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What is Enlightenment?

by Jinapriya

This is a quietly passionate talk by Jinapriya on the quicksilver nature of the Enlightenment experience - impossible to pin down, utterly transformative. His main theme within the frame of such a big question - 'What is Enlightenment?' - is the struggle to live our lives in the present moment, especially in the face of pain. We are met with a thoughtful series of reflections, stories and images that all look to open up the gates of perception, and prepare the heart for the biggest change imaginable and possible for all. In that sense, this is a truly optimistic talk.

N.B. There is one brief period of poor sound on this otherwise excellent recording.

Talk given at Cambridge Buddhist Centre, 2003

Tracks (click play to listen)

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1. Giving a talk when you're partially sighted; the structure of the talk; the ten fetters and stream entry; overcoming the first three fetters - you can change; a message of optimism (5:18) 
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2. A cognitive model - reflection as enjoyable and emotionally affecting; time on your hands; allowing ourselves to think about Enlightenment; avoiding religiosity - just looking and seeing (3:41) 
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3. Enlightenment is not an abstraction; the life of the Buddha - the 'Four Sights' and asceticism (4:23) 
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4. The Buddha's Enlightenment - Mara's attack; facing our greatest fears and doubts; the Buddha as a human being (4:09) 
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5. Images of the Buddha - mistaking for a negative authority figure; a man in rags; not needing anything; the Buddha at death (3:58) 
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6. The Buddha as a wise friend - pure love; being 'awake'; Sangharakshita on 'Enlightened experience' (4:31) 
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7. 'Bahiya of the Bark Garment'; being in the present moment, fear and love - feeling more (4:52) 
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8. Going beyond fixed 'ego'; ambitions - always looking to a future; Angus Deayton and the monk - seeking happiness; the journey to the moment (6:35) 
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9. The story of Ban-zan and the Butcher; what is and what isn't; unwillingness to experience discomfort; allowing suffering in - positive emotion; mindfulness and metta as the same; the transcending of time - Meister Eckhart (5:13) 
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10. Looking for insurance in the future; we are not the content of our experience; talking about consciousness; who we really are - everything into the bag (5:13) 
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11. When Reality knocks at the door; owning painful experience; surrender - Ayya Khema's 'lost cause'; fear of pain - acceptance (7:02) 
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12. All of life as the present moment; beyond objects and things - Reality bigger than any definition; the most beautiful image of the Buddha in the world (4:01) 


Total running time: 58:56