What’s the Point of Life After Total Enlightenment?

When the mind is somber, broad daylight gives birth to demons and evil spirits. When the mind is clear, a dark room has its blue sky. That which is self-concious and ulterior is far from the Truth. That which is Mindless, is near.” – Taoist poem.

There’s a common saying in Zen that says after Satori (Enlightenment, there sits the ordinary old man.

Something extraordinary happens through Enlightenment, but nothing at all. Vedanta — the philosophy Buddhism originates from — translates to “the end of knowledge.”

If Enlightenment is the end of knowledge, the end of struggles and the end of suffering, what is left in life? What is there left to do after the struggle is gone? After all, isn’t part of the beauty of life the struggle, the tears, the heartache and finding healing and peace through it all?

If there’s nothing left to do, if there’s nothing left to strive for, what’s the point of living? What’s the point of living when life itself has no point? What’s the point if the game of life isn’t worth playing?

There is a point though; the creation of your story. The only difference is after Enlightenment and the realization of One Taste, we no longer identify with the drama.

But detachment does not mean not participating. It’s not an escape from life; it’s simply creating your story with the awareness that you are not the story. It doesn’t bother you when your life takes a wrong turn or when something goes awry. In the same way you can celebrate when something wonderful in your life happens, but you don’t get attached because you realize that your story is not you.

Everything in life is a story. The evolution of the Universe, from unconscious matter to becoming conscious, is a story. The Eros of human consciousness, how we evolve from duality and separateness to Enlightenment and union, is a story.

The search for meaning and beauty outside ourselves, and realizing that happiness can only come from within, is yet another story. We turn even the most mundane things (like washing the dishes) into a story. We have all sorts of feelings about everything and we use those feelings and associations to mold our story. Life is a series of stories.

In The Voice of Knowledge, Don Miguel Ruiz makes the point that we are all artists. We are all constantly dreaming, constantly creating and molding our stories. Based on the investment of our beliefs, we shape our story. Since we’re always perceiving new things and events, we filter some out and accept other information and ideas based on how it aligns with the story we want to create.

Like Ruiz, I think it’s a much more powerful paradigm to see ourselves as artists and not “just people.” Even if you don’t think you’re the “creative type,” you are creating all the time. You can’t not create. Every time you breathe, move, or open your mouth, you are creating.

Not Living an Accidental Life

Have you ever taken a step back and just observed life, while thinking “How the hell am I here?” It’s in that stupefying moment you realize that you’re the architect of life, but there’s no blueprint. We have this mysterious internal compass, but beyond that we’re on our own. We have to fend for ourselves and make things up as we go along.

We have to take control and steer through life the best we can. What’s most is that we take the wheel and don’t live on accident. What matters is that we don’t give up our power and relinquish the ownership of our minds.

We have to realize the power of:

The Beautification of Your Mind

There is a lot of credit (and merit) given to creating a beautiful space. We spend inordinate amounts of time decorating our homes, buying new clothes and products in the effort to make our lives more desirable.

But not much credit is given to the beautification of our minds.

We adorn our homes and spaces with expensive things. We often associate the value of our lives with the value of our possessions. Once we buy or obtain the object of our desire, within a few days or hours we’re thinking about our next purchase. The illness of materialism has a stranglehold on us; we are always in need of our next fix.

The reality is that this search for the beautification of our bodies and our spaces will never satisfy us. We have more luxury and more convenience than a lot of Royalty had a few hundred years ago. In fact, royal servants now have more luxury than the same Kings they served a few hundred years ago. Obviously something is seriously wrong. Our value system is distorted. If internal wealth is the greatest asset you can have, why is it so overlooked? Because you can’t see a luxurious mind. You can’t brag to your friends about it. You can’t say “Hey Jim, look at the shiny mind I’ve got. Your internal space looks like a pile of shit.

So if we can Feng Shui our external space, can we Feng Shui our minds?

I think so. It’s something I’ve been personally vying for.

As I said earlier, the problem with creating a luxurious inner space is that you can’t exactly see a beautiful mind. You can’t measure it, you can’t compare it. Paradoxically, I think this misconceived “flaw” is its most attractive quality. Our obsession with measurement quantification seems unhealthy at best, anyway.

Creating a beautiful mind is about placing permanent fixtures of beautiful ideas in the corners of your mind. It’s about cleaning the cobwebs of self-limiting beliefs. It’s about creating the auto-response to be impeccable with your word, and to not ever use your mind against yourself. It’s about coming to terms with your practical mind, and creating a relationship between your head and your heart. It’s about taking ownership of your mind, and realizing that that is the most powerful and precious gift that you have.

The Tyranny of Monotony

If you’re at all like me, it’s easy to see yourself as an artist for a little while. You might last a few hours or a few days. But then the routine and monotony of life sinks back in. Everything seems to be a repeat of the day before. Every day seems exactly the same.

I’ve found that the best way to combat slipping into the black-hole of monotony is by realizing each moment is brand new. Past and present are illusions. Even if you feel like you’ve been doing the same thing, you really haven’t. This moment is all there is and each time you do something, it’s for the first time. Actually, it isn’t even the first; that would imply that there’s a second and a third. Rather this is the only time you’ve done whatever you’re doing now, and it always will be.

Each moment, each day, we write another page in our story. It’s hard not to get caught up in the routine of life. Each day seems the same and we take for granted our artistic power. We put off the beautification of our minds. Another day, we think. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.

The truth is, if we don’t keep ourselves present and realize that with each day we are creating, we will never get to it. We’ll wake up 10 years later and wonder what the hell happened.

We can choose to make our stories a masterpiece, or mediocre. But the point is that we choose now. If we put off our choice, we give up our power. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to put it off anymore. I can’t betray myself any longer.

I admit I don’t have all the answers, and I haven’t quite figured out how to completely resist reverting into a routine. What can we do to make our lives more like a work of art, and less like a colorless repeat of yesterday? I would personally love to hear your thoughts on how you remember the artistry of your life and how you resist living uniformly.


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85 Comments on "What’s the Point of Life After Total Enlightenment?"

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Rasta
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I read something that basically said you begin your journey as a student learning from others and life then you become a teacher so that others may learn from you then you become a guru who gives his message to large groups and then you become a sage who is a student all over again he doesn’t try teach others like a teacher he simply let’s people learn from him and learns from it himself he will never judge or force a belief because other people have their own journeys to make in closing I believe that the best way… Read more »
Peter Brown
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So how to deal with theurge to just die. Not because of boredom or depression. Mostl because the money part and the world byrocracy is so damn complicated and not my interest.

Im dont really believe the “many years of hard work pays back”. In the financial field (which is my definition of success) nothing really happens. Attention wise things are ok but waiting the cash to come is retarded. Isnt there anyway to get instant gradification or die and wake up in a world of naked chicks and alot of cool foods for free!

This world sucks ass.

BuddhaBabe
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After enlightenment, we live the joyful lives we were born to live, creating and becoming all we want to, experiencing it all. We become a light for others, showing them the way by our existence. In short, we live happily ever after. It’s not a fairytale.

Lyubomir Boychuk
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At one point in my life I was more afraid of myself than anything. The creation and the influence that we have in this world is infinite. Hurting someone or causing discomfort sometimes causes pain in my mind. It is like a burden, but yet a gift. I would intervene so much, trying to make the world a batter place, only to find out that somethings the world is not yet ready for. Skipping steps in learning is not healthy for the mind. The evolution of the mind takes many routes. I think back to the 1800s, when the world… Read more »
Pete Schrader
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To Lyubomir Boychuk: After reading your post, I wanted to share a couple things for what they’re worth. First, don’t try to let go. Just let go. There’s a shimmering wall of fear, thicker for some than for others, constructed from experiences, thoughts, warnings from ignorant but well-meaning people, that we all must walk through to find truth. Question everything, as they say, but then really listen. A good friend introduced me to music by Kitaro. The music is mystical, so as I listened, I tried to create images in my mind that matched the music, but it all seemed… Read more »
Mario Peniche
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I have recently, just recently found my peace. at the same time, i have found my purpose, maybe it is the purpose we all seek. i have realised, that my purpose in life. is to spread the word of peace in a way that everyone will understand. my sincere wish, is to help anyone willing, to find and achieve peace, using a mix of modern pyschology, religion, and logic. it is the way i found peace. being brought up to value knowledge, and view religion as a place to seek peace, i sought after peace in terms of religion. and… Read more »
Kyle
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Jonathan, First, thank you brother for putting out a worthy thing. Second i totally am floored not by the ideas you present as I’ve seen most before in various things but how elegantly and on level you put it together, not high brow or simpleton but equal parts common and royal in the way you say. I love how you worded it that we are each moment living a new thing doing a new thing and it’s our art. Thank you. I looked online tonight In a half ass interested state of not being really happy and i stumbled upon… Read more »
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[…] WHAT’S THE POINT OF LIFE AFTER TOTAL ENLIGHTENMENT? […]

Krisu
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“There’s a common saying in Zen that says after Satori (Enlightenment, there sits the ordinary old man.”

There seems to be inherent sexism in every religion, including Zen.

What is the ordinary old man? Impotent, probably, demented, possibly, authoritarian, almost for sure.

Historically it’s been the old men who’ve created authoritarian rule, where they are the ones who hold “wisdom” and rule everyone else.

So the “totally” enlightened man is just the old Adam, who thinks he’s God. Excluding most of humanity is not wise, I think, but then again, I’m an old woman.

Krisu
Guest
Another point I would like to make is about “materialism” vs. beauty of mind. You write: “We have more luxury and more convenience than a lot of Royalty had a few hundred years ago.” This is true only from a wealthy American/European white people’s point of view. Most of humanity doesn’t have it so well, in fact most of humanity still struggle to provide means for existence, their daily living, and all the beauty of their minds cannot compare to living out of poverty and oppression. What’s the point of Enlightenment, if you cannot live a decent life after it.… Read more »
Vishnu
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Very beautifully writter

prateek dewangan
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Ultimate truth of existence- Real self is kind of energy which is a little part of a greater energy which is infinite. That ultimate energy is testing itself through the smaller parts of it i.e. we EARTHIANS. In hinduism they call that energy as ATMAN.So our real purpose or test is to grow our atman or self or awareness. Accordind to the rule of duality of nature there are two extremities, at one end we have BRAIN OR MIND i.e. logical and at another end we have REAL SELF i.e. non logical. So according to this the real hurdle of… Read more »
Me
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So true. Your life is what you make it. So many people live their lives by what they have learned or have seen. A child who lives in poverty may cycle in. You don’t have to be anything just be you . Do what you want to do? Many feel restricted by boundaries but the boundaries only exist in their minds. Then they become angry because they can not overcome boundaries that never existed in the first place. You will find them on facebook telling people they can or can not have a different opinion or to open their minds… Read more »
Anthony Jesus Vargas
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Within the instance of conceptualizing anything that is under going beautification, the conceptualization of something under going unbeautification is also taking place. Therefore, when one makes something beautiful they, within the same instance, make something not beautiful. This is so because of language and how we have let the convention and invention of language and speech define us. Is instantaneously implies isn’t. Alive instantaneously implies death. Good instantaneously implies bad because it is so that with each example one cannot exist without knowledge of the other. You know something is such purely because you know what it means for it… Read more »
Anthony Jesus Vargas
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I guess what I put wasn’t good enough. What Devine moderation.

Anthony Jesus Vargas
Guest

Thanks. Sorry if it was a misunderstanding. I wasn’t able to see my post. I have had many experiences with posts of mine being deleted or taken down.

Lana
Guest
In order to conform to life as it is in the present day or 10’000 years down the road we as humans must be smart enough to figure out that life as we know it is a by product of other humans creating a world (in any manner) and we must figure it out. . We need to understand that life is constantly changing and adapting to the way society conforms us to be in order to fit in with their theory of how life should be lived. . Remain neutral and true to yourself to know that these distractions… Read more »
Kristi V
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Gratitude. Remembering where I was before. I love to observe, participate in, appreciate, and even discuss with my family the wonderful changes of evolution of our family’s story. We sometimes take note on how the ways we used to do things have changed, or how we perceive things have changed. We will create our own celebrations of things in life, instead of holidays we don’t particularly believe in. We create decorations for our home that reflect what we each love and who we are. We work on a family business and project. We do things from time to time that… Read more »
Eric
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Thanks for the beautiful post, Jonathan. :)

Cedric
Admin

Thanks Eric :)

Navenanthen
Guest

The point to life is ‘enlightenment’, after which there is no point.
You can create a point or story again, after going beyond the mind. There would be no point to your ‘enlightenment’.

What to do with the gift of not-needing-anything?
You have no use for it any longer, so you pass the parcel to those in need of not-needing-anything. They may need it wrapped up in a story.

P.s. There is no ‘you’ breathing.

Katie
Guest
Is it enlightenment? I always thought that meant knowing all the answers and finding peace but it’s not. I am never present and thus feel isolated from others surrounding me that are fully living. I am reminded that life has no purpose and my actual life on earth is meaningless in the long scheme of things. It doesn’t matter if I die tomorrow or die in 50 years times, my life or how I live it has no impact on the universe. Everything I do is irrelevant. Everything you do is irrelevant. The benefit of being unattached from life is… Read more »
Brahman
Guest
This is not enlightenment. What you describing here, Jonathan, is life after an enlightenment experience and how you integrated the glimpse into the ultimate nature of reality into your identity, your ego. After true enlightenment, there IS NO life as “crafting a story”. Only ego can craft stories. There’s only nirvana, the ultimate blissful state. And every moment you do what you want, not perform an action in a story, but act out of an authentic desire to act, without thinking, without attachment to any narrative. You can still see, read and comprehend stories, but they become empty and devoid… Read more »
Emmad Munif
Guest
Very interesting comments. I also wonder if can differentiate between enlightenment and psychosis? Also the way our ego is running amuck, I see enlightenment as the new big trend where everyone will be competing to be more enlightened then others, which is already happening in the spiritual community. Most people I meet think they are enlightened when they actually aren’t. Its the ego making them think they are enlightened. What if I start claiming that I am enlightened, who would know, most people haven’t even met any real enlightened people ever. The gurus preaching enlightenment aren’t even enlightened themselves. And… Read more »
Mita
Guest

Enlightenment is not end of knowledge, it is the completion of knowledge (universal knowledge of reality, self and mind consciousness) with the goal of ultimate freedom from conditioned reality, peace and happiness of nirvana.

Andrew
Guest

Great post. On the topic of monotony, sometimes I find just looking at monotony is enough to bring back a smile seeing the ridiculousness of it all. Monotony what an incredible phenomenon!

There’s always that flip side, from certain perspectives enlightenment seems like some mystical phenomenon to be achieved somehow, but the truth is Monotony/Ignorance is an incredible phenomenon.

Sevi
Guest

Hello, nice article. Makes me feel better after I think I reached the top of the mountain. What to do now? Well I use the power of creations to make a paradise on earth. If you want see also my new article about manifestation of reality on http://www.consciousliving.network :) love

William Blackham
Guest

I feel that relativity is key to a wonderful life. EVERYONE wants to be rich relative to their bank account.

But we fail to realize true tangible wealth is everywhere. We are all very wealthy. We all have what we need. In this age there is an overload of stuff. But we lack the spirit to enjoy ourselves.

Let go of what you think and believe and unfold into the divine being we all are.

This is the best dream.
To not know how or why or when but just to know.
To know the dream is now.

bharat
Guest
Aah ,what a degree ‘Enlightenment’ . who can certify ‘ I am enlightened’ ?Enlightenment is not a destiny , joy is in journey . Mind ,Intellect , body are instruments .its a joyful journey towards loosing the ego . a journey from a limit ( i, me ,mine ) to limitless ( I am Not) , the journey in which ego is lost . the seeker and questioner is lost . just like the journey to meet a lover is so exciting . but the joy is lost in some moments after the pick of joy . similarily keep moving… Read more »
James Clark
Guest

Life is the point of life after “total enlightenment”, same as it ever was! ;)

Nishan
Guest

I try to live my life more responsibly. Responsible not only to me and my family but to the whole cosmos. Living like my responsibility is limitless is my way to live a fulfilled life. Thank you for the lovely post.

Catherine
Guest

There is no such thing as “after” enlightenment. There is no attaining, or arriving at enlightenment. Enlightenment, or awareness can only happen in the NOW. So stop what you are “doing,” look out the window at a bird, the trees blowing in the wind, or the clouds in the sky, and be silent and still. NOW you are enlightened.

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