Throughout my life, I’ve taken a keen interest in meditation and the concept of achieving enlightenment through reaching the ideal mental state. I’ve read a lot of books on the subject, which on a whole confused me more than they helped me reach Nirvana. I quickly discovered that no matter what method you used to reach this state you’d find someone who would disagree with your approach. Some would even say that the more you try to reach enlightenment the farther away you’ll get because the only way to reach enlightenment is to let go of all desire and ambition until you’re left in a state of immediate stillness and clarity.
I can’t argue with any of these self-proclaimed authorities, because arguing about what enlightenment truly is…is like arguing about what a party or a lover truly is. You can define any concept however you want and argue until you’re blue in the face about what the true meaning of a word is, and nobody can say who is more correct.
Despite the elusiveness of enlightenment, there’s something in the concept worth exploring. There’s value in the theory that an ideal mental state exists which can be achieved through some kind of mental feat (or the lack thereof). If an ideal mental state doesn’t exist then it doesn’t matter if you spend your life watching cheap sitcoms and reality television; it doesn’t matter if you go to school or think or don’t think about any topic in particular. Everything is equal.
But it does matter what you think. What you think defines who you are, and who you are defines what society is and where society is going. If there were no mental standards, then there would be no laws, religions, leadership courses, degrees or awards; we would live in anarchy. And on a personal level, we wouldn’t have any goals to strive for.
Some people would say this is a good thing; that our ambitions are chains that tie us to the vulgar world, and the only way to achieve true enlightenment is to let go of those anchors and simply exist in the here and now free from ego or wants. I’ve looked at life from that point of view, and I can see the value in it. At some point, you have to just stop and smell the roses and wallow in the grandeur of existence in its purest form. If you can’t do that, then what are we doing here? We’re just chasing after goals that are going to be rendered useless by time.
Still, every generation of humans has been faced with colossal questions and problems. If we made it a categorical imperative that every human being should spend their entire life escaping thought, then we’d still be living in caves and pooping in bushes. It’s only because of the conscious, ambitious, logical, scientific thoughts that humans have cracked the mystery of the Periodic Table of Elements, The Red Shift or the Big Bang. Without logical thought, we wouldn’t have invented fertilizer, antibiotics, stitches, hearing aids, refrigeration, human rights, legal processes or any other inventions or concepts that solve the problems of life.
If we hadn’t discovered these insights into life through rigorous, scientific thought, we’d still be worshiping the sun and sacrificing humans to appease the thunder gods. So I can’t make a moral imperative out of the idea that humans should abandon logical thought in favor of pure experience… until we’ve solved the problems that hurt us and force us to waste our lives toiling away just to survive.
I can’t empirically prove what “enlightenment” is, but I know what truth is. Truth is that which is, and scientific thought tells us what is true. So my theory (at this point in my life) is that in order to understand truth and live in reality you need to follow the path of scientific thought. Once you understand the scientific nature of the universe and master the art of reason then you’ll see reality as clearly as possible. Then, after you solve the immediate problems that cause you and the people around you suffering then you can relax and soak up the grandeur of existence in stillness. But until you know who, why, what, where, when and why you are, and until you’ve solved the very real, very tragic problems in front of you than sitting around mentally masturbating is inherently irresponsible.
That’s why I hold the philosophy that enlightenment is achieved through logic.