and incorrect view, but these views are extremely tempting just the same and generally continue to be very seductive even through the middle stages of enlightenment. Every possible description of the potential effects of realization is likely to feed into this unfortunate tendency.

Thus, my distinct preference when practicing is to assume that enlightenment is completely impractical, produces no definable changes, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the scopes of the other trainings. This means that I take it as a working hypothesis that it will not make me a better person in any way, create any beneficial mental qualities, produce any states of happiness or peace, and provide no additional clarity into any of the issues surrounding how to live my ordinary life. I have experimented with adopting other views and found that they nearly always get in the way of my insight practices.

A view so easily becomes sacred, and thus the temptation is to not investigate the sensations that make up thoughts about that view, but rather to imitate the ideal expressed in the content of that view. This can seem like practice in fundamental insight, but it is not."

Daniel Ingram
Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
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