Fabled Enlightenment

Posted on February 6th, 2010

The late Alan Watts titled his autobiography In My Own Way, a double-entendre to indicate that, in the quest for enlightenment, he was his own worst enemy. And so it is for most of us.

Not only does the self have a stake in doubting one’s own liberation, it has an equal stake in doubting the liberation of others.

But even for those who are at the point where they can see through the transparent concept of the self, and its inherent insecurity, there often remain concepts which stand as a barrier to full realization.

There is, after several millennia, a mystique which surrounds enlightenment…a folklore of mythology: for example, that there is a moment of ecstatic clarity invariably accompanied by an eerie brilliant light. Or that the person, so enlightened, will henceforth beam a sense of charismatic tranquility on all whom they encounter.

Such stereotypical generalizations lodge as images in the mind of the seeker—and actuality is then compared with these images (and thereby deemed deficient). An example of such a generalization is the oft-quoted comment, “Who knows, doesn’t say. Who says, doesn’t know.” If this implies that anyone who says that he knows, doesnot know, then it also implies that anyone who does not say that he knows, does know. But the inference that is drawn from this is that anyone who admits to his true identity cannot be worthy of an unbiased hearing. Someone once replied to such a person, “But aren’t you the carpenter’s son?” (To which the carpenter’s son commented, “A prophet is never recognized in his own homeland.”)

Of those whom the seeker senses has abided in the place of realization, the seeker often asks direction—and that passerby may respond to the best of his ability. But when the seeker carries to the encounter an image of the passerby’s mythical features (“the Son of David…King of the Jews”), he has no capacity to recognize the anonymous messenger.

When someone tells you that he knows, listen without judgmental thought or conditioned image. Suspend your concepts of what enlightenment is, or how the enlightened appear.
If such a person asks you for anything, question his motives. But if he is trying to give you something, ask him to tell you what he can about love.

Posted in Living Nonduality, Selections, Books, Christianity    Tagged with Alan Watts


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