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.

 

Childhood

And he said:

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  – Mathew 18:3 NIV

innocentone

~

I long to return to the world of my childhood

where there is no care in the world

playing, alone, self-contained

fully present in the now moment

moving by impulse, pure, innocent, curious

bright-eyed, frisky, exuberant

no worries, no judgement of right and wrong

no guilt feelings, no baggage

light, free, unconditioned

wounded from the game, but holds no grudges

no self-pitying, just accepting, and moving on

no projecting into the future

no lingering in the past

indeed, to enter the kingdom of God is to become like a child again.

[journal entry: 6-30-14]

Why Enlightenment?

sit in med boy

Why would anyone want to be enlightened?

The ultimate goal of enlightenment is to attain a lasting peace of mind and happiness. It is an attempt to fill the ‘void’. A desire to transcend the pain, the suffering embedded in the human condition.

Why is it that mystics always advise against chasing after enlightenment?

It is because the more you pursue it, the more elusive it becomes.

In the past, spiritual seekers spent lifetimes meditating in caves, or in the mountains, or facing blank walls in cell-like abodes. They tried too hard. I wonder what percentage of them got enlightened  in the end.

It does not seem that such long and seemingly severe process is necessary now. Just my opinion. It is all up to how one chooses to have a go at it.

It is still the most prevalent notion that meditation is the best way to get enlightened. It may be true. Some people meditate a lot, for long hours, for a lifetime; and for sure, they become more peaceful, more loving and more compassionate as a result of quieting their minds and withdrawing from external distractions. But they may never attain the enlightened state they are wanting to reach.

This is because enlightenment is not something to reach out for. Enlightenment, like happiness, like God, is not an object out there that is separate from one’s be-ing. So the harder you strive to reach out for it, the more you are distancing yourself from it because you are perceiving it as something outside yourself.

Do not meditate with the expectation to get enlightened. Meditate to refresh your mind, to ward off stress, to feel more peaceful, contented and connected.

It is, however, possible that through meditation, one may have a glimpse of the Infinite which may ultimately lead to enlightenment. Hence, meditation as one of the potent tools towards Illumination, cannot be  discounted.

Enlightenment is not attained after a long hard work, or through a tensed struggle to finally ‘get there’. What I mean is, it does not come by subjecting oneself to self-flagellation-like rigid disciplines.

It is not handed to the aspirant by somebody else, say, a guru.

It is a realization. No, it is even easier than that – it is revealed when you relax and let go of the tightness.

It is something already existing in you, but you are just not consciously aware of it.

True enlightenment is not something given or transferred from one person to another as this would be like saying that one person has God in him while the other has not.

Nobody can give you what you already possess. But if it is in your belief system that you do not have it, and that you then have to ‘obtain’ it from another, you will manifest the reality where you create a middleman/woman to hand enlightenment, or God to you. It is not wrong; it is just a long, indirect process where there is a huge possibility to get lost in translation.

All a good teacher can do is to activate some vibrations or frequency within you that may facilitate your own enlightenment.

By using the metaphor of awakening from sleep to refer to enlightenment, many spiritual teachers talk about the experience of awakening from a deep slumber to be like the experience of spiritual enlightenment. Because when you are sleeping, you are not aware. When you awaken, you become aware.

You become aware of what?

You become aware of your true self. You become aware of the true nature of  reality.

And so?

And so, as the awakened ones have said, this awareness brings lasting happiness and an imperturbable inner peace. And, indeed, who does not want these?

The question remains, how to get there from there?

Really, don’t try too hard. “Just be.”

It is hard to say more without going deep into metaphysics. But most of the time, metaphysics, instead of making it clearer, muddles it more. So we leave it at this, for now.

“Just Be.”