Just How Enlightened Are You?
- TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 04.08.06
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Realisation: Just How Enlightened Are You?- stonepeace
How enlightened you want to be depends on how enlightened you are now.
How enlightened you are now depends on how enlightened you want to be.
How do we know the Buddha is enlightened? The truth is, we don't - unless we are enlightened ourselves. Only a Buddha can fully fathom another Buddha's complete enlightenment. But as Buddhists, since we are pretty honestly sure that there is no person more enlightened than the Buddha, as exemplified by his perfect thought, words and deeds, he is undoubtedly our model of enlightenment. Sometimes, the question of enlightenment is reversed - "How do you know if you are enlightened?" The truth is - as long as you need to ask this question, you are surely not enlightened, since to be enlightened is to know and see all truths. Warning! Those who think they are enlightened are either truly so, or truly deluded instead. It is either a great truth or a great lie - there are no two ways about it. Thus, seek your teachers with care! Beware of those who constantly hint or proclaim great personal spiritual attainment - for it can be a giveaway symptom of the spiritual disease of conceit - a sickness that the enlightened who have realised non-self are surely free of.
What's more important than questioning who is enlightened is to realise that there are surely many others more enlightened than us, and that from them, we can learn to become more enlightened ourselves. Ironically, the thoroughly unenlightened can teach us many lessons too, via their glaringly negative examples, which we learn not to emulate, while giving us chances to practise patience and compassion. The goal is to seek to be more enlightened, not to seek more so-called enlightened teachers. Anyway, the only way to know if someone is enlightened is to become more enlightened. Even if the Buddha never announced his enlightenment, it still makes great sense to learn from him due to the immeasurable worth of his teachings. Also, we should focus on the process to enlightenment; and not just the result of enlightenment - because taking care of the process will lead us to the result, while hankering for results is mere daydreaming. But to be lost in the process is to forget the need to achieve the result too. What we need then, is a Middle Path between being process-oriented and result-oriented.
So, what are the signs of someone becoming increasingly enlightened? Let's not mystify things by imagining it depends on one's ability to manifest psychic powers and of the like. Why? Because these are by-products of a sharpened mind, and such a mind can be used for either good or evil ends. A mind can be developed for unskilful intentions, which makes one stray further from enlightenment. Even Mara, the evil one (who personifies great greed, hatred and delusion) has vast psychic abilities! One who regularly advertises one's psychic powers usually does so for gain, fame and praise - all elements samsaric, nothing nirvanic. The true measure of how enlightened one is has to be the actualised compassion and wisdom of a person - how kind and wise he or she is to the rest of the world. If an enlightened being is unable to inspire others with his compassion and wisdom, am afraid such a person is not the least relevant to our spiritual lives at all. May we aspire to be enlightened such, that we will be able to enlighten all! - Shen Shi'an
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