Monday, February 01, 2010

On Enlightenment

I have always been attracted towards enlightenment and enlightened people and as a result, have spent a lot of time reading about them. From all that I have encountered on this subject, I have learnt 2 things almost unanimously agreed upon around the world;

1. Enlightenment cannot be communicated by words or actions
2. Enlightenment cannot result from anything done in an attempt to gain enlightenment as a result of it

These 2 axioms confused me a little bit because if they are true then why do;
1. Enlightened people try to explain it through their words?
2. Enlightened people tell others the right way to lead their lives?

I went a step back to try to understand what these people were looking for in the first place? Almost all of them started with a problem that they desperately wanted to solve (It was universal suffering in the case of the Buddha) and in the process of solving it, they reached a point where they had to define themselves. Their search simplified into a search for themselves.

Now let me digress a bit and use a little anecdote from my experience of marriage. I would first like to point the distinction between 'Wedding' and 'Marriage' first. A 'Wedding' is an event to celebrate the beginning of a 'Marriage', which is a process and not an event. Now when you are married and love your wife like I do, your perspective of your life slowly but markedly changes. With time, your definition of your life becomes increasingly incomplete without your wife in it until after a point, it becomes impossible to define life without her. After this point, no one has to tell you to take care of your wife because taking care of her is natural and spontaneous because she is now part of you.

Now coming back to our previous discussion of enlightened beings. What I believed happened to them is that in the process of trying to define themselves, they found that they were unable to define themselves if they left out even one single spec of this universe from the definition. It must have been quite disorienting to say the least but what resulted was that they became one with the universe, so to speak. When you are one with the universe, it is hard to believe that you would do something with an intention to achieve a result, that you are not content. So whatever these people would do was involuntary, like a reflex action resulting from all the experiences they had accumulated so far. These people were just portals through which the universe tried to express itself, limited of course by their skills.

But this still didn't explain why they would try to communicate the right way of life or the right knowledge despite knowing that these are impossible attempts at communicating enlightenment. My hypothesis is that our sample of enlightened beings is not the universe nor is it a representative sample of the universe. The enlightened beings who were recorded by history are those who were teachers by instinct and hence taught even after enlightenment. I guess there must be many more who are painters, dancers, singers or bloggers by nature and hence go undetected by the spiritual radar but end up leaving beautiful trails behind them.

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