I have been fascinated with the idea of enlightenment for around 20 years now. The path to enlightenment is tricky enough when one is immersed in cultures with a long history with and practices for attaining enlightenment. Being born in the West only adds to it’s elusiveness. I suppose that’s just our karma as “Westerners.”
This page will be a constantly updated resource with links to articles, video and books aimed at making the path to enlightenment, for the Western student daring enough to step on the trail, a little easier to manage. While an unenlightened being like myself may not have much to say on what enlightenment is or how to go about attaining it, I can certainly help save you some time and energy by exposing you to people and practices it has taken me years to find. If you have a resource you think should be added to the page, feel free to leave it as a comment below.
What is Enlightenment?
I’m just going to call it “ultimate bliss.” That might be the “wrong” way to explain it, but I feel like it’s the “right” way to explain it. Allow me to explain. The Western minds sees enlightenment as a goal (like any other goal) and it is a goal, but it’s a goal of… being goal-less? What exactly enlightenment is and isn’t can be debated among various systems for getting there and that’s fine. I think if you look at enlightenment as the “ultimate bliss” and ever notice your actions in striving towards enlightenment produces less bliss instead of more, take a step back and reconsider your personal definition. While there are certainly exercises and practices that are less than blissful, they aren’t when your coming at them in the right frame of mind (like drills for being excellent in a sport or martial art).
That’s what I have to say, lets look at what the pros have to say!
- Daoism – Wuwei, performing effortless deeds and teaching wordless lessons.
- Buddhism – Ultimately Nirvana, but there are various states of enlightenment to be reached on the road.
- Hinduism – Liberation/release called moksha.
- Also check the Wikipedia pages on enlightenment and Buddhist enlightenment for more snacks for your mind.
If there was one thing I could tell myself, 15 years or so ago, about the nature of enlightenment it would be that it’s a (natural) process. I’d also recommend not obsessing about it and to not attempt “instant enlightenment” without a guide of some kind.
How Do I Choose a Method for Enlightenment?
This is the awesome part… you don’t! It chooses you! lol Seriously though, you had no control over coming into the word and you had no control over what you were exposed to early in life. Something is going to naturally be more appealing. Perhaps your attracted to Yoga, Buddhism or you’re just REALLY into art (or archery). The fact that you’re reading this page tells me you’ve already chosen the only method really available. Inquiry into the nature of life. Just keep that up and go where you take yourself. I started with Daoism, here’s my take on Daosim.
Two Ways to Get (T)here
See what I did there? With the there and here. See that?! That’s because this enlightenment thing is definitely a there as in people begin it as a quest. They read books, go to seminars, travel to see enlightened beings who might pass on “the secret” and they learn exercises (like meditation). All that running here and there isn’t to get to a there. It’s to get to a here (actually… not even here). The NOW (actually… lol). That’s all. Super easy and obviously at the same time not.
There are essentially two ways to get (t)here. Gradual enlightenment and sudden enlightenment. Gradual enlightenment involves putting in the work, doing the meditations and all that fun stuff to get (t)here gradually. Sudden enlightenment is exactly what it sounds like. It’s an epic pimpslap from the universe which snaps you out of the fiction of yourself (and supposedly stays with you). Sometimes this pimpslap passed on from a Zen master in the form of his physical hand, sometimes it’s figuratively in the form of insight the breaks the inside of your mind and other times it’s like getting hit with cosmic lighting from the darkest corner of the universe. I think anyway. 😉 Sri Ramana Marharshi is someone who was hit with this form of lightning.
Resources for Getting (T)here
I’ll expand on this in the future, but I want to start with this quote from the Daodejing:
There are ways but the Way is uncharted
Don’t get sucked into thinking you’ve ever found THE WAY (to enlightenment or anything for that matter). Always know you’re riding the uncharted waters of your life and anything written is from the perspective of someone else. Don’t even believe what I’m telling you right now! Maybe the Way (to enlightenment) is clearly charted and the Buddha laid it down in the Noble Eightfold Path.
For now, I leave you with two resources:
- YOURSELF, hit-up Google and search some of the new words you learned above or click through to their Wikipedia entries.
- The Wanderling – This is the site the reignited my fire for “enlightenment.” It’s a jumbled mess of articles on enlightenment but he’s super authentic about help you get (t)here and recommends a bunch of awesome resources.
Now to get to getting! See you (t)here! 😉