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zykel's avatar

Can a person be enlightened or attain enlightenment and live amongst people at the same time?

Asked by zykel (63points) February 11th, 2010

I remember listening to stories that people used to go live in the jungle to attain enlightenment and then never come back.

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14 Answers

davidbetterman's avatar

Yes, they have to, as no one is truly enlightened until all are enlightened.

Spinel's avatar

@davidbetterman Why does that give me shivers?

People who hang around certain people tend to become like them overtime. Think of teens and peer pressure, families with kids and alcoholics etc. One person trying to stand against the majority’s chosen ways is like a piece of driftwood “standing” against the ocean’s tide.

An “enlightened” person will have a hard time living among common people. This “enlightened” person is trying to stand against the tide of the majority. Many individuals in history have tried by themselves to contradict widely practiced and accepted ways of society. I can’t think of one that succeeded by his own efforts and turned the majority to his way of thinking and acting.

The only way not to be influenced is to live in isolation.

davidbetterman's avatar

An enlightened person does not try to turn anyone else towards enlightenment @Spinel… All s/he can do is wait patiently until the rest of the fools tire of their silly games and choose to advance to the next stage of human development.
If you ever read Jonathon Seagull by Bach, you would understand this.

Many people who hang out with other people don’t become like those people, and manage to retain their own unique individuality.

Of course, it is not easy to stand against the tide and be an individual when every one else is saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” But there are many of us out here who do just that on a daily basis.

Of course there is only one enlightenment, regardless of what some people will try to say to ridicule your notions. But you must stand firm in the face of their childish behavior.

dpworkin's avatar

Let’s see now. Are we discussing the Vedic traditions? Are we discussing Gautama Buddha’s revisions? Are we discussing the Zen revisions to the Buddhistic revisions? Zoroastrian heresies against the Vedic traditions? Something out of Tim Leary and Dick Alpert? Something from a self-help book? Jung? Esalen Institute? Sullivanians? Scientologists? The cartoon kind, where a lightbulb goes on over your head? Which Enlightenment does your question pertain to?

Spinel's avatar

Everyone has characteristics that will never change, no matter who they associate with, like you said. But there are plenty of examples out there of people who conform to those around them, too. It is really a 50/50 chance on whether the “enlightened” person will surrender to the pressure of the crowd or not.

Let me clarify my above remark:
The phrase, “until all are enlightened” reminds me of the Roman Empire, Russia’s Communism, Hitler’s Nazi’s etc and etc. All those “enlightened” groups in history that wished to bring their “enlightenment” to the rest of the world.

I am critical of any “enlightenment.” I am critical of anyone who proclaims “I have all the answers, I know the way.” You yourself said “no one is truly enlightened until all are enlightened.” That makes a state of real and true enlightenment impossible (based on your assumption). All of humanity agreeing on one thing? All of humanity thinking one thing? Ludicrous.

Anyway, have fun fluthering. I’m not in the frame of mind to debate this tonight. Pessimistic cynical signing out.

faye's avatar

The arrogance of someone who thinks to explain enlightenment on a Q&A site!

Nullo's avatar

Depends on what you mean by enlightenment.

Strauss's avatar

That’s how the concept of a Boddhisatva was explained to me. I think it’s actually a little different from the Buddhist textbook definition, but it was put to me that a buddha is has attained enlightenment and has no need to return to this world. A boddhisatva, on the other hand, has also attained enlightenment, but chooses to return to this life to assist others on their own path to enlightenment.

ChaosCross's avatar

It depends on your definition of “enlightenment”.

Harp's avatar

There may be many ideas about enlightenment, but enlightenment has nothing to do with any of these ideas. The reason so much confusion surrounds the subject is that people imagine enlightenment as something apart from their ordinary experience, and then try to imagine what that must be like. But as soon as you make the assumption that “there’s ordinary experience, and then there’s enlightenment” , or even that one goes from being ordinary to being enlightened, then enlightenment becomes unattainable.

You’re imagining that someone who’s enlightened is somehow fundamentally different from you, but in reality the principle difference is that the enlightened one doesn’t pay so much attention to differences.

robaccus's avatar

other people are prerequisite

Strauss's avatar

@zykel Many of the greatest religious figures preceded their public life by some type of retreat.

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