Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Enlightenment en passant

Enlightenment is a tricky term. My concept of it probably varies from that of other people. Maybe we need a dummies’ guide. I don’t see it as something absolute that you attain in a magician’s flash of magnesium powder. I don’t go along with a sensory monitor that suddenly lights up a halo above your head. Nothing goes supernova. No instant cure renders you immune from ever afterwards making errors. No download of software provides profound answers to every question possible.

I don’t think that it works that way, because it hasn’t for me. Enlightenment does not equate with godhood. It’s humbler than that. Enlightenment is an ongoing process, not an endpoint. There’s never a stage or level when, once you’ve attained it, you get to sit back with a beatific smile on your face and switch off. You are never done.

Whoever invented the concept of enlightenment has a lot to answer for. It’s been touted as the ultimate panacea and marketed that way for yonks. Its subliminal message beats Coca Cola hands down. Swallow this, and everything will be well. You’ll win the girl, the car, the surfboard and the tee-shirt. You’re sold the story that henceforth every issue in your life will be smoothed away. You don’t need to do the hard yards for yourself, no siree. Why bust a gut trying? Just short-circuit the quest for enlightenment by seeking for the fool on the hill. Get the gen direct from the horse’s mouth.

The trouble is that there’s no such person. 

I’d advise you not to leave philosophy up to the experts. I've never yet met anyone who fits into that box. They ain’t no such animal, I assure you (unless our top dog comes up trumps). Take it from me. I've known the odd genius. They were just ordinary people underneath.

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