What Is It Like to Be Enlightened?
Welcome to our Daily Dhamma. Today’s topic is: What is it like to be enlightened? That’s a good question, isn’t it?
Is it what we are striving for ultimately, right? So why is it a good question? Why is it good to know?
I think obviously it’s something all are curious about and want to know. First of all, so we know if it’s something worth attaining ourselves.
Also to know how far we are from it. But another I think interesting point is that it allows us to direct ourselves in the right direction. Even when we’re not enlightened ourselves, we can mimic an enlightened being. Mimic is not the right word. We can emulate is the word.
Emulate is when we keep the five precepts. Well enlightened beings don’t kill naturally. For the unenlightened, it’s something you have to work at. So you emulate enlightened behavior. A cynic will say you’re fake. But you know the saying fake it until you make it.
There’s something interesting there, because the Tibetans believed that by pretending that you are a Buddha, not pretending, by believing. By believing that you are a Buddha, you actually become closer to being a Buddha. While I don’t agree that that’s adequate practice, I don’t know that Tibetans really do either. Don’t know too much about their tradition.
But there’s something to it.
It gives you a roadmap.
It gives you some markers to live by. To know when you’re acting like an enlightened being and to know when you’re not, so you know what you have to change.
So that is the question, what is it like to be enlightened?
There’s a story I think is interesting, I’ve got two lists that I can think of. Well the Buddha gave all the characteristics of what it might be like to be enlightened. First one is I think my favorite.
Sariputta the Buddha asks—Sariputta says something about the Buddha. The Buddha says oh, so you have faith in me that I’m enlightened? Sariputta says, no I don’t have faith in you that you’re enlightened. And the buddha went away. Sariputta was the Buddha’s Chief Disciple, right? I mean Chief Disciple saying, hey I don’t have faith in you. [smiles]
So the monks were all disturbed by this. The unenlightened monks were disturbed by it because they misunderstood what he meant. And didn’t mean that—Sariputta didn’t meant that he didn’t think he wasn’t enlightened but he KNEW that the Buddha was enlightened. It wasn’t out of faith, right? So they started talking about this, “oh Sariputta has no faith in the Buddha.”
And the Buddha hears them talking and says, “What are you guys talking about?”
They say, and then the Buddha says, “that’s right, he’s faithless.”
And he gives this verse, “Asa do akata niu at sandi cheda yao naro.” (spelling?)
You have to really understand Pali to get the joke.
Asa do means faithless.
Akata niu means, it’s a word that means ungrateful
At means not
kata means what is done
and niu means one who knows
So it means one who doesn’t know. In the sense that someone who doesn’t keep in mind the things that were done for them. Someone does something for you, you just forget about it, not interested. Not grateful is what it means. Akata niu.
Sandi cheda means one who breaks chains, breaks locks. A lock pick.
So when you have, when they would lock up their gates in India, you had to keep the robbers out. And so a “sandiche” was a robber. Someone who picks locks. A house breaker kind of thing. Sandi means a chain. Cheda means break. Cheda means one who cuts with whatever they had to cut the chain.
Hataba kaso someone who has destroyed all opportunity. Someone who has destroyed all opportunity. Someone who is without any future. It’s something you would say about a bum. Someone who had dropped out of school and has no interest. Maybe just does drugs all day or something. Drank alcohol all day. This is someone with no opportunity.
One taso means someone who is hopeless. Means someone you have no hope in. You look at them and say, “I cannot hope good for that person. There’s no hope for them. All hope is lost.”
And then the Buddha says, “Satway ura poreso.” (spelling?)
This is the height of humanity he says.
He’s talking about Sariputta.