How far on the Path to Enlightenment, the practitioners of the other teachings/religions can go? (Sotipana?, Arahant?)
I think Sila, Dana, Bhavana, and Brahmaviharas are the core of all religions, the true nature of humanity. But still, all religions claim that their own way of practice, or worship is the best, or the only one. Is it the same with Buddhists? Can any non-Buddhist reach Nibbana?
There seems to be a lot of overlap up to a certain point I think. However, anatta seems a be one of the most distinctive features of Buddhism. Bernadette Roberts is an interesting case that comes to mind in this regards. She was a fairly standard Christian contemplative/mystic, but about 25 years into the path the “true self” vanished and she began to unexpectedly experience “no self”, which I think she found initially quite traumatic (though found a way through that to come to terms with these experiences). There’s an old interview with her here.
She wasn’t familiar with Buddhism at all at the time, but went looked later and found parallels with her experiences in Buddhism. She’s alive and still teaching (has written several books), but very much in terms of Christian terminology and concepts.
I can’t really say how exactly her “no self” experience relates to Buddhist anatta. However, it’s certainly an interesting case.
Thank you Suaimhneas,
it is very interesting. She is on ‘the list’
I have found this list on internet: http://enlightened-people.com/list-of-enlightened-people/
It is interesting to read this list just for a general reflection (I am not going here into the fact, if it is correct list or not).
“One outcome, then, of the no-self experience is the disclosure of the true nature of self or consciousness. As it turns out, self is the entire system of consciousness, from the unconscious to God-consciousness, the entire dimension of human knowledge and feeling-experience. Because the terms “self” and “consciousness” express the same experiences (nothing can be said of one that cannot be said of the other), they are only definable in the terms of “experience”. Every other definition is conjecture and speculation. No-self, then, means no-consciousness. If this is shocking to some people, it is only because they do not know the true nature of consciousness. Sometimes we get so caught up in the content of consciousness, we forget that consciousness is also a somatic function of the physical body, and, like every such function, it is not eternal. Perhaps we would do better searching for the divine in our bodies than amid the content and experience of consciousness.” -Bernadette Roberts
Thank you for that, it is very interesting. It sounds like ‘keep your rituals but practice this way’ isn’t it? Looks like it didn’t work for most of them:
Blockquote“Every one of these foolish men is pervaded by the Evil One, so that to not even one of them will the thought occur: ‘Come, let us now live the holy life taught by the Samaṇa Gotama, that we may learn to know it. What does an interval of seven days matter?’”
I don’t know if this is sarcastic , or not. Probably it is interesting ,but I can talk about not-self regarding body and mind only. With consciousness I just don’t know.
no, no, never sarcastic! It’s just…the thing about consciousness. Normally we don’t hear non-Buddhists (or even so-called Buddhists) doubting consciousness. Compare MN 43 wisdom is to be developed, consciousness is to be fully understood.
Thanks for the list. Many of these paths definitely do lead to various forms of “enlightenment” experience. However, I’ve my doubts as to whether these all ultimately reduce down to the same underlying experience. Certainly there must be a lot of overlap between the experiences of the Christian, Advaita Vedanta, general Hindu teachers on the list. “No self” experiences do sound different though.
How these relate (if at all), I’ve no idea. An interesting link that comes to mind in this regard would be an interview by Shaila Catherine. She’s a well-known Buddhist teacher of jhanas (from the Pa Auk Sayadaw stable). However, she also was an attendant (or kind of surrogate grand-daughter) to well-known Advaita Vedanta teacher H.W.L. Poonja (“Papaji”) for several years. She talks a bit about this in the interview (from about 7:45 mins in to about 15:50 mins). She is basically very grateful for her experiences with him, which she talks about a little. However, at the end, she also says she has given up trying to relate or map her experiences with Papajii to Buddhist awakening.
The reason I brought this up is because it’s basically the clearest place in the sutta pitaka where the Buddha indicates something close to “cultural rights”. All people have cultures. The problem for the wanderers wasn’t their culture/religion- including their teacher, their monastic code, even their morality. It was their pride (special present from Mara) & unwillingness to abandon the unwholesome. Echoing DN25, a student of Buddhist social ethics might notice that a considerable portion of Buddhist social teaching was never really adopted in East Asia and that East Asian Buddhists typically remain socially Confucian - “keep your rules but practice this way” has been one of the most important contributions to the global spread of Buddhism.
Another example of “right to culture” is in the work of one of the bright lights of 20th century Buddhism- the Theravada monk Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda. Working in the multicultural and multireligious environment in Malaysia, he was so sensitive and understanding of the cultural backgrounds of his Malaysian Mahayana Buddhist supporters. He didn’t ask them to stop being Mahayana. He just asked them to understand the real meaning (to the tremendous benefit of Malaysian Buddhism). Under different circumstances, maybe DN 25 could have ended differently?