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07 February 2009 @ 09:52 am
Okay, follow me down this rabbit hole for a minute.
You cannot understand enlightenment without being enlightened.
You cannot make someone into an enlightened being. Enlightenment is not a commodity; it cannot be given or taken, it cannot be bought, it can only be found.
You cannot explain enlightenment to someone who does not have enlightenment; if you could, you could give away enlightenment to anyone capable of understanding you.
If you could explain enlightenment, then you could write down the explanation. If enlightenment could be reduced to words, then it could be copied down and passed along in text.
Enlightenment is inexplicable. There are no words that can convey anything useful about enlightenment.
Therefore, nothing written about enlightenment has any meaning, including this.

IS enlightenment truly something that cannot be conveyed by words? Is poetry capable? Is music capable? Is a photograph of beauty itself a thing a beauty or just a recording of beauty? Can beauty be recorded, or is it a fleeting quality that cannot be contained? Is beauty purely contextual, or is there anything that is beautiful in and of itself? Beauty, music, poetry are all evocative. They can bring rise to deep, powerful emotional responses when perceived. Supposedly, moments of great beauty have been catalysts of enlightenment in those identified by history and legend as "enlightened." How can someone unenlightened even identify an enlightened being? There are myths from many ancient cultures detailing how the divine can walk among us, cloaked and unrecognizable. Divinities of legend like Zeus and Odin, even "wise" kings were known to wander the world, testing their people's hospitality and reminding them that they can never be sure that the beggar at their door is merely what he appears to be. If we cannot tell a beggar from a king, can we tell the wise from the foolish? Is there a difference that can be discerned? Is there a difference at all?

If enlightenment cannot be written about, can the enlightened even leave us guideposts along the path? Or are books of "wisdom" even useful? If we cannot tell wheat from chaff, how can we discern aurum from iron pyrite? If you have fool's gold and think it to be true gold and use it in trade with a person who thinks it to be gold, have you cheated them? Are they right to feel cheated if they later find that they were paid in fool's gold?

Is a enlightened human being still a human being? Or is enlightenment truly transcendence? Can even an enlightened being tell? All the writings point to moments of enlightenment, but how can you tell? To someone who has never seen the Sun, the Moon is the brightest light in the sky. Is it encapsulated in a moment? Does that moment last forever? Or is it a long journey, an ascent up the mountain where there is always another step to take? Once you reach the top, where is there to go? Does enlightenment have an end? If it has no end, can it truly have a beginning?
Current Mood: staggered
Current Music: Beck - "Missing"
rickvsrickvs on February 7th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
My position is that writings about enlightenment can be useful to someone equipped to interpret them, the same way a map to the supermarket can be useful even if you shouldn't eat it.

Also, I don't consider enlightened/non-enlightened to be a binary state; I hope it's a slippery slope on which people can prime themselves to become more enlightened than they were yesterday.
docjeff on February 7th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
There are times when I've felt enlightenment, at least in the Buddhist perspective, is little more than learning to double-talk.
Erinlivethlfe on February 8th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
Where does enlightenment fit in your belief system?
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on February 8th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
Good question. In my ideal of Phaneanism, enlightenment is both a goal and a step on a longer journey. Phanes is the Revealer, Illumination of that which is hidden. To achieve enlightenment as it is classically described would be to see through the veils on life.

I don't walk the ideal Phanean path, though. I cannot say that there is anything to "enlightenment" in that classic definition. I could not tell you if I've ever met an enlightened human being. I can't decide for myself if I'd call an enlightened person "human" past the point of enlightenment. Transcendental enlightenment would transcend... what? Illusions? Flaws in human nature? I would suspect that an enlightened Phanean would seek to reveal the truth of things to others, but I cannot see how that would mean anything more than helping others learn how to really observe. All Phanes can do is shine a light on things. Could even the divine force us to truly perceive and understand the truth of a thing? Or is even a god limited to showing us a thing in its most basic form, with the shadows stripped away, leaving us to understand it on our own?