What is Enlightenment?
A student once asked me if I was enlightened. I said “what is that?”
He went on to explain in detail all the various types and phases of enlightenment bringing in arguments and quotations from Zen Buddhism, yoga, and Christian mysticism. He was getting pretty animated so I stopped him in the middle of a sentence and said, “No, no, no – What is THAT?”
He looked at me, mouth still open, brain in mid-thought. Then he looked at himself and the Light came upon him.
Many people wonder about enlightenment and I wish I had that student’s intellect and tenacity to pour through all the literature on the subject and pull up quotes and arguments on what it is, what it might be, what it looks like, how it feels …
Enlightenment isn’t an intellectual concept at all. It isn’t something you can study and research – although thousands of people through the centuries have done just that and have written whole books and encyclopedias on the subject. Enlightenment is more of a state of mind – a frame of reference for living – It is a way of being and a process of engaging in the world condition. It’s an IS-NESS of the world. The whole universe is enlightened, the stars are enlightened, the earth is enlightened. We exist wholly in the midst of enlightenment all the time. Enlightenment is the NATURAL order of all.
To ask if someone is enlightened is completely the wrong question – yet, also the question that must often be asked.
The real question should be “How are you NOT enlightened?”
Imagine, if you can, that we humans are magnificent works of art. Like sculpture carved by a divine hand. We are extraordinary wonders of the universe. Unfortunately, through some horrible and bizarre process, we have become covered and encased in “stuff” – nasty stuff, bad stuff – crap. But inside all that crap we are still creatures of light. The great artist, Michelangelo, was once asked how he created his incredible sculptures. He said he looked at the marble and then cut away everything that WAS NOT the statue.
For us it is the same – we are all born to be enlightened but we are encased in a mess of “stuff” that dulls us into the zombie like creatures most people present to the world. Our job is – or at least I think should be – to get rid of all the dull stuff in our lives and let our true light shine free.
So, am I enlightened? Let’s say I’m not NOT enlightened.