Shinzen Young On Enlightenment

Shinzen and HPK on Enlightenment

Shinzen and HPK on Enlightenment

Har-Prakash Khalsa, an online buddy and a fellow student of Shinzen Young, finally decided to blog his heart out. Nice! Welcome to the blogosphere, bro. *Fist bump* 🙂 His very first blog post is his awesome interview with Shinzen on the subject of enlightenment. Here’s an excerpt.

Har-Prakash Khalsa – Given that, in your own words,  “enlightenment is a multi-faceted jewel”, is there a description of enlightenment that you like?

Shinzen Young – In this regard I tend to go towards my Buddhist background.  Scholastic Theravada Buddhism says that three things go away at the initial experience of enlightenment. It’s very significant that it’s put in terms of an elimination process; something goes away, rather than an attainment, a “getting” of something. So enlightenment is not yet another thing that you have to get.  And meditation as a path to enlightenment could be described as merely setting the stage for Nature/Grace to eliminate from you what needs to be eliminated.

The technical terms in Pali for the three things that go away are “sakkaya-ditthi”, “vicikiccha”, and “silabbata-paramasa”. Sakkaya-ditthi is the most important. Sakkaya-ditthi is the perception that there is an entity, a thing inside us called a self. That goes away.

HPK – When you say “the perception that a thing inside us called a self” goes away, do you mean completely away?

SZY – The ambiguity is the word perception. The actual word is ditti in Pali, or drishti in Sanskrit, which I think you know means “view”, literally. In this context ditti or drishti refers to a fundamental paradigm, or concept about something. So in this case perception is perhaps not the best word. It’s more like the fundamental conviction that there is a thing inside us called a self disappears. According to the traditional formulation after enlightenment that never comes back. However, if by perception of self we mean momentarily being caught in one’s sense of self, that happens to enlightened people over and over again, but less and less as enlightenment deepens and matures.

Read the rest of the interview. It’s a great read, especially for those who have a daily meditation practice. It’s an excellent example of a conversation between a teacher and a student. I like a teacher who is not afraid to talk about the “e” word, and a student who is not intimidated to ask questions. Shinzen’s matter-of-factness description of enlightenment is very clear, tangible, and pragmatic. He inspires me to make daily meditation practice integral part of growing up.

P.S. For those of us who enjoy watching Shinzen’s Youtube channel, we have Har-Prakash to thank for. He’s the guy behind the video editing and uploads. Thanks for the spreading kick-ass dharma, bro! May you be safe, be happy, be healthy, and live with ease.

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