Will

Is enlightenment really desirable?

534 posts in this topic

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days. Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

 

By enlightenment, I don't mean becoming a true sage or anything like that, but merely coming to realize basic Taoist "truths" (about how most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions). 

 

Now, many people are very content with their lives when they are not enlightened. Perhaps they work for a charity or have ambitions to become a social activist. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing, and matters a lot.

 

Contrast that with me, who's currently "enlightened" in the sense previously described, and is feeling like nothing has meaning. This does not make me feel very content. Of course, Zhuangzi felt very content, but it took a lot of practice and dedication for him to reach that point. Whereas for those who aren't enlightened, I get the sense that many of them are pretty content without having to put in that kind of dedication.

 

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness? Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism? 

 

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?" I know I've discussed this here before, with no clear answer coming out of it. But, basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life? By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

 

I'm not actually considering leaving Taoism; it's just that questions like this really bother me. :)

6 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

here I the way I see it-simply put-

 

just like weather I do not think it is possible to have only sun(is happiness the only thing I should want)

of course everyone wants happy-and it is nice to be happy-

but you are going to need a little rain.

I want only sun I go live in desert-but it rains there too. occasionally and snow too.

 

and why would you ask a forum about higher purpose.

who here really will know? really. is there anyone here who believes they know?

 

how do we know how zhuangzi felt?

 

 

 

2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

here I the way I see it-simply put-

 

just like weather I do not think it is possible to have only sun(is happiness the only thing I should want)

of course everyone wants happy-and it is nice to be happy-

but you are going to need a little rain.

I want only sun I go live in desert-but it rains there too. occasionally and snow too.

 

and why would you ask a forum about higher purpose.

who here really will know? really. is there anyone here who believes they know?

 

how do we know how zhuangzi felt?

 

 

 

I think anyone who claims 'they know' know not... as per the philosophy guiding this OP. However, if one is of the opinion that wisdom and awareness can be honed limitlessly, then it is only right to acknowledge an ongoing process of knowing, or, to put it another way, to allow happiness and contentment to arise as a natural consequence of engaging with/in the process of wonderment, of discovering that indeed one can maintain a centre without a circumference. The potential for joy in simplicity is limitless. 

 

Whereas, in my own view, I tend to manage my own progress keeping in mind that what I practice (as a spiritual path) and what the ultimate goal is, is inseparably conjoined -- they are so inextricably entwined that, once realised experientially, that very knowing (realisation) will naturally dissolve other existential questions. 

2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Red pill, blue pill, does it really matter? You live in the matrix or you fight the machines. Either way you're alive. Either way you have problems. Either way you suffer.

3 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Will said:

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days. Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

 

By enlightenment, I don't mean becoming a true sage or anything like that, but merely coming to realize basic Taoist "truths" (about how most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions). 

 

Now, many people are very content with their lives when they are not enlightened. Perhaps they work for a charity or have ambitions to become a social activist. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing, and matters a lot.

 

Contrast that with me, who's currently "enlightened" in the sense previously described, and is feeling like nothing has meaning. This does not make me feel very content. Of course, Zhuangzi felt very content, but it took a lot of practice and dedication for him to reach that point. Whereas for those who aren't enlightened, I get the sense that many of them are pretty content without having to put in that kind of dedication.

 

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness? Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism? 

 

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?" I know I've discussed this here before, with no clear answer coming out of it. But, basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life? By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

 

I'm not actually considering leaving Taoism; it's just that questions like this really bother me. :)

 

Hi Will. (-:

 

Though your definition of 'enlightenment' isn't the usual one perhaps, I understand your words and what you are asking.

 

You said above: "Now, many people are very content with their lives when they are not enlightened."

 

For me, there is no concern as to others ideas as to 'enlightenment' 'aware' 'awake' etc...  I am content with who I am, experiencing all that life brings - both good and bad - and letting things flow in their own time and of their own accord. I know that I have ten fingers, I know that I am not separate from Tao. What more is it that I could need?

 

Contentment is not the same thing as 'enlightenment'; nor is 'enlightenment' a requirement to be contented. The key, imo, is to know yourself - and to 'thine own self be true' as one tradition puts it.

 

Being content with who one is, and what one does, is an internally peaceful path. Some are naturally inclined to a life of service; others participate in life in other ways. Listening quietly to your heart will not lead you astray.

 

warmest regards

 

6 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Will said:

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days. Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

 

By enlightenment, I don't mean becoming a true sage or anything like that, but merely coming to realize basic Taoist "truths" (about how most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions). 

 

Now, many people are very content with their lives when they are not enlightened. Perhaps they work for a charity or have ambitions to become a social activist. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing, and matters a lot.

 

Contrast that with me, who's currently "enlightened" in the sense previously described, and is feeling like nothing has meaning. This does not make me feel very content. Of course, Zhuangzi felt very content, but it took a lot of practice and dedication for him to reach that point. Whereas for those who aren't enlightened, I get the sense that many of them are pretty content without having to put in that kind of dedication.

 

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness? Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism? 

 

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?" I know I've discussed this here before, with no clear answer coming out of it. But, basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life? By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

 

I'm not actually considering leaving Taoism; it's just that questions like this really bother me. :)

 

Interesting and provocative post. Could you post or send me the info where you describe your definition of enlightenment? Also, happy to discuss your current energy body state and why the nihilistic and lack of “contentedness” feeling, if you are interested. 

1 person thanks this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A: yes. BUT,

 

Pursuing it as an obsessive task only will:

 

1. Harm you. Create a massive energetic mess which will be costly ---> CM/Taoist medical treament.

 

2. Reinforce the ego that is the underlying motivation for this path.

 

What to do:

 

1. Practice, practice, practice. 1h a day is not enough.

2. Wu Wei (go with the flow) ---> it will be your 24/7 mantra. 

 

Then enlightenment will occur when you are ready/it is meant to be. This or in a future lifetime ---> as you never will know when the "big door" will open for you, then "Wu Wei" makes a lot of sense. Then we will avoid from falling into the trap of pursuing enlightenment at any cost.

 

Note: this is written from my own personal experience.

 

Good luck :)

5 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't think of anything worse than life having a fixed meaning/purpose and me having to follow it. I've seen people express a similar view to the OP but I don't really get it, personally. I guess I just like to do my own thing. :) 

2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Will said:

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days. Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

 

By enlightenment, I don't mean becoming a true sage or anything like that, but merely coming to realize basic Taoist "truths" (about how most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions). 

 

Now, many people are very content with their lives when they are not enlightened. Perhaps they work for a charity or have ambitions to become a social activist. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing, and matters a lot.

 

Contrast that with me, who's currently "enlightened" in the sense previously described, and is feeling like nothing has meaning. This does not make me feel very content. Of course, Zhuangzi felt very content, but it took a lot of practice and dedication for him to reach that point. Whereas for those who aren't enlightened, I get the sense that many of them are pretty content without having to put in that kind of dedication.

 

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness? Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism? 

 

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?" I know I've discussed this here before, with no clear answer coming out of it. But, basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life? By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

 

I'm not actually considering leaving Taoism; it's just that questions like this really bother me. :)

 

Duality and desires are not "human inventions", we did not invent our instinctive animal drives, our need for salt and liquid and "meat" of what ever form. We did not set out to become fixated in trance to the proclivities that take place in us, the karmic frequencies that transfix us.

 

Our wits and positions are endlessly grasping to futures past and these we hone and position in - in these spirit "dies" - the light is obscured.

 

In Awakening and Enlightening one abides in ever limitless unfolding - Wisdom and Awareness are not "honed" - Wisdom and Awareness in ever non-holding cannot be "honed" - there is nothing to be honed.

 

One can awaken in a shift to a "sort of desolation" where matters of heart have yet to unfold - this is not an abiding state but an interim state as never ending patience has not come forth in the warm light of compassion and Oneness - time has not yet been dissolved - residuals and the bodies of light continue transcending some "I"ness and also simply begin growth that could not come in the frozen ground of Position.

 

Enlightening is not transcendence from the shackles of our humanity - it is ever an embodiment- an ever increasing Presence of the Ocean within the Wave - Abidance in this and no longer the diminished grasp of localized object identification.

 

 

 

Edited by Spotless
2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there meaning in a sprouting seed?

 

Is there meaning in a smile?

 

Is there meaning in a judgement or a tree or on a mountain?

 

What is meaning but unbinding?

 

Is un-binding meaning or is it not unfolding?

-

 

In search and want of meaning one is looking for the forest through the trees - a "doing" set in willfulness and the habit of the hunted focus.

 

Where "meaning" is found expanse is found - meaning cannot be found in the position of the hunt - the "I"s in the hunting party die off in the hunt as meaning un-binds the desolation of the positioned grasp.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Spotless
3 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Will said:

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days. Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

Depends on your nature and what you want.

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness? Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism?

Contentedness comes from being satisfied with what you got. It does not matter so much what that is other than how available it is to you. Some are born nearly enlightened and can reach a satisfactory state with little effort, many of those will actually be comfortable with that. Some are social emotional creatures who are most contented when around others; enlightenment will not be a decent path for them.

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?" I know I've discussed this here before, with no clear answer coming out of it. But, basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life? By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

Any time you are asking a 'should' question, the answer is no.

1 person thanks this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really care for the term 'enlightenment' because it has so many connotations. Probably not so much on this forum but, a lot of the time, 'enlightenment' can be associated with ego boosting. "I have enlightenment/awakening and, if you come to me, I can 'transfer' it to you." - And all types of $$ businesses of that nature. I mean there is BIG money in this!!

 

If someone asks me what my idea of enlightenment is, I would say it's someone who can heal themselves and help others do the same. Someone who embodies the qualities of kindness, love, benevolence, compassion, service, and humility.

 

I have also known it to be the case that some people who work to develop the qualities I mentioned above, are the ones who are able to reach a very full understanding of non-separation. 

 

Don't get me wrong, intellectual understanding of advaitic/nondual concepts can absolutely be helpful and dispel a lot of beliefs that can waste a lot of your time. But it also takes a lot of spiritual practice to actually have experiential awareness of this non-separation/oneness. And if you are going for this Awareness as a goal, instead of cultivating qualities of love, compassion, etc., and making that the most important thing to you, it's probably going to take way longer. I'd say working in an 80%/20% ratio is good!;)

Edited by ljazztrumpet
2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/21/2017 at 1:09 PM, Lost in Translation said:

Red pill, blue pill, does it really matter? You live in the matrix or you fight the machines. Either way you're alive. Either way you have problems. Either way you suffer.

 

Yeah, great job tying in The Matrix. Saw those films for the first time this summer and they quickly became some of my favorites.

 

You definitely pinpointed something I've struggled with since watching them: Namely, would I really want to be "freed" by Morpheus? As one character (Cypher) says in the first film, "You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss." Since Cypher is not portrayed sympathetically, I desperately want to reject that statement. Yet, really, what reason do I have to reject it? Isn't Cypher right? What is there to be gained from causing yourself more suffering?

 

I suppose, however, the ultimate answer to my question is something along these lines:

 

Since anxiety hurts your happiness level, there is little good to be found in getting worked up about whether one should be happy or not in a certain situation. Some things don't have to have a reason. They just are. I suppose if one is getting legitimately angsty over how they should feel about enlightenment (i.e. the question of whether happiness, even ignorant happiness, is the ultimate good, or whether there is something else), then it's time to stop worrying. That's not completely satisfying, however, as I still have to make a choice, and when I stop worrying about it I am no closer to an answer. Perhaps an answer will come to me someday, however (wu wei?)

 

On 10/21/2017 at 4:26 PM, Jeff said:

 

Interesting and provocative post. Could you post or send me the info where you describe your definition of enlightenment? Also, happy to discuss your current energy body state and why the nihilistic and lack of “contentedness” feeling, if you are interested. 

 

I didn't really get my definition of enlightenment from anywhere, although I think Lost in Translation summed it up pretty well in his Matrix analogy, enlightenment being the discovery of the dystopian real world. While I'm not really into energy work at the moment, I would be curious what factors you think would lead to nihilistic/discontented feelings.

2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Will said:

...

I didn't really get my definition of enlightenment from anywhere, although I think Lost in Translation summed it up pretty well in his Matrix analogy, enlightenment being the discovery of the dystopian real world. While I'm not really into energy work at the moment, I would be curious what factors you think would lead to nihilistic/discontented feelings.

 

Our definitions would probably be a little different. Regarding your current state, the issue is that you have reached the level where you are starting to connect to the people and environment around you, but it is sort of like you are stuck in a hyper reception mode. Like a radio recieving, but no outbound transmission of the energy. Without the balancing transmission, the energy creates a buildup creating the feelings that you are describing. In Taoist terms, you could say that you are starting to realize the upper dantien, but are more yin and need to balance more on the yang side.

Edited by Jeff
3 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take great comfort in the phrase "I don't know."

 

This is a definitive statement, a fact. It is not pregnant with implicit bias. It does not imply a lack of any sort, nor does it imply judgement. I have no need to know, and my not-knowing is sufficient.

 

This is freedom.

6 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some wisdom-orientated knowledge is quite useful if the aim is to transit with minimal fuss.

2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, great job tying in The Matrix. Saw those films for the first time this summer and they quickly became some of my favorites.

 

You definitely pinpointed something I've struggled with since watching them: Namely, would I really want to be "freed" by Morpheus? As one character (Cypher) says in the first film, "You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss." Since Cypher is not portrayed sympathetically, I desperately want to reject that statement. Yet, really, what reason do I have to reject it? Isn't Cypher right? What is there to be gained from causing yourself more suffering?

 

I suppose, however, the ultimate answer to my question is something along these lines:

 

Since anxiety hurts your happiness level, there is little good to be found in getting worked up about whether one should be happy or not in a certain situation. Some things don't have to have a reason. They just are. I suppose if one is getting legitimately angsty over how they should feel about enlightenment (i.e. the question of whether happiness, even ignorant happiness, is the ultimate good, or whether there is something else), then it's time to stop worrying. That's not completely satisfying, however, as I still have to make a choice, and when I stop worrying about it I am no closer to an answer. Perhaps an answer will come to me someday, however (wu wei?)

 

 

I didn't really get my definition of enlightenment from anywhere, although I think Lost in Translation summed it up pretty well in his Matrix analogy, enlightenment being the discovery of the dystopian real world. While I'm not really into energy work at the moment, I would be curious what factors you think would lead to nihilistic/discontented feelings.

 

This should be no more than the first stage of the process which leads to enlightenment, when you are facing internal darkness and seeing also the world around you in that non-light. A stage of disillusionment often stands at beginning of a spiritual way, where grumpy old Saturn is the Guardian of the threshold.

 

However, this should lead you to a reevaluation and revision of your perception of the world and the conditioned beliefs it rests on. It will culminate in higher insights into the Universe and yourself.

 

If, however, you get stuck in the illusions of the dark stage, even though you are no longer fully part of the Matrix, you are still trapped in a subway station. : D

4 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/21/2017 at 10:44 AM, Will said:

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days. Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

 

By enlightenment, I don't mean becoming a true sage or anything like that, but merely coming to realize basic Taoist "truths" (about how most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions). 

 

You're concept of enlightenment is way off.

 

Quote

Contrast that with me, who's currently "enlightened" in the sense previously described, and is feeling like nothing has meaning. This does not make me feel very content. Of course, Zhuangzi felt very content, but it took a lot of practice and dedication for him to reach that point. Whereas for those who aren't enlightened, I get the sense that many of them are pretty content without having to put in that kind of dedication.

 

If your concept of enlightenment is way off then you aren't really there yet are you?  Chuang Tzu was at peace, you could say contented, but inner peace is more accurate because contentment can be shallow.  

 

Yes it takes a lot of practice, but you do the practice for it's own sake, not for a goal of enlightenment.  Contentedness can be a shallow manifestation of ego.

 

Quote

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness?

 

You have to go through hell to get to heaven, you have to become a bit crazy to become sane.  Is that worth it to you?  Only you can tell.

 

Quote

Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism? 

 

Taoism won't lead you to enlightenment, only a lot of meditation will, and high power energy work increases the chance, but most of all it requires a certain attitude towards life.  The benefit is a sense of inner peace that has it's foundation on the bedrock of your being.

 

Quote

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?"

 

You can want whatever you want, but wanting happiness will not get you happiness.

 

Quote

Basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life?

 

It gives you a glimpse of truth.

 

Quote

By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

 

Your purpose can be whatever you want it to be, but focussing on happiness seems kind of selfish and egotistical and having that attitude will prevent a person from experiencing enlingtenment.  

 

Quote

I'm not actually considering leaving Taoism; it's just that questions like this really bother me. :)

 

That's what questions are for, but questioning enlightenment is useless, it's something you need to feel.  The idea that it's all about obtaining some realizations is Buddhist bullshit.

Edited by Starjumper
3 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Taoists don't do "enlightenment", they do "awareness".

 

3 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

 

[snip] The idea that it's all about obtaining some realizations is Buddhist bullshit.

 

True, realizations like that are just more thoughts about the whole thing.

1 person thanks this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you know why it's called enlightenment? Because it is the process of the self being literally filled with light, and seeing it everywhere in its environment, as the inner Sun awakens.

2 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days.

Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

 

By enlightenment, I don't mean becoming a true sage or anything like that, but merely coming to realize basic Taoist "truths" (about how most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions).

 

No offense, but I find that to be a somewhat narrow definition of the meaning of enlightenment.

 

Quote

 

Now, many people are very content with their lives when they are not enlightened. Perhaps they work for a charity or have ambitions to become a social activist. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing, and matters a lot.

 

Contrast that with me, who's currently "enlightened" in the sense previously described, and is feeling like nothing has meaning. This does not make me feel very content. Of course, Zhuangzi felt very content, but it took a lot of practice and dedication for him to reach that point. Whereas for those who aren't enlightened, I get the sense that many of them are pretty content without having to put in that kind of dedication.

 

There are uphill and downhill roads, and there are sometimes platforms you can rest on for awhile.

 

Quote

 

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness? Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism? 

 

I am afraid, once you have as much as caught a fleeting glimpse of what is outside the cave, it is too late for you to turn back. Our mental facilities are full of hapless individuals who tried to suppress their perceptions and inner knowledge because they tried to be "normal." :(

 

Not to mention what happened to the traitor guy (what was his name again?) in the first Matrix movie... Remember the look on his face when he was unexpectedly electrocuted? That's when he got his true enlightenment. :D

 

Quote

 

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?"

 

Oh well, the desire for happiness on some level is the driving force behind most human activities, including meditation and spiritual practices.

 

Maybe it would be helpful if you could define what "happiness" means to you.;)

 

Quote

I know I've discussed this here before, with no clear answer coming out of it.

 

Maybe because the question would have needed to be clarified first. ;)

 

(Nope, I won't post that pic of Deep Thought from the Hitchhiker's Guide this time.)

 

Quote

But, basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life? By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

 

In my understanding, personal happiness is basically a guide meant to lead you towards goals beneficial to both yourself and the greater whole that you are part of (what Seth calls "value fulfillment.)

 

Quote

 

I'm not actually considering leaving Taoism; it's just that questions like this really bother me. :)

 

This kind of forum is actually great for talking about questions like this.

 

Sorry if I did not really give you much in the way of answers though, but rather more questions - questions to yourself! :D

Edited by Michael Sternbach
3 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Enlightenment or happiness? Or perchance both or neither.

 

"Look at the happy moron

He doesn't give a damn.

I wish I were a moron

My God perhaps I am."

4 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/21/2017 at 11:44 AM, Will said:

This is a very interesting, provocative question I've been pondering intensely over the last few days. Is it really desirable to become enlightened?

 

By enlightenment, I don't mean becoming a true sage or anything like that, but merely coming to realize basic Taoist "truths" (about how most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions). 

 

Now, many people are very content with their lives when they are not enlightened. Perhaps they work for a charity or have ambitions to become a social activist. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing, and matters a lot.

 

Contrast that with me, who's currently "enlightened" in the sense previously described, and is feeling like nothing has meaning. This does not make me feel very content. Of course, Zhuangzi felt very content, but it took a lot of practice and dedication for him to reach that point. Whereas for those who aren't enlightened, I get the sense that many of them are pretty content without having to put in that kind of dedication.

 

In other words, isn't enlightenment the harder road to contentedness? Might I be better off trying to "forget" Taoism and postmodern philosophy and make myself like a "normal" person? Because what is really the benefit of all this uncertainty and nihilism? 

 

I suppose another question that ties in with this is, "Is happiness the only thing I should want?" I know I've discussed this here before, with no clear answer coming out of it. But, basically, if happiness is the only thing one can really strive for, what benefit have I gained by adding uncertainty and meaninglessness to my life? By contrast, if there is some "higher purpose" than my personal happiness, then perhaps the uncertainly associated with Taoism is okay.

 

I'm not actually considering leaving Taoism; it's just that questions like this really bother me. :)

The short answer is - yes

 

The long answer starts with throwing away the word - enlightenment.

It is so ambiguous as to have little meaning in this discussion.

The word can be very specific and meaningful but first everyone in this discussion would have to agree to a definition.

That's not going to happen. 

 

So let's reframe the question as, is it really desirable to "realize basic Taoist truths," using your definition.

I think that's a more manageable question. 

The next question is, is the following statement a realization of basic Taoist truths?

"most dualities and desires are simply meaningless human inventions"

To me, there is some Buddhist language in there. 

Basic truths in Daoism are more related to the nature of taiji (the complimentary nature of yin and yang), wu wei (non-interference), and de (character, virtue, or integrity). 

 

It sounds from your post that you are struggling a bit with nihilism. I don't know anything about your background or studies but nihilism tends to be a result of trying but failing to grasp the meaning of the Buddhist concept of emptiness. No question there is a relationship between this and the Daoist concept of wu wei. Both concepts are pointing not to total absence, which is what gives rise to nihilism, but to the absence of something very specific - the commentator that lives in our thoughts and claims the title of "me." That is precisely what is preventing the effortless flow of Dao denoted by wu wei. It is also what Buddhist emptiness is telling us is an illusion that is responsible for all of our problems, fundamental ignorance. 

 

The solution to nihilism is either 

1) give up the philosophical exploration and live a normal life as you point to

2) work more closely with a credible and experienced guide to help you along the path,whichever path that works for you

3) focus more on skillful meditation practice and less on philosophy

 

The thing about emptiness is that it is not empty. Just like wu wei does not mean to do nothing. It is empty of inherent "selfness" but in that absence of self there is direct connection with all that arises. Similarly, wu wei is to get out of the way so that the Dao can fully flow and manifest. So emptiness is equivalent to fullness or wholeness. Wu wei can be described as doing nothing but leaving nothing undone. Enlightenment, in my definition, involves direct connection with that wholeness, with that unrestricted flow. When that connection is there, everything else that is needed is also there including meaning, creativity, opportunity, and so forth. It doesn't matter if we are talking about Daoism or Buddhism. So enlightenment, for me, is absolutely worth the candle. It can dramatically enrich our lives and that of those around us. And it happens by doing nothing but leaving nothing undone. In other words, getting out of the way and allowing the universe to flow through you. 

 

So if there is a feeling of meaninglessness, uncertainty, and nihilism; that is not enlightenment.

Nor is it the full realization of basic Taoist truths.

It is a partial truth that either needs to be abandoned, as you suggest, or much more deeply realized.

Spiritual practice can certainly have ups and downs, some of our realizations can be shocking and painful.

Overall, however, if it does not lead you to being better adjusted, more content, and more loving and supportive of others than, in my opinion, it's worthless and better left alone.

 

I hope that helps in some small way.

7 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been finding myself with similar questions.. Although I catched glimpses of inner peace and (unconditional) love in the past, have been finding it hard to get back there. It's almost like I have wanted to turn my back to it all and just fit in with "normal" people. Not sure what "normal" even means. It's likely true that some people that work for charities and the greater good are more at peace than others, but these people aren't the norm either, I don't think. There are skillful ways to live and less skillful ways. We need to have the will :mellow: to eliminate less skillful ways or replace less skillful with more skillful. Easier said than done when immersed in a culture of (mainly) distractions. This is why we need to be honest with ourselves on a spiritual path.. but could be I'm cuckoo by now too.. :ph34r: 

4 people thank this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites