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.