If you think I'm churchless and irreligious, you haven't met my wife, Laurel -- who is now surpassing me in skepticism about all things godly.
She's even enlightening me about enlightenment.
Driving home from central Oregon this afternoon, with plenty of time to converse during the two hour trip, Laurel said:
Why are so many people concerned about being enlightened? It's just about embracing reality. Which is right here, right now. So understanding there's no such thing as enlightenment, just reality, is true enlightenment.
I couldn't add much to this bit of wisdom.
Mostly I just marveled at Laurel's evident enlightenment. Perhaps even more than me, she's come to understand that searching for an illusory SuperSized Consciousness is a recipe for wasting one's time.
Now, I realize that many people disagree with this. I would have disagreed with Laurel myself a decade or so ago, when I still believed it was possible to dissolve the illusion of everyday reality.
Today, like my wife, I consider that the illusion is believing there is any illusion to dissolve. Sure, there's a lot to learn about the world -- both on a personal and communal level.
But there's no convincing evidence that anything other than one's ordinary mind is needed to gain increased knowledge and understanding of what life is all about, a notion shared by John Gray in his new book, as I wrote about in my previous post.
I quoted Gray:
We do not know how matter came to dream our world into being: we do not know what, if anything, happens when the dream ends for us and we die. We yearn for a type of knowledge that would make us other than we are -- though what we would like to be, we cannot say. Why try to escape from yourself?
Accepting the fact of unknowing makes possible an inner freedom very different from that pursued by Gnostics. If you have this negative capability, you will not want a higher form of consciousness; your ordinary mind will give you all you need.
Today I came across a piece, "Alan Watts on What Reality Is and How to Become What You Are." Watts, of course, also was big on living an ordinary life without making it into anything other than what it naturally is.
The piece has a quote from Watts' book, Become What You Are.
Some time ago a group of people were sitting in a restaurant, and one of them asked the others to say what they meant by Reality. There was much vague discussion, much talk of metaphysics and psychology, but one of those present, when asked his opinion, simply shrugged his shoulders and pointed at the saltshaker.
He was amazed to find that no one understood him, yet he had intended to be neither clever nor obscure. His idea was just to give a commonsense answer to the question, on the ordinary assumption that Reality is whatever exists.
He was not understood because his friends, in common with many others, regarded Reality as a special kind of existence and Life (with a capital L) as a particular way of living. Thus we often meet those who talk about the difference between being a mere clod, a mere “animated stomach,” and a real person; between those who simply exist and those who really live.
Which is followed by another quote:
We have all met those who are trying very hard to be real persons, to give their lives Reality (or meaning) and to live as distinct from existing. These seekers are of many kinds, highbrow and lowbrow, ranging from students of arcane wisdom to the audiences of popular speakers on pep and personality, selling yourself and making your life a success.
I have never yet met anyone who tried to become a real person with success. The result of such attempts is invariably loss of personality, for there is an ancient paradox of the spiritual life whereby those who try to make themselves great become small.
The paradox is even a bit more complicated than this; it also means that if you try, indirectly, to make yourself great by making yourself small, you succeed only in remaining small. It is all a question of motive, of what you want. Motives may be subtly concealed, and we may not call the desire to be a real person the desire to be great; but that is just a matter of words.