Is Spiritual Enlightenment Earned?

In my perspective, the answer is no.

To be enlightened, all an aspirant has to have is a pure desire to be enlightened. Desire is the key. Without the desire for anything, that desired thing does not occur in one’s reality. Hence, I found it ironic that Buddhism shuns desire when it is the very act of desiring that summons experience, that summons life. And to determinedly rebuff having a desire is itself an intense and arduous desire. Perhaps Buddha was misunderstood.

Spiritual enlightenment is not earned. That is, if ‘earn’ entails doing some specific steps, processes, or special actions to earn points and merits to make enlightenment happen.

When I was little, my catechist Catholic mother and Baptist brother passionately discussed whether the grace or the mercy of God is acquired through good works. The Bible stated that the grace of God is not acquired through good works, but through faith – and faith alone. I found this to be true in the case of spiritual enlightenment.

Amidst all the unfairness, injustices, strife and tragedies we see around us, it seems to me that the fair, merciful, and just Creator made sure that the Kingdom of God is accessible to everyone, regardless of who they are and what they do, or not do.

ego-enlightenment-quote

If spiritual enlightenment is attained only by doing certain good works or any of the so-called preconditions to enlightenment, it would be unfair since not everyone is in the position to act in certain ways to get enlightened.

For example, some people can’t afford to attend spiritual talks and seminars, buy certain books, or travel long distances to meet a certain guru. Does it mean then that these people are unfortunate (have bad karma) and are farther from being enlightened (or are more distant from the Kingdom of God) than those who are in the position to do one or all of these things?

Those who dress in certain ways, eat only certain “spiritual” foods, speak softly and calculatedly, offer money and incense to a deity, live in an ashram with a guru, meditate long hours, chant mantras – are they any closer to God than those regular-looking people in the street?

Third Dimensional tools and processes do not guarantee that one gets closer to the truth, or to God. Tools could be helpful up to a certain point, and then if one clings to them, like most seekers do, they become the trap of the seeker.

So what to do then?

There is no one right or even wrong path to God. There is no secret method available only to a chosen few. There are no specific steps, procedures, or hallowed practices that one must strictly adhere to in order to get closer to God.

But in every thing desired, whether it be spiritual awakening or any other wanted thing or experience, all one needs is a burning desire that is so pure and focused. This intense desire itself is what summons the means for one to access all that one uniquely requires for his or her journey towards enlightenment. If one needs to meet a certain teacher, or to travel to a certain place to get to the goal, what is needed to do all these things will be provided for, in expected and unexpected ways.

However, if the means towards what is wanted does not show-up, do not despair. This only means that you do not really need what your physical mind thinks you need in order to be what you want to be or where you want to be.

After all, if it is God you seek, if it is the Truth you seek – know that It is within. And the one who looks inward, rather than outward, is the one who will find It.

The Kingdom of God is very much open for those who seek it. There is not even a gate or a heavy door to push open in one specific fashion or another in order to get in.

Just enter.

 

Five Guaranteed Ways to Become More Lovable

puppy n mantis

Become like a cat or a puppy, cute and adorable without trying.

Become like a flower, confident in its beauty, whether it’s a rose or a sunflower.

Become like a tree, lofty yet grounded.

Become like the sun, warm and generous.

Become like the breeze, cool and refreshing.

black cat

 . . . meow . . .

The Stream of Peace

White-Lotus

There is a continuous stream of peace running in the background,

quietly, it runs, in the background,

drowned by the noise in the foreground.

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It is a clear, peaceful stream flowing,

unobstructed, unconditioned, pure,

unaffected by the turbulence around it.

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Peacefully and joyously constant, it remains

oblivious of anything else – aware only of itself and its purity,

quietly, it flows . . .

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Within this peace is joy, within this joy is love,

peace, joy and love – all in one – untouched, uncontaminated,

innocent: knows no regrets, no blame, no sin, no karma.

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A steady stream . . .

a source of strength, a fall back, a respite from it’s opposite –

the ever-shifting, tumultuous, raging river of the manifest world.

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It is certainty where there is uncertainty.

It is order where there is disorder.

It is the light where there is darkness.

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This is where we want to be.

It is heaven – undisturbed peace, true love, lasting happiness.

It is God – constant, cannot be taken away, never abandons, never fails.

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It is ever present . . .

It is enlightenment.

And it lies in wait to be uncovered.

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A steady stream running in the background

drowned by the noise in the foreground.

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What is Enlightenment?

whatisenlightenment

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First of all, the experience of enlightenment cannot be accurately captured in words. So to define it is not really the purpose of this essay. I say this because the other night, I stumbled upon an article written by a certain guru (http://lovebliss.eu/…-about-enlightenment.html) who is invalidating all other people’s definition or description of ‘enlightenment’. He invalidated a bunch of world renowned, as well as not-so-world-renowned spiritual teachers’ concept or description of enlightenment.

Among others, he invalidated Eckhart Tolle, A Course in Miracles, the Buddhist view of enlightenment, and a few other teachers I am not familiar with. It is clear that he is well read because he knows exactly which teacher said what, and he gave his explanations on why this and that spiritual teacher’s take on enlightenment is a fallacy, or in his own words, “plain wrong.”

So, by invalidating all the others’ descriptions of enlightenment, is he then saying that only his description or experience of it, the real deal? Is he saying that he has the exclusive knowledge of what enlightenment is all about? If others described it in a way that does not conform to his description, does it mean that these others have not really experienced enlightenment?

Personally, I do agree and relate to his idea of enlightenment. What he seemed to have forgotten, however, is that enlightenment, itself, is beyond words to describe or define.  Enlightenment is beyond the ‘verbal utterances’ of one individual. So if other people defined it in a certain way and he finds their description to be lacking, inferior, or “plain wrong,” it could simply be because words are not enough to capture what enlightenment is all about.

He got so wrapped up in his abstract concept of enlightenment that he considered all other ‘takes’ to be less promising than his.

His abstractions are perhaps great. However, the point is to make the truth accessible to those who are not so inclined to think in very abstract terms. And this is why many teachers, beginning from ancient times, have to use finite human terms to communicate their mystical experiences, including that of ‘enlightenment’.

We have to acknowledge that the very moment you translate the Infinite in finite terms, it gets boxed and thus, becomes limited.

Nobody holds monopoly on the real definition of enlightenment. When we put forward our idea or ‘description’ of this elusive phenomenon, all we are doing is describing a minuscule facet of the Infinite, according to how it revealed itself to us.

Yes, enlightenment is Love-Bliss and all that, and more than that, and beyond all this and that.

So what is the big deal?

It is better to keep in mind what the ‘Old Man’  (Lao Tzu) said:

Words are hollow scratches written in the image of mankind.”

I’m still stunned the way a Zen Master presented it, in a riddle:

“The sound of one hand clapping.”

And this is why, I always say:

. . . in the end, it is all storytelling!  🙂

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