One of the great fallacies in life is that “enlightenment” requires work, toil, and effort to obtain. Surely something as grand as enlightenment must be difficult to “obtain”?
Therein lies the fallacy.
Enlightenment is not something that can be obtained, enlightenment is something that must be known. Enlightenment is knowledge.
And if enlightenment is knowledge, it can be known in an instant. Actually, enlightenment can only be known in an instant. We might call this “sudden enlightenment”.
The idea behind sudden enlightenment is that the minute we take the time to try to grasp or hold on to enlightenment, it is gone. If we think about it, we’ve lost it. Instead, we have to learn to BE it – moment to moment.
So how do we “be” enlightened?
Enlightenment and Gnosis
The idea that enlightenment is knowledge or “gnosis” (which literally means “to know”) is not a new concept. There are many written works on the topic of gnosis, and, surely there are other words and concepts that have been used over millennia to describe the secret knowledge of enlightenment.
One of the central beliefs of the gnostics is that the knowledge of enlightenment can only be known through direct experience – an experience that is unique to each person.
Because of the subjective “uniqueness”, one person cannot directly impart the knowledge of enlightenment to another. One can use words to paint a picture of enlightenment, but for one to truly “know”, he or she must BE the painter.
Enlightenment and Creativity
Creativity is tightly associated with the experience of enlightenment. There are many things in life that we can learn from somebody else but creativity is not one of them.
For example, if an oven is hot, and our friend touches the oven and screams in pain, we can learn by observation what it means to touch a hot oven. But in the case of creativity, we cannot learn it by watching someone else, it has to come from within. And so it is with enlightenment, through our recognition of our own power to create, do we begin to understand who we are.
When we are creative, we are not thinking about it, we are being creative. Creativity comes in many forms – not only art and music, but also through intention and will.
We cannot know enlightenment by observing another person, we can only know by being the observer. And furthermore, we need to know that what we are observing is also the observer.
Enlightenment and Continuous Effort
The interesting thing about enlightenment is that EVERY experience is glimmering with knowledge of the divine. However, enlightenment can disappear like a candle in the wind. It is up to each of us to find it in every moment. In this way, enlightenment IS a continuous effort – not in terms of struggle or sacrifice, but in terms of gratitude and compassion.
If one were to attempt to impart some clues about the knowledge of enlightenment, it might sound something like this:
You are the Universe encapsulated in a microcosmic version of itself. As within so without. Therefore, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Sudden Enlightenment Video
Allan Watts has an entertaining perspective on sudden enlightenment. Here is the video: