Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mysticism and its Mystification with respect to Enlightenment.

I would like to say a bit more about some of the ideas of the Speculative Non-Buddhists and Tutteji in particular, this time on enlightenment.  I am not necessarily talking about the Soto "practice as enlightenment" per se  below, as I come at this mostly from a Rinzai perspective, but on the other hand, I don't wish to have it understood that I'm trying to invalidate the Soto position either.  In what follows, as far as I'm concerned, I'm mainly talking about experiences of kensho  (見性) and satori (悟り) rather than the Dogen practice enlightenment, but I don't necessarily wish to exclude Soto's position.  

People like Kenneth Folk or Daniel Ingram or that other guy whose name I can't remember at the moment are really visible straw-men for their critics, especially because, at least to me, their "practice" does not seem in any way deep or authentic. Those are polite words for something else. Folk and Ingram, if I understand correctly, readily admit they're "enlightened" but they also readily admit  they might not "be enlightened the way the Buddha was," but their use of the word is a transparent attempt to hijack all the meaning involved in the Buddha's enlightenment to their particular projects.

As a technical guy, the fact that they bandy words about like "neuroscience" and other pseudo tech words,  is, I guess, their attempt to sound hep to the techie set they understand exists in The Valley Where the Money Is.

And then they use words like "pragmatic." 

It invites the charge that all enlightenment accounts and experiences are hoaxes or delusions, and in particular with respect to accounts from those such as the self-professed charlatans above, fraudulent.

Now that I cannot abide.

Just because there's boys in High School claiming all sorts of sexual exploits doesn't imply that in High School there are no boys getting any.

The only way you'll have to legitimately answer the question though for yourself is to pay your own dues. 

I think there are genuine enlightenment experiences, and attempts to deny or marginalize those experiences are themselves a form of mystification,  just as the charge is spot-on that people like Folk and Ingram are themselves mystifying enlightenment. The critics' mystification exists to advance their own ends, I would posit.   But the fact that there is mystification does not in any way invalidate anyones experience of the transcendent.  In addition, it doesn't make one perfect in any way at all.  

I also think there are enlightenment accounts that are not attempts to mystify the experience; these accounts exist because, people have the experience, that dammit, something did happen. It's what people impute to that something that did happen, though that I think makes the difference.  And these accounts, I think, are instructive in yet another way with respect to the charlatans: the charlatans are saying you'll benefit from an awakening experience, but most of the accounts I've seen from people whose later results seemed benevolent indicate that nothing changed.  And indeed nothing should change because you've got to put something in motion for interdependent phenomena to arise.


Tutte Wachtmeister said...

Hi again,
Something similar to what you're talking about here was recently discussed in our non-buddhist politburo: http://faithfulbuddhist.com/2013/09/02/the-truth-of-anatman/

Mumon K said...


I get what they're saying there and it's a nice enough project, Marxist Buddhism. But, full disclosure: I AM a guy who publishes this blog:


just to see what a simulacrum of content to indicate what advertisers will do to sell.

It's an experiment - you can do what you want with it.

Plus, I tend to reject Platonic idealism, as an engineer. :-)

Tutte Wachtmeister said...

You're as crazy as I am. I'm so outta here.