Enlightenment is the realisation that there are no objects or subjects: all that seems to exist is One seamless whole. Or, it is the psychological process of stripping away the identity, achieved through diligent practice of meditation and self-enquiry, often aided by a teacher in such disciplines as Advaita Vedanta or traditional Zen Buddhism. Or, it is the epiphany that everything one has ever desired is always here, always now, because there is nothing but here and now. Or, it is not a state, not a thought, not a concept, not a description, not a word, but vibrant, present existence itself before that existence can be judged and measured by the mind. Or it is all of these things. Or it is none of these things. Or it is.Enlightenment, some say, is only the beginning. How the comprehension and apprehension of the infinite affects the finite story that the point, if there is any point at all. The story does not exist in the infinite, therefore it is meaningless; but in the disregard for its meaning can lie the appreciation for its intrinsic value, of the story’s almost infinite designs and whimsies, tragedies and glories.
Mariana Caplan is a psychotherapist, yoga teacher and nonduality enthusiast, and a pragmatic and sensible teacher of spirituality. She has various degrees and generally strikes a nice balance between modern Western interpretation of ancient Eastern philosophy and scientific methodology, if one can call psychotherapy scientific. She recently gave an interview to Nonduality Magazine and a quote truly resonated with me:
"NDM: What about the "Stink of enlightenment?" What is this and how do you know is someone has this stink?
How marvellous, this concept of integration, or “practising these principles in all our affairs” as the 12-step programmes of recovery put it. How differently it can seem to unfold: either effortlessly or with much diligent, labour-intensive conscious application. Perhaps all such concepts are roughly equal - equally misguided, or equally valid - since talking about it is not "it" except inasmuch as talking (thinking, writing, conversing) may be what is at this particular moment. Is the point of enlightenment to make the story of life “better” - how “better” is usually judged, dictated largely by biological survival - in terms of happiness, intimacy, mental stability, and the brotherhood of humanity finally getting over itself and getting its act together? Isn’t it counter-productive to have any goal or desire, even if the desire is of the highest, best kind? Isn’t it useful to “let go” of everything you have ever considered sacrosanct in order to be entirely free, and able to see things exactly for what they are? Or is it best to entirely relax all semblance of control, and let life live you? The ego, or identity, or personality, or mind, grapples with these questions and concepts, knowing it can’t figure it out, yet powerless to stop the quest for understanding. Strangely fitting, how the ego so very much wants the thing that may very well kill it.
Enjoyment can arise with all that fruitless fun. By all means, enjoy the unfolding, and let each glimpse and flash of the infinite inform the finite actions and energies of your small, meaningless yet intrinsically significant life. Why not?
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one of those films that truly resonates on a cultural reference level, and thus reveals my apparent age. I like nearly every scene in the film but this one, near the end, where Spicoli delivers his best line and Sean Penn foreshadows his career as an actor who truly crawls into a character, is the one that evokes the most spontaneous pleasure. As far as I'm concerned, both characters display integrated enlightenment. Enjoy...