So what is this enlightenment thingy? I don’t think it’s what you think it is.
I didn’t really know what I thought it was but I do know that it wasn’t what I think it is now.
You can read that opener a couple of times to get across that. I’ll wait.
Good? Awesome. It’s always seemed a little wanky to me. Pompous. Pretentious.
I guess what I thought enlightenment was had to do with the second syllable... LIGHT.
You get visions of the ‘enlightened one’ bathing in a glowing light of smug omnipresence. A glow that not everyone can possess. Enlightenment is the getting of a secret knowledge. The Truth with a capital T.
But enlightenment is not an exclusive notion. It is a synonym for spirituality in many religions, and actually has its entomological origin in the ancient Sanskrit language. We’re talking way back to the earliest recorded theological musings half a millennia before that robed hipster was killed for suggesting we’d all be better off not hurting each other. As if!
So, here’s another way to look at enlightenment, and I invite you to ponder it.
It’s that LIGHT part again, but this time you could focus on the definition -‘not heavy’.
See where I’m coming from?
In a bunch of zen theologies (zen religions if you consider them to fall into that category) they suggest that if you accumulate less, you’ll have more. If you detach from unnecessary thoughts and behaviors, you’ll gain a little more of yourself.
Enlighten = make lighter.
With me? Ditch the excess baggage. Avoid rampant consumerism. Give energy to the stuff you’re really into. Don’t dwell on shit you can’t fix or change. Shake it off - as the notable poet and prophet Taylor Swift sang.
So don’t let the word scare you. Don’t think of it as hallowed, elusive and exclusive. No one owns it and the cool thing is you can define it yourself. I hope you come to know it for what you think it could be, and not what you thought others thought it was.