[Original essay written around 2006.]
[Introduction/addition, March of 2013: I no longer really use the word “enlightenment” anymore. As a term it is too loaded — too many people equate it with some sort of Buddhist-like dissociative state, which is the exact opposite of what I’m talking about. Nowadays, when I am trying to express the concepts I define below as “enlightenment,” I prefer to use the terms “being healthy,” “being real,” “being honest,” having “resolved our inner traumas,” or “being fully conscious.” I ever prefer the term “self-actualization.” But since I have used the word “enlightenment” a lot in past incarnations of this website and also in my books, I don’t want to remove the word entirely… So please take my use of this loaded word with a grain of salt!]
What is enlightenment?
Enlightenment is the conscious awareness of truth. Everyone who has any consciousness is enlightened to a degree, but where people are blocked from having resolved their own traumas of childhood – or adulthood – they will be blocked from their awareness of full reality. Full enlightenment is a consequence of full resolution of one’s traumas.
Are children born enlightened?
Children are not born enlightened. Children are born connected to their spirits, which is the precursor to enlightenment – and a necessity for enlightenment to happen. But children are born unconscious. To become enlightened they have to be both connected to their true selves and conscious. And to be fully enlightened they have to be both fully connected to their true selves…and fully conscious. This requires a huge amount of time – and energy.
How hard is it to become fully enlightened?
I think it’s the most difficult thing anyone can strive for. What I’ve seen is that not very many people are willing or able to expend the necessary time or energy. Most people seeking full connection with full truth quickly compromise for lesser comforts. By denying the depths of their emotional unresolution – and building a wall over their brewing torture within – they can often delude themselves into believing that they are resolved people. If they are able to do this and at the same time maintain a conscious connection with the remaining parts of themselves, they can easily pawn themselves off as fully enlightened people. The reality is that they are only partially enlightened people. The rest of them remains dissociated. And behind their dissociation remains unresolved trauma.
It is also worth noting how extremely difficult it is to strive for enlightenment in the midst of a society that is so dead set against heading in this direction. It is hard to grow without allies – and a deeply nurturing environment. Hard…but not impossible.
Has anyone ever achieved full enlightenment?
Not that I know of – myself included. But some people certainly come closer than others. Otherwise we wouldn’t receive powerful guidance from the words of others, handed down over the millennia.
Is full enlightenment achievable?
Yes. My heart tells me that it is so. It is our basic purpose here on earth. Its path offers the deepest nourishment and satisfaction. Its path is the way. But my feeling that full enlightenment is achievable is based on factors other than my heart simply telling me it is so. I used to be much less enlightened. Now I am much more enlightened. I have watched this path unfold over many days, weeks, months, and years, and I have learned the basic patterns of healing and growth. I can now comfortably extrapolate from my experience and see that there is no reason to think that if I continue on the path I am on that I can someday resolve all my trauma and know my deepest self fully – be fully enlightened.
Are there ways to speed up one’s path toward enlightenment?
Yes, but maybe no. Every action has an equal an opposite reaction. Quit drinking and you might just feel more pain, which in turn might kick up more of your denial. Become celibate, but then you might repress your sex drive. Refuse to be in a relationship, but your loneliness might cause you to dissociate. Life has its own timetable. Honor your inner voice, follow its guidance, explore as it bades you, and you will honor life’s path.
Is death inevitable?
Yes. That’s why you need to work hard now.
Is forgiveness healthy?
Yes, but only as a consequence of having healed one’s inner traumas. Forgiving someone prior to healing the damage he has caused you is premature, and thus not real. This is dangerous, because it allows the poison of unresolved traumas to remain in your system. Premature forgiveness might bring you – and him – comfort, but it won’t bring you enlightenment. True forgiveness is the consequence of the process, nothing more.
Is there a healthy way to become a parent?
Yes. There are two ways. The first is by becoming enlightened first. If you don’t become enlightened you will always be spoon-feeding your child some degree of toxic nourishment. This is an abuse of his spirit – and the foundation of all child abuse. The second is by parenting the wounded child within yourself – the one your parents abused. This is called the path to enlightenment.
What is God?
God – if you feel comfortable using such a loaded word – is the best part of us. The enlightened person knows that “God” resides fully within him, as well as within all people and all creatures. People who are separated from their true selves, however, cannot see “God” within themselves. They project God outward onto external objects and ideas. Whole religions are based are this, which is why troubled people are drawn to them. Everyone needs God, even if they call him by a different name. (I actually rarely use the word God.) That is why life is not complete without enlightenment.
Can people become fully enlightened in relationships?
No. People become fully enlightened on their own. Enlightenment is found by looking within, not looking without. Enlightenment is found in solitude, not in company. Others can guide the way, but only enlightened others. And the fully enlightened never engage in intimate relationships with the unenlightened. To do so would be self-destructive.
People can grow in the context of a relationship, but only so far. Ultimately they must face the truth of themselves on their own, with no crutches, projections, or fantasies. And relationships for all the but the fully enlightened involve these.
Can therapy help a person become enlightened?
Yes, if you have a very enlightened therapist. But if you don’t you could end up in big trouble, because disturbed therapists, especially if they’ve mastered the art of deception – and self-deception – can wreak havoc on your journey toward truth. Therapists have a lot of power, and this can go toward healing or harming.
Do you believe our world will change for the better – or are we doomed as a species?
I don’t know, but I believe humanity as a whole operates much like the individual: people, myself included, don’t change unless they are forced to at some level. The lucky ones of us change because we’re called to grow from within. I suspect our larger world will not change much until the pressure comes from the outside. Hopefully it won’t be too late by then.
Do you hate parents?
No, not the parents themselves – just their unconscious behavior and the damages they commit on their innocent children.
Isn’t your whole website reductionistic – like everything you say just comes back to parental trauma?
In my experience life’s basic conflicts are ultimately rooted in the traumas we suffer in childhood. These traumas play out on individual levels, cultural levels, and on the global levels of war, economics, and exploitation of the earth. For people who deny the significance of their own emotional traumas, a denial which is presently the standard of our world, my website certainly can look very foolish and naïve – and even axe-grinding – but the more I learn and the more I grow and the more I study humanity, the more I realize that if I have made any major errors here on this website it is because I have likely understated my case…