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What is Enlightenment and Does it Matter?
Enlightenment is a common term thrown around by a variety of philosophers and religions. The term “enlightenment” used by Emmanuel Kant isn’t the same as Buddhist enlightenment, but they share many similarities. Enlightenment is having an accurate view of the world and how it works. It’s much more common to view the world through distorted glasses.
Our prejudices, biases, hurts from the past, and misconceptions taint our perception. We’re driven by habit and polluted by our past experiences. It’s very challenging to strip all of that away and perceive the world accurately. It can take a lifetime to reach a high level of enlightenment.
It’s not necessary to live alone in a cave or become a Buddhist monk to reach a higher level of enlightenment. All that’s really required is to pay attention and observe your thoughts.
There are many advantages to enlightenment:
- It’s impossible to feel jealous, offended, or have other negative emotions if you’re enlightened. When you’re enlightened, it’s obvious how un-enlightened others are. You’re much more likely to feel pity when someone acts or speaks against you than to feel hurt.
- You no longer feel the need to impress anyone else. You’ll no longer chase after achievements or possessions for the purpose of showing off. You’ll be free to pursue your true passions without regard for the opinions of others.
- Simple things become much more enjoyable. Eating an orange or going for a walk can be as satisfying as driving a Ferrari. The most successful person isn’t the one that has the most. It’s the person that’s happiest and most satisfied with what they already have.
Enlightenment has a lot to offer. But how does one become more enlightened? It’s quite simple, yet arduous. Avoid the mistake of thinking that mental exercise doesn’t require effort. Becoming enlightened is challenging in the same way eating only one potato chip is challenging.
Try these strategies on your journey to enlightenment:
- Meditate. Meditation is the primary tool to reach enlightenment. Buy a book or join a local group to learn how to meditate. Meditation isn’t complicated, but it must be done with a high level of expertise in order to get the most out of it.
- Pay attention. Notice your thoughts and feelings as they arise. If you’re sitting in traffic, annoyed that you’re going to be late for work, notice the feelings and consider the origin. What are you feeling? Why? Are your feelings helping in any way? Have you always responded this way in similar situations? Would a child respond the same way?
- Play the role of the observer. It’s not enough to pay attention. Strive to be objective and non-judgmental in your observations. Imagine you’re a stranger observing the situation with nothing to gain or lose. Be dispassionate. Notice the rise and fall of your emotions without getting involved. Be a scientist.
- Be patient. Becoming enlightened is like training for the Olympics. It can take years to develop the conditioning and expertise. Enjoy the fact that you’re making small amounts of progress each day. It takes time.
- Let go of the past. If you’re still upset that your dad walked out on the family when you were six, you’re not enlightened. Being dispassionate about negative experiences from the past are half of the challenge to enlightenment. Let them go.
Enlightenment isn’t just for spiritual, off-the-grid folks. Enlightenment is a worthy goal for any human being. Enlightenment is hard work, but the benefits are considerable. You’ll no longer have to be controlled by your emotions or feel the need to impress anyone. You can enjoy a freedom that you’ve never felt before – and it feels great!
Start your journey to enlightenment today!