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What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?$
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Dale S. Wright

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190622596

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190622596.001.0001

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The Thought of Enlightenment and the Dilemma of Human Achievement

The Thought of Enlightenment and the Dilemma of Human Achievement

(p.129) 7 The Thought of Enlightenment and the Dilemma of Human Achievement
What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?

Dale S. Wright

Oxford University Press

“The Thought of Enlightenment and the Dilemma of Human Achievement” examines the Buddhist concept of bodhicitta—the thought of or aspiration for enlightenment. The chapter compares this Buddhist concept to the Greek philosophical notion of the “idea of the good” and finds both playing similar roles in articulating ideal ends—the ultimate goals of human life. If in actual human life, however, these ideals are never fully achieved, a dilemma emerges at the heart of human practice. Although the transformations cultivated through practice may be substantial and far-reaching, perfection remains always beyond out of reach. This chapter examines several reasons for that inevitable unreachability and concludes that, rather than undermining the value or legitimacy of the quest, this dilemma of human achievement adds nuance and depth to the meaning of human enlightenment. Because human beings will always strive toward some form of excellence, humility and the capacity to release the tension of compulsive perfectionism become essential features of enlightenment.

Keywords:   bodhicitta, thought of enlightenment, humility, idea of the good, dilemma

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