What is Enlightenment?

By Warren Archer | Uncategorized

Dec 12
Free and Open

I’m not offering truth here. Teaching truth is not my gig.

I’m offering something potentially useful. That is my gig; that’s my purpose.

Enlightenment is just a word. You get to assign your own definition. There are many definitions out there, none are true. The word is never the thing it attempts to describe.

This is especially the case with abstract words such as God, love, and enlightenment. These abstract words are known as “reifications” and have been a pain-point for many a conflict over the years.

A reification is an attempt to make something abstract into something concrete. Most people can agree on what a spoon is, but there is much disagreement on the definition of love or enlightenment. This disagreement stems from the false assumption that there must be a definition for terms such as these that is true for everyone, and that it is ignorance that keeps people from understanding this one definition.

Because there are so many definitions and because ultimately, nobody can describe what enlightenment is, the definition of enlightenment offered by most teachers is intentionally vague and confusing.

So with all these definitions, spiritual teachers have adopted new words such as awakening or liberation.

However, ask them to define these new words and you’ll probably end up getting more of the same vague, contradictory, and confusing descriptions. Again, they don’t want to limit the unlimited.

The problem is that this approach causes continued confusion and frustration.

To make matters worse, there is even more confusion surrounding the idea of a path to enlightenment.

Some say there is no path, and that’s great, but without a pathless-path technique, that kind of teaching can lead to giving up before you even start!

Others say the path to enlightenment takes years. Decades. Even lifetimes.

I imagine gurus in caves renouncing everything.

I have defined enlightenment for purposes of the Instant Enlightenment (IE) technique. I’ve been told this is not the correct definition of enlightenment, but again, that assumes that there is a correct definition—and that’s a perspective that I don’t find useful.

A definition is given by an individual.

Can an individual be enlightened?

Many seem to believe this is so. I don’t.

Here’s why:

The IE definition of enlightenment is not something that happens TO someone.

It is an awareness of what is. A clarity in the moment. The seeing of what is without believing any stories.

I’m not surprised that some people reject the IE definition of enlightenment. It’s not very colorful. It’s actually quite simple and boring. Worse still, it has nothing to do with the individual. Enlightenment isn’t self-improvement where you become a better person (whatever that means).

So there’s a difference in the way I see things between enlightenment and someone being or becoming enlightened. Who is this person that is becoming enlightened? The person is a story of a body and thoughts and thought memories that arise in the present, but that claim a past and a future. All these attributes are transitory, whereas enlightenment, according to the IE technique, is not.

Enlightenment has nothing to do with the transitory individual. Enlightenment is the clarity in the moment, but that clarity doesn’t happen to anyone. It simply is.

I’m not saying that the IE definition is true. I don’t find the pursuit of truth with thought of any value. It isn’t helpful or useful.

That said, I do find the IE definition useful. And what’s useful to me may not be useful to you. Also what’s useful to me now may not be useful to me at some other moment. Again, the emphasis is on what is useful, and I don’t waste energy on what is true.

Here’s why I find the IE definition of enlightenment useful:

By seeing enlightenment not as some permanent state that can be attained, but rather a clarity that arises and happens to no one, seeking becomes futile. Seeking is dropped (the seeking of truth, the seeking of enlightenment, obviously I’m not talking about the seeking of a parking spot). What is the value of dropping seeking? Seeking perpetuates more seeking, because the seeker will always believe there is more than what is.

Seeking believes in a story of an imaginary future that could be better. One day, I’ll be enlightened, or more enlightened, or I’ll attain this state of enlightenment.

When seeking stops, you are left with what is.

While enlightenment has nothing to do with the individual or with self-improvement, it can affect the individual in that a huge load is lifted because the compulsion to long for something better than the present is gone.

About the Author

Warren Archer is the founder of the Instant Enlightenment technique and the author of "I Think, Therefore I Lie." He is a certified strategic intervention coach helping people find enlightened success in their relationships and their goals and purpose.

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