The Goal of Enlightenment

For many years, my top goal was enlightenment. Until I had kids, it trumped all aces, even career.

And then one day, I saw that there was no such thing as the enlightenment I had so long sought. It was just a concept. It had nothing to do with being. The me I had wanted to awaken would never awaken as the me cannot. Self awakens to Itself.

Enlightenment is not a place nor is it anything that can be achieved. It is an unending deepening of being. While there may be some signposts, it is a journey. Thus it cannot be a goal.

It is useful to speak about it so that people understand the journey. But once it is heard, the mind will naturally build a concept and create a goal. The key is to see this and not be caught too much by it. Then, when the understanding is deeper, we can shed the concept and open the way to being.

As Lorne has observed, the concept of awakening is often the last barrier to being it.

You may notice that many teachers seem to hedge about making statements like “I am Enlightened”. They seem to talk around it, indirectly. This is not modesty but rather staying truthful. A statement of state suggests an achievement or place that is not there. It is a concept which is false. Yet sharing parts of the journey or experiences remains truthful. It is sharing what the experience has been and what the journey is about.

This came up from Takuin’s recent post, Are You Enlightened? He talks of a conversation he had with Boosy exploring this. Takuin also touches on some other points of note. I’ll mention a couple of things I’d like to highlight from the perspective here.

Firstly, on meditation. I recommend an effortless meditation. It is not the nature of the mind to be controlled but rather try to be the controller. Any effort to control the mind is just the mind trying to control itself. That’s like asking a monkey to be a police officer. Much simpler and more potent is a practice that transcends the mind. Then mind gets out of the way with no doing.

Takuin also makes the statement “never trust someone that tells you they are enlightened“. I certainly agree that “I am enlightened” and other such overt declarations are highly suspect, as I discuss above. But I would hesitate to say “never”. Just as the ego will use concepts of enlightenment for a goal, it will grab onto apparent judgments as a weapon. “Anyone who says they’re enlightened isn’t” can be used to discount almost any opening experience. This does not add to the discourse and understanding but rather takes us back into concepts. Something a little more circumspect like “Careful of anyone making statements about their state. It suggests they are not that.

Context always helps. When Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the light“, he didn’t mean personally. He meant the Christ, in the same way he said a short time later “Abide in me, as I abide in you.

It may seem a minor quibble, but I’ve seen the hammer in use. It can be a larger barrier than positive ideas of it are. But it’s also true I’ve seen false and suspect gurus. The deluding and the deluded. Look for those who illumine your process and dump a salt lick on anyone who makes it about themselves or their truth.
Davidya

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8 Responses to The Goal of Enlightenment

  1. Uzma says:

    What is effortless meditation? Am assuming you mean simply being aware and watching the mind. Am I correct?

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  3. Davidya says:

    Hi Uzma

    Watching the mind is known as Mindfulness and yes, it’s much better effortless.

    But what I mean by effortless meditation is to contrast it from many traditional practices. Many meditations use techniques of effort – stilling the mind, focusing on a candle, etc. These are difficult and can create strain. They also tend to hold the attention in the mind. This understanding arose in part from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In there, he describes the 8 limbs of Yoga and the results of correct practice. He describes boundless awareness with sharp focus. People have come to understand this as technique rather than result.

    It’s right up there with ideas like you have to be a monk to awaken. How is it then that the vast majority of spiritual works were written by householders?

    Many other meditations are what one might call contemplative. Dwelling on an idea, aphorism, or painting. While there is value in that, it still keeps the focus in the mind.

    Understanding attention without effort is not very familiar to people with an ego. Yet it is the natural flow of the mind. You hear beautiful music, your attention goes there automatically. When a technique is about attention alone, without effort or force, we could say it is effortless. When the attention is given an effortless task, the mind will naturally drift inwards to it’s source and then transcend both the technique and mind.

    The difference can seem very small but it is like night and day.

    Far fewer techniques are available that are effortless. But the numbers and availability are growing. I run into them here and there in surprising places. Bija or seed mantra techniques are the simplest.

    Last year, I read about thousands of Buddhist monks in SE Asia being taught one form of this.

    When an experience of your infinite nature is part of your routine life, it supports everything and is the foundation of any true practice, as Patanjali outlined. It is Raja yoga, the practice of kings.

    Thanks for the question. I vacillate over discussion of specific techniques as I try to stay non-denominational here. (laughs)

  4. Uzma says:

    I’ve been taught Vipasana or Anapana meditataion. Basically just observing the breath and the mind.
    They taught us this,in high school so as to improve concentration and get higher grades 🙂 (which we did)

    I also find pure awareness in the simple practise of Shavasana.

    You should write about what you do also. As well as talk of the other forms. Not to prove which is better but just as a desrciption

  5. Davidya says:

    Hi Uzma
    Yes, I started an article on meditation awhile back. It was too large for a blog scenario. The post on mantras was a part of it.

    I appreciate I’m not entirely consistent on this subject. I suggest various healing techniques but stay vague about meditation, yet suggest it as a core practice.

    The challenge is in recommending something that has a caliber of excellence, is widely available, and at modest cost. That combination has not been available for awhile that I’ve found.

    Because people take up a practice and only know what they like or have tried, there is no real forum for objective information on the subject. One can only speak to people who used to do something and now do your practice to get a real comparison. But it’s entirely subjective and has a bias. Getting many samples is hard. And verifying key details without doing it yourself.

    From speaking with people who do Vipassana, I understand it is difficult to sustain and requires some concentration. Hard to keep doing. Effortless is easier and some stay with it for life. I prefer to suggest a practice one will do happily every day as that will bring more results.

    People also often identify with their teaching and practice. Coming out in one camp or another becomes divisive.

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