One of the important turning points in the life, the lives,
actually, of a sentient being is the arising of the thought of
. If one has never thought that enlightenment might exist, and there are millions of people in that category, then one is in the so
called "cut off family" of people doomed to continue to be reborn in ignorance of the Dharma.
If one has had the "thought of enligtenment" then the seed has been planted in the mind that will eventually lead one to seek enlightenment.
The only turning point of similar importance in the lives of a sentient being is the "realization of shunyata".
Enlightenment in Buddhism is not a creation
, it is a discovery
If one does not believe that there is anything to be discovered and goes about business accordingly, one lives as a member of the "cut off" family.
One wanders, life to life, like a sleepwalker, in bewilderment, disoriented, puzzled, prone to error, directionless, never establishing a firm
orientation or a firm grounding.
One of the characteristics of human beings is manifold attempts to ground themselves in something
It can be as ephemeral as "rock and roll", as in "We built this city with rock and roll!!!!", the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, etc., or as solid and
comfortable as the British aristocracy, into which innumerable Brits would like to worm themselves, in order to spend this lifetime in as many
repetitions as possible of the "seasons".
It can be the academic world or the church hierarchy or any human created social and material edifice.
People want stability.
Even rock and rollers.
Unfortunately the stability created in innumerable ways by human beings is an unstable stability. The "thought of enlightenment" is the thought that
maybe there is a stable stability, accessible to all, independant of life's ups and downs.
The message of the Buddha is, essentially, "There is such a stability and I found it. You can too and here's how."
Enlightenment is being grounded in that stability. It is many other things as well but it's main characteristic as seen from the perspective of a
sentient being is stability.
edit on 18-2-2013 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)