Over on this post of mine there's been a comment conversation about enlightenment. "JB" left this cogent comment, which I agree with.
Tim Rimmer said: "Wasn't that the nature of the Buddha’s realisation? - All is Dukkha, yet ‘one’ is able to remove/get past it?"
That one is able to remove/get past suffering is unadulterated mythology. The hero, the savior, the enlightened person- these are all variations on a theme. This is the mythical theme that has encapsulated humankind's greatest hope. It is a dead giveaway that the "enlightened masters" are all from the ancient past. Those that claim to be enlightened today are invariably discovered to have the same neuroses and foibles as the average person, sometimes far worse. Instead of realizing that enlightenment is the stuff of legend, we radically redefine enlightenment to accomodate them.
There are no enlightened beings and never were.
"Manjit" left a reply, which I found unconvincing.
Basically it was that because lots of people claim to have "enlightenment" experiences, that means there is such a thing as enlightenment. Well, lots of people claim to have been abducted by aliens, which doesn't mean this actually happens.
Here's an excerpt from Manjit's comment.
So, are you here REALLY stating that YOU have never had any experiences of "enlightenment" or, say a "kundalini awakening" or "absorption in the sound-current" or inner "communion" with "love" or "light", or "astral projection" etc etc?
So again, Manjit is arguing that because people say there is such a thing as enlightenment, this means there is such a thing as enlightenment. Which, of course, is untrue, since people often say things that are false. (Just watch President Trump talk.)
Here's the comment I left on this subject.
The best argument against there being such a thing as "enlightenment" is that it is entirely possible and valid to have arguments about whether there's such a thing as enlightenment.
There aren't arguments about whether there are rich people, artistic people, musical people, mathematically-gifted people, lazy people, productive people, or a myriad of other kinds of people.
But there are indeed arguments about whether there are enlightened people. Why?
Because there is no way to tell whether someone is enlightened. This is an intellectual concept made up by certain religions and spiritual paths to justify their specialness. They've made up a word, "enlightenment," then claimed that if devotees do such and such, they can become enlightened.
Whatever that is.
Here's a challenge to anyone who believes that enlightenment is real. Describe how it is possible to distinguish an enlightened person from an unenlightened person.
Imagine the spiritual equivalent of a police lineup. You're presented with a dozen, or a hundred, or a thousand, or seven billion, people. Your job is to point out the "enlightened" people.
How would you do this? What questions would you ask them? What answers would you find persuasive, and why? What behaviors or actions they perform would you want to observe? Which of these behaviors or actions would show they're enlightened, and why?
My strong suspicion is that believers in the reality of enlightenment would say that this is an ineffable personal experience, or state of being, that can't be described or observed.
OK. Fair enough.
This sounds like the dreams that I have every night. Or the feelings I have throughout the day. This would make "enlightenment" one of a myriad of personal experiences that only have reality within the mind of the experiencer.
But this means that enlightenment isn't anything special. In fact, it may not even exist as a genuine subjective reality, since it could refer only to a normal state of being that certain religions or spiritual path have elevated to a special experience.
For example, some Buddhists view enlightenment as being totally immersed and accepting of the present moment. I, and everyone else, am capable of doing this. Not always, but often. So this makes me "enlightened" at times, along with everybody else in the world.
The fact that there's no agreement about what enlightenment means is strong evidence that it doesn't really exist except as a religious/spiritual concept.