Enlightenment On the Night Shift
A few days ago Dan wrote the following to me on this site: "btw, minus 3 million zen points for trying to say that you're enlightened without actually saying it."
I didn't respond to it then because, quite frankly, I didn't know how to respond to it. It led to what follows below.
Enlightenment.......being enlightened..... are terms bandied about a lot in the spiritual game. They may, in fact, be the foundation of the spiritual game. Without them, how many would be drawn to play?
Do you want to look closely at it, at the underlying assumptions, perhaps unconscious beliefs, that go into an acceptance of enlightenment as something one can attain, as a way that one can be? Many do not. The belief is too fragile, essential, crucial. However, if you do want to inquire into it, consider...
What is "enlightenment"?
What does it look like?
Is it possible to tell, for absolute sure, that another is enlightened?
If yes, what is such a conclusion based upon? What would be your "evidence"?
Does one know when one is, oneself, enlightened?
And, again, what are the criteria one would use to say "yes, I'm enlightened"? How would one behave if knew one's self to be enlightened?
Or..............is enlightenment, like much in spirituality, a myth, a more sophisticated version of trying to get to heaven? Myths are powerful communication tools and so they're very useful in building and maintaining organizations and the whole material aspect of spiritual training (translation: dollars).
And if you say, "Well, I know some dirt poor spiritual teachers who babble about enlightenment and they're not gaining financial recompense from it," .... it would be well to consider that there are other forms of compensation that a teacher may derive: ego satisfaction, lots of adoring followers, status (not monetary but ideational), a sense of purpose, position, etc.
And it could also be that the individuals who claim enlightenment are sincere: they may have spent so much time in and around these myths that they have become absorbed by them and genuinely believe them to be fact. But does that make enlightenment real? Don't you need to find out for yourself?
If one is sincerely engaging in spiritual inquiry, it really behooves you to ask: what is an "enlightened" state? Is it real?