The Vanity of Enlightenment

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posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 03:39 PM
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Who is enlightened? Only he who declares himself so. There is no supreme judge who bestows such an honor. There is no voting process through which we can rationally choose and appoint an enlightened individual. Enlightenment is always self-declared, and the enlightened ones are always self-proclaimed. What is the reason behind this proclamation? Why does one have the desire to label himself enlightened?

Enlightenment in western thought is the romantic idea of full comprehension, or an understanding into the nature and inner-workings of everything that is happening, an idea derived from concepts such as ‘bodhi’ or ‘satori’ found in many eastern philosophies.

But therein lies a paradox, for one who understands everything must also know—and hopefully admit—that no one can truly understand everything. There is no universal text from which we can refer and confirm that “yes, it is true, I understand everything.” The enlightened can only ever make unverifiable claims and self-appointed declarations of their enlightenment where they themselves are judge, jury and executioner. Therefore, there must be a motive and desire behind making these claims and expressing them to others.

Could it be that the self-proclaimed enlightened one only wishes to be quantified and referred to as enlightened?

Like every label we put upon ourselves, we are making declarations. “I choose this label because it helps to quantify me to others.” Our chosen labels let us be known. This declaration, akin to choosing a certain costume or dress, is fostered in a desire to appear a certain way to others; and the pride and admiration in such a label, the way one desires to appear to so and so, is vanity, pure and simple.

With this in mind, a rational person would be forced to wonder:

What is the desired goal of attempting to appear enlightened?

I have a couple thoughts on this question and possible answers to it:

- one needs the confirmation of others to justify his way of life and spiritual path. If others agree he is enlightened, he feels better about the choices he has made.
- one seeks power or a feeling of self-gratification from being known as enlightened.
- one desires followers.

All of these answers point to personal vanity as the insidious desire behind declarations of enlightenment. Could there be other reasons?

Thank you for reading,

LesMis




posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 03:42 PM
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reply to post by LesMisanthrope
 





What is the desired goal of attempting to appear enlightened?


I will say it many more times on here I am sure but I guess I will say it now one more time.

Shallow waters can make the most noise.
Only a fool rejoices in his own wisdom.

Btw I am not a philosopher either....I'm the village idiot.


edit on 11-2-2013 by DrumsRfun because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 03:45 PM
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love it. my problem with the scores of people on here who consider themselves 'enlightened' and 'educated' is that as soon as one rejects their opinions and assertions, they immediately retreat to labeling their foe as a sheep, sheeple, or some variation thereof. it's pathetic.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 03:52 PM
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I have been participating in a similar discussion, though I like your threads, so here I am


I will just copy and paste a response initially, because I dont think I can word it better.




I do believe everything exists, though perhaps not in a quantifiable fashion. In that respect, I view enlightenment to be in much the same vein as leprechauns. It doesnt exist outside of the mind that is perceiving/creating it. To most, enlightenment is that first time the rope is cut (using the horse story). It is a moment. One that is somehow made more special because of various reasons.

I see it as a realization of a process. One that is ongoing, whether or not it is recognized by the perceiving system. That rope only has the power that we give it. So, in a way, I concede that it exists. But I have my doubts that the universe we are all a part of considers a realization of the innate limitations of being a part of the whole is somehow special or noteworthy. Its a foregone conclusion.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 03:58 PM
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reply to post by LesMisanthrope
 


Buddha justified leaving his wife and child to go on a spiritual journey for Enlightenment because he wanted to save them from their superficial lives in the endless circle of life. He wanted to prove that he could break samsara, the circle of life, and lead others to reach Enlightenment.

Yes there is self interest involved in that he wants a complete understanding of the world. There is self interest in the fact that he wants to save his wife and child from a meaningless life.

The question is, is this self interest bad? I will agree that there is self interest involved in pursuing Enlightenment, but again there is self interest involved in everything. In this case I cannot not penalize someone for pursuing Enlightenment out of self interest because it is impossible to pursue it with no self interest.

I am on this forum to "deny ignorance." Is there self interest involved? Absolutely. I dislike ignorant people, and I dislike being ignorant, so I come here to "deny ignorance." Does the fact that there is self interest involved take away from the nobleness of the pursuit of knowledge and understanding? I say not.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 03:59 PM
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reply to post by Shamrock6
 



love it. my problem with the scores of people on here who consider themselves 'enlightened' and 'educated' is that as soon as one rejects their opinions and assertions, they immediately retreat to labeling their foe as a sheep, sheeple, or some variation thereof. it's pathetic.


That is a common occurrence around here.

I often get told I'm not in tune spiritually and am therefore destined to never be on the same spiritual level as these kind-hearted folk. They think that because I don't practice what they practice, I will never be on par with their ideas. The funny thing is I've spent most my life immersed in the eastern religions and have studied and practiced their methodology, even to the point of taking pilgrimages to see gurus and what not. Yes, I was naive and have since grew out of it. But this shows I do have at least an idea of what they're trying to sell, despite their claims to the opposite.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:04 PM
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reply to post by Wang Tang
 




Buddha justified leaving his wife and child to go on a spiritual journey for Enlightenment because he wanted to save them from their superficial lives in the endless circle of life. He wanted to prove that he could break samsara, the circle of life, and lead others to reach Enlightenment.

Yes there is self interest involved in that he wants a complete understanding of the world. There is self interest in the fact that he wants to save his wife and child from a meaningless life.

The question is, is this self interest bad? I will agree that there is self interest involved in pursuing Enlightenment, but again there is self interest involved in everything. In this case I cannot not penalize someone for pursuing Enlightenment out of self interest because it is impossible to pursue it with no self interest.

I am on this forum to "deny ignorance." Is there self interest involved? Absolutely. I dislike ignorant people, and I dislike being ignorant, so I come here to "deny ignorance." Does the fact that there is self interest involved take away from the nobleness of the pursuit of knowledge and understanding? I say not.


Great points.

Questing for knowledge is not in question here. I too engage in a lust for knowledge. If they wish to call learning a path to enlightenment, then by all means. What is in question is their claims to being enlightened. Why does one wish to call himself enlightened? I think this is more than simple self-interest, because it doesn't involve the betterment of a self, but the betterment of an image of the self—vanity.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:06 PM
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reply to post by Serdgiam
 

Great description. I think you've summed it up quite well.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:12 PM
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reply to post by Wang Tang
 


I will do my best with breaking down your post.
Forgive me if I am off.




Buddha justified leaving his wife and child to go on a spiritual journey for Enlightenment because he wanted to save them from their superficial lives


Leaving his wife and child is selfish,he chose marriage,so it seems kinda selfish.




Does the fact that there is self interest involved take away from the nobleness of the pursuit of knowledge and understanding?


I don't think being selfish and leaving your wife and child is noble at all,they need to be provided for.
The pursuit of knowledge is good....being in denial of your faults I don't think is.

You taught me something because I never knew he did that.(I don't follow this stuff)
The choices he made in his "superficial" life cannot be ignored and his duties won't just magically go away.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:12 PM
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This is of course on my search for enlightenment I have only found blind so called enlightened ones sitting in a pitch black room.

I therefore try to make no claims which could be turned against me at some point or another. I have however found myself given to veiled ambiguous statements that may or may not be true or false depending on how you look at them in a partial or mostly sincere manner...

Basically I think true wisdom lies(pun intact) within the absolute obfuscation of the truth to the point that one must then decide for themselves what is the truth.
edit on 11-2-2013 by abeverage because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:16 PM
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reply to post by LesMisanthrope
 


Ah, I see what you are saying now. There are those who are Enlightened, and those who claim to be Enlightened. Those who claim to be Enlightened have no way of knowing if they actually are Enlightened. So yes I would agree, claiming to be Enlightened would involve vanity and a desire for a superior self image.

The question is, in this day and age can you claim to become Enlightened and truly be Enlightened? It seems to me one who claims to be Enlightened, as you said, is looking for a justification for their lifelong journey, is vain, and desires a higher self image. It seems to me these are all qualities of someone who is not Enlightened.

So if you are Enlightened you can't tell anyone? I think it makes sense to say that. It also takes a lot of self interest out of attaining the state of Enlightenment... but isn't that the point anyways?



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:19 PM
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reply to post by abeverage
 




Basically I think true wisdom lies(pun intact) within the absolute obfuscation of the truth to the point that one most then decide for themselves what is the truth. And that of course is my highly unenlightened opinion. LOL

We share the same opinion. How unenlightened of us.




posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:24 PM
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reply to post by DrumsRfun
 


I'm no Buddhist and I don't condone the act of leaving your family behind, but Buddha's case is one I can sympathize for. When Buddha was born it was prophesized he would either become a great king or a redeemer. His father steered him towards becoming a great king by setting up a superficial world around him where everyone was content and there was no suffering, or death. His father also gave him all the pleasures he could desire. As a part of this ideal, superficial world Buddha got married and had a child before he had a chance to see the world outside of his palace. One day Buddha ventures outside the palace and experiences suffering and death for the first time, and realizes that his life has been a lie, not only for him but for his whole family. He then leaves the superficial palace life on a quest for spirtual enlightenment.

Here is the way I see it. Imagine you are in the Matrix, and you are married and have a child. You then find out your world is an illusion and only you can escape from it and save the real world. In this case I'd say you can leave your family, because your marriage was only superficial.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:25 PM
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reply to post by Wang Tang
 




The question is, in this day and age can you claim to become Enlightened and truly be Enlightened? It seems to me one who claims to be Enlightened, as you said, is looking for a justification for their lifelong journey, is vain, and desires a higher self image. It seems to me these are all qualities of someone who is not Enlightened.

So if you are Enlightened you can't tell anyone? I think it makes sense to say that. It also takes a lot of self interest out of attaining the state of Enlightenment... but isn't that the point anyways?


As I pointed out, someone being Enlightened—meaning they understand absolute truth—would have to admit a paradox, insofar as he who knows absolute truth, must also know that no one can know absolute truth. So no I don't think someone can reach the traditional enlightenment, but only paradoxically believe or claim that they have.

I of course can't know this as fact, but none can know they are enlightened unless reality itself reached out and touched them on the shoulder to tell them they are enlightened. My heart would like to tell me enlightenment is possible, but my rationality tells me it isn't so.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:31 PM
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reply to post by Wang Tang
 


Fair enough,I don't know anything about him so your reply is more then welcome and I thank you for enlightening me.(pun intended)


In an artificial world,I would wonder about things as well.
Also,people behave based on the experiences they have and nobody has the same experiences...even if similar,they are still different to each person.



edit on 11-2-2013 by DrumsRfun because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:36 PM
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reply to post by LesMisanthrope
 


Good read. It's funny it's like meeting someone for the first time and they say they can ROCK OUT on guitar and have been playing for explanential years... One day you hear them and your like "The Hell" master my ass. If spritual enlightenment does exist it's with the individuals who do not promote this. They just are. They seem to have an understanding past your current thinking. IMHO.

You are absolutley correct, to many times have I heard I am a Master/Enlightnend and been able to trump or side track the individual into a topic that's not even relavant to his/her masterhood or enlightenment.

It's like falling for the preverbial, "To be saved by Jeeeeesus call now and you will have the rich's of heaven fall upon you for donating to my pocket and new cadillac.... HDTV..." See what I mean? Just a thought.

Let me say this though. I have ran into enlightened individuals who do not claim they are but is very well noticable once you start talking with them

It's when you least expect to meet one that one is provided without the use of ego or self proclaimed enlightenment.

What is life if not the same equation re-gurgitated over and over. Like a skipping CD in the car



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:48 PM
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reply to post by LesMisanthrope
 



Who is enlightened? Only he who declares himself so. There is no supreme judge who bestows such an honor. There is no voting process through which we can rationally choose and appoint an enlightened individual. Enlightenment is always self-declared, and the enlightened ones are always self-proclaimed. What is the reason behind this proclamation? Why does one have the desire to label himself enlightened?

Vanity is not always associated with Enlightenment. Someone asked Jesus if he was, who everyone said he was, and he said Yes. Buddha refrained from teaching Enlightenment, because he realized it was ineffable. Only a little later did he comprehend it was worth pointing to it, than remaining quiet.

The are Universalities in Enlightenment. It's a state where there is no longer any you to be found, and the whole ego mechanism, is seen as illusion and not you, therefore it Atrophies and dies. There is Grace associated with it and a numerous other factors. Someone who is Enlightened is Loving, selfless, in control, peaceful, calm, still, Wise, settled, transcendent, among other things.

The word itself has been raped to shreds. Somebody has a minor experience along the way, such as illumination or third eye open, and they think, "that's it", I am now enlightened, but sadly they are wrong.

At the end, the claim has to be made so others can know that it exists and to head there and see for themselves.


Could it be that the self-proclaimed enlightened one only wishes to be quantified and referred to as enlightened?

again it's all miscalculated. If you look at the esoteric core of all the major branch religions, you will find universal aspects of Enlightenment , Union w/ God, Merge with the Supreme, etc.

For example, I know guy who claimed enlightenment, and sat and talked with him. It was so. Just being in his presence, the Light of my Awareness began to shine bright, insights and realizations began to take place. HE could deconstruct me with a few mere words, "You are not who you think you are."

This stuff is real. Sure there are vain attempts to claim enlightenment. But just as much, if not more, there are genuine people who have in them, have the Enlightened state revealed.


What is the desired goal of attempting to appear enlightened?

Personally, for me, I could give a rats arse about appearances and who thinks what. Number 1 thing in my life for the past 10 years, is to find the Absolute Truth, the Absolute State, to be at peace in a world I have always found to be like an alien artificial landscape to me, where everything is upside down, filled with wars, hatred, murder, disease, death.

I have always refused to follow anyone, any crowd, group, faction, the hive mind, etc. I found my solace in Saints, Monks, Hermits, & Mystics and by going within myself, I have found the same things to be true that they have written about over the last couple thousand years.


- one needs the confirmation of others to justify his way of life and spiritual path. If others agree he is enlightened, he feels better about the choices he has made. - one seeks power or a feeling of self-gratification from being known as enlightened. - one desires followers.

Another desire is Love and compassion of others, to share with them what One has found for the sake of distinguishing their suffering and illusion.


All of these answers point to personal vanity as the insidious desire behind declarations of enlightenment. Could there be other reasons?

YEs, as stated in my response, there is quite a number of selfless reasons these things are discussed and stated. Some of the ecstatic states I have been through, on my path of Loving God, following Jesus/Buddhist teachings, have been so intense and fulfilling, I have found nothing in this world to come close to these states.

That's saying something because I have done just about everything this world has to offer. Plenty of gorgeous women, 6 figure bank accounts, worldly success, have hung out with famous folks, traveled and seen large portions of the world, house, cars, clothes, gadgets .....all of it empty when compared to the things that have to do with the fruits along the Spiritual path.



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:50 PM
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Originally posted by 0mage
what does a fish know about the animals that walk the land? and roam the sky? it can only suppose.

a butterfly may have said to a caterpillar, "i was once like you". but the caterpillar did not believe him. but the caterpillar spun his cocoon and became a butterfly and then understood the truth. he then went to a caterpillar and said, "i was once like you". but he knew the caterpillar wouldnt believe him.


This just sums it up really.
edit on 11-2-2013 by betadaze because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:53 PM
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Originally posted by LesMisanthrope
reply to post by abeverage
 




Basically I think true wisdom lies(pun intact) within the absolute obfuscation of the truth to the point that one most then decide for themselves what is the truth. And that of course is my highly unenlightened opinion. LOL

We share the same opinion. How unenlightened of us.



yeah, I edited that part about one most to one must...as I had an enlightened spelling moment...

It is basically something like Adam Savage's...I reject your reality and substitute my own.

Now that is Sage advice!
edit on 11-2-2013 by abeverage because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 11 2013 @ 04:57 PM
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reply to post by LesMisanthrope
 


What you describe is a very real phenomena. It happens to many peoples throughout the world. I would say the same thing about people that claim they are "saved" or "born again" for example. In short, anyone who believes that the way they live their lives to be the only true and correct path. People of this type exhibit the traits that you described. However, I would not "label" these people enlightened. I would simply assume the person has an overwhelming desire to feel special about themselves. I witness this type of behavior often; I suspect this is simply a coping mechanism.

I don't believe any "enlightened" person would advertise that fact. I would like to think that a person of that kind of caliber would demonstrate humility. I would like to think that a person of that caliber would have no need to seek out gratification from others - for the sole purpose of self gratification.

In closing, I am in agreement with most of what you have proposed. In my humble opinion people that declare themselves "enlightened", in the sense you describe, are anything but. I don't think it is vanity though. More of a feeling of self-importance to cope with life.





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