Friday, July 03, 2009

The Unsayable in Words (part I)

Many people, when they enter a discussion on spirituality and spiritual Enlightenment, sooner or later say something like:
  • "It cannot be described in words."
  • "He who knows doesn't speak of it."
  • "You can only experience it, you cannot communicate it."
Now to disagree with it is one thing, to produce evidence that the Enlightened through the ages have described their state and/or expressed that they are Enlightened is another. This post falls in that "another" category.
  1. Siddharth Gautam (circa 500 BC)

    "As long as my knowledge and vision of things as they actually unfold was not perfectly clear, each of the four truths in each of its three aspects - twelve turns in all - I could not claim to have realized the incomparable supreme enlightenment in this universe with its gods, its destroyers and its creators; in this generation with its recluses and its Brahmins, its spirits and its humans. But when my knowledge and vision of things as they actually unfold became perfectly clear - four truths, each with three aspects, making twelve turns in all - then I did claim to have realized the incomparable supreme enlightenment in this universe with its powers, its destroyers and creators; in this generation with its recluses and Brahmins, its spirits and its humans. Then knowledge and insight arose in me: nothing any longer holds me here; this is the last birth; there will be no more becoming." (the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)

    "There is that sphere where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither the infinitude of space, nor the infinitude of consciousness (...) neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support. This, just this, is the end of dukkha." (Udana 8.1, Total Unbinding).

  2. Jesus Christ (circa 1 BC)

    "And where I go you know, and the way you know.' Thomas said to Him, 'Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" - John 14:4-6

  3. Adi Sankaracharya (circa 800 AD)

    "Dwelling in this body as a mere temporary halting-place, he meets the things of sense just as they come, like a child subject to another's will; thus lives the knower of the Self, who shows no outward sign, nor is attached to external things. Whether clothed in space alone, or wearing other vestures, or clothed in skins, or in a vesture of thought; like one in trance, or like a child, or like a shade, he walks the earth."

    "Binding and getting rid of bondage have to be spoken of because of. the existence, and yet the unreality, of enveloping by unwisdom. But there is no enveloping of the Eternal; it is not enveloped because nothing besides the Eternal exists to envelop it.

    "The binding and the getting rid of bondage are both mirages; the deluded attribute the work of thought to the thing itself; just as they attribute the cloud-born cutting off of vision to the sun; for the unchanging is secondless consciousness, free from every clinging stain.

    "The belief that bondage of the Real, is, and the belief that it has ceased, are both mere things of thought; not of the everlasting Real.

    "Therefore these two, glamor-built, bondage and the getting rid of bonds, exist not in the Real; the partless, changeless, peaceful; the unassailable, stainless; for what building-up could there be in the secondless, supreme reality, any more than in clear space?

    "There is no limiting, nor letting go, no binding nor gaining of success; there is neither the seeker of Freedom, nor the free; this, verily, is the ultimate truth."

    "For this world no longer is, whether past, present, or to come, after awakening to the supreme reality, in the real Self, the Eternal, from all wavering free. The snake seen in the rope exists not, nor even a drop of water in the desert mirage, where the deer thirsts.

    "This duality is mere glamor, for the supreme reality is not twofold; thus the scripture says, and it is directly experienced in dreamlessness."

    (from Vivekchudamani)

  4. Mansur Al-Hallaj (circa 900 AD)

    "Anal Haq" ("I am the Truth").

    "There is nothing wrapped in my turban but God."

  5. Meister Eckhart (circa 1300 AD)

    "Nothing hinders the soul so much in attaining to the knowledge of God as time and place. Therefore, if the soul is to know God, it must know Him outside time and place, since God is neither in this or that, but One and above them. If the soul is to see God, it must look at nothing in time; for while the soul is occupied with time or place or any image of the kind, it cannot recognize God." (The Nearness of the Kingdom sermon)

    "God's being is my life, but if it is so, then what is God's must be mine and what is mine God's. God's is-ness is my is-ness, and neither more nor less. They just live eternally with God, on a par with God, neither deeper nor higher. All their work is done by God and God's by them."

    "The eye by which I see God is the same as the eye by which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one and the same--one in seeing, one in knowing, and one in loving."

    To be continued in the next part:

  6. Guru Nanak Dev (circa 1500 AD)

  7. Sri Ramakrishna (circa 1850 AD)

  8. Ramana Maharishi (circa 1900 AD)

  9. Jiddu Krishnamurti (20th century AD)

  10. Chandar Mohan Jain, aka Osho (20th century AD)


Anonymous said...

And poor 'R' ?

QQ said...

Q: How many Zen buddhists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Three - one to change it, one to not-change it and one to both change- and not-change it.

Anonymous said...

Proof of pudding is in eating.

Harmanjit Singh said...

Richard has obviously described enlightenment, and forthrightly claimed that he lived in an ASC for 11 years:

"In September 1981 I underwent a monumental transformation into an Altered State Of Consciousness (ASC) which can only be described as ‘Spiritual Enlightenment’. I became enlightened as the result of an earnest and intense process which commenced in the January of that year. At approximately six o’clock on the morning of Sunday 6th September 1981, my ‘ego’ disappeared entirely in an edifying moment of awakening to an Absolute Reality. I called this ASC an ‘Absolute Freedom’ because there was definitely a metaphysical Absolute in all this – as distinct from the temporal and spatial and material – that was ever-present, and this State Of Being immediately imbued me with Love Agapé and Universal Compassion for all sentient beings. I seemed to be driven by some force to spread The Word and that had never been my intention when I first had what is known as a pure consciousness experience (PCE) in 1980. My intent back then had been to cleanse myself of all that is detrimental to personal happiness and interpersonal harmony ... in other words: peace on earth in our life-time. Instead of that rather simple ambition, I found myself impelled on an odyssey to be the latest Saviour of Humankind in a long list of Enlightened Beings bringing Truth and Love to a suffering humanity ... and that imposition did not sit well with me, as they had all failed in their Divine Work."

Harmanjit Singh said...

From the same article (Richard's Resume):

Over the eleven years I had numerous experiences of a condition that seemed so extreme that one must surely die to attain to it. To go beyond Enlightenment seemed to be an impossibility whilst still alive and breathing. Then at midday on Friday the 30th October 1992 a curious event occurred, due to my intense conviction that it was imperative that someone evince a final and complete condition that would ‘deliver the goods’ so longed for by humanity for millennia. Just like my ego had dissolved, back in 1981, my ‘soul’ disappeared. I was no longer a ‘Self’ existing for all Eternity and transcending Time and Space. I no longer had a feeling of ‘being’ – nor ‘Being’ – and I could no longer detect the presence of The Absolute. There was no ‘Presence’ at all. Since that date I have continued to live in a condition of complete emancipation and utter autonomy ... the condition is both permanent and actual. I lived in the Enlightened State for eleven years, so I have an intimate understanding of the marked difference between spiritual freedom and actual freedom ... it is different in that it is most definitely substantial: there is no longer a transcendence, for I have neither sorrow nor malice anywhere at all to rise above. They have vanished entirely, leaving me both blithesome and benign – carefree and harmless – which leads to a most remarkable state of affairs. The chief characteristics of Enlightenment – Union with the Divine, Universal Compassion, Love Agapé, Ineffable Bliss, Divine Rapture, The Truth, Timelessness, Spacelessness, Immortality, Aloneness, Oneness, Pacifism, Surrender, Trust, Beauty, and Goodness – being redundant in this totally new condition, are no longer extant. Herein lies the unmistakable distinction between this condition, which I call actual freedom, and the Enlightened State: I am no longer driven by a Divine Sense Of Mission to bring The Truth, Universal Love and Divine Compassion to the world. I am free to speak with whomsoever is genuinely interested in solving the ‘Mystery of Life’ and becoming totally free of the Human Condition.

Anonymous said...

It is one of the chief skills of the philosopher not to occupy himself with questions which do not concern him.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Harmanjit Singh said...

Hi Anonymous,

Philosophy aims at the logical clarification of thoughts. (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Anonymous said...

What would be more to the point, and which we would be more inclined to trust, would be an account of the host's peronal subjective accounts. The rest is an old story, as abundant as grass, merely aimed at proving your literacy (Wittgen and what not).

Anonymous said...

If someone believes that he has flown from America to England in the last few days, then, I believe, he cannot be making a mistake.

And just the same if someone says that he is at this moment sitting at a table and writing.

But even if in such cases I can’t be mistaken, isn’t it possible that I am drugged?” If I am and if the drug has taken away my consciousness, then I am not now really talking and thinking. I cannot seriously suppose that I am at this moment dreaming. Someone who, dreaming, says “I am dreaming", even if he speaks audibly in doing so, is no more right than if he said in his dream “it is raining", while it was in fact raining. Even if his dream were actually connected with the noise of the rain.

Wittgenstein(last words)

Anonymous said...

Why are you re-affirming again and again by catching from this way and that way using all the power of your intellect, if the path suits you carry on gentleman but don't say there is only one way as it usually gets said. Actual Freedom is what we all want whatever we claim to call it or whatever way we like to approach it.