Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why I'll Never Reach Enlightenment

When I think about my level of consciousness I'm never impressed with myself. I think about people like Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool, and I bet he does a lot of work to move through to higher levels of being, and I think it shows in his talent, notoriety, and privacy. I'll never be an enlightened person, so I just work on trying not to getting in the way of other people and treating people with respect and kindness. I gauge enlightenment to be either such a complex emotion that I'm unwilling to do something extra to understand it, or it's too simple that I'm unwilling to let go enough in order for it to sink in. I treat enlightenment like I do politics, where I observe it while I'm feeling breezy and it's fun to talk about, and maybe even get passionate about, but I don't think I'll ever feel personally involved or thoroughly understand it.

I really enjoy eastern philosophy, but more in a way that, as dumb as it sounds, just considering the knowledge makes me feel calm. The conclusions that are drawn from following much Eastern philosophy seem aligned with my innate personality and my basic perspective of life, and the message feels like the opposite of getting yelled at as a little kid for doing something the wrong way.  BUT, when I think of the word "enlightenment" it kind of seems as mysterious as the female orgasm. It’s a sensation I’ve only witnessed and have heard testimonials of without having experienced it myself. But I believe it exists.

But why do I feel like I’ll never be enlightened myself? I think it’s because I’m a person that likes to thoroughly consider things and it seems like the term “enlightenment” carries the weight of an emotion that restless thinkers like myself don’t possess. I’m not negative or cynical, or at least not nearly as much as I have been at one point in life, but I know that I am not considered an “accepting” person for the reason that I always feel room for question and change. I question situations and try to get directly involved with my experiences to control them, and I do both of these things out of the desire to find good answers and solutions. I wouldn’t say that I’m an exceptionally judgmental person, in the sense that I don’t reach final conclusions by having a momentary opinion. I Judge people like everyone does, but I personally acknowledge that my feelings about those judgments are just that: feelings. My judgments don’t hold any objective meaning, they’re just my personal opinions. However, I can get very involved and decidedly blind about my personal feelings if it feels good in the moment, which is a trait about myself that I can’t control… or rather THE trait of myself… of having poor self-control. Though struggling with self-control doesn’t make someone ignorant of their reality, it just feels like one side of the scale is much heavier than the other.

 I wish I knew what the word was that maybe an enlightened person feels between tolerance and acceptance. Tolerance feels too begrudging. When someone says they are tolerant, I imagine the feeling as a tall flat concrete wall, built to let others brush up against while keeping their personal irritation and hatred restrained. Likewise, acceptance feels too warm and personal, like you are inviting the feeling in to live with you. Both tolerance and acceptance feel too personally involved. When considering the feeling of enlightenment, it seems like the emotion is void of the other in some respect, almost requiring an array of emotions in another dimension.

I do think about people who claim to have found spiritual enlightenment as if they are aliens. I have to admit, sometimes I think about people who claim they have found enlightenment and I want to say they’re ignorant. After all, aren’t they deliberately choosing to not experience certain states of being?  I guess when an emotion doesn’t provide you with practical application, it makes sense to rise above it, but pain isn’t a worthless experience when you consider the wisdom it provides. When someone is in pain they learn the feeling of why it’s caused, what to do about it, how to avoid it, and they learn what it feels like. Maybe enlightened individuals all had to go through pain to get where they are. Maybe pain is the reason they sought out enlightenment.

I’m aware that many people say enlightenment is an experience rather than a state of being, and that having an enlightened moment doesn’t cast enlightenment on you forever. I believe these people who have once attained enlightenment are always in the struggle to re-attain it, or at least not stray far off. I couldn’t imagine the discipline required to reach enlightenment or the desire to reach it would disappear after having accomplished it, and if they do continue to find it again and again, this puts their life back into the same cycle of ups and downs, same as everyone else. If this is the case, it makes enlightenment seem as though they are simplifying their experiences through a funnel of having and not having enlightenment. Maybe redirecting or confining their thoughts like this helps them get back on track easier. At a glance, constantly reaching for enlightenment seems almost self-destructive considering the individual has is depriving themselves of a vast amount of experiences for the one “enlightenment”, but this is coming from a person that doesn’t know what enlightenment is. Maybe enlightenment is potent with the same meaning that is deluded in other positive experiences. 

It makes me wonder then, can you get desensitized to the feeling of being enlightened? When I have a great or terrible emotion from a similar situation, it becomes more predictable, and I then see through the pain or buzz of the moment. When you become accustomed to an experience, you get bored with the obvious details. You block out those details because it’s useless to take them in, you could guess that they are going to happen before they do, so you’re not going to devote your consciousness to them. In that moment, your brain begins to notice finer details. That’s how people get to really know a person, or how someone really gets good at a skill. If a person reaches enlightenment more than once, can’t they grasp something new from the same experience, or is enlightenment an experience that binds all perspective? The latter would seem too blinding for any human to coherently understand, like taking too large a dose of a heavy psychotropic drug.

There is too much of a willingness to conform in humans to get an honest and accurate consensus on what this experience is, and if there really is a standard to “enlightenment” I’d guess that there are many people incapable of communicating the experience with justice, and many more that experienced some vaguely similar emotion and have dramatized it verbally. I’ve experienced moments of tranquility and deep reflection, but I wouldn’t be so bold as to call it enlightenment.
As it is, there are too many structures built and cultures dedicated to this experience to denote a true transcendental reality, but I’m not saying that I don’t believe it exists. I just believe that there is too much static in the atmosphere to hear a real frequency on the subject.

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