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The term SUBITISM points to sudden enlightenment , the idea that insight is attained all at once. The opposite approach, that enlightenment can be achieved only step by step, through an arduous practice, is called gradualism .
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Early
* 2.1 Dhyana and insight * 2.2 Dhyana * 2.3 Insight
* 3 Theravada
* 4 Mahayana
* 4.1 Chinese
* 4.1.1 Chan
* 188.8.131.52 Huineng * 184.108.40.206 Rivalry between schools * 220.127.116.11 Later interpretations
* 4.1.2 Hua-yen
* 4.2 Korean Seon
* 5 Neo-Vedanta
* 5.1 Ramana maharshi - Akrama mukti
* 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References
* 9 Sources
* 9.1 Published sources * 9.2 Web-sources
* 10 External links * 11 Further reading
The application of the term to
DHYANA AND INSIGHT
A core problem in the study of early
Schmithausen, in his often-cited article On some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of 'Liberating Insight' and 'Enlightenment' in Early Buddhism, notes that the mention of the four noble truths as constituting "liberating insight", which is attained after mastering the Rupa Jhanas, is a later addition to texts such as Majjhima Nikaya 36. Schmithausen discerns three possible roads to liberation as described in the suttas. Vetter adds a fourth possibility, which pre-dates these three:
* The four Rupa Jhanas themselves constituted the core liberating practice of early buddhism, c.q. the Buddha; * Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained; * Mastering the four Rupa Jhanas and the four Arupa Jhanas, where-after "liberating insight" is attained; * Liberating insight itself suffices.
This problem has been elaborated by several well-known scholars, including Tilman Vetter, Johannes Bronkhorst , and Richard Gombrich.
According to Tilmann Vetter, the core of earliest
Bronkhorst agrees that dhyana was a Buddhist invention, whereas
Norman notes that "the Buddha's way to release was by means of
meditative practices." Gombrich also notes that a development took
place in early
According to Johannes Bronkhorst, Tillman Vetter, and K.R. Norman, bodhi was at first not specified. K.R. Norman:
It is not at all clear what gaining bodhi means. We are accustomed to the translation "enlightenment" for bodhi, but this is misleading It is not clear what the buddha was awakened to, or at what particular point the awakening came.
According to Norman, bodhi may basically have meant the knowledge that nibbana was attained, due to the practice of dhyana.
Bronkhorst notes that the conception of what exactly this "liberating insight" was developed throughout time. Whereas originally it may not have been specified, later on the four truths served as such, to be superseded by pratityasamutpada, and still later, in the Hinayana schools, by the doctrine of the non-existence of a substantial self or person. And Schmithausen notices that still other descriptions of this "liberating insight" exist in the Buddhist canon:
"that the five Skandhas are impermanent, disagreeable, and neither the Self nor belonging to oneself"; "the contemplation of the arising and disappearance (udayabbaya) of the five Skandhas"; "the realisation of the Skandhas as empty (rittaka), vain (tucchaka) and without any pith or substance (asaraka).
Discriminating insight into transiency as a separate path to liberation was a later development. This may have been to due an over-literal interpretation by later scholastics of the terminology used by the Buddha, or to the problems involved with the practice of dhyana, and the need to develop an easier method. According to Vetter it may not have been as effective as dhyana, and methods were developed to deepen the effects of discriminating insight. It was also paired to dhyana, resulting in the well-known sila-samadhi-prajna scheme. According to Vetter this kind of preparatory "dhyana" must have been different from the practice introduced by the Buddha, using kasina -exercises to produce a "more artificially produced dhyana", resulting in the cessation of apperceptions and feelings. It also led to a different understanding of the eightfold path, since this path does not end with insight, but rather starts with insight. The path was no longer seen as a sequential development resulting in dhyana, but as a set of practices which had to be developed simultaneously to gain insight.
The distinction between sudden and gradual is also apparent in the differentiation between vipassana and samatha . According to Gombrich, the distinction between vipassana and samatha did not originate in the suttas , but in the interpretation of the suttas.
The emphasis on insight is also discernible in the Mahayana-tradition, which emphasises prajna :
he very title of a large corpus of early
Mahayana literature, the
The distinction between sudden and gradual awakening was first introduced in China in the beginning of the 5th century CE by Tao Sheng .
The term is used in Chan Buddhism to denote the doctrinal position that enlightenment (kenshō , bodhi or satori ) is instantaneous, sudden and direct, not attained by practice through a period of time, and not the fruit of a gradual accretion or realisation. Aspects of Dzogchen and Mahamudra may be referred to as subitist, as well as the Rinzai school .
In the 8th century the distinction became part of a struggle for influence at the Chinese court by Shenhui , a student of Huineng . Hereafter "sudden enlightenment" became one of the hallmarks of Chan Buddhism, though the sharp distinction was softened by subsequent generations of practitioners.
While the Patriarch was living in Bao Lin Monastery, the Grand Master Shen Xiu was preaching in Yu Quan Monastery of Jing Nan. At that time the two Schools, that of Hui Neng of the South and Shen Xiu of the North, flourished side by side. As the two Schools were distinguished from each other by the names "Sudden" (the South) and "Gradual" (the North), the question which sect they should follow baffled certain Buddhist scholars (of that time). (Seeing this), the Patriarch addressed the assembly as follows:
So far as the
Rivalry Between Schools
While Southern School placed emphasis on sudden enlightenment, it
also marked a shift in doctrinal basis from the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
to the prajnaparamita tradition, especially the Diamond
Once this dichotomy was in place, it defined its own logic and
rhetorics, which are also recognizable in the distinction between
Guifeng Zongmi , fifth-generation successor to Shenhui, also softened the edge between sudden and gradual. In his analysis, sudden awakening points to seeing into one's true nature, but is to be followed by a gradual cultivation to attain buddhahood .
This is also the standpoint of the contemporary Sanbo Kyodan , according to whom kensho is at the start of the path to full enlightenment.
This gradual cultivation is also recognized by Dongshan Liangjie , who described the Five Ranks of enlightenment]]. Other example of depiction of stages on the path are the Ten Bulls , which detail the steps on the Path, The Three Mysterious Gates of Linji, and the Four Ways of Knowing of Hakuin Ekaku . This gradual cultivation is described by Chan Master Sheng Yen as follows:
Ch'an expressions refer to enlightenment as "seeing your self-nature". But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experience again and again and support them with continuous practice. Even though Ch'an says that at the time of enlightenment, your outlook is the same as of the Buddha, you are not yet a full Buddha .
In the Fivefold Classification of the Huayan school and the Five Periods and Eight Teachings of the Tiantai-school the sudden teaching was given a high place, but still inferior to the Complete or Perfect teachings of these schools.
Chinul , a 12th-century Korean Seon master, followed Zongmi, and also emphasized that insight into our true nature is sudden, but is to be followed by practice to ripen the insight and attain full Buddhahood.
In contemporary Korean Seon,
Seongcheol has defended the stance of
"sudden insight, sudden cultivation". Citing
Taego Bou (太古普愚:
1301-1382) as the true successor of the
Linji Yixuan (臨済義玄)
line of patriarchs rather than
Jinul (知訥: 1158-1210), he advocated
Hui Neng 's original stance of 'sudden enlightenment, sudden
RAMANA MAHARSHI - AKRAMA MUKTI
Ramana Maharshi made a distinction between akrama mukti, "sudden liberation", as opposed to the krama mukti, "gradual liberation" as in the Vedanta path of jnana yoga :
‘Some people,’ he said, ‘start off by studying literature in their youth. Then they indulge in the pleasures of the world until they are fed up with them. Next, when they are at an advanced age, they turn to books on Vedanta. They go to a guru and get initiated by him and then start the process of sravana, manana and nididhyasana, which finally culminates in samadhi. This is the normal and standard way of approaching liberation. It is called krama mukti . But I was overtaken by akrama mukti before I passed through any of the above-mentioned stages.’
The teachings of Bhausaheb Maharaj, the founder of the Inchegeri Sampradaya , have been called "the Ant's way", the way of meditation, while the teachings of Siddharameshwar Maharaj and his disciples Nisargadatta Maharaj and Ranjit Maharaj have been called "the Bird's Way", the direct path to Self-discovery:
The way of meditation is a long arduous path while the Bird's Way is a clear direct path of Self investigation, Self exploration, and using thought or concepts as an aid to understanding and Self-Realization. Sometimes this approach is also called the Reverse Path. What Reverse Path indicates is the turning around of one's attention away from objectivity to the more subjective sense of one's Beingness. With the Bird's Way, first one's mind must be made subtle. This is generally done with some initial meditation on a mantra or phrase which helps the aspirant to step beyond the mental/conceptual body, using a concept to go beyond conceptualization.
The terms appear in the Varaha Upanishad, Chapter IV:
34. (The Rishi) Suka is a Mukta (emancipated person). (The Rishi)
35. While those who always follow the path of
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