Limitless freedom: are you really free?

Posted on September 19, 2010
Filed Under Culture, mystical journeys, Taylor Ellwood | 2 Comments

I’ve been thinking about the concept of enlightenment, in terms of attaining a state of non-attachment to everything as well as what the result might look like and I think it might be something like experiencing limitless freedom.You become everything and nothing, but because there are no limitations you can never turn that possibility into something real. In fact, you the person don’t even exist. A rather tenuous existence, and while a person might be one with everything and nothing, what in the end does that really mean, and what does it really do for the person. I’ll admit I’m attached to my identity.



I would be interested in hearing from you as to how you arrived at your understanding of enlightenment. I have some familiarity with Buddhism and have never heard of enlightenment described as you have done. As I understand it, Buddhists generally see the enlightened mind of a Buddha as consisting of two unique components, namely – liberating wisdom and compassion. This mind is not static, as you say, but is an active mind where wisdom is dynamically expressed through compassionate action. Stories of the historical Buddha’s life after his enlightenment clearly illustrate this. According to tradition, the Buddha did not rest in a “static primal goop”, but rather engaged living beings in a way (e.g., as a teacher) that fostered the birth of wisdom in other mind streams. In fact, if I am not mistaken, tradition maintains that a Buddha must teach in order to qualify as a Buddha. A Buddha that is not actively engaged in helping others along the Buddhist path is NO Buddha. It seems to me that your concept of a “static” enlightenment has much to do with an erroneous understanding of the Buddhist doctrine of no-self (anatma). The anatma doctrine does not deny the existence of individual persons. Persons are counted among existing things (dharmas) in the early Abhidharma literature. Typically, a “person” is a term used to refer to a particular grouping of the five heaps (skandhas) that make up an individual – namely, form, feeling, perceptions, will and consciousness. What the anatma doctrine refutes is an all-pervading, eternal and unchanging atman (self) among the impermanent components of existence (dharmas).

I'm basing some of my thoughts off the concept of the six hells, which among other things includes the hell of being human, i.e having a self. It seems to me that the concept of no-self involves a denial of identity, arguing instead for no identity as a form of enlightenment. IMHO, the denial of identity doesn't so much lead to enlightenment as it leads to that stasis I mentioned in the original post. You identify in your comment two components that a Buddha needs to have in order to be a Buddha, and with that perspective offered, I would offer in return that needing to have those two components provides the Buddha a form of attachment and identity based around those components, which seems counter to the concept of no-self.