The Path I took
From: Jake [ ] <X@hotmail.com>
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
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
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
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
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.
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.