I like to hear from people who read my blog posts -- especially when what they say is supportive of my churchless un-preaching.
Here's an email message that I got today from John. After I asked if I could share his message, he said "sure." I like John's perspective on things. He and I carry on a fairly regular correspondence.
Hey Brian. Wow. I really enjoyed reading your latest post on enlightenment! To me, that is so freeing! I’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion.
There is a lot of pressure involved in trying to become “enlightened”. You know what I mean? In my Christian days, it was either trying to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh, or trying to be more like Jesus, or not sinning, or whatever. Then you get into, what is sin? There are the biggies; don’t kill, steal, cheat, lie, etc.
But some believe that wearing shorts is a sin. Or having musical instruments in the church is a sin. And so forth. Depending on how strict the group was, we never would consistently live up to that and we just felt bad a lot of the time. So you mix the stress of just living everyday life on this planet with chasing enlightenment or salvation or whatever… And it really can become unbearable.
I haven’t really consciously chased enlightenment that I can remember. From what I’ve read, it’s hard to get two people to agree on what exactly enlightenment is or what it means.
Some say it’s the cessation of suffering. Others say it’s some kind of realization and living out of your “God self”. Both of these are pretty vague. LOL Others say it’s just being present or mindful. I guess in that case, you can have moments of enlightenment?
Kind of like you said in your post;
…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."
Also from your current post, I read this and went, Yes!
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.
That’s so true! It’s almost like marketing. LOL If you join us, and do our thing, you can become more enlightened than the other guys... And I love the addition of, “Whatever that is”.
I’ve gone through periods of reading a lot, so I can’t remember who said this or the exact wording.
But it went something like, you can have various experiences for various reasons. One experience may even seem like what you think is enlightenment. But don’t try to hang on to any of them, including what you thought was enlightenment. Experiences come and go. Let them come and go.
Another one said that when you think a person is enlightened, ask their spouse if that is true. LOL
I guess all these different opinions and points of view keep the world a more interesting place. If we all believed the same thing, I guess it would be boring. Right?
But I am grateful for the, what I would consider, solid and more down to earth influences that I have had. Whether meditation, or yoga, or tai chi, it seems that most of the books that I’ve read and people I’ve practiced with have all stressed being here and now. Not chasing some undefinable enlightenment.
I look at these things as simply tools that help me get through life a little more smoothly. When I’m meditating on a regular basis and practicing tai chi as well, I do seem to handle stress better, respond to difficult situations better, etc. But I don’t really see it as a spiritual thing, like many of my friends do.
The general idea of many folks that I know is that when you do some kind of “spiritual” practice, then you live more out of your spirit man than you do this earthly man.
Well, I no longer think that I’m divided like that. I think what you see is what you get. When I do my practice, I just think that my mind is less cluttered and distracted, and my body is more relaxed, so it’s just naturally easier to process life in a way that seems a little smoother. If that makes sense?
Thanks again for the great posts.
I hope you and yours are doing well.