Who cares? Really.
Personally, I say: think of your ideal self, the perfect image of health, wealth, and happiness, cut it in half, and that’s the threshold mystics call “enlightenment;” chances are you’re closer than you think.
The unattainable image teachers have painted for centuries of spiritual attainment was meant to keep seekers from idealizing or focusing on something outside of the daily experience and missing the present moment. While that is important, it is also important to recognize how discouraging that is in our modern era of instant gratification and ease. I think it is important to validate my friends and loved ones that they are succeeding as en-lightened beings (people who give off higher quantities of divine light) as often as I push them to try harder. There needs to be a balance.
As for the enlightened person’s moods, which are always the ordinary person’s undoing, they are said to be peaceful, secure, and blissful. Other emotions such as anger or fear may arise in response to the needs of the environment, but do not shake the deeper stillness. An analogy is that you are in a state a bit like the one a child enjoys when playing in the yard while aware that Mother is at home. The child does not think about the mother, yet her presence makes the child feel more secure, able to play wholeheartedly, and more likely to feel cheerful and see beauty in everything.
This is a feeling we can all resonate with, even me, a child who never felt the archetypical “loving mother” sensation and it is comforting for a number of reasons. Firstly we know that, grounded in happiness and joy, we are free to move through the entire range of emotions embodied in the human experience and always return to a calm center. Secondly, fear becomes easily negated with a closely held happiness and third, our freedom allows us unlimited growth, unchecked by fear.
Enlightenment is a feeling we can all recognize and it is something we can all touch. Grounding ourselves in peaceful, secure and blissful emotions using an infinite number of tools – art, music, meditation, love-making, yoga, observing nature, etc. – is all it takes to move toward the deep stillness of a child who moves through life rooted in the present moment. Emotions are the gateway to enlightenment: understand that they come and go and realize that you have the freedom to choose your home base and the whole world will become as carefree and safe as your own back yard.
How do you define enlightenment? Are there different definitions or do you believe in a standard one? What do you think is the path to enlightenment and is it even attainable? Let’s start a conversation.