What is “enlightenment?”
Here is the perceiving of sensations and labels. Through the senses, here is the visual perceiving of shapes and colors, or the perceiving of sounds or smells and so on. Through the intellect, here also is the perceiving of language, of labels, of ideas, of identities, of titles, of categories.
What is reality? Reality is the perceiving itself as well as the perceived sensations… as well as the perceived labels, such as “me” and “my history” and “my future.”
The Age of Enlightenment (Photo credit: randomwire)
What is enlightenment? Enlightenment is simpler than words, so it may be strange to try to put enlightenment in to words. No description of enlightenment is to be confused with enlightenment itself. By the way, to be clear that no description of enlightenment is itself enlightenment is… enlightenment!
We could even define enlightenment as the “activity” of simply being as the process of perceiving (without requiring some exclusive identifying as some concept of some other self besides the perceiving itself). Enlightenment is to merely be the perceiving as the process of perceiving that the perceiving is itself real (that the perceiving is “a reality”).
There can be identifying in language with a particular label or not. That is entirely incidental and trivial to the direct perceiving of the absolute reality of the perceiving itself. Why? Enlightenment includes clarity that all labels are all just labels.
Dante And Virgil In Hell by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1850) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hell (or “samsara“) is label for the perceiving of labels about the perceiving as more real than the perceiving itself. However, “more real” is just a silly label. There is nothing more real than the perceiving itself. Indeed, there is nothing but reality.
What is before reality? Reality is eternal.
What is beyond reality? Reality is everywhere, omnipresent.
What creates reality, influencing it? Reality is almighty, omnipotent. There is simply no power outside of reality.
Enlightenment is to be the perceiving as the process of perceiving the perceiving as the reality which is eternal, omnipresent, and almighty. Hell or samsara is the perceiving of labels about the perceiving as more real than the perceiving itself, which may lead to the ridiculous theatre of trying to eventually connect with the reality which is already omnipresent and eternal.
In hell, there may be words about reconnecting with the eternal, omnipotent reality… but only after a long ritual process of preparation- or of trying to reach the reality which is always omnipresent- which is referenced as if it is only available in some particular holy building or through a specific holy pilgrimage or the special holy spot on some magic carpet or holy rug. Or, maybe heaven is claimed to be distant and that it can be reached only after one gets the right relationship or the right job or the right ring.
Perceptions (Photo credit: DanRhett)
Yama’s Court and Hell. The Blue figure is Yama with Yami and Chitragupta, 17th century Painting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the psychological pattern called Hell, a devil may be blamed for betraying me such that I allege that I am unjustly trapped in the one place where even the almighty simply cannot save me. The devil is the reason that I use to explain that some detail of my life “is worse than hell! I do not deserve this! I should not even be here! I should be somewhere much better than this! It is the fault not of me but of…” the devil.
Hell is blame. Hell is resentment. Hell is jealousy. Hell is contempt, including contempt for things like gratitude. Hell is shaming reality, then usually blaming someone else for why reality is “obviously how it should not be” (or blaming some group- whatever).
The idea of a devil creates hell and perpetuates it. However, even that idea of a devil can be perceived. What I am is the one who can perceive that idea of a devil. I can perceive hell- as being a metaphorical reality. I can even forgive whatever or whomever I have been condemning as my devil.
What is the key to forgiving the devil? Recognize that “devil” is just a way to label something, a way to relate to it. So is the label “hell.”
Hell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you want to know how to realize that you are already in heaven? If so, then go to hell. It is easiest to find heaven in hell. In fact, that may be the only way to find heaven.
Hell is the perfect pathway for recognizing that there is nowhere outside of reality, nothing that is not already what it should be, nowhere beyond the reality of heaven. Likewise, there is no time that is outside of what is eternal, so waiting for heaven is postponing the recognition of it. There is no power that can conflict with that which is almighty, so there is no way to struggle one’s way in to heaven. The way to heaven is to recognize that making life hell is entirely optional- and then simply stop making life hell by blaming a devil.
If God is almighty, then even the devil is unable to do anything except for the Will of God. However, the devil is the one who is ashamed of God and God’s Will. A devil labels others as devils. (If you label others as the devil, that means you.)
A devil also denies that what the devil does is actually entirely the doing of God. The devil claims “I am not God but instead I am my idea of myself- not the eternal perceiving- but just a concept that I have of who I am and, furthermore, I am more powerful than the almighty (or at least I should be and so I try to prove that I am more powerful than the Almighty to everyone whose attention I can attract).”
That is all a joke from the beginning. The joke is taken seriously by the one who claims to be in hell. By the way, hell is just one of the regions of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is omnipresent, boundless, everywhere. In hell, there is much talk about getting to heaven eventually- after a few magic tricks or the right rituals and so on- for there is the absence of the perceiving of all of reality as equally real already.
“I know how reality should be,” says the Devil ,who claims to be very humble- ironically emphasizing their great humility and even their total absence of arrogance. “No, I am not at all arrogant- not me! I simply know what parts of reality should not be. I have faith in my ideals about reality and God and so on. I know that they are right. I know that all other ideals are wrong. Just ask me and I will tell you! My ideals are the most real- the least idealistic of all idealisms, the least idolatrous of all idolatries. My ideals are the most sacred because they are real ideals, while other ideals are just superstitions and foolishness and insanity. My ideals are clearly the most holy. I insist that God agrees with me because I deny that God is within me, operating as me. I am God’s favorite. I am God’s chosen. I earned it. I alone have authority to speak for God.”
Which branch of a tree can claim to be the most real branch, the most authoritative branch, the most branchy branch? Well, if you perceive that a branch on a tree is talking to you in some human language, then there may be a bit of inaccuracy in your perceiving. Maybe it is just another dream or hallucination.
All perceiving involves different levels of accuracy or precision. Relative precision and imprecision are the nature of all of the perceivings of sensations and also of all of the labelings of patterns of sensation. Labels are only as precise as they are- like “summertime” or “sometime in early summer” or “sometime at night on the summer solstice” or “at the exact moment of midnight on summer solstice.” But halfway around the planet, some idiotic, arrogant devil is probably claiming that what you are calling summer solstice is really winter solstice (and not even close to midnight!), and they may even want to argue with you about how you are obviously so wrong.
English: Seven Hells as depicted in Jain Cosmology. Picture taken from 1613 CE cloth painting from Jain temple in Gujarat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So, what is enlightenment? “So what” is enlightenment!
Or, enlightenment is to be the perceiving of reality… as the actual process of perceiving the reality of the perceiving. The perceiving simply is reality!
In contrast to enlightenment or heaven or nirvana, hell or samsara is an innocent misinterpretation about the nature of language. Hell is the misperception that labels about perceiving are more real than the perceiving itself, which is actually what we are eternally, already, now and always. We are not the labels that we use. We are the one that creates labels, that give out names and use words of linguistic symbolism to categorize patterns of sensation, like dark and light, and to categorize patterns of experience, such as Hell and Heaven and The Devil and The Savior and The Almighty and… Enlightenment.