Enlightenment, my view
A "Net-friend" of mine asked me for my definition of enlightenment several years ago and that was an enlightening experience for me. I discovered that enlightenment may not come so much from the questions you ask as the questions you are asked. Anyhow, I'll tell you what I told my other friend. What follows is at least the essence of what I said: Enlightenment can be a goal or a journey, depending on your perspective. Ultimately (the goal) would be your awareness of the true nature of the universe and your interconnectedness with all things at the highest and deepest levels. Along with that is the awareness of your own divinity, the divinity of all things. Finally, you know that there is only one "thing", energy, force, and it is called the All, One Mind, or one of the other 10,000 names of God. As Thadeus Golas says in "Lazy Mans Guide to Enlightenment", "...there ain't nobody here but us chickens." The reason I say that it's also a journey is that even our friend, old Siddharta(aka the Buddha)didn't become enlightened all at once as conventional wisdom would have us believe. The first step for him was when he stepped outside the castle walls and witnessed suffering, sickness and death for the first time as a young man. The young Siddharta tried a number of paths before his arrival under the Bodhi tree and his ultimate awakening. Each path tried and rejected was another step towards the goal, and each experience another enlightenment. A person can become enlightened about specific aspects of life, the universe or anything, and it is as important to that individuals growth as the final step. A bigot who finally realizes that all humanity are his brothers and sisters, his equals, and ultimately, just his ownself in different skins, has just experienced a major enlightenment, or satori(the Christian term is epiphany), if that's all he ever realizes. The Answer is going to be different for everyone, the Ultimate Truth is not. Talking about what we've realized on this level is difficult because we sift each realization through the filters of our own culture, history, personal experience, and so on. Add to this the difficulty of discussing the infinite in finite terms and you can understand why it seems so confusing at times. People use analogy, metaphor, parables, and "build models" of their truth, but on this level, it is only *their* truth. One person does not have all the answers for any other person. We are all on our own path. So, friend, there it is. I am pleased if I have been able to shed some light on your path or if anything I say in the future might aid you in recalling those things that you already know. That is why the questions we are asked are so important. As serious as all of this sounds the thing you must remember is that it's supposed to be fun. Siddharta sat around under the Bodhi tree with an enigmatic smile on his face after becoming enlightened; another Buddha laughed out loud when he achieved his realization. The truth shall set you free and, it will make you smile.
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