Your favorite mystic gets asked a lot of silly questions, one of which is “Are you Enlightened?”
How do you answer a question like that?
If I say Yes – you might think I’m bragging (and who would brag about a thing like that?)
If I say No – you might think I’m lying (and who would lie about a thing like that?)
The problem is that to understand the answer to that question you have to know just what Enlightenment is. And if you know what Enlightenment is, you really don’t have to ask the question.
People “think” they know what Enlightenment is, or what they want it to be, but thinking about it makes you miss the point. Enlightenment is a state of BEING not an idea. It is a natural state that anyone can experience and it is also an extreme state that can’t easily be defined.
You could compare it to something like Happiness. When you are happy, you know it without being told. And people who have experienced happiness can usually tell when other people are happy without being told. But happiness covers a wide range of experience – from a little happy to ecstatic (and I use that word deliberately because sometimes Enlightenment is equated with ecstasy). And sometimes if you are in a particular state of happiness for a very long time, you can forget that there was ever any other way of being and so you no longer know that you are happy – you’re just you.
A better question might be “how do you BECOME Enlightened?” And that poses problems of its own because a very real and legitimate answer to that question is “how are you AVOIDING being Enlightened?)
I think I will need to write a much longer treatise on this subject some day, soon.
Enlightenment is a natural state and humans seem to experience barriers to enjoying that state. Where did those barriers come from and how can you get around them are even trickier questions that require a lot of verbiage to respond to adequately.
So, to finish off this post, here’s a little story about getting through the barriers that might stir up some level of Enlightenment within you as you read it.
Imagine you are living in a dark and gloomy world. Easy to do, since that’s how many people see life. Now, as you wander about you begin to notice a large mountain in your path. Did it just appear? Was it always there? While you’re thinking about it, you move closer and see that there is a hole or cave in the side of the mountain. You move towards it. As you get closer, you notice people running out of the cave as if they are terrified or maybe in a state of shock. They ignore you or babble something incoherently as you question them, but you get the impression that something weird is in that cave.
Now as you get closer, you notice that while some people are running out of the cave, other people are creeping in to it. You decide to follow them in and find yourself traveling through a tunnel. Someone tells you there is something amazing at the end of the tunnel but they can’t explain what it is.
You go in deeper.
People pass you going out and coming in. And when you reach a point in the tunnel, you start to see people just standing or sitting around. One of them tells you they have just decided to rest for awhile. They don’t want to go back to the old world, but they just can’t bring themselves, yet, to continue to the end.
But you decide you are going all the way.
You decide you really want to see this wonderful thing at the end of the tunnel, whatever it might be.
You move along. People continue to pass you running out or running in, deeper. You also continue to see people just stopping on the way. But you no longer try to talk to anyone. You will find out for yourself what is going on.
There are scary sounds, rock slides, pits that open up before you that must be leaped over, walls that must be climbed, shadows of things you can’t understand – but you keep going deeper towards the truth.
You go deeper and then you notice a light. Maybe it was always there. Who knows? You move towards it. It is the way out of the mountain tunnel. Cautiously you step through to the other side.
Your eyes are opened. Everything is beautiful. Bright skies, clean air, pretty birds and flowers and people around you that seem so happy.
You wander around, almost ecstatic with a new found vigor. You suddenly think of the mountain you passed through and look for it. It is gone, it is no where to be seen. Perhaps it was never really there at all.