Twitter Conversation About Enlightenment

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner So, also no experience that makes anyone “scared”, “angry”. Really? I mean reeeally? 😯

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I’m not sure what you mean. But I think I’d say yes.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner You are saying our enlightenment is disconnected from our emotions, and our emotions are disconnected from our experience?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Emotions are a kind of experience. Enlightenment is not.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner OK, you are saying that enlightenment is not an experience? So are you saying it is imperceptible (in other words) disembodied?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Someone asked my teacher, “Can you notice your own enlightenment?” He said, “No.” But I wouldn’t call it “disembodied.”

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner Do you agree with your teacher?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Yes. Because for you to notice enlightenment would require you to stand apart from it, like looking at your own eyeballs.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner So, how do you explain what happened on the bridge over the Sengawa River?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I keep trying!

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner If enlightenment passes thru us like a neutrino, why single out the bridge over the Sengawa River for special treatment?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I never said anything passes thru anyone like a neutrino!

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner Hmmm, seems a bit evasive. Look, you say you can’t notice/experience enlightenment – then you write the account on the bridge?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology if you’re asking if there is some other experience that is enlightenment then no, you’re on the wrong track still.

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner No, my question was to invite you to confirm that the bridge over the river episode was not enlightenment. So what say you?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology Only you can answer that since you have defined enlightenment for yourself already. So what say you?

:Dharmacology (@dharmacology)

@BradWarner Did you get enlightened on the bridge or not? Give an honest answer. It’s a claim based on your evaluation not mine. So?

Brad Warner (@BradWarner)

@dharmacology I did not make any such claims & I have been very honest. I’m going on a 5 week retreat now. See you in September!


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108 Responses

Page 2 of 2
  1. Fred
    Fred August 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

    “Moreover, any attempt to bridge the gap through the use of words such as “god” or “universe” or “mystic consciousness” in my experience tends to condition people to ignore the discrete reality from which the sense of continuity arises in favor of an affirmation of continuity apart from discrete reality which is entirely mental, and to suffer as a result.”

    “Therefore, Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness; No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind; No sight-organ element, and so forth, until we come to: No mind-consciousness element; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to: there is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path. There is no cognition, no attainment and non-attainment.”

  2. Fred
    Fred August 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

    Brad Warner: ” I saw that this was not me at all. ”

    Buddha ” Therefore, Sariputra, in emptiness there is no form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness “

  3. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

    Who saw this was not, Sariputra?

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

    Always wanted to know what the lyrics to Monkey Man were!

  5. Andy
    Andy August 9, 2013 at 3:50 am |


    The issue -WAS- who’s responsibility it was to clarify statements… I believe it was the person who made the statement, you believed (initially) that it was the reader’s burden to bear. That such a fault was “a judgement made by the reader.”

    No, that’s what you keep wanting the issue to be. An unclouded read-through of the opening exchanges show that to be false. It cannot be supported by reading the actual exchanges.

    My first response to mjkawa in this thread was very clear. When I make the point: Even if a particular writer has been unnecessarily obscure that doesn’t mean you can use that as an example to prove you don’t have your own problems as a reader. I wasn’t saying that the burden is on the reader, I was saying that one shouldn’t forget that you as a reader ALSO have a responsibility. Don’t use other’s faults to distract you from your own.

    It was you who came back with a weak point.

    “Yeah but we won’t know where the fault lies unless the one doing the writing makes their language as clear as they can, and the idea they are expressing as precise as possible.”

    It is self-evident that only a reader can find ‘fault’ in a text. Even a writer has to be a reader to find ‘fault’ in their own writing. You made the mistake, and keep making the mistake, that this means that I was placing an unbalanced burden on the reader. I wasn’t expressing that a writer doesn’t have a responsibility, nor that a reader can’t be correct in their judgement. I kept reiterating my position. You’ve stuck by your position about all this, despite the fact that it cannot be supported by the actual evidence.

    Long, Looooong, L O O O N G story made short — you made a statement that made little sense — and mjkawa got your goat with it.

    That statement was: “…we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.” — a poetic, but silly statement. Everything you have written since your dialog with mjkawa/myself has it’s original source in that butthurt.

    That’s not really an objective position, that’s trying your best to be pissy. It made little sense to mjkawa. Or rather, if you had read the response, he/she claimed it didn’t, and then proceeded in two posts to make some sense of it, and disagree with it. One in reply to Fred, who found it perfectly sensible, yet disagreed with it.

    The language itself was neither unclear nor unnecessarily obscure to justify the accusation that it was an example of dialogue-impeding language. mjkawa could have asked for further explanation, but didn’t. Further down the thread I gave some anyway.

    There was no ‘butthurt’ on my part. In using the quotation from his/her response to me in a previous thread, I took mjkawa as re-opening the discussion again, albeit indirectly, and so responded my own reminder. I only brought it up with you so that you would have some context to that discussion which you were not aware of.

    The link is a very interesting addition to an ongoing debate. And goes to show that my words weren’t as silly as you wanted to say above, since they clearly pointed you to a related linguistic subject.

    Language is not just a tool of communication for us to use; we are also tools by which language expresses/fashions the world.

    Notice how this sentence does not make singular claims about language shaping cognition v cognition shaping language. I didn’t claim that only language fashions the world. If pressed, I would have added that it plays a part in fashioning the world and also the other way round.

    I held no gripe with mjkawa. Responding to claims about something I’ve written doesn’t mean I’m suffering from some “original butthurt”. And the manner in which I reply doesn’t really support that. Your responses, loaded as they have increasingly been with emotiveness and derogation, lead me to the conclusion that you’ve got yourself wound-up and this has marred your ability to hold a mature dialogue.

    As I said, this leaves me saddened. But I will stick tothe facts.

    1. Shodo
      Shodo August 9, 2013 at 4:32 am |

      As you wish.

  6. Andy
    Andy August 9, 2013 at 4:25 am |

    btw, regarding the linked blog article about thought/language, the comments section provides some excellent critique and debate about it.

  7. Andy
    Andy August 9, 2013 at 4:43 am |

    Good old An3drew. Makes me feel nostalgic.

  8. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 9, 2013 at 4:49 am |

    Andy, and or Shodo, or anyone… have you read a book titled THE ANTHOLOGIST by Nicholas Baker? A friend rec. it recently and I am thoroughly enjoying it. There is a wealth of information about the history and evolution of poetry and language I’d not run across elsewhere, and it also works as a novel. Viva la Entertainment!

    Ex; Carpe diem literally means “Pluck the day” not “Seize (cape) the day” but who would have cont. to say, hey Bill, Pluck the Day, buddy!?

    “…what Horace meant–pick the day, harvest the day, reap the day, mow the day, forage the day. Don’t freaking grab the day in your fist like a burger at the fairground and take a big chomping bite out of it. That’s not the kind of man Horace was.” -p 127

  9. Andy
    Andy August 9, 2013 at 5:21 am |

    Thanks for the book recommend, Mumbles. I’m going to bookmark that for when I renew my poetry habit. Since I left teaching, I’ve been revisiting my old haunts of Sci-Fi and fantasy.

    I recommend Gene Wolfe’s Solar Cycle Books (Book of the New Sun, Book of the Old Sun, Book of the short sun). Not to everyone’s tastes, but if he weren’t writing in an oft belittled genre, he might be up there with one of the great writers of recent times.

    And tonight a double bill: Wise Blood followed by Re-animator on DVD.

    “I don’t have to run away from anything, cause I don’t believe in anything. ” (Wise Blood)

    “Herbert you’re insane! Now what happened here?” (Re-animator)

  10. Andy
    Andy August 9, 2013 at 5:56 am |

    Not “Book of the Old Sun” – “Book of the Long Sun”

  11. Fred
    Fred August 9, 2013 at 7:10 am |

    “Who saw this was not, Sariputra?”


  12. Fred
    Fred August 9, 2013 at 8:17 am |

    The agent in space-time is a cultural phenomena shaped by language and thought:

    Boroditsky’s research suggests, for example, that the mechanics of using a language such as English, which tends to assign an agent to an action regardless of the agent’s intent, also tends to more vividly imprint that agent in the speaker’s memory. Other linguistic differences help young children in aboriginal cultures achieve powers of navigation that would confound a Harvard professor. She is amassing a body of intriguing and creative evidence that language influences how its speakers focus their attention, remember events and people, and think about the world around them. And these influences may provide insight to a given culture’s conception of time, space, color or even justice.

    Boroditsky’s colleagues and mentors say her research is generating breakthrough insights. She is “one of the first to show truly convincing effects of language on cognitive processes,” including mental imagery, reasoning, perception and problem solving, says Daniel Slobin, a professor emeritus of psychology and linguistics at UC-Berkeley. Slobin coined the term “thinking for speaking” to describe how the language-specific ways different cultures talk about space and time shape how they think about space and time. He adds that Boroditsky “has taken on some of the major dimensions of abstract thought.”

  13. Fred
    Fred August 9, 2013 at 8:45 am |

    “It should not be assumed that the absence of a word for “time” is a shortcoming of the Hopi language. It is a consequence of a totally different method of understanding the laws of nature. A basic difference between our languages and native American languages like the Hopi language is that, while we make much use of substantives to describe objects, the Hopi language prefers the use of verbs to describe processes.”

  14. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 9, 2013 at 9:34 am |

    Congratulations, Andy, congratulations, Shodo, special award to Fred; fabulous article, IMO. This is how it is for me; through the acrimony, the righteous indignation, the anger and the cheap shots, suddenly the water has a moon in it and I am startled back to where I am by the striking beauty of things as they are.

    “Almost a decade ago, Boroditsky, then a young assistant professor at MIT, conducted a study of Mandarin speakers that thrust her into the spotlight. English speakers, she explains, tend to see time on a horizontal plane: The best years are ahead; he put his past behind him. Speakers of Mandarin, however, tend to see time both horizontally and vertically, with new events emerging from the ground like a spring of water, the past above and the future below. Boroditsky’s first paper on this work attracted what her colleagues say were unusually spirited rebuffs claiming the work was flawed and could not be duplicated. But later studies have shown the same results.”

    “Consider space. About a third of the world’s languages do not rely on words for right and left. Instead, their speakers use what are called absolute directions–north, south, east and west. For everything. In Australia, for example, if Tara VanDerveer were giving a basketball clinic to the aboriginal Thaayorre in their native language, she’d have to order her players to dribble up the south side of the court, fake east, go west, then make a layup on the west side of the basket.

    This orientation to the compass points affects all sorts of tasks. When speakers of these languages are asked to arrange photographs showing a time sequence, they line them up east to west. English speakers tend to view time-sequence photographs as going from left to right, while Hebrew speakers line them up right to left. The upshot of the need to constantly stay oriented in order to communicate the simplest concept, says Boroditsky, is that in communities of these speakers, even small children can perform phenomenal feats of navigation, and everyone is constantly mentally synchronizing their spatial relationships.”

    1. Shodo
      Shodo August 12, 2013 at 8:17 am |

      “Congratulations Shodo…”

      LoL… I have never been congratulated for falling down a deep hole with a shovel before.

      But for what it’s worth, I’d like to apologize to Andy for digging instead of trying to climb out.

  15. Fred
    Fred August 9, 2013 at 9:59 am |

    At first I didn’t understand what the hell Mark was talking about, but over time
    it has either become clearer to me,

    or I can jiggle Fred’s worldview so that bits of it fit in.

  16. Cidercat
    Cidercat August 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm |

    You can never tell anybody anything.

  17. Fred
    Fred August 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

    “The upshot of the need to constantly stay oriented in order to communicate the simplest concept, says Boroditsky, is that in communities of these speakers, even small children can perform phenomenal feats of navigation, and everyone is constantly mentally synchronizing their spatial relationships”

  18. Whi10y
    Whi10y August 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

    An easier way to describe it to people on the outside of it (and I’m sure I’m just talking out of my ass here):

    “Enlightenment” is a shift in personal perception from what you thought the things were like to what things are truly. You can’t point to it after it happens because it was always there, you were just not adequately plugged into it. Life is still life afterward, it’s just better informed and more tangibly connected to that realization and constant truth because you’ve come out the other side of it.

  19. Gwen
    Gwen August 10, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

    little story about a moment.
    I was waiting in the car, my boyfriend had parked outside of a shop. It was that day when Winter is melting into Spring. I was watching a drop of water slide down an icicle. At the end of it’s journey down the side of the icicle it stopped , right at the tip. It clung tenaciously for a few seconds. At the split second it let go to fall to the earth, all the sunlight in the sky reflected out of the droplet for a split second, blasting into my eyes. If I’d moved my head a millimeter, of if the car had been parked a millimeter over I’d have missed it.

  20. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm |

    I think I can describe setting up mindfulness of proprioception a little better.

    Checking in with pitch, yaw, and roll wherever I feel my awareness to be can be useful, provided at the same time I am open to the possible movement of awareness (movement that can take place without any physical movement).

    That would be the inclusion of proprioception in equalibrioception, and if you’re having trouble sleeping I would recommend it. Also, if I am having trouble letting go of doing anything and remaining upright in the lotus, these exercises allow me to realize a relaxed alignment dictated by gravity and the surface of the skin.

    “When finally you arrive at towering up like a mile-high wall, you will realize there are not so many things.” Mr. Yuanwu, the ginzu-knife salesman.

  21. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

    oh, and the movement of breath. I forgot the sun and the moon.

  22. Fred
    Fred August 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

    you know what’s right and what’s wrong and together you witness each other’s
    Where the worldly truth prevails, one who has the single eye can cut off everything in the ten directions and stand like a mile high wall.

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm |

    I expanded on the movement of breath on my own site, as follows:

    “The sense of location and the freedom of the sense of location to move are really a part of the movement of breath; if they are constricted, the breath is cut off. That is why Bodhidharma said, “have no coughing or sighing in the mind– with your mind like a wall you can enter the way” (Denkoroku, translated by Thomas Cleary, 3 pg 111). Through his use of the words “coughing” and “sighing”, Bodhidharma points to the intimate relationship between self-awareness, or mind, and continuity in the movement of breath; his direction only really makes sense when the exercise of equalibrioception and proprioception, the senses most identified with the physical awareness of self, is experienced as inherent in the movement of breath, as necessary to the continuity of breath.

    Setting up a mindfulness of proprioception, or the freedom of awareness to move, in connection with equalibrioception, or the sense of balanced movement wherever my awareness is now, helps me to relax into my own experience, even if the only result is that I fall asleep”

    The complete rewrite is here.

  24. Fred
    Fred August 11, 2013 at 6:02 am |

    “have no coughing or sighing in the mind— with your mind like a wall you can enter the way” is the ability to sit in emptiness without the self intruding.

    Coughing or sighing in the mind is the jolt of the self-ego trying to regain

    “wherever “my” awareness is now, unconstrained by focus on locus of the
    physical body, rises up like a mile high wall

  25. Fred
    Fred August 11, 2013 at 5:30 pm |


    “All that is important in this school is that enlightenment be clear and thorough, like the silver mountain and the iron wall, towering up solitary and steep, many miles high. Since this realization is as sudden as sparks and lightning, whether or not you try to figure it out, you immediately fall into a pit.”

  26. Fred
    Fred August 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm |

    A man of no distinction living in
    the deserted wasteland with only
    the flytip blowing in the wind and
    his just desserts, the ineffable,
    for lunch and supper.

    Downunder amid the gum trees
    the ornery aspy munching on
    wallaby brains and offal
    his kuru visions for breakfast,
    lunch and supper.

  27. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 13, 2013 at 8:55 am |

    “the silver mountain and the iron wall”- snow in a silver bowl and a heron hidden in front of the moon?

    1. Fred
      Fred August 13, 2013 at 11:47 am |

      “the silver mountain and the iron wall”- snow in a silver bowl and a heron hidden in front of the moon?”

      “Before you have penetrated, it seems like a silver mountain, an iron wall. Once you have penetrated, it turns out your own self is the iron wall, the silver mountain.”

      Snow in a silver bowl and a heron hidden in front the moon is about the relative and the absolute.

      The silver mountain is about the absolute that appeared separate from the relative,
      but having been pierced, you are the absolute functioning in the relative as one.

  28. Uku
    Uku August 13, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

    Hello everyone!

    Because I have received quite many emails and read some comments and rumours also in here Brad’s blog why I gave up Zen Buddhism and zazen, I decided to write a little blog post in English. I hope this blog post will clarify some things why I changed Zen to Hare Krishnas.

    All the best

  29. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

    Bravo, brother Uku. As Polonius in Hamlet said, to thine own self be true.

    It may (or may not) surprise some to know that Nisargadatta Maharaj was a bhakti yogi prior to enlightenment. Even late in his life he performed bhajans to his guru and all the gurus in his lineage…

    His first book was a bhakti homage to Sri Lord Krishna:

  30. Fred
    Fred August 13, 2013 at 6:33 pm |

    Why would anyone send a nasty comment? Wherever you are and whatever you
    do is your business.

  31. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 13, 2013 at 8:48 pm |

    Thanks, Uku, for the update. I think I was lucky to meet Kobun Otogawa, with his emphasis on “soft zen”; it was ok to take my time with the lotus. As I’ve said before, I’m still taking my time with the lotus, and in the process I’ve become convinced that it’s not about becoming ordained and receiving transmission for me, it’s about recognizing what I do naturally in just being alive. The lotus is my teacher, even though I mostly just sit 40 minutes in the morning and 20 at night, and through me I hope the lotus can find a voice.

    Maybe I could use a more devotional practice, as well?

    from the article introducing Maharaj’s first text, quoted by Mumbles above:

    “Also, Jean states quite clearly in her other books, that near the end of his life he was in constant pain and did not indulge idle
    questions of the curious, but only pounded on his highest teachings. Robert spent several months near Maharaj. Robert did not approve, saying he was rude and often even apparently cruel towards some of his students. Robert said Balsekar was one of Maharaj’s favorite targets.”

    A strange aside.

    “Before you have penetrated, it seems like a silver mountain, an iron wall. Once you have penetrated, it turns out your own self is the iron wall, the silver mountain.”

    Gautama’s practice was “the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths”. The first and third meditative states he described as like a forming a soap ball in a bronze vessel and like lotuses that bloom under the water. The second and fourth meditative states were like water from a spring that fills a containment to the brim and like white cloth wrapped around the head and the entire body so that no part of the body is not covered.

    The feeling of the first and third I take to be like the heron in front of the moon, the second and fourth like the snow collecting in a silver bowl, and yet:

    “Through his use of the words “coughing” and “sighing”, Bodhidharma points to the intimate relationship between self-awareness, or mind, and continuity in the movement of breath; his direction only really makes sense when the exercise of equalibrioception and proprioception, the senses most identified with the physical awareness of self, is experienced as inherent in the movement of breath, as necessary to the continuity of breath. ”

    It’s about recognizing what I do naturally in just being alive- “it turns out your own self is the iron wall, the silver mountain”. Maybe I can work on the devotional aspect of myself a little more.

  32. Fred
    Fred August 14, 2013 at 7:12 am |

    “Coming, going, the waterbirds
    don’t leave a trace
    don’t follow a path. ”

    The self is the portal through which the iron wall/silver mountain is manifested.

    Whether this self is damaged or whole, wears orange robes or purple robes is

    The “I” must die.

  33. Harlan
    Harlan August 14, 2013 at 10:53 am |

    When it was suggested to A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami at the time of founding the ISKCON in 1966 that the broader term “God Consciousness” would be preferable to “Krishna Consciousness” in the title, he rejected this recommendation, suggesting that the name Krishna includes all other forms and concepts of God.

  34. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

    From, Koun Franz’s blog:

    “The other night, after returning home from my teacher’s temple, where we celebrated the Buddha’s enlightenment, I fell head first into what I suppose is my own version of internet porn: Zen people arguing with Zen people on Zen blogs about Zen. These days the topic is sex, and the discussion is heated, and like any kind of pornography, it left me simultaneously wanting to see more and never, never wanting to see it again.”

    Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum…

    1. Fred
      Fred August 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

      Did he leap clear of the many and the one?

  35. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

    Who’s leaping clear of what, Sariputra?

  36. Dharmacology
    Dharmacology September 11, 2013 at 3:28 pm |

    Hello everyone, I will be here for a few days.

  37. Saying Too Much | Rethinking Religion September 18, 2014 at 6:34 pm |

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