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Opposing Views on Enlightenment

"To this day, I use [Lama Govinda's] wonderful simile for the difference between Bud-
dhist enlightenment and the mystical experience of oneness that Vedantic Hinduism and many other mysticisms anticipate.  He said that those mysticisms perceive the ultimate goal as being the moment when the little individual drop of water - which has fallen from the rain cloud to the mountain top, melted down from glacial snows, flowed with myriad others into streams and waterfalls and broad rivers - finally merges itself indiv-
isibly in the vast and shining sea.  But Buddhist enlightenment is rather when the indiv-
idual drop itself becomes the repository of the whole vast ocean, when the shining sea slips into the individual drop!  I cannot get over my admiration for this insight; it teaches enlightenment as the inconceivable reconciliation of the seemingly absolute dichotomy between individual and universal.  It reveals it to be the complex, ecstatic, yet responsible state of supreme awareness that it is, rather than some sort of escapist extinction of the individual into some oblivious collective security."


     Robert Thurman in the introduction to "The Way of the White Cloud" by 
                 Lama Anagarika Govinda

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