By H. R. Perera
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Additional info for Buddhism in Sri Lanka: A Short History
Also from the Lankavatara we have the term pratyatmagochara, which Suzuki renders as `inner realization'. Again, this term resembles, in its meaning, something close to what we understand by the idea of experience without doing so closely enough to call it such. Thus even if we accept that the Lankavatara does, in a way, speak of Enlightenment in terms of experience, it does so in a rather indirect and equivocal manner (as neither gatigochara or pratyatmagochara can be translated with any real precision by the word `experience').
We go for Refuge to the Dharma: we commit ourselves to the systematic, wholehearted practice of the Path to Enlightenment. And we go for Refuge to the Sangha: we commit ourselves to cultivating the spiritual friendship of those who are treading, or who have trodden, the Path to Enlightenment. Going for Refuge is the basic declaration of commitment to the Buddhist Path. It is the quintessential act of the path of regular steps, an act of commitment by the whole person. It is, therefore, at once basic and momentous.
Thus even if we accept that the Lankavatara does, in a way, speak of Enlightenment in terms of experience, it does so in a rather indirect and equivocal manner (as neither gatigochara or pratyatmagochara can be translated with any real precision by the word `experience'). In Pali and Sanskrit it is as difficult to speak of Enlightenment as experience (in the current sense of the term) as it is to express another notion current amongst Western Buddhists but apparently unknown to ancient Buddhists, which is that `all life is one'.