My friend Kiyoto, at The Dragon (see list at left) asked me to repeat a list of messages sent to me from a spiritual friend. They are descriptions of what an enlightened existence includes. There are twelve of them. Here they are, with just a bit of amplification for each.
• It Is Not Elsewhere
The Christians and Muslims have it wrong when they say that heaven (enlightenment) is something we'll only enjoy in some kind of afterlife. Much the contrary. The blissful state is at ready reach, here and now, at every moment. There is never any reason to look for it beyond ourselves, for it is not found in a different place, a different time, or even a different frame of mind than the one we find ourselves in right now.
• It is Fond
While I have no argument with the Christian idea that God is Love, it has never felt that way to me. Love, as it's normally defined, is full of possessiveness and ownership and longing, and these things seem antithetical to the true goal. On the other hand, truly peaceful moments are full of quiet fondness for just about everything. This fondness is quiet and lacking in the ferocious passion that characterizes love as we normally know it. Fondness, I think, is characteristic of the enlightened state.
• It is One
False spiritual pursuit is quite often about separating and dividing and catagorizing one group of people as superior to others. There is nothing so clearly faulty than this attitude, and thus a great many religious traditions and practices are clearly false ones. On an individual level, we undermine our spiritual growth by creating separation between our selves and our experiences. The object-observer, subject-object dichotomy must be abandoned if we're going to glimpse the pure state.
• It is Precise
There is nothing gray or wishy-washy about the state of mind we seek. It is precise,and like all precise things, it is very, very simple. Complexity always hides the truth.
• It is Our Nature
Enlightenment, genuine happiness, is the logical outcome of evolution. Our spiritual growth doesn't come through fighting our nature, but by realizing it. Unhappiness is an artificial, unnatural state; peace and happiness is what is natural. Any spiritual practice that argues for inherent evil and corruption is dead wrong.
• There Are No Words
"It the beginning was the Word..." No, it wasn't. The true nature of things is more like the Taoist principle, which states, "The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao." Words by definition are symbols, and symbols, by definition are representations of objects, they are not objects themselves. Dwelling in words alone is automatically to keep yourself separate from your experience. The enlightened state is found in a place that is pre-verbal, best approached by abandoning language altogether. The waterfall of thoughts and analyis that fills our minds is not enlightenment, but a hindrance to enlightenment.
• It is Not Me
Heaven is not a place for I-me-mine, and the insistence on dividing the world into I and Not-I is the thing that prevents us from realizing it. We fear that abandoning ego will cause us to cease to exist, when in reality, to surrender the tyranny of the self makes us far, far larger than we could ever dream. In a meditation sitting, to abandon the I, even for a moment, gives a glimpse of what is to come.
• This, Too
We spend much of our lives in simple disagreement with whatever happens to be true in the moment. We think we must change things,strive for different things, when it fact we could not keep things static, even if we wanted to. Small glimpses of a truly peaceful existence shows that it is marked by a simple acceptance of whatever arises. Every moment is a perfect one, since it is the beautiful, logical result of what has preceded. To disagree with the moment is the worst kind of folly.
• It is Free
We try to capture peace and tranquility. We try to understand and catalog it and fix it in time and space. But this effort is the very thing that prevents us from knowing it, because the nature of enlightenment is that it flows endlessly and cannot be captured in any fashion. To know happiness, do not try to grasp it.
• It is As Water
Ever flowing, completely malleable. Always changing, never static. One moment, an ice crystal at the top of the atmosphere; the next, a molecule of ocean at the bottom of the deepest sea trench. Indestructible.
• It Knows
The enlightened state is not one that requires knowledge, but simple awareness alone. Dwelling in the part of the mind that simply knows, without judgment or evaluation of any kind, is the approach to peace. Unhappiness is always a function of flawed seeing. Clear seeing always leads to bliss.
• It Is What It Is
It isn't a mystery or secret; it is open right before your eyes. I used to think that the truth required a search to some cavern deep, deep within the soul. It does lie within, but only barely inside the front door. The truth is right in front of your nose.
The unhappy man is the one who spends his life trying to keep one particular sand castle in pristine condition, constantly defending it against wind and waves. The enlightened man surveys the truth of the beach, then takes delight in playing with sand.