Is there a recipe for Enlightenment?
What is Enlightenment?
Is there a recipe for attaining it?
Those are HUGE questions for many people. Humanity has spent insane amounts of time, billions of dollars, and tons of energy devoted to the almost heroic cause of getting the answers.
Find a guru, a mentor who you believe has a magnificent life, who is beyond mundane issues, who lives far away and you perceive as a superhuman and you won’t ever be able to see your self getting even close to what he has accomplished because at the end, enlightenment is not for everyone. And besides, who are you to compare yourself with the grandiosity of your master?
In order to get at least in the “path” you force yourself to believe that you must practice meditation, yoga, have neutral emotions, be tolerant, practice compassion and feel that everything is beautiful and amazing all the time, plus constantly looking for spaces that allow you to grow, because the daily routine is too vague, too impure. Frustrated? Angry? Distracted? Those aren’t in the recipe. You’re still far away…
When you convince yourself that this is the way, the concept of enlightenment at the end turns into just an excuse, a useless and hopeless search for the confirmation that you are not capable of being happy and sadly you won’t ever be.
I got into Buddhism for awhile looking for solutions for what I considered problems. I had heard from authors, teachers, friends, that if you have a spiritual practice you can really get the relief you are looking for, which seemed to make perfect sense. The solution must be somewhere outside the mundane and quotidian ways of the world I believed had corrupted me, and I needed a cleanse from injurious ideas and behaviors that were taking me away from the truth.
At the beginning I started feeling so good, so proud of myself for taking action toward my own salvation. But it didn’t last too long. I started to feel insecure about the rightness of my practices. I read many meditation books, and at the end all I found was a sense of personal inadequacy and mediocrity.
I wasn’t able to smile at problems, I wasn’t compassionate enough. I couldn’t stop my thoughts and I engaged in all of them during the meditation, etc… and the more I heard from the masters, the more I felt far away from being able to get into the place I believed them to inhabit.
Once I realized that I didn’t want to be me anymore, I wanted to be like one of them. I wanted to be like the Buddha without understanding that I was already the so-called Buddha.
Maybe that sounds prepotent and even megalomaniacal, but to me it’s the only possible truth that all humans are already Buddhas.
Enlightenment is not dualism, it is not about doing more “good” and cutting off “bad.” It’s embracing EVERYTHING without wanting to change it into something else.
It’s not about finding this practice or that master to follow forever and pretend we’re doing the right thing. It’s not about having an altar and 45 min of daily practice while the rest of the day you feel disgusted by yourself and your life, dreaming and hoping that a retreat or a course will miraculously change your reality.
It’s about finding inspiration in the things you enjoy without categorizing everything as sacred or mundane. It means to live and experience life with a fresh perception every single time.
While we keep thinking that we need to eradicate certain aspects of ourselves and force feed ourselves new and foreign ideas as an effort to get closer to happiness, we’re just composing the tragedy of our lives.
Even more of those ideas come from cultural values we’ve been conditioned to accept, without questioning them. This is like when we were babies and we learned from our parents to develop as humans, but later in life we didn’t create our own criteria. Then we never get to grow fully into an individual because of our inability to destroy those teachings and create our own personal, genuine path.
If you have doubts about all I’ve said here, congratulations! You’re practicing the art of thinking for yourself.
And if you’re still looking for any kind of recipe for enlightenment, take a look at this one and give it a try. What can you lose? After all it’s free, and you can try it from the comfort of your home.
Attention: Don’t read this recipe as a series of rigid instructions you’re being forced to follow. Instead, see it as a guide to get a look under the surface of your unquestioned beliefs and presumptions about your life.
Recipe for Enlightenment:
Make a list of all your beliefs about yourself, life, existence, reality.
Combine this with all the concepts and ideas you’ve learned as necessary elements of liberating yourself from suffering.
Make sure you really understand what you want to liberate yourself from, and why you want it.
Once you have a clear picture of what you need to change in order to attain enlightenment, ask yourself, What needs to happen for me to start getting there?
Next, make a list of the reasons for why you aren’t there yet.
When you have all this information, before you fall into misery, put your head up and FEEL what’s happening in your body for a couple minutes.
Try not to label any of the sensations you notice. Just describe them, being aware of the movement, speed, and intensity of what’s happening.
After this, ask yourself, Do I really believe I will attain this idea of enlightenment? Is this really what I want, or is it just something I think I should be doing?
What if enlightenment is just the full comprehension of a situation? And what if that means admitting to yourself that everything is just a perception and there is no such a thing as a real thing or a fake one; a good one and an evil one… It’s just about movement, speed and intensity, the rest are just interpretations of the experience.
Imagine a kaleidoscope, it is a pretty simple artefact made of glass, cardboard and some little things, but the amount of possible images you can see are endless. Reality could be pretty close to this. There are some basic ingredients that interplay and create and infinite manifestation of possibilities and our brains perceive all those possibilities and registered as different objects, people, scenarios that later are interpreted based on our particular experiences.
The key is to focus on what is at every single moment, rather than on what should be. Once you are experiencing life with this new vision, ask yourself again: How can such a thing as enlightenment can exist in a world where labels and names are just an invention of our minds?
And finally reflect about this, How much time and energy are you spending putting yourself down and thinking about the “issues” you have that are taking you away from a better life?. You could actually be doing things that really satisfy you and make you live up to your true potential.
If you need some inspiration, take a look at nature and observe how things work out there.