Enlightenment: Why Bother?

October 31, 2010

Enlightenment seems to be the assignment, the goal, and the prize for those who become spiritually aware.

But let’s stop and ask a question about this. Such as: why is it desirable?

One possible answer is that you have heard so much about its desirability that you have accepted the premise. That would be second-hand knowledge.

Another possible answer is that you have experienced a sample of spiritual enlightenment and you want more of that desirable thing. This is the more likely answer. And that would be first-hand knowledge.

That sample of enlightenment could arrive through many possible avenues, such as meditation, a peak experience, love, the arts, or a beautiful scene in nature. There is a glowing sense of expansion, of peace, and of being in the right place. If that is what enlightenment is like, who wouldn’t want more of it?

But there are some apparent obstacles that commonly arise during the “more of it”. Often, these are expressed as questions.

Answers From Silence says that “Everyone is on their path of enlightenment,” and that “Your enlightenment is inevitable.”

The question is, “In that case, why bother trying to do anything about it?”

One possible reason for asking this is that you actually have an intellectual curiosity about the question. In that case, the answer is that by doing something about it, you accelerate progress in that direction.

Another possible reason for asking this is that you are resisting enlightenment. You sense the impending abandonment of the old way, and you are looking for a reason to hang on. “Who needs it? What good is it? What fun is it?” Those were my words at one point.

Part of resisting enlightenment comes from having ideas of what it will be like, and fearing those ideas.

But they are wrong ideas. That’s because enlightenment is not an idea. It is not imagined, thought of, grasped, or followed like a map, or in any other way separated from who you are.

Enlightenment is lived. Therefore the way it plays out in your living is as unique as your life is. Others cannot accurately say about you, “You’re enlightened. I therefore assume this means that you have experiences of a particular sort.”

Yes, a glowing sense of expansion, of peace, and of being in the right place do endure. But all that is a sideshow to the essential issue of enlightenment: a realignment of identity. Instead of being aligned to the story of your life, you align with eternal being.

That sounds desirable.