This comes under the general heading of ‘Is there a God?’
A great deal has been written and published on the topic of Enlightenment, a word apparently not used much in English before the late 1800’s. Unfortunately most if not all such discussion is misleading, being written by those without experience who therefore can only speculate.
The phrase ‘Empty vessels make most noise’ applies especially to this topic. The most appropriate response to authentic Enlightenment is silence.
Accordingly i shall not write much to begin with, except to indicate what Enlightenment is not! It is not an intellectual achievement or insight; it is indeed nothing to do with the intellect or the mind. So one cannot ‘figure it out’, this being a completely mistaken direction.
It is not a mere feeling of being at one with the Universe. It is not any state of being in which the ‘I’ is still present to marvel at or subsequently write a book about, especially one lasting days or weeks. This last is most likely the result of a profound intellectual insight; and books are generally written by those who are not at peace with themselves, and are therapeutic in this context.
It is also nothing to do with Zen Buddhism, which appears to be the antithesis of Enlightenment, also an insult to oneself and one’s Creator. I do not regard Zen as true Buddhism.
A Zen Buddhist ‘master’ is apparently one who has shot himself in the foot then claims mastery over his foot. This is surely an exercise in foot-utility (futility). I believe that Siddhartha Gautama (‘the’ Buddha) taught how to use the mind properly; by contrast it seems Zen Buddhism teaches how to abuse it.
To explain: practitioners seek to stop their minds functioning; according to D. T. Suzuki ‘by any means available’, if memory serves. In practice this is like putting a spanner in the works.
Success in this endeavor is met by ’emptiness’, an unsurprising result given cessation of the perceptual apparatus. But to conclude that the basis of reality is ’emptiness’ is to compound the felony and to further mislead others.
In my experience an authentic event is one of ‘fullness’; if you like, being filled with light as the word suggests.
It is true that the mind ceases to function in this event; but this is a side effect and not causative. So some Zen Buddhists appear to have unknowingly put the cart before the horse, and may be said to be barking up the wrong tree -as some do in scientific research too.
There may be other schools of Zen, in which some control of the mind; brain, and physiology is attained. But this is nothing to do with Enlightenment.
The Rajneesh guru Osho’s evident approval of Zen Buddhism and ‘no-mind’ (anatta?) gives me cause to doubt his Enlightenment. As explained above, anatta is a side-effect or consequence of authentic Enlightenment. It is not primary or causative; it is epiphenomenal. Therefore it is (in my opinion) a waste of time to seek it, rather like chasing a rainbow.
By their fruits ye shall know them: i am not aware of ANY Enlightened followers of Osho.
This begs the question of the whereabouts of my Jewel-encrusted Rolex watches and many Rolls-Royce motor cars? No thanks!
There seems also to be a naive belief that Enlightenment results in a kind of omniscience, and instant compassion. This is even more nonsense.
In my experience one has to demonstrate some compassion to begin with, as a prerequisite. And to simply be given an ethical make-over would surely be a form of trespass against one’s free will. We have to work to transform our own sow’s ear into a silk purse; no-one does this for us.
Sex! There is another belief that an Enlightened person has no interest in normal human relations after this event, including sex. This is incorrect.
God has said (so i am told) that sex is ‘Good for the body; good for the psychology, and good for the Spirit’. This makes sense to me. Coincidentally I became celibate before starting out on my Spiritual path, but i do not believe that this is absolutely necessary. What is necessary is the personal space and time in which to sort oneself out.
In my case a classic co-dependancy could not be renegotiated and so a divorce could not be avoided. The juvenile phrase “I don’t love you anymore” was not employed, this phrase indicating a lack of love in the first place. Perhaps a relationship can only last when partners develop at the same rate, with clear stated agreement.
Idly wondering one afternoon why i had not formed another relationship, a voice in my head said “You are one who develops alone”. This did not please me: normal human interest in the opposite sex remains.
A mentor once advised not to get together with anyone not at the same level of Spiritual awareness. This now makes things difficult, at least in theory.