What is Enlightenment?
Why Enlightenment is rare, unbelievably awesome, and why we are probably not going to meet an enlightened person in our lifetime.
For The Benefit Of All Living Beings
We’re still reeling from the Buddha’s enlightenment 2,500 ago. It is said that the whole Universe had shaken when the Buddha got enlightened, and we’re still living in the aftermath. There were stone monoliths made, poetry composed, books written, movies made about it, and countless lives transformed by that single incident alone. Steadily, all this time the best minds had been pondering on what had happened, worked, meditated, cultivated their findings and conclusions, and left us innumerable sources, or writings, of their best efforts in uncovering the significance of that event.
It’s like the whole Universe got Enlightened through this one man.
Now, in the time of the rapid spread of information many, if not all, sources of the most secret and sacred knowledge have been operating in the open, steadily releasing precious gems for a long while, over a hundred years in the West anyway. A great mass of books had been written and published, and still, there’s much confusion and misunderstanding about the subject of Enlightenment, and subsequentially Guru, yoga, meditation, etc., and conventionally mostly ignorance on these topics is all pervasive everywhere.
First and foremost, true, real, authentic Enlightenment is very, very rare for humans because it requires almost super-human effort. Second, for all that we know, all (or almost all) of the Enlightened ones have left us. Yes, it is a tradition, that’s what the books tell us. The enlightened ones usually seem to lose all interest in worldly affairs and move on to the higher planes. But to our immense luck, they are kind enough to leave us everything necessary to continue our search for the sublime goal.
It is a fact that out of great benevolence and compassion, for a long while (hundreds and thousands of years now) enlightened societies in the East had been steadily developing, accumulating, carefully preserving, and now freely disseminating the gathered knowledge for the benefit of all of humanity. They say that after his enlightenment the Buddha taught for forty years to everyone who listened, and had helped many—he had not kept anything secret from the people, and nor should we.
The Enlightenment, a complete unknown and a great secret to most of the people in the West, they, the blessed ones have known and practiced all along. Yogis, meditators, philosophers, thinkers, scholars, and lamas in the East had achieved soaring heights in these matters, and continue quietly gathering speed and altitude while we here in the West still trying to figure out their terminology, for the most part.
Additionally, much of what is essential to understanding such vast subjects as Enlightenment was misrepresented by the receiving side from the very beginning due to many factors such as the unconventional difficulty of the subject, many cultural differences, impure intentions, and so on. Also, for most, Enlightenment will never be accessible solely through only reading, because it is experiential. Enlightenment for any human is a deeply mysterious, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically transformative experience. When Enlightened, one becomes non-human, so to speak.
What most people think of Enlightenment when they experience illumination, elation and bliss are generally just the beginning stages of a multi-stage process, a preview of sorts. Complete and perfect Enlightenment is as rare as the Buddha that came twenty-five hundred years ago.
Tradition tells us of the need and the essential requirement of a Guru along the spiritual path. In the East, they painstakingly build lineages of real people who uphold, teach and propagate their traditions which center around the concept of Guru. We also know that Enlightenment can just happen spontaneously, but it is an even rarer occurrence one can only hope for. So these topics are staying essentially closed, effectively walled off from the larger portion of the public, and probably will stay so, still secret and sacred because of that.
Now, as ever before, it seems there’s an urgent need for the larger public to become acutely aware of what Enlightenment truly means for an individual and the society at large. The real Enlightenment can not be bought, sold, or borrowed. The job is cut out for you my friend, if you want Enlightenment you’ll need to work for it.
May all beings get perfectly Enlightened.