Who Are The Enlightened?
by Jake Block
Enlightenment is the gold that one seeks, never knowing exactly where it is, but always knowing it is there, somewhere. Enlightenment is a moving target, a gossamer web of the undefined, but infinitely subjective in thought and deed. Enlightenment is a key, and a tool, and a roadmap to greater personal liberty and inner peace. While there are some who attain enlightenment to a degree, most who strive miss the goal and retreat to some form of “wokeness” in social issues and use it as a way to bolster their flagging self esteem by showing how concerned and life affirming that they can be. “Enlightened” has become an alternative term for “elite,” but in a kinder and gentler way that makes it ok to claim superiority over others.
In the minds eye, when one sees “enlightened,” it’s generally the image of a placid Buddha-faced sage sitting in a lotus position under an exotic tree, quietly chanting “OM,” or the Indian guru who looks a lot like the gray-bearded Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, surrounded by flowers, smiling and saying “Namaste,” while thinking only good thoughts, accompanied by the sound of the sitar, and the smell of sandalwood incense. Those of you who tend toward a more exotic vision, might picture a holy tantric orgy, where men and women engage in highly postured positions from the Kama Sutra for sexual fulfillment to bring themselves closer to their vision of the godhead. Enlightenment becomes a smiling, soft and egalitarian blandness where one’s ego is sublimated for the sake of others and world peace.
I would wager that the idea of the Left Hand Path as a road to enlightenment, where a guru who might be more like one of the ragged Aghora, profane and impure, perhaps poking around in the funerary ashes of the dead, dining on garbage and wearing the ashes of death that surrounds him isn’t part of your vision of enlightenment. Nor would I think that one might consider the likes of Anton LaVey to be a guru possessed of wisdom that can make one’s life more satisfying and elevated through his philosophy of indulgence and rational self interest. Neither has that peaceful and benign visage of the Buddha contemplating Nirvana or the Hindu in meditations over the message of Shiva. Often stern of visage and voice, how could such people ever be enlightened and elevated souls?
If I can claim a measure of enlightenment, even though my life is now and has long been lived far to the left, on the Left Hand Path, how can I justify it, when the concept of enlightenment itself seems, to most, to be a product of the right? How can we see the Aghora, with their often repulsive acts of defiance and cultural challenge to be enlightened? Can the scales of equality and political correctness be balanced against the stark realities of life on the Left Hand Path, experienced by a whole class of people seen by the majority of the world as outcasts and pariahs? I think so for several reasons, but chiefly that “Enlightenment” is a sliding scale of wisdom and understanding that has nothing to do with the path one trods, either left or right. Even with those at the extremes of either end of the path, from perhaps the Aghora to the left and the isolate cave dwelling yogi in the Tibetan mountains to the right, one can see wisdom, disparate and uniquely applied, certainly, but appropriate for the individual culture.
Enlightenment comes from living within one’s environment and understanding the whys and wherefores of that life, and then being able to work within the bounds of one’s existence in finding mitigating factors that allow one to survive and thrive in what could be seen as adverse conditions to those outside of that cultural fold. Wisdom comes from the application of that knowledge to enhance one’s personal freedom and quality of life. It’s not just a matter of Milton’s being able to make a Heaven out of Hell, because you can live in East St. Louis, IL and call it Beverly Hills, CA, but in the end this spurious mitigation strategy is denied by simply taking an look outside of your window. To effectively mitigate one’s life circumstance requires positive and sustained action in the realms of reality, rather than dwelling in a fantasy that one’s circumstance is simply a matter of ignoring it.
Who are the enlightened? With all of the internet gurus out there, you would think that it would be easy to define. I would suggest that “the enlightened” are less easily defined but more easily found than we might imagine, but only if we toss out our preconditioned notions of what “enlightenment” ought to be. One thing to toss out is the idea that titles mean something in terms of one’s elevation. We hear a lot about people who call themselves “Illuminati,” “Luciferians,” “Ascended Masters,” etc., and claim the wisdom of the universe that they will, under some misguided notion of “noblesse oblige,” pass it down to you, the lowly, that you might one day rise, through their intervening benefaction, from the squalor and deprivations of your station. Always ask what makes them so perfect and such paragons of virtue that they can afford to condescend to you? If all lives were under the same magnifying glass, what would truly define their station above yours? Is their life really all that “elevated,” or is it only such in the theater of the internet’s cut and paste graphic glory?
In my experience, the enlightened… truly enlightened… seldom see themselves as such, and surely don’t have to tell people that they are. Wisdom is self evident in one’s personal philosophy, and in the way they take the life to which they are born, mold it and take ownership in its success. The quietude of enlightenment found in the stereotypical guru or mystic is an indication of internal acceptance, that they simply “tell it like it is” in the surety of their own mind, and “walk the talk,” rather than put on a show to entertain. The enlightened enlighten because it’s natural for them to do so, and they often don’t really care if others accept their truth. It simply is the truth that has enhanced their lives, and they make no guarantees that it will do the same for you, although if you find it beneficial in your life as well, so much the better.
I’ve found enlightenment in the words of wisdom gleaned from a lifetime on the Left Hand Path, and in the quotes of others who came before, and in the words of some who would scarcely consider me their friend. It comes in the darker moments, when I go within my own mind to search for answers to problems that confront me, and in the moments of quiet contemplation. It comes in those “AHA” moments when I finally “get it,” and in those moments when I realize that truths long believed are no longer valid. Yes, my friends, enlightenment comes from a wide variety of sources, and I would put it to you that if you’re finding that truth is held in a single source, be it a book or an individual, perhaps it’s not enlightenment at all, but indoctrination.
Who are the enlightened? Trust your instincts, and you’ll know them by their deeds as well as their words. Sometimes your own enlightenment will inspire others, if it comes from a place of truth, whatever that truth may be.
“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.”
— Eckhart Tolle