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January 24, 2018


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I can think of a quasi-answer to that question.

In Open Thread 11, Manjit talks about how enlightenment takes away, totally and fully and for ever, one's fear of death. I suppose that would certainly be a "reason", right, to seek enlightenment? And, I suppose this can be tested, in a way, indirectly, by actually seeing, testing, whether one's fear of death is actually gone.

Of course, this isn't exactly objective. And of course, this is no validation at all, since it would (probably) work just as well even if the underlying enlightenment were non-existent, as long as one believed.

And that applies not just to Buddhistic or Advaitic enlightenment : it applies also to Islamic beliefs (witness the suicide bombers), or Shinto beliefs (as in the Kamikaze), or belief in Valkyries and Valhalla, and so on.

So, neither in terms of objectivity, nor in terms of even subjective validation, can this act as validation of enlightenment. Nevertheless, the answer to the question (What use is it?) is answered here, isn't it? The answer is, it takes away one's fear of death.

On the other hand, I suppose even materialism also can, just as effectively, take away one's fear of death. After all, what's to fear, really, about not existing any more? As long as one can keep under control niggling doubts about "what if?", since unlike religions, materialism doesn't absolutely say that we end at death, just that as far as we know our consciousness ceases at death. That's just hair splitting, of course, but even a hair's breadth of doubt may be enough to let in fear, when one is faced with something as momentous (to oneself) as personal death.

These atheists were asking 20 years ago , What good is Quantum Physics ??
What good is "Unified field " ??
The Aha moment ! Subjective essence. Even animals have subjective essence.

Hi Brian!

It's odd for you to take a purely spiritual perspective on enlightenment.

In mechanical terms it just means being aware of something you weren't before, and acting from that level of raised consciousness.

Like learning that all people are the same at heart, so that we treat everyone as individuals regardless of race, creed, color or orientation, as if they are members of our own family, parts of our own self, maybe even better parts.

This "golden rule" can come from any sort of experience. Traveling and living with different families and cultures from different parts of the country, different nations.

Or it can come from spiritual experience of seeing the light of spirit within everyone we look at, under the layers of karmic covering.

Or it can come just from a realization that this is the best platform for communication and harmony : acceptance.

But the enlightened person clearly has a different view and different behavior: They realize and act on the notion that what I do to you, what I do to my environment, I do to myself. Because I am part of that, and so are you.

To parse out spirituality is a challenge, unless the individual reports this is what brought them to act in an enlightened way. Though different people will have different reasons.

However you got there, to successfully live that Golden Rule with all people, creatures, and our environment is worthy of respect. Whether it is God's grace, or the heart that melts gazing upon a beautiful sunset, or the tears shed at the moment the Master rends the veil once again after a long period of longing and strife.

It's all good, and none better than the other.

Spencer, then enlightenment isn't anything special, it's just ordinary life, since everybody is always learning something they didn't know before. This was the point of my post. Glad you agree. Some people meditate and learn something new. Some people read books and learn something new. Some people just go about their lives and learn something new.

Hi Brian
On this you and I are of the exact same mind.

Well, Brian, maybe a slight difference

It is all special. Whatever brings us to brotherhood/sisterhood, that is a cause for celebrating.

If there's no outward characteristic, only a supposedly inward subjective essence, then enlightenment truly isn't good for anything. Each of us already possesses an inward subjective essence. It's called human consciousness.

In my totally unenlightened opinion, you're right, to many enlightenment ain't gonna be much good if you can't score some street cred in the real world. But, I think that's the salient point, the truly enlightened don't claim to be anyone extraordinary.` They do however pursue the inward subjective essence of consciousness in an extraordinary way.

However subjective, I consider enlightened awareness deeper, more focused on consciousness itself. Their own consciousness. The enlightened are very purposefully not chasing some trivial achievement, empty honor, shiny new toy. Not living tremulously moment-to-moment, battered 24x7 by the mind's drivel, awaiting the next betrayal or calamity or heartache.

If it's so great, why don't the enlightened prove it... at least drop a hint, demo some magic for science. Make millions with their secrets. Sorry, it's always no dice.

They'd crowd their life with things they want to avoid like the plague. Things they've curtailed or left behind. Nasty stuff... the puffery of ego, raging irrational anger, debilitating doubt, fear, greed, all the little habits we euphemize as "being human".

The enlightened will insist on validating their beliefs inside and discarding what can't be experienced. No blind belief or worship of sacred text or incense laden ritual... neither do they prattle about the occult or ascended masters in the Himalayas.

What the enlightened will discuss is inwardness, watching the mind and
thoughts calmly, living in the present, feeling oneness with a precious presence within themselves. That's how they choose to spend their next moment. In awareness, looking "ordinary"...

Today we connect the word enlightenment with spiritual enlightenment. Spiritual enlightenment is a concept mostly associated with Buddhism and Hinduism, but it also has unrecognized connections with most other religions as well.

Enlightenment implies complete understanding of life and the universe, which usually is accompanied by a detachment of all things impermanent and a complete awareness of everything.

There area certain qualities of enlightened person in our mind. The most prominent qualities area their happiness and joy, They seem happy, peaceful, compassionate, loving, kind, emotionally stable, patient, understanding , humble , insightful, with great inner strength. The enlightened person is a great leader. Perhaps is their exceptional lucidity or higher spectrum of Awareness they possess.
Again , I think this a subjective definition and perception of the Enlightened person.

The question also arises if there is permanent enlightenment. No doubt, some gurus experienced bliss, but it was intermittent, as in other people.
Many gurus are treated like deities and hold absolute power over their devotees. As “enlightened beings” they’re accountable to no one, and their appetites, and excesses are given a pass. Of course, there were some teachers who lived exemplary live.
While certain people do attain an unusual degree of insight into the workings of the mind, their default consciousness does not seem different in kind from that of other extraordinary individuals who made no claim to enlightenment and indeed were skeptical about the idea.

Brian : 'Show us some thing this "enlightenment" is good for.'

The old Taoist adage, 'Those who speak do not know. Those who know do not speak.' may be appropriate here. They don't speak owing to personal limitations, but they are limited by a language that has been developed to describe and function in the physical world. Enlightenment in the Buddhist sense is outside the realm of language and its limitations.

So, no, there are no 'practical' uses for enlightenment like car cleaning or chopping wood. Surely, enlightenment simply enhances the person who obtains it.

More interestingly why is it that those who are allegedly enlightened are the most boring and appear to carry a burden which comes across they are just under the sway of the mind as the next man.

God if I was enlightened I would not take seriously - I would have a retreat. Ha dream on hey

Quote Brian: "It's called human consciousness".

This is an excellent talk by Dr Jordan Peterson. "Consciousness and Mystical Experiences through Psychedelics".


Clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson talks about hemispheric lateralization (left and right brain), split brain, modes of consciousness, the phenomena of mystical experiences, the author Aldous Huxley and the history of psychedelics, as well as current psychedelic research.

Published on Jan 13, 2018


@ Jen : Have you read The Zen Teaching of Huang Po : On the Transmission of Mind ?

@ Bombay Blonde

Just did a search and found pdf and downloaded -
"The Dharma of Mind Transmission: Zen Teachings of Huang-po"

Thanks heaps :)

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