“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 â€” the philosophy Buddhism originates from â€” 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.
Daniel Richard says
Liked it about Beautification of our minds, and not comforting ourselves back to a routine life.
What I do is to go show some kindness in other’s lives, through making new jokes or finding some fun stuffs (playing pranks) or say the next interesting words that encourages others.
We are definitely not living an accidental life. Thats a certain which we could help inform more people about. :)
Shilpan | successsoul.com says
Our biggest folly is to believe that happiness exists outside in physical things. You have put that in beautiful words, “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.”
We mortgage our freedom to accumulate these things that can only imprison our mind later.
To add to your comment, I believe, most would never see this if we didn’t make that journey to accumulate all the things, imprison the mind, and then later make the journey back to free the mind and get rid of all the stuff, in order to appreciate what it means to have the mind free.
I think back to before I ever had things, and all I could think about back then was that I needed to get all that stuff before I could feel like I achieved the success. It wasn’t until getting to the end of that path in the journey that I could then have the capacity to understand all that stuff wouldn’t buy me what I had thought it would. So then making the journey back and getting rid of so many things, coming back to simplicity, then it can now be understood and appreciated the things which bring true happiness.
DANIEL P BURNS says
On the other hand, there is nothing inherantly wrong with aquiring things and enjoying them for what they are. The loss of freedom occurs when when the mind fixiates on “stuff”, including the responsibilities that entail. But if we are truely living in the momement and stay present, the hijacking of the mind doesn’t have to occur. In other words there is enough refuge in other aspects of life and attachment doesn’t occur in a overly negative way.
Very enlightening indeed. I find that the moment that I don’t know something that I thought I did know is quite enlightening, it lifts the veil of my own deception to reveal the bright light of truth.
I also have a favorite expression “Accidental Destiny” because there really are no accidents.
Great post, Michelle
The Soul Coach
Writer Dad says
“The truth is, if we donâ€™t keep ourselves present and realize that with each day we are creating, we will never get to it. Weâ€™ll wake up 10 years later and wonder what the hell happened.”
Well said. Too many people simply survive when they should really be living.
I’ve always wondered about this. I enjoyed your examination of this question.
I particularly liked the idea of fighting monotony with the realization that each moment is brand new. That’s a cool thing to meditate on.
I also liked the idea of “beautification of the mind.”
Maybe I can use the mindfulness focus to help me keep from latching onto arguments with my mom.
Evelyn Lim says
I appreciate your honesty when you said “I admit I donâ€™t have all the answers, and I havenâ€™t quite figured out how to completely resist reverting into a routine.” For myself, I guess it is a question of focus. When I wake up in the mornings, do I choose to observe that brilliance of the sunshine today is different from that of yesterday’s? Things may appear to be the same but in reality, something has shifted. The daily activities may appear routine but within the pockets of time, there is greater joy, peace and beauty. It is how I live rather than what I do.
Annie Binns says
What if our actions are routine and monotonous, but our mind takes in these actions with a freshness and enjoyment and newness each and every time?
Just as we can say that materialism is pretty much pointless, can we also say that trying not to live uniformly is a wasted effort if it doesn’t come naturally? I, for one, feel blessed to have some routines, and it allows my mind to be free of having to always “experience” life and instead, just “be” life.
I love the idea of being able to feng shui my mind!
Seamus Anthony says
Great post dude. My blogging partner Steve wrote a cool article about our ‘Ego and the Inner Story’. https://tinyurl.com/egostory
I do agree that struggle is what makes life worthwhile. Scars (emotional and physical) are proof that you’ve been places and done things. Proof that you’ve left your safety zone and put yourself out there and had some struggles. As for Feng Shui of the mind, it’s a great way to summerize Zen and ensuing Enligtenment, kudos! I like the idea of arranging thoughts, memories and experiences to create positive energy. The only thing I’ll add is that although I do try and live in the moment, I still have those “how the hell did I get here?” moments. I think it’s a part of having kids, they are great reminders of the quick passage of time. You look up every now and then and they’ve grown so fast and learned so much. Goes to show ya how fast life happens, grab a helmet and get in the game!
Tom Stine | Life Coach says
“What matters is that we donâ€™t give up our power and relinquish the ownership of our minds.”
So, who owns your mind? I’m fairly certain that “I” don’t own mine. To be honest, I’m not even certain I have one. ;-)
You mentioned that the key is that we “no longer identify with the drama.” I would suggest that the reason an enlightened one doesn’t identify with the drama is because there is no identity in the enlightened one. “He” sees no “he.” There’s no person to identify wiht anything.
Just some thoughts for the middle of the week. Be well. :-)
This is so crucial: “Whatâ€™s most is that we take the wheel and donâ€™t live on accident.”
I did live on accident for a long time. It’s no way to live (if you can call that living).
Glen Allsopp says
Excellent stuff, made sure you were in my feed reader then checked out your other work!
Jarrod - Warrior Development says
I’m with Tom on this one.
There is nothing for drama to stick to. After all drama is what we create when the mind and emotions run wild.
When there is no drama to be stuck on then monotony doesn’t exist as everything is new.
@ Michele, absolutely. Accidental destiny is the enemy of a life worth living.
@ Annie, I really like your approach to this. I guess it’s not routine that I want to fight, but the negative associations that can be attached to routine. Like there never being any surprises. If I had my whole life completely mapped and plotted out, I might as well die right now.
Jenny Mannion says
Wow I LOVE the quote “So if we can Feng Shui our external space, can we Feng Shui our minds?”. I believe it is CRUCIAL to Feng Shui our minds.
I try and remember the artistry of my life by remembering how multi-faceted it, and I are. I have goals in all aspects of my life and when one is meeting with resistance I “let go” and move onto another aspect that needs attention. I nurture MANY different interests… some I do with friends, some with my family, some alone and some with my kids…. I always want to be learning and moving forward and meeting new people who also add spice and variety to my life…
While we might have one or two true GIFTS there are tons of things we can all do well and by appreciating and paying gratitude to each by enjoying them at different times it avoids routine and boredom but encourages growth. I love the seasons because it also seems to encourage my different hobbies and interests; long walks in the summer, cross country skiing in the winter, grilling in the summer, warm yummy homemade soups and stews in the winter….
Thank you for such a wonderful post!
To all comers,
Respectfully injecting, outside of the idea of â€œenlightenmentâ€, it canâ€™t seem to be found anywhere. Therefore it must be deduced that this mythical, spiritual tooth fairy parading around under the guise of blissful oneness and self knowledge, cleverly marketing itself as “total” or “final”, is just what it appears to be, a myth, illusion of the finest grade!
Clearly the titular question here is rhetorical, for the very notion of there being something post “totality”, is an inference so ostensibly inviting (akin to having your cake, and eating it too) yet so fundamentally flawed that its unconscious implications will only serve to further confound what is for the conceived many, the quandary of “enlightenment”!
“Can we do to make our lives more like a work of art, and less like a colorless repeat of yesterday?”
1. For starters get over the idea that there is a “you” that is even capable of having a “life”!
2. If you have difficulty accomplishing the first suggestion perhaps you might want to start by having the idea of “you” cease trying to make the idea of “your life” more or less anything, be it successful, prosperous, artistic etc. Acceptance goes along way when it comes to understanding, particularly Reality.
Mentation on what needs to be done and why and how it needs to be done etc., has many impacts on the conceived individual, the most damaging of which (with regards to “enlightenment”) is the implication of a doer. Which creates a subtle sense of seperation in the now conceived mind of the now conceived individual, later manifesting in the now perceived world generally in the form of a desire, generated to mitigate oft unconscious anxieties and stresses caused by… thatâ€™s right, the simple thought there is something to be done and its implication that there is someone to do it. Choice is a joke and within the Tyranny of Monotony it is not just the idea of a separate doer but the implication of one that is Tyrant. (Think about it! What are you going to doâ€¦yourself?!)
Thus to resist living uniformly…resist the idea of living altogether!
For Better and Worse
Alex Kay says
Personally, I don’t believe that there exists a “total enlightment”. It’s a path, not a goal. Interesting post!
Yes, we awake in degrees. Some awakenings are bigger than others though and can seem like the goal. As long as we question or have to remind ourselves of what we know, we are not living there yet.
While you make some interesting points, I’ll have to agree with Tom and Stillborn. From where I sit, you are mixing different levels of consciousness which have very different realities.
Firstly, detachment is not “total enlightenment”. It can arise before any waking. The ego drivers are falling way but the cosmic or divine drivers may not have kicked in yet. This is not the nature of enlightenment but rather a transition towards.
Monotony is mind absorbed in doing. It has nothing to do with enlightenment. There is nothing monotonous about bliss and love.
It would also suggest that you have to be careful about the question of WHO’s story. It’s not all about the person. There is the personal story, the social story, the story of the universe, the story of creation. Each value arises in a different level of awareness, a different value of oneness. Yes, all stories or dreams, but not ones you change by decorating your mind. You can only fully see the story when you have transcended it.
Vedanta is the “end” of knowledge, not in the sense that it’s over, but that it is the ultimate, the final knowledge, the conclusion of veda. If enlightenment is transcending the story, it is the beginning of true knowledge, direct perception of reality beyond the dreams.
I could go into a number of other points but suffice to say, enlightenment has nothing to do with individual life. Eventually, that is within it but not usually at first.
Brilliant stillborn! Of all the comments yours is the most spot in. Do you live this or is it an intellectual knowing for you? I had a satori kensho enlightenment experience a few years ago that told me very directly that there is only THAT and THAT is LOVE and I am THAT and there is nothing but THAT. I searched to understand what happened to me since it was disorienting. Ramana maharshi left the world for 10 years and meditated, echart told lived on the street for 2 years. I had already had experiences of awakening so for me disorientation lasted only months. Then it gradually integrated. But changed my life forever. There is a knowing in me that I don’t die, that there is nothing I have to do and no where to go and that I am not my body or mind but that I am the awareness that is the perceived. And I toggle experiencing the illusion of individuality and personhood and then being my true nature which is awareness and with that the moment is perfect I am the walls as much as I am the trees as much as I am what I percive as me the perceived. In that moment there is only beauty and I laugh. No one talks about the disorientation of going from feeling you have something to accomplish to not feeling there anything missing from the moment. I am not driven by passions other than being even more intimately in the knowing of God yet I know that I am God expressing in this vehicle for a reason. I don’t concern myself with karma because I’m not real as a “me” so there is no next life to have although I may experience another existence. What do you feel you are in life for? I’d love your thoughts.
Davidya and Stillborn,
You’re absolutely right! I am definitely mixing different levels of consciousness. Consciousness is a spectrum, not a fixed point. When you transcend one level of consciousness, you don’t eliminate the previous, you move beyond it and include it.
I agree also that there is no “doer.” There is feeling, but no one is feeling. There is seeing but no one sees.
“I” would say, however, that you can choose to pretend that you are a character in a dream. Or an actor in a play. If “you” choose to accept that character, then you can choose to adorn “your” mind.
Does that make sense? I hope so…
The whole problem with me even talking about this is Enlightenment really can’t be spoken of. Reality itself can’t be spoken of. The moment you open “your” mouth about it, you contradict yourself. That is because you’re trying to use knowledge to measure the immeasurable. You’re using a concept to describe something that is not a concept.
“I” would have put this in the article, but “I” think it would have muddled things. =)
Ariel - We Are All One says
Definitely some good points raised by all, particularly the ones about there being no doer. Nevertheless, despite the fact that nothing outside of us is “real” or can ever make one happy, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
Despite seeing everything as perfection, Jesus still healed the sick. Regardless of knowing that the One truly can not die, Mother Theresa still went and served the poor and hungry in Calcutta.
So while the understanding ultimately that there is no doer is in alignment with the absolute, that doesn’t mean that nothing should be done in the first place.
“The truth is, if we donâ€™t keep ourselves present and realize that with each day we are creating, we will never get to it. Weâ€™ll wake up 10 years later and wonder what the hell happened.”
Well put Jonathan. It’s not about not doing, but rather doing from a place of full consciousness, being all here below that you are above, so to speak.
Nice essay Jonathan.
I am surprised it has not been obvious that after enlightenment comes “service to others.” I believe this IS what Buddha did after his enlightenment–as did many before and after…
Thanks again and save all beings from suffering,
Life is not the same as struggle. And struggle is not the same as hard work – the right hard work is a pleasure.
In my experience there is much outside ourselves that is real. Those who don’t think so are yet to walk through a wall in my observation. (Is this really just my limitation. I am not disagreeing with their experience only their expression of it.)
After enlightenment we are more of an individual as well as less. The disciples of Jesus and the Buddha were in no danger of confusing either of them with anyone else (identity persists – though our relation to it alters).
My serious concern is that if nothing outside us exists then compassion is of no value (after all it is simply delusion).
nice i really like it
i do dissagree about the accidental life tho. if you try to stear or force your way through life i think its harder to see the bueaty in the small things like washing the disshes. i might be missunderstanding you but i think going with the flow of life makes it easier to feel the bueaty of all of life and all aspects of it. when i say flow i don’t mean like go with everyone elses idea i mean like go with how you feel is right idk if thats what you were trying to say but i go tthis more ruff feal too taking control of your life rather then just going with what ever feels right
Jonathan I really enjoyed your post, and I have thought a lot about this myself. Somehow there arose a point where I no longer focus on going anywhere or becoming something else than what I am in the moment. I know I will become what I will be anyway. The strugle you talk about, I think it may be nessessary for a while. Have you ever walked in the mountains? If you have experienced it you will know that as you aproach the summit there ka be several times where you think you are about to reach the top only to discover another peak even higher..
I guess my point really is that I find what you say to be true as far as it goes but what you never mention is compassion. There is something beyond struggle and climbing of hills. No matter how enlightned or detached we are we still have to realize that we are all on this planet together. Love is the force that makes this life living, not just knowledge for our own personal enlightnement quest.
axel g says
Whatâ€™s the Point of Life After Total Enlightenment?
Well, I wouldn’t mind flowing with life like water in a stream…
What I find interesting is what it takes to realize enlightenment?
Who sets out on such a quest and why?
I believe that unhappiness and dissatisfaction act as triggers…
Jonathan: you asked how we remember the artistry of our life and resist living uniformly.
For most of my life, I resisted uniformity, but have finally decided that structure is ok. I’ve found that routines free my mind of clutter and embrace them lovingly. Turning off the ticker tape of to do’s allows more room for the creative ideas and passions to flow.
One way I resist living uniformly (or not allowing myself to get in a rut) is through cooking. Food, with the endless combination of flavors, colors, aromas, and textures allows creative pursuit each day that I choose to cook. An empty plate becomes a canvas that allows total immersion into the present moment as I use my mind and senses to create a masterpiece.
Thanks for your post. Your statement that a beautiful mind is about creating an auto-response to be impeccable with your word, and to not ever use your mind against yourself is perfection.
Thanks to you
There is no life after Enlightenment – when you have transcended every pain, every fear, every instinct, even the desire to breathe is ‘let go’ and you cease to be in form. This is not suicide, but transcendance. Not that I know anything, but I would guess no more need to reincarnate after enlightenment. The greatest teachers teach nothing, do nothing and are nothing. they literally are no thing! lol
Don’t worry, it’s not nihilistic, we all have a few thousand lifetimes of work before we get there! lol
Lissa Boles says
Really interesting piece. Beautification of mind will naturally be impacted by what we ‘think’ is beautiful, but as a metaphor I love it.
And I have a monkey wrench thought to throw in here about routine/monotony…
Resistance to monotony and routine is actually a reaction of the ego to being usurped. You could even go so far as to call it addition to novelty (which will really mess with ye old Beautification of the Mind).
Far as I can tell, routine and monotony is as much a place of beauty, peace and breakthrough as the rest are, and an unusual expression of creativity. I don’t always like it – and chafe against it just like everybody else – but as a form of self-governance and ‘surrender’ nothing else beats it.
You’ve written some great stuff on simplicity, and I see routine as a kind of simplicity – a parring down of action as a form of devotion to what matters mos. The dust that’s kicked up in reaction to ‘monotony’ seems to be the way the ego tries to regain control by using what seems like a very justifiable argument to distract and disarm.
Never fails to amaze me how the novelty of the new is really one more bright shiny toy that takes my eyes off my focus PDQ!
I see resistance to monotony the opposite of usurpment. beyond emptiness is the Devine that is our source of beingness and it is expressing through the vehicle that we each are. We are each in the present existence for a reason and this expressing makes itself known as a creative force. In me I experience pain when I get my ego small self and its limiting beliefs or mind tendencies in the way of this Devine force. Creativity wants to be expressed in each moment and reminds us by a Devine discontent. When I honor that force I live more engaged and fully with source.
Vern at AimforAwesome says
I just found your blog – and it’s great reading. I’ll grab your RSS in a second. I liked what you said here…
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….Rather this is the only time you’ve done whatever you’re doing now, and it always will be.
If you notice – it’s very hard to define a present moment, because once you think you’ve done so – it’s the past already. You can experience life in the present moment and that feels like the present… but what constitutes the present? Is it a tiny fraction of a second that quickly ticks by? I keep trying to find the present -and there doesn’t even seem to be one. All this talk of the present moment might be missing something.
I know when I’m in the flow state or just experiencing life without thoughts – and I feel like what I’ve always labeled as the present moment – it feels good. It feels like I’m alive. It feels like I’m not separate from anything going on in the world. It’s as present as it gets.
But, is it really living in the present moment?
Good food for thought your statements today – thanks for that! I’ll read more of your blog…
Hi, nice blog.
I want to make a comment too. Enlightenment, what it is in itself cannot be explained properly.
Explanation is a partial aspect. And it holds purpose.
Isn’t the unhappiness in it’s most profound state institutionalized in the identification with partialism as supposed holder of ground and center. Isn’t this the illusion called I, the great divider? Without this, everything is a constant flow of expression, there is no reflection and therefor no partialism. But without the division what’s the purpose of continuation, that’s the question of this piece of work right? Life without a purpose, a life in which nothing matters, for purpose defines what matters -and what matters not. Imagine a world in which everybody truely lived the purposeless life. Wouldn’t that be a heavenly world, because suffering has it’s place in purpose. Try imagining this world, where everybody doesn’t live by the sake of purpose but only lives life for the sake of living. Can you see this world? But, actually, it’s there right? People Are living this life.. It’s already there!
It’s there. If you can see it, then you’re there, living the life of living.
Very interesting topic. Good points made by all, and all in all everyone has a great hold onto what life is about and how to go about it. To be alive is the greatest gift of all, and how one CHOOSES to live their life is unto his or her own accord. If you are AWARE you are alive, with a mind, a life and a world to play with than you can live a life however you would like no matter the circumstances. Well written Jonathan, once it is all said and done you have the choice to be the script writer, the director, the actor or the cameraman.
” 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. “
Brother Brit says
Well written article with truthful information.
It was once said, “It is easy to be mindful, but it is hard to REMEMBER to be mindful.” Ideas for remembering to be mindful:
1) Tie a string around your index finger. This really works! People will ask you what you are trying to remember. Since you are trying to remember to be present, it often starts great conversations about being present.
2) Wear a Mala (a bead necklace used in Buddhism with 108 beads plus a guru bead) on the outside of your clothes. Take it off only to shower and sleep. It gets in the way, which reminds. You see it in the mirror, others ask about it.
3) Sticky notes. “Be…Here…now…and Breathe.”
4) Sit still in silence. Allow the mind to have time to get bored and grow quiet.
5) Associate with others who are also wishing to live in a present way.
As with any skill, it takes time and concentrated effort to develop. Set aside time each day to practice being present. After a while, in a future Now, the practice will become the habit…and the habit of remaining present is a valuable habit to have!
In love and peace.
The enlightenment is just half the road.
Please, check this out:
Great thoughts, Jonathan.
Today’s conventional wisdom tell us there is a big-bang event called enlightenment and we should strive for it, and we have a false identity and so on. It’s funny that the same people who tell us to drop assumptions and beliefs, encourage us to build all sorts of nonsense around enlightenment. Maybe it’s true, but it’s not true until it is true for you.
I like the words awakening or flow because they indicate a continuum, and something available to everyday people and not just the spiritually-obsessed. Why should we live in flow? We can continue to live in the world of fear and sadness, or we can live in flow. The fear and effort go away. It makes no other promises.
Dan Adrian says
Great post! Great topic too. I must admit I am still left with the same questions after reading it, but hey, there is time to answer them all. After all, we are forced to live this seemingly pointless life – the least we can do is understand why we live it.
I sometimes look around in a room and say to myself – “what’s this??” – I find it all so strange and weird and pointless. There can be so much beauty in some things, and especially inside oneself – the energy inside that makes you feel alive and vibrant and one with the Universe, but then, there are computers that crash, plastic bags looking all ugly – you move around the house and you hit something – and it all seems so inadequate given our true nature within. It is hard to fathom why should one participate in this theater.
Marshall Woody says
Conversations With God…by Neale Donald Walsch. Hands down, the best book I’ve ever read. This has more than helped me with some of the same issues.
Tobias Mixer says
I think this article is so fitting and right where I am looking at things. Thank you for taking the time to grapple and grasp such an intensely beautiful calling.
John Deere says
Spiritual people hope to escape the search by searching. How can one find something with the act of looking for it, to find something you must undergo the act of finding it, the mistake most make is that the act of looking can lead to the act of finding. I don’t know how many ‘enlightened’ people of whom I’ve heard who ever said something like “we are not the story” isn’t part of enlightenment becoming one with everything? if you are one with the story of your life then you are that story. Any thing you mind comes up with is absolutely useless, fools are those who listen to one about ice cream who has never had the taste
To “write your own story” is a beautiful way to see life and experience it, because it is OUR story (individually). A story written with detachment and Love, using the pen of Consciousness to guide it’s poetic content.
Vern the whole idea of “being in the Present” is just a tool that helps people who are deeply absorbed in their own movie to take a step back and realize its just a show on a screen that they got absorbed in. Being in the present moment is a means, not an end. becuase only when you are in the present moment can accomplish the true result these people are seeking, and that is to simply be self aware. And oh my God if I had not spent ten years of my life wasted on some grandios picture of what enlightenment or self awareness was….people couch it in grandios terms like one with everything etc….but it is really the simplest of things….just pay attention to…or rather be the observer of yourself while you are thinking thoughts, or smelling a smell, or hearing a sound etc….its just that…being the observer of the observer….nothing more nothing less hehehe.
not so brian, not a thousand lifetimes away, its only one breath away, sometimes less
when you wrote this post you were in a delusion of words and sound without even the faintest clue of true and simple realization….to achieve this…read your words from above…but then suddenly switch your focus from the words to the white space between the written words…be that stillness in the space…then when your mind moves again observe it from that still place are you will have achieved “Enlightenment” lol….but be careful, nothing special will actually happen hehehe.
Wow, this is what I was looking for… This last Saturday I suddenly reached enlightment, and I was precisely wondering today: WHAT IS NEXT???… I feel really grateful that I found this post! :)
You put into words what I have been pondering about for years. Great post! This is exactly what I needed to read.
What’s the point of life after enlightenment? I’d say there is none. That leaves only one option: to SEE (the beauty)–with the I (the “eye”) and to LOVE, the only “thing” that has no opposite.
What’s the point of life after enlightenment? I’d say there is none. That leaves only one option: to SEE (the beauty)–with the I (the “eye”)–and to LOVE–the two sides of the same coin (love and beauty)– which is all that remains when all the opposites have been folded back into themselves.
Meghan Kerner says
I have been enjoying reading about this topic, because it is interesting to see how people talk about something that can’t really be talked about with the language we have at hand. Often this topic seems trite when put into words, but I like the feeling and intention behind this post, Jonathan. I am happy that you are writing about this topic and that you are enjoying the life (the story) that you are creating for yourself.
But how do you reach TOTAl enlightenment, to say this means that you know all things that have been and will ever be, and as anyone who has stared into infinity before knows this is inprobable.
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 to put it is to quote an old story a zen master was walking somewhere when a man ran past and knocked him over the zen master got up and continued in the same direction he was before paying no attention to what just happened a student of his then said to him who was that man and the zen master replied I don’t know as he carried on his way his student then said but master if you spend your life like that a man could murder you and you would not know who it was the master then stopped briefly and said that’s his problem not mine (sorry for the long message)
Peter Brown says
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.
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 says
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 we know began to expand its knowledge. so many have suffered to create what we have today. And yes, we take so much for granted. There is no way to measure the beauty of the mind. We tend to show off often. I see role models and elderly, how they wanted to became know for their efforts. I know we all have that flaw, but that flaw is also part of the minds evolution. It is another step.
I too, sometimes want some attention, but find myself escaping from it every time I make new friends. Growing up a quietest kid in class, I practice my mind more than those who expressed themselves. I believed that I must resist to become stronger. It did make me strong. In fact the mind became so strong, it sometimes takes me away from these physical attachments. It makes me not want money nor merchandise, but create with my mind. I have an urge to observe and create without having pride. I do not believe I was born with this ability, but that my creation was timed precisely.
It was not easy to get to the state of mind I am in today. I sometimes wonder if this is possible for everyone. Some people end their lives when they can’t fight with their mind.
I am still creating and trying to let go of my burden. Learning, that the physical truth and the mental truth is far some the same. Distinguishing them both though out lifetime.
Pete Schrader says
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 flat, uninteresting, dead. About the fifth time I listened to the album, I managed to shut down my thought generator and I just listened. I listened very intensely. Listened to each instrument as though it was a living thing communicating something to me. Expecting to see or experience something, rather than impose my thoughts onto noise in my ear. Suddenly, doors in my mind opened. I began to relive memories as though for the first time. I could smell the pine trees on the edge of Spirit Lake, where our family used to vacation when I was a young boy. And I began to have visions of places I’ve never been…all very intense…all with a sense of mystery…and all without the use of drugs, by the way. Bottom line is that when I stopped trying to control the scene, so to speak, and just listened carefully, things started to happen. When we stop trying to control our environment, events in our lives, or even other people, and rather watch and listen intensely with a sense of mystery and expectation, everything seems to come alive. Just some thoughts I wanted to share. All the best to you and yours.
Mario Peniche says
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 i learned that i do not understand it. religion, although gives the necessary tools for peace, does not necessarily mean people will understand how to achieve it. they way i achieved peace first came through years and years of unhappiness. followed by the understanding of why i was unhappy. next was removing anything that made me unhappy. after that, i sought personal understanding and acceptance. i achieved that acceptance through modern pyschology. and through the child-like innocence i had achieved, i , once again, turned to view religion. to see if these ways were effective, or relative to what i had achieved. to my surprise, they are pretty spot on. but then i wondered why people didnt achieve peace this way. i realized that the people in charge of helping them, have not achieved peace themselves. i believe, if someone has not achieved that inner peace, they are not qualified to help them fully understand. i realized then and there. my purpose is to spread this peace through any means possible, as long as the implementation is peacefull and can be understood. i believe you all are right. the point in life after total enlightenment is to try to instill that peace in the whole world. as long as it is your wish, and as long as if the people you are teaching are willing to achieve peace, and will let you teach them of course. humanity will prosper from this peace. i beseech you all to help implore this peace, slowly and thoroughly. we can help the world achieve peace. my name is mario peniche. and this is my dream.
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 your writing. That’s an honor for us both Jonathan, the big sceme had us meet like this and that’s pretty f****** awesome brother. I love you as much as i know you by what you wrote and when we meet next we may be different than we are now but i know that moment will be great as well. Right on PECAN,
“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.
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. What’s the point of seeking Enlightenment, if it means seeing no value in ordinary people’s material needs. What’s the point of enlightened people, if all they can do is write pieces on the Internet, forming cults around their great egos and deluding themselves as well as “uninformed” masses.
Very beautifully writter
prateek dewangan says
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 this test is our MIND. Once we become free from “knowing” ,past and future automatically cease to exist and only present is left which is pure joy or we can say real self. If we live our life according to this then at the time of death of our bodies, we will be at pure awareness without clinging to past, we will accept death as it is without any fear instead will be exicted at that moment. And this is the only way to mearge with that ultimate energy. so now we are left with one question i.e. What is there after death?? The answer of this question depends on the awareness of the person so according to my awareness what i came to know is after leaving the body in a pure awareness we become one with the ultimate energy so our creavity infinitely increases and we keep creating anything we like, that is the reason why universe is expanding.
Also i came to know after my last meditation is that science says that we use only a small part of our brain in a life time, 100% of brain is not utilised for knowing, a large part of brain is used to create a virtual relative world, that is the reason why the senses through which we exist in this world give us feeling inside of our body, so as we know any creation have a definite time cycle, sensation tooks some time to be sensed by us.If we think deeply then it may be also possible that everything we observe maynot really exist like some stars are already dead which is now being observed by us.
Like this examples nature reveals its true identity to everyone who is aware enough, who is ready to sacrifice his/her knowing, who is exicted for existence, who is ready to know more without any judgements.
So please start your jouney right now in the right direction because now also there is a chance to librate.
We have already spended a huge amount of time to increase our creativy by going through the bodies of all the species of this planet, but according to nature’s law we are not allowed to remember our past journey before liberation.
Just by knowing this truth by your minds cannot liberate you untill you know this by your real self by properly verifying through Vedant or upanishads.You can download it from internet as pdf easily.
ALL THE BEST FELLOW TRAVELLERS!!
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 . They feel like their world is all that exists and do not choose to look anywhere else. No one is truly happy with who they are.
Anthony Jesus Vargas says
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 not to be as such. You know what alive is because you assume you know what death is. You know what is good because you know what is bad. So, let us use the example of a statue. “This statue is beautiful” is the same as saying “that which this statue is not is not beautiful” only within the instance it is said. With enlightenment all judgments within the context of speech and language are meaningful in their meaning within it’s own context and just as meaningless within it’s contrapositive. The problem with the world today is nothing more than confusion. People slaving over who they want to be and what they want to have instead of being who they are and what they want to give. Money and differences in culture make it more and more strenuous to be actually in balance with nature which I think it is safe to say we are not. In my opinion the whole problem of the world today comes from the conquest for money. Money is proof that some other humans are in debt to you that’s all. Every human should be indebted solely to themselves, friends, and family. There is so much to this topic I will continue no further.
Anthony Jesus Vargas says
I guess what I put wasn’t good enough. What Devine moderation.
Anthony Jesus Vargas says
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.
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 in life are only a by product of what we create for ourselves whether it’s good or not.. Appropriate or not, and evil or not…. These principles are imbedded in everything that we see or do. . Including socially with others. . If you’re able to stay grounded on earth and accept the chances and challenges that come with life then you’re the lone survivor and the wolf behind the pack that can truly appreciate and understand the big word… Life. This is a gift for those who can get there. . As apparently our common sense is being fed and controlled beyond our eyes can see.. It’s all a nice distraction mind you…. And we must take into consideration that nothing is forever.. Therefore instead of focusing on the shit they want you to.. Understand why it is what it is. . It’s not just a Sin for inanity
Kristi V says
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 is out of the ordinary. Like cook unusual foods, or decorate foods differently.
We try to spend part of our time outside.
We will look things up and find new information.
Sometimes we play a game we call projection stories. We give the person next to us a word or phrase and they begin a story with a sentence or two using that word or phrase. Then they give the next person another word or phrase. That person then adds to the story in the same way. They can even explain their reason for taking the story in that direction. Even my elementary level children love this.
We find creative ways to change up how chores are done. For example, my entire house was tired of dirty dishes. We couldn’t fathom doing it that day.. So we waited a day, and still no new motivation. So we took all of them outside on the patio. Then sprayed them with cleaner. After a few moments we let each person spray them with the water hose. It was a blast watching everyone washing them like you would the car. After much laughing we wiped them down a bit and brought them in.
Anther example is when life is getting so boring for the kids and the little ones are driving the big ones insane. So I brought out a couple of packages of balloons I keep on hand. They are cheap, quick and easy entertainment. The big kids make shapes and come up with crazy games for the little ones. We grown ups have fun playing too. We also love to pull out the nerf guns for some rough play that is normally not allowed in the house.
Play is probably the best tool for monotony. Have fun with life.
We basically try our best to include as much creativity in our lives as possible.
Thanks for the beautiful post, Jonathan. :)
Thanks Eric :)
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.
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 that there is no need for anxiety. Whether it’s making a phone call or doing a speech, honestly regaining focus with how pointless each human act is puts everything back into perspective and the nerves disappear.
Realization of reality haunts me rather than feeling enlightened. I am trying to start living again and be in the moment but it’s hard putting all these thoughts to the back of my mind. Somewhat impossible.
I landed on your site as I was looking for help. I am now going to try regaining control and seeing this as a positive if I can.
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 of any meaning. You certainly don’t craft YOUR story. This is a meaningless activity. It becomes as meaningless as crafting a story about you eating an apple. Do you do that? I certainly didn’t, even before the enlightenment. I just ate an apple enjoying its taste. I did not create a story around this act, there were no thoughts related to how I begin, how I end eating an apple and what happens in between. So all life becomes like this.
The source of this comment is direct experience, not books.
Emmad Munif says
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 if anyone on this planet is not enlightened then you are not fully enlightened. However to some extent, everyone is a bit enlightened.
What do you guys think ?
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.
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.
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 says
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.
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 , creative way ,understanding every new way of spirituality will exclaim Aah . thats the life is all about . understanding inner God, understanding , feeling oneness with universe . transcending in spiritual journey with like minded people in begining , its the most satisfactory way of spending life . to think and feel what other ordinary people could not. God bless all .
James Clark says
Life is the point of life after “total enlightenment”, same as it ever was! ;)
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.
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.