This article was published 16 years ago. I'm technically a new person now and my views represented here are probably long outdated.
So, what does it mean to be enlightened?
I had somebody pose that question to me recently. There’s, of course, the dictionary definition: the state of being knowledgeable or understanding or rational or tolerant or a combination thereof.
For a person to be more than she or he previously was.
I, for example, am certainly a different person than I was a year ago. I have learned more, explored myself more, queried and bettered my relationships, abandoned the unhealthy one, forged new and better ones. In essence I am a better person, to my mind, than I was.
So as this year, 2007, draws to a close, I can confidently say, on a personal level, I am more enlightened than my 2006 version.
That’s an answer. But, since it came from a metaphysical / esoteric / spiritual context, that’s not the best answer. That’s to say, all good and well, saying that a person is enlightened by learning more, but that’s very subjective. By that statement, everyone is enlightened.
And, I would say, yes, everyone is, at their own level.
So, you ask, does that mean somebody who killed 12 people in a row because she felt like it can be classified as enlightened?
Hmmm. Okay, what are the criteria then?
Spiritual context. That would mean, perhaps, revering life. Being close to God/Goddess/Whatever-You-Call-It. Living a perfect life, maybe.
What does spiritual enlightenment mean to the masses?
This can be a difficult answer because it is equally subjective. A Satanist may consider himself spiritually enlightened as he offers the blood of a virgin to his god. That’s a tongue-in-cheek statement and I mean no offence to Satanists in general. After all, enlightened Christians massacred thousands in the name of their god. As did and do other religions.
So, enlightenment would depend on who you speak to and what era they come from.
From my perspective, life is eternal, continually unfolding, evolving, transforming. So the death, to me, is a transition. Therefore, I can call a murderer enlightened. Because, I also follow the belief that, everything is ultimately for the best.
There always will be. As long as we believe different things. I don’t care to argue my beliefs. I don’t care to prove them. In fact, I don’t particularly care about them.
And that is where I consider my enlightenment.
In the allowing of everyone to believe and do as they wish. To grow, or not, as they wish. To learn, or not, as they wish.
And, yes, I do judge people. I do compare them to my standards. Contradiction? Only if you think it is.
I prefer not to be in the presence of people that don’t make me feel good. That still allow them to be who they want to be. Just not anywhere near me.
So, to answer my friend, enlightenment is a personal journey. And a constant process. Whether it is perceptible or not, purposeful or not, we are forever attaining more knowledge, growing, bettering our understanding. We can’t help ourselves. Where there is no growth, there’s just a deathly stagnation.