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Why seek enlightenment?

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Koujiryuu:
Or maybe you've already escaped and you just don't realize it?

Calvin:
Seek enlightenment because there is no good reason not to.

Steropes:
Enlightenment is the permanent end of suffering - isn't that good enough reason? Enlightenment is also referred to as Karmic Purification. When you become awakened/self-realized (have seen through a permanent "I" or "self") you then purify your karma through various practices and become naturally liberated as a result. There is then no reason to reincarnate because the causes of reincarnation (karmic imprints) have been removed from the subconscious. By assuming reincarnation is a fact your kind of answering our own question here - eventually dissatisfaction with death and re-birth will produce the motivation to practice.  As to what motivates people personally? Well only you can answer that yourself ;) Death and impermanence is a powerful one though.

How does Enlightenment improves ones life and that of others? Post enlightenment is when you have completely removed all karmic stains etc and achieved mental purification - in other words ordinary conditional mind has been completely deconstructed - the show is over. In its place is open natural spacious awareness. In other word you embody open awareness. One of the qualities of the enlightened mind is compassion. This manifests as compassionate action because you are also free from emotional barriers to action such as fear. At some point post enlightenment you also begin burning up other peoples karma which is of great benefit to sentient beings. This is because you begin to integrate your own awareness into the collective sub-conscious of all beings. As far as recalling past lives this is a natural outcome of most spiritual practices which burn through karma. So by asking "How would it be more noble to spend hours in meditation seeking enlightenment, rather than spending this time making the world a better place?" it helps to see right action in the world as a natural outcome extension of meditation.

"Since we're here, why not enjoy the things which can only be enjoyed here, and let us enjoy the spiritual worlds after death?" Because your day to day experience is clouded by your own self delusion essentially - the more you practice the more you purify awareness which leads to greater mindfulness of daily activities. which leads to greater enjoyment of daily activities/nowness/ etc. Be here now as they say. Ultimately you are right in that there is a point where you no longer need to practice because meditation without object is a natural state of mind - in which case all experiences are non-dual mediation. You can act mindfully now in whatever you do though :) you don;t have to be enlightened lol. In regards to death I ask - Who dies?

This is my take.

Steve:
From my perspective, I'd have to say that enlightenment has to do with being able to break the subconscious reactionism that exists within everyone. Instead of Stimuli -> Response, break that and use something like the following instead:

Stimuli -> Conscious recognition and awareness of the stimuli -> contemplation of what the stimuli means to the self -> realization that a situation exists that prompted the stimuli -> contemplation of the situation that prompted the stimuli -> figure out what kind of result/outcome/future you want to enable through your choices and actions -> figure out what choices/actions will bring about the result/outcome/future that you want -> consciously make a choice -> actively enact the choice.

Hell of a lot more steps, but I think enlightenment basically boils down to being consciously aware of yourself and situation, and being able to consciously choose what you want to do.

~Steve

Steropes:
I like the direction your taking Steve - however I must add that you will never permanently "break the subconscious reactionism" with out seeing through the notion of a permanent self first.

Emotional reactions are self referencing because we ordinarily perceive reality in terms of subject/object. When one becomes awakened the subject (the I that perceives) is permanently removed from the awareness equation. All those pesky habitual reactions we pain ourselves over are no longer self-referencing because we have seen that there was never a fixed "I" to begin with. Instead of them happening to "me" we see them for what they are - a collection of impulses which respond to situations unconsciously with emotions and impulses to act in certain ways. We can then begin to permanently rid ourselves of them through karmic purification practices (such as insight practices, tantric yoga etc).

Only when self has been seen through can we permanently rid ourselves of the karmic groves which manifest as habit mind.
 

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