Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Enlightenment Is Giving Up The Notion That You Are Unenlightened

Browns Valley Yogurt and Espresso Bar, California, USA

January 10, 2019

"You know, people will give up up anything - their jobs, their money, their families, their health - to get it, anything except the one and only thing you have to give up in order to get it: the conviction that you haven't got it."
"Transformation is simple but it's not easy."
"Enlightenment is giving up the notion that you are unenlightened."
... Laurence Platt sharing his experience of BREAKTHROUGH SKYDIVING with  
This essay, Enlightenment Is Giving Up The Notion That You Are Unenlightened, is the third in a quadrilogy on Enlightenment:
  1. On Misconstruing Enlightenment
  2. Enlightenment In The Danger Zone
  3. Enlightenment Is Giving Up The Notion That You Are Unenlightened
  4. A Space In Which The Wind Blows
in that order.

It is also the sequel to Fear.

I am indebted to Gordon "Girdar" Gopal and to Jiddu Krishnamurti who inspired this conversation.

I corresponded with a reader who aspired to a future in which she could say "My spirit is awakened" (there are many who aspire to something like this). Watch out: if they ever got there, then there'd be two. Wait: what do you mean there'd be "two", Laurence? Two of what?  OK, 1) there'd be their "me" ie "my" ... and 2) there'd be "spirit-is-awakened", yes? So it would be a dichotomy. And the fact that it would be a dichotomy, shouldn't sit very well with you when it comes to being "spiritually awake.". It's the very languaging of it, which reveals its fundamental unworkability. Here's what I mean by that: languaging it so that there are two, disqualifies it from being an authentic spiritual awakening. Why? Because with an authentic experience of spiritual awakening, there's only one  (as the Highlander may have said). Really.

Continuing along this very pertinent line of conversation: if you aspire to being able to say "I am enlightened", there's that two  again: 1) there's "I" ... and 2) there's "am-enlightened", similarly a dichotomy which shouldn't sit well with you either. But even more than that, there's a provocation  from this dichotomy, which is wholly compelling. It's this: what is  this "I" which is "enlightened"? Look: "I" / "me" is really an intangible. Sure, we have a sense of it ie it shows up  for us ... but what is  it exactly? Even more pointedly, is it even real?  ie can you cut open your brain and show me your "I"? Now if we don't know what this "I" is, we can't pretend this "I" is enlightened, no? Indeed, if we don't know what this "I" is, we can't know anything  this "I" has become / becomes, with certainty. And if we do  know what this "I" is, then what would it take for this "I" to be spiritually awake / enlightened non-dichotomously? (that's actually the  critical question to ask). What would that  look like?

Even these most cursory inquiries reveal there are unworkability issues with being (and / or aspiring to be) spiritually awake / enlightened, all of which are constituted in language ie in the domain that languages them. The aforementioned issues are but a few of those in the arena, all of which must be resolved if such aspirations are going to have credibility / validity / authenticity / integrity. And if you're second guessing me, no I'm not about to propose we resolve this demurely by quietly hiding behind Lao Tzu's sagely koan  "Those who know don't tell;  those who tell don't know", or something like it. Indeed, with what I have in mind, I don't require it at all.

What's clear is there's an unworkable dichotomy in the way we language spiritual awakening / enlightenment. But even with that said, what if the actual cause of the trouble has really got nothing to do with that? What if the trouble is caused by our (unquestioned, unexamined) certainty  that spiritual awakening / enlightenment is a state to be attained, an experience to aspire to - in other words that it's (colloquially) somewhere to get?  We're (unquestioned, unexamined) certain that we aren't already  spiritually awake / enlightened yet ... and  ... we're equally (unquestioned, unexamined) certain that with some discipline / path / practice, we could get there.

This, I assert, is the core issue: our conviction that we aren't already  spiritually awake / enlightened. No, it's more than a conviction. It's waaay  more than that. It's our absolute unquestioned, unexamined assurance, so much so that it's coalesced into a given. We're certain we aren't. We can prove  it. We all know it. Like that.

Consider this (tell the truth unflinchingly): we recoil with incredulity from the very idea that this  (exactly this, and nothing but this, exactly this way) is what it looks like to be spiritually awake / enlightened, that there's nothing  to get, that we don't need to be fixed or saved, that we're already  it. There's no quest  (if you will) to get  spiritually awake / enlightened. The access is giving up the notion that you aren't already spiritually awake / enlightened. This is IT!!!  Getting this, is (for us with our totallly unswerving conviction that this isn't  it) a hard row to hoe. Yet being transformed (as Werner Erhard may have said) is simple, even if it's not always easy.

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