Thursday, April 13, 2017

What is enlightenment?

Good article on the nature of enlightenment from practitioners of 4 different traditions. From the Mahayana practitioner: "The quality of enlightenment is basically being free of any thought processes." From the Zen practitioner: "The teachings therefore emphasize removing hindrances to seeing clearly so that one can abide in the clarity of reality as it actually is."

And as to abiding in "reality as it actually is," is that postmetaphysical by the IPS forum's definition? E.g., this post on Habermas:

"Habermas adopts a more naturalistic, 'postmetaphysical' approach (1992a), characterized by the fallible hermeneutic explication or 'reconstruction' of shared competences and normative presuppositions that allow actors to engage in familiar practices of communication, discourse, and inquiry. In articulating presuppositions of practice, reconstructive analysis remains weakly transcendental. But it also qualifies as a 'weak naturalism' inasmuch as the practices it aims to articulate are consistent with the natural evolution of the species and located in the empirical world (2003a, 10-30, 83ff); consequently, postmetaphysical reconstruction links up with specific forms of social-scientific knowledge in analyzing general conditions of rationality manifested in various human capacities and powers."

As to being free of thought processes, recall this from David Loy:

"Well, this relates to the way we understand spirituality and meditation. For example, we often tend to understand meditation—in Zen especially—as getting rid of thoughts. We think that if we can just get rid of thought, then we can see the world as it is, clearly, without any interference from conceptuality. We view thinking as something negative that has to be eliminated in order to realize the emptiness of the mind. But this reflects the delusion of duality, rather than the solution to duality. As Dogen put it, the point isn’t to get rid of thought, but to liberate thought. Form is emptiness, yet emptiness is also form, and our emptiness always takes form. We don’t realize our emptiness apart from form, we realize it in form, as non-attached form. One of the very powerful and creative ways that our emptiness takes form is as thought. The point isn’t to have some pure mind, untainted by thought, like a blue, completely empty sky with no clouds. After a while that gets a little boring! Rather, one should be able to engage or play with the thought processes that arise in a creative, non-attached, nondualistic way. To put it in another way, the idea isn’t to get rid of all language, it’s to be free within language, so that one is non-attached to any particular kind of conceptual system, realizing that there are many possible ways of thinking and expressing oneself. The freedom from conceptualizing that we seek does not happen when we wipe away all thoughts; instead, it happens when we’re not clinging to, or stuck in, any particular thought system. The kind of transformation we seek in our spiritual practices is a mind that’s flexible, supple. Not a mind that clings to the empty blue sky. It’s a mind that’s able to dance with thoughts, to adapt itself according to the situation, the needs of the situation. It’s not an empty mind which can’t think. It’s an ability to talk with the kind of vocabulary or engage in the way that’s going to be most helpful in that situation."

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