Awakening & Rotting Away

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of James S jimisommer 3 weeks, 4 days ago.

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  • #2158
    Profile photo of James S
    jimisommer
    Member

    I have recently became a practicing buddhist, and let me preface this by saying I am entirely without a doubt that this is the path to awakening. There will always be things that I have trouble understanding, and although I’d like to think that this mind I have is quite comprehensive, lately there has been something troubling me that I haven’t been able to work out. Why doesn’t an awakened being just sit still after reaching awakening and rot away? If you are truly without desire or craving, why would you move at all? I realize that the standard answer might be the brahmaviharas motivating you, but even then, metta for example, how can it be without craving? If you wish for others to be happy and actively work toward that, isn’t that born from a “desire” for the happiness of others? The other answer I’ve worked out is from SN 6.2 which makes it sound as if it is out of reverence for the Dhamma that moves an awakened being to act. It is in dependence on the Dhamma that moves them to continue nourishing themselves and to teach others the path. So I suppose this is a two part question, one, how can you practice metta without craving? and two, if it is reverence for the Dhamma that keeps an awakened being from just rotting away into parinibbana, how does that work, in the technical sense? Maybe this all could have been articulated better, but I assume you get the idea of what I’m asking. Thank you everyone, stay clear, and stay sane.

    #2161
    Profile photo of Jevan P
    Jevan P
    Member

    The simplest answer is that no one truly ceases all desire or craving, such as those from deep rooted biological urges, like eating, moving, or not peeing your pants. Instead the fully enlightened being will have ceased craving and desire *based on delusion*. And then we can ask just which desires are based on delusions? Is the desire for others to be happy a delusion? And further, does anyone really get ‘fully’ awakened? Perhaps not.

    #2162
    Profile photo of James S
    jimisommer
    Member

    Well I can’t agree with that. I certainly believe it is possible to become fully enlightened. I mean if no one could overcome those deep rooted psychological urges like survival, then no one would ever commit suicide. I know that’s a morbid example, but nonetheless, I do believe that true awakening is a real thing. I’m assuming there must be a loving-kindness for all beings and a dependence on the Dhamma that can motivate a person without involving any craving or desire. It’s difficult for me to understand, but I can see how that would be possible. Although I do see your point, that maybe full enlightenment is just the complete elimination of greed, hatred, and delusion. It is only desire filtered through these things that is considered a corruption. That makes total sense to me. I also suppose it’s difficult to understand true altruism for someone who isn’t already awakened, to do something solely for the purpose of others, and not because it somehow makes you feel better for doing it. I almost feel like, to practice true metta and compassion, you have to have some level of awakening so that this can actually be understood. It seems that only when you are able to truly act without greed, hatred, or delusion, you will always be acting out of those things in some way, however small.

    #2163
    Profile photo of Ivan Ganza
    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    In my understanding, when we talk about craving and desire, we are talking about craving and desire that is rooted in the belief in a self, in the idea and assumption of being a separate self.

    This is not referring to biological needs and such.

    The context of craving is related to craving that is a link in the production of suffering (the second arrow).

    The type of craving I am referring to CAN be 100% eliminated. That is what this path promises. We CAN eliminate the second arrow, not the first.

    Pangs of hunger do not go away. If I step on a nail, it still hurts.

    What motivates a being who does not experience the second arrow — what motivates such a being to do anything at all?

    Please see this link for the Sutta: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn36/sn36.006.than.html

    Let’s explore….

    Cheers,
    -Ivan/
    (DT Teacher in Training)

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by Profile photo of Ivan Ganza Ivan Ganza.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by Profile photo of Ivan Ganza Ivan Ganza.
    #2167
    Profile photo of Jevan P
    Jevan P
    Member

    ” I mean if no one could overcome those deep rooted psychological urges like survival, then no one would ever commit suicide. I know that’s a morbid example, but nonetheless, I do believe that true awakening is a real thing.”

    Have these people overcome their deep rooted psychological urges, or have these urges just been overwhelmed by a more intense desire to end some sort of pain/suffering?

    I’ve never heard of anyone who was just so content and free from craving that they stopped eating,moving, and just shat themselves until they died. Have you?

    “I certainly believe it is possible to become fully enlightened”

    Then we should have some real, living example right? Who is this person who is ‘fully’ enlightened? And how would we verify it? What exactly does fully enlightened mean? What exact cravings and aversions would they still have/no longer have etc..

    Or do you think it is just ‘possible’, but no one alive has attained such a state?

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by Profile photo of Jevan P Jevan P.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by Profile photo of Jevan P Jevan P.
    #2170
    Profile photo of James S
    jimisommer
    Member

    No I have never heard of someone who did that, which is why there must be something that prevents them from doing so. I realize they still feel hunger and pain, but the craving for it to end isn’t there, there’s no aversion for the pain or craving for the pleasure. That’s why I say it must be passionless compassion or reverence for the Dhamma that moves them to stay alive, to even move at all from the moment of awakening onward. I understand what you’re saying about true awakening not being possible, but I’m certainly not asking about that. I think most people here are proceeding under the assumption that the way the buddha described arhatship is a possible and very real experience. And of course you are totally entitled to your opinion about it, but I’m really just asking the people that think full enlightenment is possible.

    #2171
    Profile photo of Ivan Ganza
    Ivan Ganza
    Member

    It may be of help to define “Fully Enlightened”

    We can only use this term loosely and not get too involved with it. I think that “Fourth Path” is what we usually think about when we talk about someone being “Fully Enlightened”.

    I think when jimisommer is using the term, he may be thinking about a Fourth Path Arahat?

    There are plenty of cases that we know about of people reaching Fourth Path. (Assuming you believe the reports or descriptions).

    I personally think I know of two people who are probably third-fourth path. So it is not unattainable, and in the realm of what is possible, here and now.

    As is often pointed out, Fourth Path is NOT the end, but there is a continuing deepening, of what form and depth, does not seem to have been well documented as of yet.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by Profile photo of Ivan Ganza Ivan Ganza.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by Profile photo of Ivan Ganza Ivan Ganza.
    #2173
    Profile photo of James S
    jimisommer
    Member

    Yeah absolutely, by fully enlightened I mean someone who has completely uprooted the causes of greed, hatred, and delusion. Total dispassion and cessation of suffering, the elimination of craving and aversion within the mind. When’s I say fully enlightened or arhat, that’s what I mean.

    #2176
    Profile photo of Jevan P
    Jevan P
    Member

    Which model of fourth path are we talking about? I think Culadasa has a pretty good model which is a secularized version of the ten fetter model, there is also Daniel Ingram’s, and the larger Mahasi crowd, and then the tradidional ten fetter model, and then Jeffery Martin’s 4th location, etc. As well as the Sutta descriptions of an arahant which include various ethical dimensions..Arahat is unable to kill someone, an arahat will die if he doesn’t join a monastery in two weeks time after obtaining arahatship, and various other weird criteria.

    So perhaps it is more fruitful to talk about the cessation of suffering. What is actually possible? Shinzen Young brings up a scenario where you take a person, pin him to a board and then torture him for six months straight with pliers, knives, etc. Daniel Ingram envisions a similar scenario where a person is burned with battery acid after having their skin raked off. Is there anyone who would not suffer the slightest bit in these situations? Daniel doesn’t think so. Shinzen is skeptical too, but says “maybe it can be done” but he doesn’t know anyone who could.

    But wait a minute you say! That’s physical pain, even the Buddha suffered physical pain! Let’s just talk just about mental pain, the second arrow!

    But would anyone not suffer the slightest mental anguish in the above scenarios? Or what if they themselves suffered no physical pain but where to watch their entire family be tortured in front of them? Not the slightest bit of suffering? Not the slightest bit of stress, irritation, worry?

    Consider me skeptical.

    In Jeffery Martin’s research, there are those who claim to not have any emotions like Gary Weber, but even these people do display symptoms of being stressed during stressful times by others like their spouses, who say they don’t sleep as well and other signs of being stressed.

    I once asked Bhante Gunaratana if he knew anyone who was fully enlightened, and he said “No”, but that he knows people who have been pretty close. Perhaps that’s the best humans can realistically hope for. And that’s fine. It’s still a great life.

    #2179
    Profile photo of James S
    jimisommer
    Member

    Well I certainly think it’s possible, and I think it’s absolutely extremely rare. And those ethical conditions aren’t as weird as your making them out to be. There is no rule about dying if you don’t join the monastery, not in the suttas at least, that’s in the commentary and it’s not that you die, it’s just that you’ll just naturally want to after you’ve become an arhat. In the suttas it’s far less specific, it says you won’t kill anyone because you wouldn’t want to, it’s more about purity of mind. The ten fetters are a good scaffold, but it’s better to take everything together. I definitely believe it’s possible to be so awakened that no amount of physical pain bothers you, but even in the suttas it shows buddha in intense pain that he had to be mindful through, so it did show a concerted effort that had to be made. I’m not saying that this level of awakening is easy. I’m only saying it’s possible. I do think the suttas are the closest to the true teachings of the buddha we are going to get, so I do follow them pretty closely, but I am also open to a lot of culadasa’s interpretations of them. Now daniel ingram I definitely respect, but I think his claim of arhatship is utterly ridiculous and just causes more confusion than not. There’s no need to lower the standard because it’s so rare, most people just have to be okay with only getting so far. In the suttas it even talks about the arising of counterfeit Dhamma, and what it will look like. We are in an age where people don’t practice like they did back in the buddha’s days. I mean his followers seemingly dedicated themselves to a lifelong retreat. I think when the buddha spoke of the sangha, he was really referring to that level of dedication. So I don’t know anyone who is fully enlightened either, but I also don’t know anyone who practices all day everyday, always.

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