it seems to me there is seeing not self, which, if seen in the deepest way possible, could be defined as nibbana. i have experienced a minor version of this in a momentary form while in jhana (i am NOT saying i'm enlightened! i'm just talking about a temporary mind state), and i believe that if this became permanent it would be the end of suffering. after all if there is no self, there is no one to die, and you could call that "deathless" which is one of the many synonyms given by gotama for nibbana.
then there's the mind expanding joyous revelation of oneness with the universe. i've also experienced this (again totally temporary, not saying i'm enlightened. i'm not.), while out for a walk once and practicing mindfulness, for about thirty minutes, i felt total oneness with the universe and again, i thought if this was permanent it would be the end of suffering.
these are the two i can think of. i suppose they could be part of the same thing, or follow each other as separate revelations that make up a whole.
interestingly neither of these directly relate to how beings fare after death or rebirth.
is the jhana experience of knowing past lives and all that a necessary part of enlightenment? as far as i know it is not, i believe (but i could be wrong) that i've seen it called mundane knowledge. does this mean that a person could be fully enlightened with no direct knowledge of these things? i think so. if someone is totally ego-less and does not suffer, i think they have reached the other shore regardless of their knowledge of what happens outside of this immediate reality. one could reasonably escape samsara without directly seeing it's confines and mechanics. of course the illusion of self is one of the mechanics of samsara, possibly THE mechanic of samsara, so maybe it covers everything. it is the last fetter to be broken after all.
oddly enough, and i'm sure i'm wrong about this, i felt that the oneness with the universe revelation felt exactly the way the zen masters of history have explained satori! in fact there were a bunch of different quotes, that i had not understood before, that came to mind when i was having this experience and they all suddenly made sense. not only that some taoist ideas made sense, ideas i had not only not understood but that i had dismissed as bordering on non-sense. so now i'm thinking: is this taoist enlightenment? or rather actualizing "the way"? then i had my experience with not self in jhana and i was thinking this sounds more like the suttas, perhaps this is buddhist enlightenment?
the first not self knowledge thing seemed like a deep knowing, like waking up from a nightmare and realizing you're in your bed and everything is fine. casting off a heavy load of stress and worry. it felt largely cognitive, like i was clearly thinking it out. not that it was just intellectual inference of not self, that's easy, it was literal knowledge, just very cerebral (and certainly temporary).
the oneness with the universe thing on the other hand, was like realizing you are dreaming when you are in a dream. everything was utter bliss, i was filled with pure joy, freedom and peace. it seemed like the options were limitless. it was overwhelming. i felt like the illusion that the world is a problem for me and is separate from me had been shattered (albeit temporarily).
naturally these ramblings of mine should mean nothing much. i'm just talking and sharing my experiences, however trivial and nonsensical as they may be. and again, after having these experiences i went right back to being a regular working stiff, suffering and all. however i now have a little thought in the back of my mind at all times that it's all in my head. like a teeny tiny crack in a wall where light shines into darkness making me know i'm on the right path. sotapatti? certainly not! but a guide post letting me know i'm on the right path at the very least. funny that we can get so far and still... what does the buddha call it? "back sliding". although usually i think he's talking about bad behavior and precept breaking when he says that. still i feel that if i was ordained or something and could just keep practicing these states would be more frequent and last longer. as it is i back slide back into all the worries and responsibilities of a poor lay person.
Last edited by alan...
on Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:36 am, edited 2 times in total.