I don’t really know what enlightenment is, or what it means. Some say that it is the mind being fully illuminated with light, some say that it is right understanding and some say that it is a state of bliss, peace, joy with all wholesome qualities and some even say that it is a state of realisation. If I were to look beyond the words interpreted onto the word ‘enlightenment’, it seems to me that there is a commonness in the meanings presented onto the word ‘enlightenment’ and is an effect, i.e. a result happening as an experience in a moment, or in the neverending moment.
A beloved friend who attended a course shared with me that it was researched that nearly everyone who is on the spiritual journey wants enlightenment. When he said that, I still don’t really know what it is. An honest friend today also told me that she doesn’t know what enlightenment is but yet it is something that is much talked or thrived towards by practitioners in the journey. And lately, I have also come across some comments from some people that they don’t really want enlightenment but just a pain-free life. And tonight, a dear friend also shared he believes it is impossible for him to be enlightenment this lifetime and hence just wants to know how to deal with life, as in reality whenever there are conflicts arising.
I find it funny how everyone was putting the same thing into different words as if all the meanings or words that they seem to present is either enlightenment or not. Ultimately, it seems as if what everyone wants is peace and end of suffering (which is peace, by the way) whether they choose to use the word enlightenment or not. I don’t really know the Buddha personally (obviously!) but I have heard that he mentioned that enlightenment is the end of suffering, too. Now, isn’t end of suffering, peace? I am aware that I am repeating here but it is important to see how pain-free, end of suffering and peace are not really separate. And how do we arrive at peace except through understanding and realisation, and in that state, wouldn’t the mind be already illuminated with light since it was apparent darkness looming around that caused confusion or conflict? It is hilarious to me, and I am not meaning to demean anyone, but merely chuckling at how words and perceptions come into play colouring each and everyone’s lenses to make them see that what they each want is different from what others pursue in the journey or how what others want is something different from theirs?
Ultimately, enlightenment is not somewhere to go, to achieve or to arrive at. It is understanding and realisation of various causes that leads to the various effects that causes the confusion or conflict which has been termed as suffering whether it is a disagreement with another, an illness, not achieving one’s goals in life, career, relationships or even in the spiritual endeavour. Just because I am meditating does not mean that the person who doesn’t and sweeps the floor on the sidewalks of the highway is any less spiritual than me. It is the interpretation that leads to making me separate from the other person who is apparently doing something different from me or seeming treading along a different journey. What is the difference if I am meditating and suffering meditating and he is there peacefully and joyfully sweeping the sidewalks of the highway? At the moment, he is probably the enlightened one (if it means peace at its end), and not me although it seems as if I am the one who is pursuing enlightenment! How arrogant! And that is double dose of suffering onto me! So if I am pursuing enlightenment, I might as well quit meditating and join him in sweeping the highway! Of course, this is just an example of contrast.
If I have to put a meaning to what enlightenment is, I’d say it is a word that embraces the meaning of pain free, end of suffering, understanding, peace, joy, bliss, a state of realisation in totality, without separation. Dissect them and you will find that they are all the same thing, probably at different levels or at different momentums of moments, but really sincerely look deeper and you will see what I mean and ultimately – peace, and also serenity (do you notice that the smile of Buddha’s face is serene, don’t you?)
So to conclude onto the journey of oneself or others is erm, probably far from it since how is it possible any conclusion or judgment can lead to peace as effect? Even if one is journeying through their personal issues such as relationships, career or personal life – if that is their way or path to fully realise, what is wrong with that? And for those who choose to take it on a more general basis of seeing it as all-mind, what is wrong with that too? It is just tackling the journey from a different direction with much creativity and individuality leading towards e-n-l-i-g-h-t-e-n-m-e-n-t.
If I am having a personal issue, and my probing allows me to see the truth or way of the issue, that is enlightenment to me in the moment as that is peace as effect until the next shit hits the fan. But if nothing is arising that triggers me, why would I look for it just to have enlightenment? As the moment that I am seeking it, I am already far, far away from it and many fail to see it. And of course, there is always an ultimate point. But to state that the ultimate point is the ultimate-ultimate, guess what, you are back into the game of again!
Yet, I cannot seek for enlightenment with a goal to have a pain-free, peaceful, blissful life or whatsoever as I can be sure that I can never ‘reach my goal’ with that kind of motivation. Enlightenment itself as mentioned earlier is a natural effect and not something we can thrive towards. Yet each time, whenever faced with a situation and given the diligence to do my inner work with right intention and attitude, as in not to fix it or to get rid of it, I will be blessed with right understanding and realisation which would have already inevitably put me into an enlightenment state since it is after all, just now that we have. And as fleeting as it gets, the journey is full of surprises! By then the meaning of pain-free does not even arise as we don’t really view pain as pain-pain per se, but rather, a naturalness in looking at it differently as effect; so where there lies the meaning of suffering or even wanting a pain-free life?
Yet, is it possible to have a pain-free enlightened life? Why not? But you can’t do it to get yourself out of something although usually that is the very thing that propels you towards it. Do it for the love of truth, because it is the truth that sets you free. And when you are free, what enlightenment are you looking for? And isn’t that, paradoxically, already enlightenment in the now?
I like to joke with my mom about being half-way enlightened and fully enlightened. Again, I don’t really know what it means but for the sake of exchanged expression, probably fully enlightened is a fully realised state where the entire cause and effect are seen as it is in a constant awake state in the neverending now.
But then again, what the hell do I know about enlightenment? I am just another medieval skipping joyfully along my journey still not knowing what enlightenment means. 🙂