waking up to the ultimate truth of reality and that anyone can do like him. I feel like I'm living in the matrix. but i'm not so sure if waking up is possible.
I feel the reason why people struggle to see that becoming " Awakened" is impossible or very difficult is because of ignorance. How can anyone possibly see something that they can't comprehend, it's a paradox!
But......this is why we know the Buddha was "enlightened" and "awakened" to the truth of suffering because He created the Dhamma, the Noble Eightfold path, the way out of suffering.( It would be impossible for someone to show others the way out if they themselves were not free!)
The matrix you speak of is the delusion, it is the ignorance which blinds us of the truth, but once you come to realize the truth, you will see that in fact it takes more energy and creation to live in a world of fantasy, a world of fantasy that will bring pain and suffering to all!!
I hope i have helped you in someway!
Why care if anybody woke up? What use is it to you?
I'll answer that for you: the only use you have of getting qualified answers from qualified people (like the Buddha, Jesus, etc.) is that they have a case history of their answers working for many people (who actually did what they said not just learned about it). So what do you do? Is believing anything gonna do you any good? No! Develop your own curiousity for it. If you don't like it then go somewhere else, find something you like, find something that clicks with you and go for it!
Back to Buddhism, you are living in the matrix and the Buddha outlined a method to escape social conditioning (including media brainwash) and:
- achieve permanent happiness no matter the situation
- escape the matrix of your body and mind and be able to reincarnate where you want
- attain super-powers which have certain signs
That's my perspective and it's based on the various Buddhist teachers I've had, Taoist, Tantric, Zen, Esoteric, and Consciousness-Only, all of which I reccommend you study. But you can't just believe all that amazing stuff about the Buddha and other superheroes by reading and thinking alone--which can be convincing alone if you read enough material and study enough bioenergetics--you've got to achieve it! After you learn enough about it and gain the confidence about the overall path. My personal reccommendation on where to start? Pick up a book by Master Nan (he passed away a few years ago but the human journey remains the same). Or if you're poor, start here and read the articles you like. Learn about the 5 overall stages of the path and the different things that happen to your body when you meditate and do yoga correctly.
But whatever you do, don't answer to anyone by blind faith. And always be open to reading and learning for yourself independently going as far as you can with that amazing mind of yours!
Don't believe me or anybody as originally said by the Buddha: “Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”
Normally, those who are sure that the Buddha is enlightened are those who experience a "retrograde realization" (to quote Andrei Volkov) upon hearing and understanding the teachings of the Buddha. Upon reading some explanation by the Buddha, you might think, "oh! that's right! It matches my observation of how my mind works. But I never explicitly thought of it that way before, till I read this". This means that you have definitely observed how your mind works throughout your life, but it never became obvious to you, till you heard Buddha's explanation. As you experience more such aha moments, you realize that the Buddha really knows.
My 2 cents: Before you can judge whether another person is accomplished, at anything, or not, you have to be accomplished yourself. You have to develop your sensitivity such that you know true from false even in very subtle cases. I'd say that as long as the Buddha inspires you, pushes you to do things which deep down you know are right, you stick with it to the best of your ability. Ultimately it is said we should know for ourselves. There is no clear-cut proof for a claim for which its axioms have not been laid down and understood. And by what teachers tell us, nibbana is not a logical conclusion based on our pervasive daily axioms, it's an axiom to be verified for oneself. Until we realize the truth of this axiom, our job is to stick with it and see what it leads to, where it leads us. And we just keep pushing forward, chipping away at our mental defilements, each one at their own pace. But any steady pace is better than staying in place, to say nothing of regressing.
As for living inside the matrix, you should realize that this perception is a modern one, and brings with it quite a load of baggage from science fiction, so you should be very careful with it. To the extent of my readings, the Buddha never spoke about delusion in terms of the existence of objects (in fact he did not approve of such discussions), but rather in terms of the benefits we perceive in our conventions, which simply keep us in the cycle, because the nature of our objects is to appear, cease, and reappear, over and over again. Each time they near perishing, we should be very careful about our suppositions. We should realize their nature, that our control over their ways is limited, so as to not crash down with them.
Dwelling at Savatthi. There the Blessed One said to the monks: "In one who keeps focusing on the allure of clingable phenomena, craving develops. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origin of this entire mass of suffering & stress. -- SN 12.52
I don't know what "living in the Matrix" means (although I've seen the movie). I'm not a psychologist -- is it Dissociation, Depersonalization, Derealization, or something like that, that you think you're feeling?
Anyway, back to the topic of the Buddha: you're asking whether he awoke to the ultimate truth of reality.
Well, the main truths, the first truths, that he taught were that unhappiness comes from:
- Wanting things you that don't have (e.g. because we are not infinitely rich/wealthy)
- Wanting to keep things you can't keep (e.g. because people get sick and die, things get old and worn out)
- Wanting to be someone who you're not
- Wanting to be not yourself
He also taught that it's possible to let go of that unhappiness, by letting go of all that wanting.
If you stop wanting the wrong things (see above) then that removes the cause of your unhappiness.
I don't know about you but this seems like a sensible teaching:
- It's helpful (how to stop being unhappy)
- It's practicable
- It's testable (you can try it for yourself, perhaps even easily try it)
He then goes on to give a lot of other good advice: for example about how to prevent anger from arising. It's difficult to summarize what he taught because there's so much of it; but when he summarized it, he summarized it as "the truth of suffering, and the truth of cessation of suffering" ... i.e. he taught about what causes unhappiness, and taught a way which if you follow it will lead to the cessation of suffering.
That 'way' includes many components: e.g. you have to 'understand' what the way is, you need 'will' or intention to follow the way, you need some mental 'concentration', etc. etc.
There's a sutta called Buddha Sutta: Awakened which starts with,
At Savatthi... "Monks, the Tathagata — the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one, who from disenchantment with form, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for form) is released — is termed 'rightly self-awakened.' And a discernment-released monk — who from disenchantment with form, from dispassion, from cessation, from lack of clinging (for form) is released — is termed 'discernment-released.'
... and ends with,
The Blessed One said, "The Tathagata — the worthy one, the rightly self-awakened one — is the one who gives rise to the path (previously) unarisen, who engenders the path (previously) unengendered, who points out the path (previously) not pointed out. He knows the path, is expert in the path, is adept at the path. And his disciples now keep following the path and afterwards become endowed with the path.
"This is the difference, this the distinction, this the distinguishing between one rightly self-awakened and a monk discernment-released."
In summary the Buddha is called "self-awakened" because he himself figured out what he taught; monks can now follow the path which he discovered and taught.
I guess that "being enchanted with form", having "passion" for forms, and "clinging" to forms is being described by analogy as a kind of being asleep, being unskillful, being unaware.
In a sense, it's not relevant.
The Buddha found his enlightenment or awoke from the understanding of life which caused him a great deal of emotional suffering because he searched (which is an understatement) and one day uncovered his great gift of love and compassion. For life, humanity, and himself.
This was taken from the Wikiquote page listing quotes from Gautama Buddha (I almost typed in 'The Buddha's WikiQuote page'... makes me wonder if The Buddha would edit his own page... for accuracy's sake, of course. ;)
Do not go by revelation;
Do not go by tradition;
Do not go by hearsay;
Do not go on the authority of sacred texts;
Do not go on the grounds of pure logic;
Do not go by a view that seems rational;
Do not go by reflecting on mere appearances;
Do not go along with a considered view
Do not go along on the grounds that the person is competent;
Do not go along because "the recluse is our teacher."
Kalamas, when you yourselves know: These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them...
Kalamas, when you know for yourselves: These are wholesome; these things are not blameworthy; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness, having undertaken them, abide in them.
The part that is important is that the Buddha asked 'Don't take him at his word. Find out for yourself.'
If you don't think the Buddha awoke... Good. That personal truth that you don't believe or don't 'know' the Buddha awoke is alot more valuable than having faith in someone's actions or realization despite the respect and praise of the wisdom of his teachings.
Whether you know it or not, your pose of the question makes you 'Buddhist' in essence even if you don't meditate or chant or believe in the enlightenment of the Buddha.
The only difference between you and the Buddha is that you feel that the 'Matrix' is blocking your freedom and love and compassion for your whole, fully realized potential as a human being and the potential of others.
Continually testing the 'Matrix' and also testing your own intents and motivations for 'seeking' enlightenment and noticing the results of your questions will help you cultivate the 'awakening mind' that is the heart of living a full and rich and loving life.
I think, the best answer here is "you cannot be sure". It's a tradition from which you heard it.
However, you can try to get familiar with that what has also been transmitted about the practize and the teaching of the Buddha. If you find out that -by following the proposed path- you get a little bit nearer to understanding, freedom-in-thought, awareness, mindfulness, compassion ... then you might become more convinced . Such thing is even a many-times reported experience, which can be found many times in the suttas but also in the whole evolution of the buddhist practice and experience up to today.
But when you'll become sure - that shall be a very individual, personal moment which cannot, in my opininion, ever be formalized as a general rule (perhaps even in some bureaucratic/scientific or the-like account). (a nice composition about this is in @ruben2020 's answer)
Because this question came up on the mainpage again, just another thought.
You can't know it, you only can believe it. I think similar situations in the samana discourse have been the reason for the convention of the "Lion's roar" . That seems to be one possibility to announce such a thing like "awakening" that was not on the disposal of the outer world. The outer world could only believe/or not or try to disprove by showing that the content of the "Lion's roar" of someone could be disproved factual and/or by outcome in that real practice.
So there is one sutra, I think it is the MN12 showing the "Lion's roar" of the Buddha, but there is also another sutra (don't have the source at the moment) where this is only a part and only expressed shorter; but there is also one sutra about Sariputta's "Lions-roar" which the Buddha probed when asked him "by what do you know that your master is enlightened/behaving enlightened?"
I think that term occurs somewhere else casually in the PK and I'm sure some discussion of it should be in contemporary literature, and possibly wikipedia, because of it being a feature of the widespread samana's culture.
If you're not sure that waking up is possible, then you don't know how this matrix works yet.
You have to find out how this matrix works.
How beings come into this matrix?
Why do they come into this matrix? What's the reason? The cause?
Answers to these questions can only be found through own experience in meditation. Anything else is "religion" or "belief", which is better than "doubt".
The truth is you cant be sure if the Buddha woke up. I would imagine it would be like trying to tell someone who is blind from birth, what light is.
No words could ever do it justice. Therefore the only course of action is to find out for yourself what you can. Dont rely on any scripture for truth. Because even if the words are true, you still wont know what it is.