At the other end of the wish-list spectrum we find far nobler intentions, often based on the desire to do good, to improve human understanding and society and to leave a positive mark that will forever enshrine one's memory in glory wherever great deeds are recounted [Jolly good stuff this, raises the tone: Ed]. Today I turn my attention to what some may see as the pinnacle of achievement for any person. Nonetheless, (and even though this is recommended by the website Edarabia.com), I shall not be seeking to
The problem with being enlightened is that there is no way to measure it. I may think you are enlightened. You may regard yourself as perfectly ordinary. I may think that I am enlightened. You may regard me as a deluded moron with a ridiculously inflated sense of self-worth. How on earth do we tell? After some painstaking research [The usual quick bit of Googling: Ed] an article published by Charles A. Francis, a contributor to the Huffington Post suggested itself. It lists twelve qualities of the enlightened but I got hopelessly stuck on the first one, which I now reproduce:
1. Happiness The enlightened person is happy and joyful. He has a cheerful disposition most of the time, and is willing to share that joy with others. He is always optimistic that all challenges have a resolution. Even though the resolution may not be the most desirable, he is confident that he is capable of being at peace with it.
Older readers brought up in Britain will recall the radio programme The Goon Show. The gifted comics created a range of ludicrous characters, mostly based on the weird imagination of chief writer Spike Milligan and it was Spike who voiced the part of Eccles. Eccles (usually introduced as "The famous Eccles"), was deeply placid and easily satisfied, and the stupidest person ever depicted on radio. His catchphrase for almost any peril or indignity in which he found himself was to mutter (in Spike's mild Irish accent) "Fine, fine, everything's going to be fine". I find it impossible not to associate enlightenment attribute no 1, as described by Mr Francis, with the moronic but utterly content Eccles.
In fact, all the attributes of the enlightened are simply extrapolations of human virtues. Being good to others, being unselfish, all that sort of thing. All perfectly acceptable but why seek to "gain enlightenment" in that case? Why not just do it? Why not just live your life in a way that seeks to do no harm to others, and maybe assists them from time to time, and be content with that?
There is a paradox in the pursuit of enlightenment. Those who do not seek it may well have it. Those who go after it almost certainly are not and probably never will be. The moment you walk down the street intoning "I am truly enlightened. Hearken unto me for I wish to spread my teachings amongst you" is the moment that you are probably round the bend. I say probably, for in this game you never really know if the enlightenment has really struck or it simply looks like it.
I don't disdain enlightenment. I simply refuse to attempt to gain it.
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