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Grover

Fully Enlightened Monks

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Why would I need to meet an arahant? obvious, no? Ask any aspiring golfer if they want to meet Tiger Woods. Ask any football fan if they want to meet, say, David Beck. The answer is inspiration. Anyway it is nothing serious, I would just like to meet a spiritually advanced person (ie. Arahant) one day. :o

Would you settle for a sotapanna? Some people say Ajahn Brahm is a sotapanna. You could have met him at his talk last Tuesday night.

Here's an inspiring post from his organization's website:

I think some people here would have already know something about me from

angry message that I've posted but I haven't 'officially' introduce

myself. I'm a 34yo Chinese from Singapore. I'm a "born again" Buddhist

after coming across this website about a year back.

I think I've probably listened to all the Dhamma talks in this website by

now. I want to say a big thank you to all the people in BSWA, all the

people involved in maintaining this website and above all, a very big

thank you to Ajahn Brahm. I have a little story to tell on how a monk and

website saved my life:

I was suffering from clinical depression 2 years back due to all the bad

karma I've accumulated before that. My marriage was in trouble (still is)

and I was in a financial crisis and on the verge of suicide. I've called

myself a buddhist but I knew basically nothing about it to save my life.

One day, I was walking like a corpse in a shopping centre, trying to

divert my attention from suicide when I stumbled across a shop which has

a little cupboard filled with Buddhist books and CDs for free

distribution. I picked up a CD named "Finding happiness in your life" by

Ajahn Brahm. It was recorded from a talk of the same title given by AB in

a local temple.

That CD "opened the door to my enlightenment". I've never came across a

dhamma talk delivered in such an "enlightening" way and given by an

English monk who was a Cambridge graduate! In his talk, he mentioned the

BSWA website. That's when I started to listen to all his talks in BSWA.

And that's when I realized that suicide was not going to solve my

problems and I'm beginning to feel a glimpse of hope that I can be my own

salvation. I've created my own problems and these problems created my

depression. It was classic cause and effect as taught by Buddha. And

that's also when I decided to walk the spiritual path.

A couple of months back, I got a chance to meet AB when he was giving a

talk in the same temple. I expressed my gratitude and thank him for

saving my life, literally. With both hands, he held my clasped palms and

whispered, "There's still a lot of work to do".

He seems to have used his psychic power and knows that my problems are

not solved yet and there's still a lot of work to be done. Staying alive

was just the first step.

Listening and reading are easy. It's the practicing which is the hard

part but its only through practicing that I can "salvage" myself. It was

never about nibbana. Its too lofty a goal. To me, its all about self-

redemption. It has been an uphill task juggling with all the past and

present problems and there are times when I still fall into the abyss of

depression. The Dhamma has been my refuge. There is still a place inside

I can turn to when all the worldly problems seem too much to bear.

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Has anyone actually met a fully enlightened monk in Thailand?

When looking for the enlightened it's good not to have too many preconceived ideas. The enlightened are not necessarily monks, in Thailand, male or famous, although I'm sure that there are famous Thai Enlightened Monks. What I would guess you are looking for is an Enlightened being with whom you have some karmic connection.

What you are looking for is someone...

"who at least practises moral discipline, concentration, and wisdom, who has compassion and love for his or her disciples, and who has gained a realization of emptiness."

Joyful Path of Good Fortune by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

It is also said that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.

Good luck, and keep looking. It's worth it as Camerata's story shows.

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The reason I asked is that Ajahn Chah (another possible arahant) said he felt like a monkey in a cage because people used to come and look at him all the time. I myself wouldn't know what to ask an arahant. It seems to me that what we need to do is pretty clear from the suttas. The problem is we don't do it.

I'd say that when you meet 'one of them' all your questions will be answered. When I met a famous monk, I had lots of questions I was going to ask him - when meeting him I was speechless, but being in his prescence, I was able to answer all the questions 'myself'.

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Has anyone actually met a fully enlightened monk in Thailand? I'm asking because I would like to meet one. I believe there must be at least a handful somewhere in Thailand, living in the forests somewhere.

If you find an arahant, what will you ask him?

I have no specific question to ask at this stage. I think I would spend time observing his body movements. I would be very very interested in the way he drinks tea, eats, walks, etc.

Luang Tha Maha Bowa is a monk in NE Thailand who is thought by many to be an arahant (or sotopana or whatever). They used to have a regular show every evening where he would give a talk about some Thai Buddhist topic. He would chew beetle while he talked and there was often a trickle of spittle flecked with beetle drooling down his chin....he would wipe it away sometimes with the back of his hand. Is this the type of stuff you are interested in watching? If not then perhaps being enlightened is different from what you imagined......the Buddha teaches that being enlightened is unimagineable and undescribable....this means that what ever you think being enlightened is like or however you describe it, you are wrong.

Chownah

Edited by chownah

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Luang Tha Maha Bowa is a monk in NE Thailand who is thought by many to be an arahant (or sotopana or whatever). They used to have a regular show every evening where he would give a talk about some Thai Buddhist topic. He would chew beetle while he talked and there was often a trickle of spittle flecked with beetle drooling down his chin....he would wipe it away sometimes with the back of his hand. Is this the type of stuff you are interested in watching? If not then perhaps being enlightened is different from what you imagined......the Buddha teaches that being enlightened is unimagineable and undescribable....this means that what ever you think being enlightened is like or however you describe it, you are wrong.

Chownah

:o I think the point is not what he does but how he does it; ie. with 100% mindfulness.

I havent experienced any spiritual 'breakthroughs', & I only know about Nirvarna from what I have read or hear from others. Nevertheless, I believe the Buddha achieved what he said he did & I think others have too. I don't think my idea of Nirvarna is *overly* distorted. Actually the Buddha did describe enlightenment (using analogy) as being a fire burning out because its fuel was exhausted. Its quite a powerful analogy.

Thanks to the last few posters for all the valuable information.

Edited by Grover

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when you meet 'one of them' all your questions will be answered.

Only if you have the right questions. Most people don't have the right questions, so they can't recognise an arahant, I guess.

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the Buddha teaches that being enlightened is unimagineable and undescribable....this means that what ever you think being enlightened is like or however you describe it, you are wrong.

Chownah

Hi Chownah,

This is why it seems a big waste of time to me to go off looking for allegedly "enlightened" individuals. The preconceptions we carry will certainly not match the reality. Just another form of clinging to views and preconceptions.

And then you are open to being hooked by people with charisma selling their own brand of religion, which has nothing to do with the awakened mind.

The greatest teachers I've had have been devoid of charisma, and just very, very ordinary in appearance. I shy away from teachers with charisma, because that can easily be bent in the wrong direction.

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The reason I asked is that Ajahn Chah (another possible arahant) said he felt like a monkey in a cage because people used to come and look at him all the time. I myself wouldn't know what to ask an arahant. It seems to me that what we need to do is pretty clear from the suttas. The problem is we don't do it.

I'd say that when you meet 'one of them' all your questions will be answered. When I met a famous monk, I had lots of questions I was going to ask him - when meeting him I was speechless, but being in his prescence, I was able to answer all the questions 'myself'.

Can I ask what the questions were? and what were your answers?

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I'd say that when you meet 'one of them' all your questions will be answered. When I met a famous monk, I had lots of questions I was going to ask him - when meeting him I was speechless, but being in his prescence, I was able to answer all the questions 'myself'.

Can I ask what the questions were? and what were your answers?

I had a question concerning Hinduism and Buddhism, the differences- the answer that came to me was that they are the same.

Another was regarding 'time being cyclic' - the answer being, yes.

Another concerning 'emptiness' - the answer was an understanding that I can't put into words.

Of course these were MY answers, not HIS - or were they??

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I'd say that when you meet 'one of them' all your questions will be answered. When I met a famous monk, I had lots of questions I was going to ask him - when meeting him I was speechless, but being in his prescence, I was able to answer all the questions 'myself'.

Can I ask what the questions were? and what were your answers?

I had a question concerning Hinduism and Buddhism, the differences- the answer that came to me was that they are the same.

Another was regarding 'time being cyclic' - the answer being, yes.

Another concerning 'emptiness' - the answer was an understanding that I can't put into words.

Of course these were MY answers, not HIS - or were they??

The answers you need are as follows

Hinduism and Buddhism

Both Hinduism and Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent and share a very long, but rather peculiar and uncomfortable relationship, which in many ways is comparable to that of Judaism and Christianity. The Buddha was born in a Hindu family, just as Christ was born in a Jewish family. Some people still argue that Buddhism was an offshoot of Hinduism and the Buddha was a part of the Hindu pantheon, a view which is not acceptable to many Buddhist. It is however widely accepted that Buddhism gained popularity in India because of the caste system and the predominance of ritual form of worship and the exclusive status of the priestly class in the Vedic religion.

Is time cyclical

You could try reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" which

touches on this and similar questions. Basically, it looks like the ending

of the universe that we expect from the way things are currently going, even

if the universe stops expanding and starts heading back to a single point,

will be very different from the very smooth beginning - there are a very

large variety of different "highly compressed universes" so even if the

universe returned to the same size and expanded again, things would be very

different the second time around.

Emptiness

Emptiness is a mode of perception, a way of looking at experience. It adds nothing to and takes nothing away from the raw data of physical and mental events. You look at events in the mind and the senses with no thought of whether there's anything lying behind them.

This mode is called emptiness because it's empty of the presuppositions we usually add to experience to make sense of it: the stories and world-views we fashion to explain who we are and the world we live in. Although these stories and views have their uses, the Buddha found that some of the more abstract questions they raise — of our true identity and the reality of the world outside — pull attention away from a direct experience of how events influence one another in the immediate present. Thus they get in the way when we try to understand and solve the problem of suffering.

Say for instance, that you're meditating, and a feeling of anger toward your mother appears. Immediately, the mind's reaction is to identify the anger as "my" anger, or to say that "I'm" angry. It then elaborates on the feeling, either working it into the story of your relationship to your mother, or to your general views about when and where anger toward one's mother can be justified. The problem with all this, from the Buddha's perspective, is that these stories and views entail a lot of suffering. The more you get involved in them, the more you get distracted from seeing the actual cause of the suffering: the labels of "I" and "mine" that set the whole process in motion. As a result, you can't find the way to unravel that cause and bring the suffering to an end.

If, however, you can adopt the emptiness mode — by not acting on or reacting to the anger, but simply watching it as a series of events, in and of themselves — you can see that the anger is empty of anything worth identifying with or possessing. As you master the emptiness mode more consistently, you see that this truth holds not only for such gross emotions as anger, but also for even the most subtle events in the realm of experience. This is the sense in which all things are empty. When you see this, you realize that labels of "I" and "mine" are inappropriate, unnecessary, and cause nothing but stress and pain. You can then drop them. When you drop them totally, you discover a mode of experience that lies deeper still, one that's totally free.

To master the emptiness mode of perception requires training in firm virtue, concentration, and discernment. Without this training, the mind tends to stay in the mode that keeps creating stories and world views. And from the perspective of that mode, the teaching of emptiness sounds simply like another story or world view with new ground rules. In terms of the story of your relationship with your mother, it seems to be saying that there's really no mother, no you. In terms of your views about the world, it seems to be saying either that the world doesn't really exist, or else that emptiness is the great undifferentiated ground of being from which we all came to which someday we'll all return.

These interpretations not only miss the meaning of emptiness but also keep the mind from getting into the proper mode. If the world and the people in the story of your life don't really exist, then all the actions and reactions in that story seem like a mathematics of zeros, and you wonder why there's any point in practicing virtue at all. If, on the other hand, you see emptiness as the ground of being to which we're all going to return, then what need is there to train the mind in concentration and discernment, since we're all going to get there anyway? And even if we need training to get back to our ground of being, what's to keep us from coming out of it and suffering all over again? So in all these scenarios, the whole idea of training the mind seems futile and pointless. By focusing on the question of whether or not there really is something behind experience, they entangle the mind in issues that keep it from getting into the present mode.

Now, stories and world views do serve a purpose. The Buddha employed them when teaching people, but he never used the word emptiness when speaking in these modes. He recounted the stories of people's lives to show how suffering comes from the unskillful perceptions behind their actions, and how freedom from suffering can come from being more perceptive. And he described the basic principles that underlie the round of rebirth to show how bad intentional actions lead to pain within that round, good ones lead to pleasure, while really skillful actions can take you beyond the round altogether. In all these cases, these teachings were aimed at getting people to focus on the quality of the perceptions and intentions in their minds in the present — in other words, to get them into the emptiness mode. Once there, they can use the teachings on emptiness for their intended purpose: to loosen all attachments to views, stories, and assumptions, leaving the mind empty of all greed, anger, and delusion, and thus empty of suffering and stress. And when you come right down to it, that's the emptiness that really counts.

The feeling you feel when you have lots of questions and no answers can be called the bank manager affect. Once you are in his office all your questions seem to answer themselves.

for real answers you need GOOGLE.

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Emptiness

Emptiness is a mode of perception, a way of looking at experience. It adds nothing to and takes nothing away from the raw data of physical and mental events. You look at events in the mind and the senses with no thought of whether there's anything lying behind them.

This mode is called emptiness because it's empty of the presuppositions we usually add to experience to make sense of it: the stories and world-views we fashion to explain who we are and the world we live in. Although these stories and views have their uses, the Buddha found that some of the more abstract questions they raise — of our true identity and the reality of the world outside — pull attention away from a direct experience of how events influence one another in the immediate present. Thus they get in the way when we try to understand and solve the problem of suffering.

Say for instance, that you're meditating, and a feeling of anger toward your mother appears. Immediately, the mind's reaction is to identify the anger as "my" anger, or to say that "I'm" angry. It then elaborates on the feeling, either working it into the story of your relationship to your mother, or to your general views about when and where anger toward one's mother can be justified. The problem with all this, from the Buddha's perspective, is that these stories and views entail a lot of suffering. The more you get involved in them, the more you get distracted from seeing the actual cause of the suffering: the labels of "I" and "mine" that set the whole process in motion. As a result, you can't find the way to unravel that cause and bring the suffering to an end.

If, however, you can adopt the emptiness mode — by not acting on or reacting to the anger, but simply watching it as a series of events, in and of themselves — you can see that the anger is empty of anything worth identifying with or possessing. As you master the emptiness mode more consistently, you see that this truth holds not only for such gross emotions as anger, but also for even the most subtle events in the realm of experience. This is the sense in which all things are empty. When you see this, you realize that labels of "I" and "mine" are inappropriate, unnecessary, and cause nothing but stress and pain. You can then drop them. When you drop them totally, you discover a mode of experience that lies deeper still, one that's totally free.

To master the emptiness mode of perception requires training in firm virtue, concentration, and discernment. Without this training, the mind tends to stay in the mode that keeps creating stories and world views. And from the perspective of that mode, the teaching of emptiness sounds simply like another story or world view with new ground rules. In terms of the story of your relationship with your mother, it seems to be saying that there's really no mother, no you. In terms of your views about the world, it seems to be saying either that the world doesn't really exist, or else that emptiness is the great undifferentiated ground of being from which we all came to which someday we'll all return.

These interpretations not only miss the meaning of emptiness but also keep the mind from getting into the proper mode. If the world and the people in the story of your life don't really exist, then all the actions and reactions in that story seem like a mathematics of zeros, and you wonder why there's any point in practicing virtue at all. If, on the other hand, you see emptiness as the ground of being to which we're all going to return, then what need is there to train the mind in concentration and discernment, since we're all going to get there anyway? And even if we need training to get back to our ground of being, what's to keep us from coming out of it and suffering all over again? So in all these scenarios, the whole idea of training the mind seems futile and pointless. By focusing on the question of whether or not there really is something behind experience, they entangle the mind in issues that keep it from getting into the present mode.

Now, stories and world views do serve a purpose. The Buddha employed them when teaching people, but he never used the word emptiness when speaking in these modes. He recounted the stories of people's lives to show how suffering comes from the unskillful perceptions behind their actions, and how freedom from suffering can come from being more perceptive. And he described the basic principles that underlie the round of rebirth to show how bad intentional actions lead to pain within that round, good ones lead to pleasure, while really skillful actions can take you beyond the round altogether. In all these cases, these teachings were aimed at getting people to focus on the quality of the perceptions and intentions in their minds in the present — in other words, to get them into the emptiness mode. Once there, they can use the teachings on emptiness for their intended purpose: to loosen all attachments to views, stories, and assumptions, leaving the mind empty of all greed, anger, and delusion, and thus empty of suffering and stress. And when you come right down to it, that's the emptiness that really counts.

:o

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Emptiness

Emptiness is a mode of perception, a way of looking at experience.

I thought Emptiness was the way in which phenomena exists not a mode of perception. Surely the mind that views phenomena as empty is the mode of perception to which you refer.

It adds nothing to and takes nothing away from the raw data of physical and mental events.

Surely it takes quite a lot away from mental and you never know even physical events. Mental and physical events appear not to be empty and yet Buddhist logic shows that they are indeed empty.

You look at events in the mind and the senses with no thought of whether there's anything lying behind them.

Are you implying that you can view ordinary appearance and hold the mind viewing emptiness at the same time isn't that the Union of the two truths something that only Buddha’s can do?

for real answers you need GOOGLE.

If you want to know many things, true and false, use GOOGLE. If you want to come to definite conclusions get an Enlightened Teacher.

:o

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Emptiness

Emptiness is a mode of perception, a way of looking at experience.

I thought Emptiness was the way in which phenomena exists not a mode of perception. Surely the mind that views phenomena as empty is the mode of perception to which you refer.

It adds nothing to and takes nothing away from the raw data of physical and mental events.

Surely it takes quite a lot away from mental and you never know even physical events. Mental and physical events appear not to be empty and yet Buddhist logic shows that they are indeed empty.

You look at events in the mind and the senses with no thought of whether there's anything lying behind them.

Are you implying that you can view ordinary appearance and hold the mind viewing emptiness at the same time isn't that the Union of the two truths something that only Buddha’s can do?

for real answers you need GOOGLE.

If you want to know many things, true and false, use GOOGLE. If you want to come to definite conclusions get an Enlightened Teacher.

:D

I think i was being kind when I used that definition of emptiness because of its buddihist roots , maybe i should have used this one.

Emptiness is described as an illusive and disturbing feeling of numbness, inability to feel anything emotionally, or not having any purpose. It can be better described as a situation where a certain lack or lacks in one's life overtake the emotional and mental focus in an obsessive, sometimes subconscious manner. Feelings of emptiness often accompany depression, loneliness, despair, or other mental/emotional disorders such as borderline personality disorder. It may seek expression through different types of self-harming behaviors, and in more extreme cases, suicide.

Emptiness often involves alienation, be it temporary or acquired, and sometimes self-hatred. Persons tending to feel emptiness often come from problematic familial backgrounds. If at all there was a family nucleus, their needs were ignored, they were considered second class, they experienced many separations, or there was outright abuse.

A feeling of emptiness may also be temporary, as a result of separation, death of a loved one, or other significant changes to one's life. This used to be a non-talking subject, but is starting to come more and more out in the public.

Sighns of Emptiness can be: Not wanting anything, especialy material goods and money, Ignoring people and getting frustrated with what would not normaly irritate a normal person, Self inflicted pain for no reason atall and gaining no social or mental satisfaction, Trying strange things in the hope that it may give you temporary satisfaction e.g hitting yourself, fooling yourself into beliving you are satisfied or insane which gives you satisfaction, No longer talking, having lost hope and having no enthusiasm or motivation towards anything, Staring forwards for long periods of time, pretending things to yourself.

double :D:D:o

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None of these descriptions of emptiness is what I felt it was.

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None of these descriptions of emptiness is what I felt it was.

Emptiness in the Buddhist sense refers to the fact that nothing has a solid, substantial "essence" or "core". It is not a thing! So it cannot be felt. Suthep Steve is absolutely correct in saying "Emptiness was the way in which phenomena exists not a mode of perception". This is pure phenomenology, Buddhist style, and does not refer to experience at all.

This is the way it is understood according to the key texts on it. Nagarjuna's Stanzas from the Middle Way (Mulamadhyamakakarika) uses many examples to demonstrate how phenomena lack solid essence or "own-being", and applies the same type of logic later adopted by the Tibetan Prasangika school (Geluk), using things like production of phenomena and the consequences of production, for example. The Prasangika presentation of emptiness via the "Diamond slivers" is a more detailed and thorough analysis of the emptiness of phenomena as well.

Emptiness is also just a fancy synonym for anatta, and the flipside of dependent origination. Dependent origination implies the truth of anatta and emptiness, since if all things are dependent on prior causes and conditions, then there is nothing that can come into being (or be produced) by its own power. Using dependent origination to analyze how things come into being counters the wrong view of nihilism that people may associate with emptiness, since emptiness doen not refer to nothingness, but the mere absence of a phenomenon being able to produce itself.

Of course emptiness is heavily debated, and there are a number of schools which have held different views on it (i.e. in the Tibetan presentation, they break out the Vaibhasikas, the Yogacarins, and the Madhyamika-Svatantrika schools).

However, I have not seen the core truth of this disputed by any modern-day school, from Theravada to Zen to Tibetan Buddhism. They all converge on the fact that all phenomen arise in dependence on causes and conditions, and that the implication of this is that nothing can exist from its "own side".

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