Why would you want to be enlightened?
When I first put up my website, a marketing guru asked me a question that left me speechless.
I had retained Bob to review the copy on my website from a sales perspective. He asked about reader reactions. As we talked, I told him how some readers felt compelled, while in the midst of reading Mystic Warrior, to put it down and meditate. In several cases, they described tingling sensations on the crown of their head and of receiving “downloads of energy and information.” I told Bob they were “attuning with God” and how this is a step towards enlightenment.
That’s when he asked me the question that left me speechless.
He asked, “Why would you want to be enlightened?”
Bob wasn’t trying to be funny and he wasn’t questioning whether this would benefit people. He asked me this to force me to think about the question in a more fundamental way. (You might say he was acting as a “devil’s advocate.”)
When I first heard his question, I couldn’t respond. Going through my mind were the thoughts, “Isn’t this what everybody wants?” and “Isn’t this the reason for living?” But before I could even speak, I realized this wasn’t true.
A belief is an idea that you accept as true—regardless of whether or not it really is. Many times a belief operates subconsciously and is never examined. This is what happened to me. My belief seemed self-evident and yet, it wasn’t true for most people. Not everyone wants to become enlightened—at least not consciously.
So I pondered, “Why would you want to be enlightened?”
This is not a simple question to answer. “Why would you want to be rich?” is easy to answer.
- “So I can buy a new BMW M5.”
- “So I can travel throughout Europe staying at the finest hotels.”
- “So I can help others less fortunate than me.”
The reason it’s easy to answer is that being rich only satisfies a physical, emotional or intellectual desire.
Striving for enlightenment is not a physical, emotional or intellectual quest. It arises out of a yearning from deep within the soul. It’s beyond emotion or intellect. It’s a craving to return to God, a desire to be completely and totally one with God.
Throughout the ages mystics have described this experience. Regardless of what formal religion the individual might practice, the experience almost always includes: a sense of being beyond time or space and connected to everything, joy, knowingness, paradoxicality, ineffability, and transiency with permanent changes.
Anyone who has ever approached such an experience never forgets it. Thereafter, nothing else compares. Consequently, you are no longer content merely with great food, awesome sex, mind-blowing entertainment, or extravagant material goods. You want enlightenment.
But the fact is, not everyone has this craving or is even aware it exists. So short of sitting in the presence of an enlightened master, how do you awaken it in people? Does it trivialize it to say it will improve your life, that you’ll lead a happier, less stressful life? Does it cheapen it to point out that as you move towards enlightenment and eliminate the veils (beliefs) that hide the true nature of God, that you’ll begin to develop your inner senses, often referred to as psychic abilities?
Do you mention all these benefits when someone asks, “Why would you want to be enlightened?”
Or do you simply say, “Because nothing else matters.”