I think, I could be very wrong, however, I think that enlightenment is beyond language.
Because of this conclusion of mine, I think, and again, I could be very wrong, anyone attempting to describe enlightenment is facing one of the following problems: they had not experienced enlightenment but they have convinced themselves that they have, or, they had experienced it but the experience had not stayed with them thus they still think so highly of their abilities that they have convinced themselves that it is possible for them to explain or interpret, or worse, spread enlightenment.
So, and this will sound very selfish, if we accept my assumption that enlightenment is beyond language then the question is: how can enlightenment manifest itself through an individual? Or, perhaps more specifically: how is the ‘enlightened’ individual to live an ‘enlightened’ life in a way that does not trivialize ‘enlightenment’?
It seems to me that the most logical thing that one should expect from any enlightened individual is that she or he should strive to perform the simplest (least harmful, least ambition driven, least selfish, least complicated, etc.) act they can perform. Their acts would not manipulate reality in any way. They would not try to describe their enlightenment because they would understand that it is beyond language. They would understand that trying to explain enlightenment is as pointless as trying to explain poetry or multidimensional mathematics. However, they would live it. They would live their life in an enlightened way – without having to explain their enlightenment, and, without having to spread it.
So, what would it mean to live an enlightened life?
Yes, one’s relationship with the world changes. More specifically, one’s choices and decisions – what one does, why one does it, how one does it, etc. – change. However, I cannot see anything within ‘enlightenment’ that would prompt one to promote enlightenment as a linguistic construct. Yes, one can change one’s profession. Yes, one can and should perform more humane ‘tasks’ whenever possible, but how and why could one begin to talk about enlightenment if they understood or experienced its complexity and scope. No, there is no rule that prevents one from doing so. However, it seems to be a waste time and energy.
Why is it a waste of time and energy?
Again, I begin with a simple assumption: if one experiences enlightenment one learns that it is beyond one’s ability to communicate it. One understands that the only way to demonstrate enlightenment is by living it. It could take ‘forever’ to describe it. Perhaps that is why it appears to exist beyond our reach. Rather than explaining or describing or interpreting it we should live it.
In science this problem – acquiring new knowledge, recording new knowledge, transferring new knowledge and turning into an element that can be used or misused within this limited physical reality – is solved through engineering. Imagine if scientists who invent formulas and theories (in any area) tried to make every single person they come across understand how and why they create their formulas and theories. Imagine if instead of working with engineers and other scientists to create technologies that improve our lives (though many times new technologies don’t improve our lives but this problem would require a separate book or several books) scientists spent their lives explaining how and why they created their formulas. Furthermore, what if they really wanted other people to understand and experience their formulas and theories the way they do? Very little would be achieved. Think of all the scientists and their work. Had they waited for the entire planet to understand their work we would still live in the stone age (maybe that’s not a bad idea, I don’t know, time and place appear to be relative constructs). None of their discoveries, that started as personal insights, would have been translated into actions. Actions that manifest themselves as design and infrastructure and objects. Yes, we could ask: do we need so many objects? And the answer is: no, of course not. Are we creating objects and technologies we really need? And the answer is: no, of course not. But, again, it’s a different issue.
Individuals and communities that claim to be enlightened face a complex problem: rather than living enlightened lives by turning their awareness – especially their awareness of others’ needs – into enlightened actions (acts of kindness) they live their enlightened lives by talking about their enlightenment. That is all they do. They talk about it, ad infinitum. Language is the beginning and, more importantly, the end point of their enlightenment. And they wonder why the world is not being transformed by their enlightenment. They expect their speech to transform individuals thus the world. Unfortunately, what is missing is acts of compassion, creativity, unselfishness. They are ‘enlightenment’. Language limits enlightenment to language. Unfortunately, the problem cannot be solved through language.
Some say enlightenment does not need to or cannot exist as a physical construct. I disagree. Empathy, compassion and love will need to be practiced as physical acts of kindness (thus requiring physical objects that can be used to restore health, etc.) as long as there are those whose lives need to be saved or improved. Furthermore, only when ‘acts of kindness’ are performed without any reference to any religion or spirituality or enlightenment, can they be truly unmotivated and unselfish. Thus only then (without any definitions) is the person acting as the true being that they are (love and compassion). A self aware bundle of love does not need to be loved back or accepted. It knows it is being all it can be. It is being love. There is nothing more to it.
So, I think, that if ‘the enlightened’ are to change our physical reality then they need to learn how to give their enlightenment a physical dimension without drawing any attention to it. Their ‘acts of kindness’ will be the ultimate statement. No act of kindness needs to be explained or defined because it is very clear what it is. Yes, there will be those who doubt such acts, however when one knows that there are no ulterior motives one will not be bothered by others’ misinterpretations, and, more importantly, one will not feel compelled to defend its true state – for there is nothing to defend.
What I mean is: one does not need to say I am doing this because I am enlightened. Furthermore, one does not need to say: you can be enlightened. Any enlightened person should know that enlightenment is a state that all other fellow human beings could experience. All human beings are capable of it. However, the ‘need’ to ‘try’ to convince fellow human beings of their potential is not as is important -in fact it should be disregarded as it is immature – as the need to improve their environments so that their lives could be improved. It is our fellow human beings’ environment that will enable them to become enlightened – not our ability to talk them into it. As much as I would like to believe it, I have come to realize that words alone are not enough to create a stable environment required for personal growth. Far more important than our attempts to interpret, explain or promote enlightenment (mere linguistic constructs) is our attempt to create ‘the right physical environment’ within which it can arise.
Physical resources and physical actions required to create an environment that could produce anything approaching an enlightened mind is never discussed let alone constructed by those who define themselves as ‘enlightened’. (For example: physical resources and physical actions could be seen as: the satisfaction of the basic needs that MIGHT lead to happiness that MIGHT lead to self-acceptance that MIGHT lead to self-actualization that MIGHT lead to unselfishness and so and so forth, if we were to consider one of the paths created by the field of psychology, a possible path.) When seen within this ‘physical framework’ the path to ‘enlightenment’ seems much, much longer. It means it is up to us who are aware of certain things (perhaps of what it means to be enlightened thus THE ADVANTAGED) to create the environment that the less fortunate (thus THE DISADVANTAGED) can use to improve first their bodies then their minds. Otherwise, like stated before, it’s like walking around and trying to convince people that they are capable of creating new theories and formulas. Of course they are capable of doing it. But how many are provided with the right family, love, housing, nutrients, education, discipline, clothes, care, consideration? Not many. So, it is far more important to create ‘the environment’ that would enable individuals to realize their potential than it is to talk about their willingness to become ‘enlightened’.
To put it simply, their will is not enough. Physical resources are needed. To be born within an environment that enables one to learn at her or his own pace is a great privilege. To be able to acknowledge it and, more importantly, to realize that all people should exist within a similar environment for it is the only way to being to approach a new and greater ‘awareness’ (and maybe ‘enlightenment’), and then to begin to build it (yes, with our very own hands) for others, is to demonstrate ‘enlightenment’ without ever speaking about it.
Thus, if we live ‘enlightenment’ there is no need to talk about it. We know we are living it and doing it and that is enough. If all we do is talk about enlightenment then we are not enlightened and we are not creating – physically constructing – enlightenment, hence our present condition.
I think it is fair to say that a reasonably healthy and stable environment – again, let us not forget: a privilege – would enable most people to draw their own conclusions about themselves, the universe, life, reality, and so one and so forth. ‘Others’ (including the ‘enlightened ones) would not need to tell them about it (or worse: convince them about their own sets of values, which is what too many ‘enlightened’ individuals do).
So, the need to talk about ‘enlightenment’ – or more specifically: to talk about ourselves and our own superiority which indicates that we are not enlightened – would be reduced if we were to use our energy to create physical environments that make self improvement a possibility for all (or at least for many more). That way all of us, or many more of us, could be moving in the right direction.
Community workers, psychologists working with disadvantaged communities, doctors who travel to remote war affected regions to save lives, and many others who remain ANONYMOUS, who seek neither reward nor recognition, who do not do it for religious, business or any other reasons, they are transforming the world and preserving its HUMANITY. They are transforming and possibly helping enlighten thousands of lives every day. They have saved and transformed my life. It is why I am doing my bit. Quietly, anonymously, humanely, or so I hope.
I would like to approach the terrible linguistics area, for a very brief moment. Not to complicate but to point out some of its problems – most of them ignored by religious and spiritual leaders as well as scientists.
I think that enlightenment, religions, spirituality, politics, sciences and arts are linguistic concepts we use to entertain ourselves – to distract ourselves from the fabric of reality, language itself. Our shared human language (by language I mean all known languages as well as dance, music, math, all modes of communication, of data recording and data exchange, etc.) constructs all of the above – all physical environments that contain language itself. It seems to me that most of our negative practices or actions or cultural habits are caused by our failure to see the invisible link between language and physical reality. Language and stereotypes have been allowed to run free.
Enlightenment is another abstract pursuit. It will continue to exist as an abstract pursuit precisely because we are existing in order to pursue it rather than existing as a consequence of it. So even the fragments (individuals pursuing enlightenment, institutions pursuing enlightenment, etc.) of our reality that are trying to become enlightened or that have ‘become’ enlightened do not create enlightenment because they DO NOT ACT in an enlightened way. Their very actions – identifying those who are not enlightened and speaking to them – divide our reality and fill it with anxiety, fear and hate. Enlightenment is invisible. Nature does not declare its enlightened nature. It and its enlightened state remain anonymous and invisible.
Perhaps the question is not how to transcend the body but how to transcend language. Language describes the body as a physical construct thus as separate from itself. Perhaps the body is not physical (never was been, never will be?) but our failure to express and understand ourselves as anything other than a linguistic construct that manifests itself through its ability to separate the mind thus itself from the body/reality defines the limits of our experience (of ourselves and reality).
At any rate. I think it is necessary to understand how language shapes our ability (cognition and perception) to decide what is material and what is not material before attempting to understand and communicate enlightenment. I think that any attempts that imagine global ‘enlightenment’ as the first step toward a more humane or civilized reality demonstrate an immature mind. We need to imagine, design and create a practical environment within which a healthy mind can form. Doing so has nothing to do with religious, spiritual or any other leaders who wish to inform others about their enlightened state.
So, in short: ‘enlightenment’ is neither ‘the problem’ nor ‘the solution’. Currently, most are unable to understand it – as they are unable to act in enlightened ways (anonymity, etc.). Enlightenment seems to be a consequence of a healthy life. If all those who work many long hours to pay for their lessons (about enlightenment, about spirituality, about self-discovery, about mediation, and so on and so forth) worked fewer hours they would be that closer to enlightenment.
The idea that people will attend sessions, change themselves then get out there and change the system is very naïve because it demonstrates that those who believe in it are not aware of the system’s power. Needless to say, the system is stronger than the average individual. Furthermore, it no longer permits individuals to identify themselves as individuals (if it ever had). Even more important it is to note that the system is continuing to reduce the average individual’s ability to change the system. However, technologically speaking this is not the case because a single individual can reach more individuals or groups than ever before (plus it can organize its software and hardware better than ever before, there are many other benefits). Unfortunately, to make use of technology the individual needs awareness and creativity. The system does not encourage either of them. That’s why the average person feels powerless despite the fact that so much technology and information is available to it.
A small number of individuals that attain peace of mind are not powerful enough to change anything (let alone an element of reality, say a government). This should be very obvious to all. It is not my intention to devalue your work, or you. On the contrary, I wish I could help you out.
However, I think we need a new beginning – some kind of practical spirituality that is spiritual and transcendental precisely because it understands itself so well that it understand that teaching spirituality or enlightenment or transcendence or empathy, or whatever you want to call it, is a waste of time because they are beyond language. They are a way of living. Indeed, it (enlightenment) is the life force itself. Thus a pure act of love – toward oneself and all that exists. Not words. Not language. But an act of love.
The very existence of the term ‘enlightenment’ creates hate, jealousy, fear, insecurity and many other negative linguistic constructs because it polarizes our minds by forcing us to define ourselves as ‘enlightened’ or ‘unenlightened’. Thus the term ‘enlightenment’ divides us.
Enlightenment is an abstract pursuit precisely because we’re existing in order to pursue it rather than existing as a consequence of it.
True thus pure empathy that manifests itself as ‘acts of kindness’ is the answer because it transforms without making itself present. There is no need to make itself present. It is love, it is empathy. That is why it does not feel the need to make itself present. When nothing is present there is nothing to oppose.