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The Path I took

From: Jake [ ] <X@hotmail.com>
To:
glen@timeenoughforlove.org
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2007 10:55:45 AM
Subject: Hello! (Re: Enlightenment, Timeenoughforlove)

Hello Glen, I discovered your site a few days ago while looking for translations of the dhammapada online. I saw and was quite excited to see you'd written about the neurological functions of enlightenment. I'm just starting to read different pages of your site, and it's interesting and I wanted to write and share encouragement and ideas.

I've experienced enlightenment, too, recently. For me the dhammapada was influential, but of course it was my own adventure which led me to my experience. It had happened a couple of times before, as well. Anyway, while fasting on water, and with temperatures which made me shake to keep warm, I had some insight and revelations. The feeling of the mind being transformed, being enlightened! It was amazing. I believe during the experience I experienced something like an accelerated spiritual growth- like psychotherapy, but much more powerful.

I have not much to share other than what's already been written in the dhammapada. A cultivated or developed mind is not troubled by thoughts of lust, like a well-thatched house is not penetrated by rain. A person with a cultivated mind is protected by it. I find the protection of enlightenment to be like the protection of stillness. Enlightened, I am actually in a different stream than the rest of the world. I experienced that reality can be bent, I experienced my mind being touched by the cold and yet staying warm and well hydrated, I experienced clarity as it is a light which dispels karmic impurities, I experienced all of the thoughts, teachings, dharma of the world as shackles falling away, I experienced pain dissipating, and I experienced earth, water, air and fire.

You say the first experience is that of clarity. I find this is accurate but doesn't describe it all. For me it was also transformation of the mind.

As well as Buddhist practices, I also like to do Tai-chi, which is a form of moving meditation. Still, the most powerful thing I've ever done to transform my mind was to fast in a place of seclusion, in cold temperatures usually considered to be unpleasant or uncomfortable. It takes repeated attempts and a mind-set that will allow the transformation. The transformation is profound, and can be devastating. Yet on the path to bliss...

I am wondering now, why Siddhartha did never achieve enlightenment during his ascetic years. It is said that it was after he gave up his ascetic ideal, and decided a middle way between no-restraint and asceticism was the proper way, that he attained enlightenment. But I think that if I underwent ascetic training, it would lead to enlightenment quickly.

Anyway, just my thoughts. I still haven't read the page on your site where you say you respond to people saying you're schizophrenic! Looking forward to reading more.

Sincerely, Yours truly

 

Hello Jake,

Sorry for the delay in responding. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight with me. A brief description of my background may help explain the differences in our experience and perspective on enlightenment.

I was raised as a Roman Catholic in the United States but I never incorporated any of the tenants into my own thinking. Since childhood I was an objective, analytical thinker with little understanding of emotional impulses or personal reasoning. My constant questioning and problem solving drove me in the direction of the physical sciences (as well as arts, crafts, photography, textiles, electronics, etc. which helped me explore how things are created and assembled).

In college I took a course on understanding Public Relations and Advertising and glimpsed the extent to which agenda driven organizations of people condition how people think. I also realized many of these same strategies are employed by governments and organized religions. This caused me to doubt many of the assumptions I based my world views on as well as what I thought I wanted to do with my life. I consequently wiped my mental slate clean and set about educating myself and following where evidence led, not where experts, authority or tradition told me to go.

After a few years of self study (about 24 years old), I had reached various tentative conclusions regarding; god, religion, philosophy, government, and other human endeavors. I stumbled across a Humanist magazine in a bookstore and discovered that there were many people who had reached these same conclusions. From a scientific methodological standpoint, in a quest for truth, it was significant that I had reached these conclusions independently as opposed to having adopted or accepted a set of beliefs from family, community or culture. It would be more than 10 years before I met another such person. Many people join religions for the community and security it provides. I deliberately avoided this in order to maintain my independence.

Over the next several years most of my time was spent working with and learning about large and complex computer systems and networks. These years of study provided me with training and insight into products which are largely the product of the inner workings of the human mind. It also conditioned me to envision and troubleshoot the relationships between many seemingly disparate complex systems.

I eventually learned of Carl Jung and other related work (Keirsey and MBTI) on personality theory. This was another important milestone for me because it provided me with an objective, quantifiable and verifiable means to understand individual human behavior and interactions. I had previously made many of my own observations as a member of a large family of very different personalities but they were no where near a working model of behavior.

I spent the next several years studying the Jung model and observing human interactions, in myself, people I worked with and society in general. I eventually reached an age and level of maturity where I acknowledged my own human need for community and contact with other people. Of course I wanted to be a member of a community that affirmed the positive values that I had eventually discovered. This led to more growth for me as an individual until my experiences in the spring and summer of 2001.

My experience of enlightenment was not guided by the teachings of another or the practices of a religion. Instead it seems to me that my personality, my circumstances, and my interactions with others led me to certain conclusions and consequently my awakening.

All the references to religion and quotes on my website related to enlightenment were collected in my attempt to substantiate my experience and document that it has been known by many people for many thousands of years. The evidence and most all of the concepts were not known to me prior to my experience. Actually enlightenment itself was the last subject I researched because while I knew I could recognize signs of it everywhere, it was also the most subjective field as well as the one most obscured by religious tradition.

I believe the answers to your question regarding Siddhartha’s inability to achieve enlightenment during ascetic practices can be found if you research the effects of malnutrition on cortical function and how r-complex functions influence and prioritize reasoning. By satisfying his physical needs he satisfies his body’s needs and quiets its cries. By accomplishing only this and not desiring food in a way that satisfies “pleasure” and creates craving his thoughts do not move in that opposite direction. In the middle, his mind is free from his body and he can contemplate more complex problems best performed by higher level brain function. Consider that it is said Siddhartha began his quest not to alleviate his own suffering, but instead to understand the nature of suffering itself so that everyone might benefit. This understanding appears as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Did you see this reference on the Buddhism page of my site? It may help explain differences in our experience of awakening.

Many Buddhas
As far as attaining enlightenment is concerned, Theravada literature describes three kinds of Buddhas. One who has attained supreme and complete enlightenment through his own efforts, unaided and unguided, and is capable of teaching the truth he has realized to others, is known as Sammasambuddha, the Perfectly Self-Enlightened One. The second kind of Buddha is the one who has, likewise, attained enlightenment (through his own effort and without any external assistance) but is incapable of imparting his knowledge to others in such a way that they also could realize the Dhamma. He is known as Paccekabuddha or Silent Buddha. The third category, added by the commentaries, consists of those who attain enlightenment not solely through their own effort, but through the guidance and assistance of a Sammasambuddha. These are known as Anubuddhas or Savakabuddhas.


Peace,
Glen
 

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