my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

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my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby alan... » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:05 am

i am not talking about zen as a whole. to be clear i'm talking about a very specific type of enlightenment. the kensho or satori that happens to people who, without the proper timing and method, would not see nibbana but it happens only because a master did something for them at the right time and the right place. an example would be a samurai who suddenly sees nibbana at a zen temple because a master presented him with a koan or a whack on the head or a shout at the perfect moment. he has not the prerequisite morality or other factors to see nibbana and then after his realization he continues to kill and dies in battle, deluded, again.

for the longest time i didn't understand how someone could have possibly had satori but then backslide, but now i think i get it.

it is totally legitimate. it works and happens all the time. however the reason someone who has had this kind of zen awakening may not come off as an arahant and can backslide into delusion again is because it is like looking down an alleyway at the right moment to see a car slow and then immediately drive out of sight. right place, right time. no fully understood view of it nor knowledge of how to see it again. you definitely saw it, but that's it, a glimpse.

so you see nibbana, but then you're back into regular thought. the realization remains but can become clouded over time. like if you saw big foot or chupacabra in the forest for a split second. you know you saw it. but then over the years you start to wonder if it was just a person in a suit or a bear or a large dog. the memory fades and you start to doubt yourself. as long as one continues what hakuin called "post satori practice" one should continue to have revelations all the way up to arahantship or at least sotopanna. the problem is many get that one glimpse and assume that's the end. they go on about their lives and don't even realize they are not enlightened. they just force everything into their idea of them being enlightened.

of course this is not the norm, most zen practitioners only have a glimpse after the same progression as with theravada; one is lead through morality intensely as the first step, then mindfulness, and finally concentration. so when a realization comes it's more stable and lasting and has a huge base to sit on, even if it clouds with time the base is so strong it doesn't matter as the ball is rolling so strong.

i just came to this conclusion and also considered the idea that people may see nibbana on drugs or other altered mind states for a split second and not even realize it or even if they do, because it was revealed in a forced and artificial way, it does not stick in any way. and again, without the proper prerequisites the realization clouds and without any knowledge of the dhamma it would cloud extremely fast and may even be totally covered up and out of view.

the same is true for theravada, someone can see it for a moment and then utterly backslide. the only difference is that there is not much effort to suddenly enlighten people, it's very gradual, so there's probably less warriors seeing nibbana as there aren't methods presented for them to do so. they would be taught to drop the violence, clean up their act, then be mindful, then meditate and then might have a realization. a master probably wouldn't even consider that they would be capable of seeing nibbana unless the prerequisites were met.

again, this is about a very specific kind of zen experience. i am not talking about zen as a whole but a single type of event that has been talked about in zen literature, namely sudden and surprising satori happening to a person without them having fulfilled the other steps on the eightfold path. and of course this is just my opinion, just for fun.
Last edited by alan... on Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:17 am

:clap:
I had no idea you were such an expert in these matters. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
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we define salvation through suffering.
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby alan... » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:17 am

m0rl0ck wrote::clap:
I had no idea you were such an expert in these matters. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


sarcasm?
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby alan... » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:53 am

m0rl0ck wrote::clap:
I had no idea you were such an expert in these matters. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


Image
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby jackson » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:48 am

Greetings Alan,
I may be in over my head here, but I'll try and explain this as best I can and stick to the Theravada perspective. First of all, from the Theravada perspective, if the enlightenment experience is genuine then one is at least a stream-winner and is considered to have changed lineages, meaning that they are no longer a worldling and have opened the Dhamma eye and have cut off the lower three fetters (personality view, doubt, and attachment to rites and rituals.) What this means is there's no going back, the experience is reported to leave such an impression and to have been so vivid that they can't unsee what they've seen, and although some debate it many teachers have said that they at the very least keep the five precepts perfectly. Anyway, I would seriously question anyone who claims to have had an enlightenment experience yet falls back into ignorance. The mind can have all kinds of crazy, wondrous experiences that can be mistaken for the real deal, but if there's genuine seeing then the mind is firmly on the path to liberation.
Hope this was useful and best wishes,
:anjali:
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby alan... » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:56 am

jackson wrote:Greetings Alan,
I may be in over my head here, but I'll try and explain this as best I can and stick to the Theravada perspective. First of all, from the Theravada perspective, if the enlightenment experience is genuine then one is at least a stream-winner and is considered to have changed lineages, meaning that they are no longer a worldling and have opened the Dhamma eye and have cut off the lower three fetters (personality view, doubt, and attachment to rites and rituals.) What this means is there's no going back, the experience is reported to leave such an impression and to have been so vivid that they can't unsee what they've seen, and although some debate it many teachers have said that they at the very least keep the five precepts perfectly. Anyway, I would seriously question anyone who claims to have had an enlightenment experience yet falls back into ignorance. The mind can have all kinds of crazy, wondrous experiences that can be mistaken for the real deal, but if there's genuine seeing then the mind is firmly on the path to liberation.
Hope this was useful and best wishes,
:anjali:


i don't see any reason someone couldn't see nibbana and then fall back. if their mind is not ready it won't take. seeing it fully and at the right time with the right prerequisites leads to one of the four attainments but that's only when everything is lined up for it to work out that way. i'm not sure but i don't think it says in the suttas that it is impossible to see nibbana partially in a glimpse and then backslide and that the only way anyone sees it begins with stream entry. however i could be quite wrong, the pali canon is immense and i've only read a half of the majjhima nikaya, a quarter of the digha, a quarter of the samyutta, a tenth of the anguttara and a fiftieth or so of the kuddhaka. heck it's possible i read that it does say that and forgot lol!

mostly this post is about zen and this kind of thing is talked about in zen quite frequently. someone has satori and then is later doing things that, according to the pali canon, a stream winner could not do.
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby James the Giant » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:28 am

From good old Wikipedia...
Satori is often used interchangeably with kenshō. Kenshō refers to the perception of the Buddha-Nature or emptiness. According to some authors, kenshō is a brief glimpse, while satori is considered to be a deeper spiritual experience.
Distinct from this first insight, daigo-tettei is used to refer to a "deep" or lasting realization of the nature of existence.

Satori is considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana:

Ch'an expressions refer to enlightenment as "seeing your self-nature". But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch'an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the same as of the Buddha, you are not yet a full Buddha.


So it seems to me that this Zen satori is a different thing to the Theravadan concept of Stream Entry/ an experience of Nibanna. The Zen satori sounds more like an insight experience, which is seeing into the true reality of things, but not necessarily having a lasting influence on the mind/brain/etc.
Maybe this Daigo-Tettei could be the same as Stream Entry. I dunno, better ask a Zen student.
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:38 pm

I think this is an invidious comparison.
Zen, Vajrayana, and the Theravada operate within different modalities.
Another example would be the fact that many Vajrayana and Zen teachers would largely not recognise such concepts as " stream winner " " once returner " and so on. At best these are seen as " skillful means"
The important thing is to be consistent to the model one has adopted rather than seeing in opposition to different schools.
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby James the Giant » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:20 pm

Which was the invidious comparison? And who's going to be offended by speculating comparisons?
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:58 pm

One of the meanings of "invidious" is that a comparison is unfair ..its does not mean " offensive " exclusively. But if you prefer the term " unworkable " thats fine.
Theravada is a discrete system of thought which includes concepts not accepted by all Mahayana teachers..one of those concepts for example is the Four Stages Of Enlightenment.
" From the viewpoint of Dzogchen the idea of stream winners etc.. is redundant ".. Ponlop Rinpoche.

Zen is another discrete system of thought which includes concepts not formalised by the Theravada.." satori " and " kensho " for example.

If either model is judged by the prevailing concepts of the other then clear differences will be obvious.
The important issue is whether either system is being actually practised in a coherent way, which is consistent to itself.
Comparisons are meaningless.
Last edited by gendun on Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby James the Giant » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:35 pm

Sweet, thanks for the amplification and clarification.
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Re: my take on one type of sudden enlightenment in zen

Postby gendun » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:58 pm

:anjali:
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