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Ask 3 mages to define “enlightenment,” and you’ll get 5 answers. So, if we’re going to talk enlightenment this week, let’s start with what I mean by it.
I’m Not Buddhist
The first thing you need to know is, I’m not Buddhist. If you need a label, I’m probably Western-scientific.
Why does that come first? Because most enlightenment-writers borrow from Buddhism, focusing on non-dualism and meditation. I can’t even define “non-dualism” — I tried, did it poorly, and removed it from the post. So, anything you know about common paths to enlightenment probably won’t apply to this series.
To my Buddhist readers: I have nothing against Buddhism or Buddhists. Your practices seem to produce good, generous people, at a rate significantly above average. It’s just not my path.
What I Mean by “Enlightenment”
Basically, helping people and building things because you want to (rather than for personal gain); not acting out of anger, pettiness, or similar destructive emotions; and generally acting in a generous, mature way. Only doing harm as a conscious decision, not a rash reaction, and minimizing the harm while achieving your goals. It’s only sensible to value your happiness above others’, and your friends’ well-being above strangers, but you should place a non-trivial positive value on strangers, too. I don’t have an airtight definition, but if you think about how an enlightened person would act, that’s basically what I mean.
You’ll notice, I’m describing behaviors and the thoughts that lead directly to behaviors. That’s because, if you’re acting enlightened, I don’t particularly care if you view the universe as one thing or a million, and I don’t particularly care if you can quiet your mind easily or not. What I care about is making sure that I use my magick to help people and build things, and making sure the people around me do, too. So that’s my definition of enlightenment.
There are multiple paths to this sort of enlightenment. Buddhist practices seem to work for some people. Some forms of psychotherapy do, as well. Even something as simple as being raised by particularly healthy, generous parents would probably suffice for the right person. (“The right person” meaning that there’s a genetic component to this, as well.)
Why don’t I adopt one of those techniques? A few reasons. First, speed: I want something that works in a few weeks of effort, spread over 1-3 years, so anything that talks about a lifelong journey is straight out. Second, generalizability: I want to build on these techniques, adding fast ways to update beliefs, the ability to help others with fast enlightenment, and possibly an additional step, more enlightened than what I’m thinking of now. And third, I enjoy direct magick, and don’t enjoy those other practices.
Now that we’re on the same page on enlightenment, we can start discussing techniques tomorrow.If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at mikesententia.com.