If enlightenment is just another place to be as we journey to the full knowingness of not only our ‘plight in three dimensions’ but the endless implications of transcendence when we exit, then is it any more than another stage on the unfolding of our flower blossom? As blissful and serene as the experience may be, with the itch of desire and ambition no longer needing scratched, is it to be prized any more than the inching towards it that many aspirants endure, or the daily dramas and comedies that we all find ourselves in, regardless of our status in the spiritual playground?
Like many goals we set ourselves, it turns out to be a ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenario. Before enlightenment we strive to avail ourselves of its promise, then whilst within its embrace, however fleeting, we repose in its blessings, and after we gaze fondly at its mysterious grace and wonder how we managed to fall out of the basket onto the floor.
Some esoteric traditions regard the enlightened state as one to be experienced, learned from and left behind. Whether located in the physical or non-physical realms it is regarded as a private nirvana, an island of bliss and ultimately the epitome of selfishness. One’s sacred duty appears to be helping all those others, so mired in illusion, to free themselves. One is advised that the mysteries are unveiled to you only when it is apparent you will take it upon yourself to inspire others. It has certainly been my experience over the decades that the teachers and guides who do the unveiling can see through your stated motivations to any ego desires hiding below.
Some teachers, usually the ones who take on a public role, attempt to maintain the poses of enlightenment through life’s ups and downs, while others feel that human frailty, honestly expressed, accomplishes more. The former wish to be ‘fishers of men’ and feel that a perfect net will catch more in the numbers game they have signed up for. The latter feel that a sloppier approach, charming and alienating by turns, is ultimately as useful, success and failure being dance partners for as long as the music is playing.
Both are legitimate paths, providing opportunities for the variety of souls entering the journey with hopes and fears. The analogy, of course, is that all paths lead to a destination, regardless of how direct or meandering they may be. Fake gurus and pointless rituals turn out to be just as instructive in their ‘time-wasting’ applications as any seeming progress. More significant, it seems to me, is the use of the observer consciousness at any and all stages of the inner journey. Watching the ‘you’ that experiences the ambition to spiritually explore and expand, with all its successes, hopes, doubts and failures and seeing that puppet preen and polish its lack of self-worth for some mysterious achievement, can be its own brand of enlightenment, especially when it becomes apparent that you are neither the observer nor the observed but something deliciously sentient beyond either.