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Enlightened and Bored
Jasper: Hi, James. I came across your response to a letter entitled What to Do After Enlightenment. It gave me some hope. I’ve been a bit lost and adrift since my personal self burned away a year or so ago. For me it was a slow burning, maybe a year or longer.
James: If your personal self burned away, who is left to get bored, Jasper? I think you might perhaps revisit the enlightenment idea.
Jasper: I don’t even really know if this is enlightenment or not. I got bored part way through the “enlightenment test” at your website. ☺ Seeking and thinking are just so very dead.
James: It is true that enlightenment stops the seeking, but it doesn’t sound like the seeking stopped for the right reason. Well, people do stop seeking when they realize that the world is empty of meaning. But enlightenment involves a very positive energy, a sense of communion and love for everything because it is known to be you, the one that knows the emptiness of objects. In fact the world is not empty – it just looks that way. It is actually full of awareness because it is awareness. It shines because you, awareness, shine on it. It is beautiful because you are beautiful. It is a fullness, not an emptiness.
Jasper: I came from a 12-step tradition but had to leave it behind.
James: It’s a good place to get started but it doesn’t go far enough, so I can understand why you moved on. It leaves you as a person, albeit a more or less healthy one, but just a person nonetheless.
Jasper: I’ve walked mostly alone since then. Lately I find myself wishing for some orientation, some guidance.
James: Tell me what you want.
Jasper: I’ve managed to alienate, piss off or frighten most of my family about as much as I ever have while sober. Most disturbing maybe is that I’m not disturbed. I’m fairly young and I feel like I still have a good run in front of me but it’s getting really easy to see why Jesus was crucified.
James: It’s good you are not disturbed by the world but it seems something is lacking. You have to figure out what it is and then maybe I can help. If you are enlightened you are enlightened in every direction so there is nowhere to go. You are satisfied sitting still.
Jasper: I had an AA sponsor who vowed to do no harm to another human being. I wonder, can I really trust what guides/is me to do no harm?
James: Enlightenment means that you are what guides you. It means that you are not Jasper, that you don’t need guidance. It means that you see yourself in everything so you won’t harm anything. No vows are necessary when you know who you are. Non-injury is automatic. You are still identified with Jasper, your apparent self. You take it to be you. So there is more contemplation to do. But you are in a good position to do it because you have a lot of dispassion. Dispassion is one of the two most important qualifications for enlightenment.
Jasper: Or is it only interested in truth, come hell or high water.
James: Yes. But truth doesn’t mean how Jasper sees things as opposed to how the world sees them. Christ’s problem was that he wanted to impose his vision of reality on those who were not capable of understanding. Fortunately, these days they do not crucify you. They just ignore you or medicate you.
Jasper: It certainly doesn’t care about the feelings or desires of those around me.
James: That’s true, but it doesn’t not care either. For the thing that guides you (we call it Isvara, awareness) it is quite fine if people are idiots full of desires and feelings. It is also okay if they are enlightened. When you are okay with Jasper’s boredom you will be enlightened. Actually, you have desire too, Jasper. That is why you are bored. The ego has survived your enlightenment and it still wants something to do, somewhere to go, something to interest it.
James: You are welcome, Jasper.