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What do you Think Zen Means by Enlightenment - Essay Example

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What do you Think Zen Means by Enlightenment

This essay considers Suzuki’s perspective on Zen Enlightenment and argues that for Suzuki the notion of Enlightenment is a personal journey toward becoming one with the essential nature of the universe. In properly comprehending Suzuki’s perspective on Enlightenment it is necessary to consider the various modes of articulation he implements. One such perspective is Suzuki’s historical contextualization of Enlightenment. In these regards, Suzuki notes the seminal tale of the Buddha attaining Enlightenment under the Bodhi-tree. This historical consideration is significant as it relates to the very foundational assumptions of Enlightenment in Zen Buddhism as emerging from either traditional forms of Buddhism or as an entirely unique development. Early on it’s clear that Suzuki embraces a notion of Enlightenment as emerging from the foundational values established by the Buddha, yet believes that Zen Buddhism is greatly tempered by the Chinese soil. Suzuki recognizes that the very notion of Enlightenment and Buddhism has shifted historically. He states that, “In the beginning of Buddhism…was an exclusive possession of the elite” (Suzuki, p. 74). ...
Suzuki states, “The reason why the Buddha so frequently refused to answer metaphysical problems was partly due to his conviction that the ultimate truth was to be realized in oneself through one’s own efforts” (Suzuki, p. 61). Indeed, there is a prevailing sense that Suzuki believes traditional forms of linguistic articulation are inefficient in comprehensively explicating the Enlightenment concept. Although such a notion seems to indicate that Enlightenment is simply a subjective state, it’s clear that Suzuki believes there are various signposts that add further structure to the concept. While traditional forms of Indian Buddhism embraced ascetic and stoic spiritual approaches, for Suzuki Zen Buddhist approaches to Enlightenment are more prominently linked to an ignorance of traditional means of knowing and an increased acceptance of the true universal essence of nature. While Suzuki firmly entrenches the notion of Enlightenment as a personal journey, he also established a number of objective elements. Suzuki notes, “deliverance from Ignorance and passions was the work of Enlightenment” (Suzuki, p. 63). Such notions become thematic throughout the text as Suzuki later considers that one of the elements intrinsic in both sentient and non-sentient beings is an ability to transcend, “the dualism of matter and spirit, of ignorance and wisdom, of passion and non-attachment” (Suzuki, p. 64). Indeed, the notion that Enlightenment is intrinsic to humanity is further established, as Suzuki seems to embrace this Enlightenment as being firmly linked to the true essence of the universe. One considers 19th century notions Emerson and Thoreau’s Transcendentalism in gaining a ...Show more
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Summary

While such a notion would seemingly preclude Enlightenment from having any true and widespread nature, it seems that for Suzuki the later spread of Buddhism to mass amounts of people is a testament to the nature and potential of Enlightenment as intrinsic to humanity. …
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