Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hope For Enlightenment

File under: Blogs of Note and Folk Theories

We began publishing this blog as a way express our frustration with common depictions of the what is called "enlightenment." Most commercially-successful gurus use these ideas to promote themselves to potential donators devotees. We believe these ideas are more likely preventing enlightenment, and so we harry the gurus who greedily pollute the world with this ignorance.

Over the course of the last 5 years, we've corralled these notions into a "folk theory of enlightenment." Recently, we've caught echoes of this idea in the words of Dzogchen rinpoches who are quoted by the bad-ass Buddhists of Twitter, but today we found the folk theory stated as a list of expectations about enlightenment on a blog called Open Enlightenment:
  • Enlightenment is the transformation into a God, and it only happens to very special people.
  • Enlightenment will confer specific knowledge of everything, ever. The enlightened person knows what happened at the beginning of the universe, everything that is happening now, and everything that will happen right up to the very end. The enlightened person can provide an answer to all the Big Questions, because he/she knows God personally. He/she’s in on the plan.
  • Enlightenment is the terrifying knowledge of Absolutely Nothing.
  • Enlightenment is the death of the self while still alive.
  • Enlightenment can only happen to men.
  • Enlightenment is the complete destruction of the universe, right in front of your eyes.
  • Enlightenment is a shocking, earth-shattering, cataclysmic, reality-tearing, mind-destroying, adrenalin-fueled mystical explosion.
  • Enlightenment is the realisation that the world is an illusion, and so the enlightened person can walk through walls, fly, teleport, and perform all kinds of other miracles.
  • Enlightenment is waking up from the dream of reality.
  • Enlightenment is knowledge of heaven, hell, past lives, spiritual realms, Gods, Goddesses, dead people, angels, elves, pixies and ascended masters.
  • Enlightenment is the end of suffering, pain, depression, despair, anger, hate, revulsion and disgust. It will heal my damaged self, and preserve who I am for ever in eternal bliss. I will never hurt again.
  • Enlightenment is perpetual bliss.
  • Enlightenment is an incomprehensible non-experience that promises nothing, and it is debatable if it actually has any benefit.
A few months ago we published a similar list, which at the time we called the folk theory of guru-based spirituality. The idea has come a long way since then, and now that we're working on a conference presentation about the folk theory of enlightenment, finding Alan's blog has been a great confirmation.

Open Enlightenment is a lighthouse spinning a beam of high-intensity clarity for those lost in the morass of myth, miracle-mongering and superstition that is the commercial spiritual marketplace today. It definitely should be read by anyone who seeks to understand enlightenment in the context of what a big-time guru is telling them. It's so good that we may just decide to retire from this blog entirely.

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28 Comments:

At 8/25/2009 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, yeah, right, all of the above! Finally....

 
At 8/26/2009 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second that!

" Enlightenment is the realisation that the world is an illusion, and so the enlightened person can walk through walls, fly, teleport, and perform all kinds of other miracles ".

Someone did exactly that. Walking on water in front of Ramakrishna.
He dryly remarked :

" If you pay a few annas the boatman can take you across ".

 
At 8/26/2009 4:15 PM, Anonymous ellen said...

Please don't retire Jody, I much prefer reading your enlightened caustic comments to someone wittering on endlessly about what 'Enlightenment' is or isn't.

 
At 8/26/2009 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Jody ! I also feel the same way as ellen.

Plus I don't understand what twitter is as I am not tech savvy at all. This much of logging in & typing a comment is high tech for me. Seriously.

One more reason I want to thank you profusely. That I can post anonymously. Please don't insist on opening a blog id please.

 
At 8/26/2009 6:52 PM, Blogger Darin said...

thanks Jody just added Alan's blog to fav list, btw I enjoy the blog u created keep up the good work k. And these current threads on Nithy and sri sri are priceless I mean anytime three or four ex members and teachers tell the truth u have pr from one of their cults jumping on ur blog to chime in lol peace L:)

 
At 8/27/2009 5:51 AM, Anonymous quackers said...

"It's so good that we may just decide to retire from this blog entirely."

yeah, i agree with the above posters, pls dont do that. we need more sites like these not less!

 
At 8/27/2009 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Enlightenment will confer specific knowledge of everything, ever. The enlightened person knows what happened at the beginning of the universe, everything that is happening now, and everything that will happen right up to the very end."

ROTFL...I DID meet one such * Sidhhar* some years ago. I told him:

" What is the point in rewinding? Could you fast forward and tell me when the so called Golden Age/Sathya yuga conferring eternal peace (allegedly?) would come?"

He was caught unawares as he exclaimed:
" Aiyo ( normally all these *gurujis* are in total control faking silly smiles spouting chaste words like Harahara, hariom sivasiva and the like. Aiyo , a tamil word is downright blasphemous by the obscurantist's standards) and quickly replied:

" If I fast forward I will die ".

What is still laughable for me is none of the devotees gathered there could see through. My question was branded impudent instead.

That is the typical Indian intellect perennially filled with fear.

 
At 8/27/2009 5:54 PM, Blogger (0v0) said...

Do stick around, Jody. You're a crusading investigator just right for Kali Yuga. Good stuff, and always funny.

BTW, Alan Chapman did a podcast for Buddhist Geeks a few months ago... that's where I learned of his writing.

 
At 8/28/2009 12:25 AM, Anonymous ellen said...

I'm not a fan of the 'E' word or other peoples' quotations but my current favourite references, because they are guaranteed to make me laugh, are:

UG Krishnamurti: "If you knew what this was, you would not want it."

Xanadu Xero: "Delusion, the King of all pleasures."

 
At 8/28/2009 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody wants to leave! , may be he also just got enlightened? In AOL also some teachers are regarded as enlightened(As certified by SSRS) similar to what we see in Nithys claims.

 
At 8/28/2009 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certifiably enlightened? Now there's a concept!

 
At 8/29/2009 1:39 PM, Anonymous hippie said...

I don't know if there is such holy grail as enlightenment any more. When I saw wickedness and deception in the supposedly enlightened, I don't care for enlightenment any more.

Some cunning "masters" or "gurus" would said that the action of the enlightened is beyond the comprehension of my unenlightened mind. So be it, my limited rational mind is all I have to go by.

After Nithyananda, I do not longer trust the supposed enlightened "masters" whose action and words do not align.

Who cares if the world is an illusion. So long as I am alive, might as well make the best of what illusion offers: Be a decent human being and have some fun too.

 
At 8/30/2009 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hippie writes:
"...action and words do not align ".

Exactly.

If only the pace of life could be a little more placid. Allowing us to mellow enough to make the right choices , these "avatards" would not have mushroomed.

In south indian big families( because of my familiarity with it alone)God alone knows why marriages are arranged without ensuring matching of wavelengths. Then follows spawning of children.A woman who opened up to me amidst sobs confessed:

"It was only after the birth of my 3rd child that I saw my husband's face clearly for the first time."

That was in 1940s.So without perfect , unsplintered alignment between thoght & word , marriages take place in ostentatious ways.

What follows is total chaos.Ideal ground for these dubious avatards to proliferate.

 
At 8/30/2009 12:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hippie writes:
" Some cunning "masters" or "gurus" would said that the action of the enlightened is beyond the comprehension of my unenlightened mind ".

Always yes , this is what they come up with.Even cannibalism have been taking place with impunity.Mainstream English media don't report though.

 
At 8/31/2009 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recall what Bhamy Shenoy says about aol:

" one of the cleverest hoaxes perpetrated in the name of a spiritual movement using the facade of NGOs.

“We should keep away from this “spiritual” person. His is a commercial ashram doling out psychological products specially for some foreigners and middle-class women who have studied in English medium schools. Many are working there as volunteers. It was impressive to see how so many could be motivated to give their services free of cost to produce profit for an institution. This requires genius of the highest order.

The whole campus is filled with security people. Going from one place to another place was like going from one section of a jail to another where every gate is protected by a security guard.

http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2008/02/01/the-the-great-great-sri-sri-ngo-ngo-scam-scam/

 
At 8/31/2009 7:59 AM, Anonymous ellen said...

Found an interesting-looking documentary:

http://www.omgmovie.com/

With the director's statement on his film:

“I was frustrated with the childish schoolyard mentality that permeates this world — I call it the ‘My God Is Greater Than Your God’ syndrome — where you have grown men flying airplanes into buildings shouting ‘God is Great’ — where you have the leader of the free world telling the BBC in 2003 that he invaded Iraq because God told him to — where you have the constitution of a country (Iran) that dictates that its supreme leader is God’s representative on earth — where you have young men and women blowing themselves up (and innocent others) to buy a place into heaven. None of these concepts made any sense to me. Does it matter what I believe? Does it matter what you believe? And what is this entity that goes by the name of God — that causes so much friction, hurt and pain? So I decided to go around the world and ask people what they think.

“Over three years, I traveled across 23 countries asking this question — to children; to religious leaders; to celebrities; to fanatics and to the common Man. The film is a result of this journey. It is not about religion and the tribes in which people eke out their lives; the film is about what God means to people.

“The answers are sometimes predictable, and sometimes surprising. From birth and throughout our education we are conditioned as human beings — influenced by our parents, schools and the religious beliefs of our home country. If we have a religion, perhaps we should spend a little longer studying our chosen belief instead of blindly following other human beings who claim to have the authority of God. It seems evident that Man has taken the power and concept of God and politicized it for agendas that are the antipathies to the dignity and tolerance that the prophets of all the major religions preached in their day.

“Did Man create God, or did God create Man?”

 
At 8/31/2009 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following passionate words of Varsha Bhosle ( to my knowledge the only consistently non chauvinistic , plucky Indian & hence muzzled by the greatgreat(( indians) are worth remembering :

"...So who decides when the sabotage of one's government is justified? The Opposition parties? The historians of the conquering countries? The "ordinary people" who pour into the streets to kick at fallen statues and celebrate by looting museums? Or the people who become "the rabble" during communal strife...? Oh puh-lease, spare me the lecture on patriotism: You wouldn't know it if it bit off your nose ".

 
At 8/31/2009 4:56 PM, Blogger Darin said...

Thanks for turning me on to Alan's blog Jody I was actually reading it last night. Alan is actually the same age as me 29 it is refreshing to hear some good stuff from someone from my generation besides nithy lol. I think that you should keep up the good work on yours and let Alan's take shape maybe someday you guys can co write some stuff, peace :)

 
At 9/01/2009 1:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ellen:

" It seems evident that Man has taken the power and concept of God and politicized it for agendas that are the antipathies to the dignity and tolerance that the prophets of all the major religions preached in their day."

Very true.

 
At 9/01/2009 10:54 AM, Anonymous betty said...

ellen:

" It seems evident that Man has taken the power and concept of God and politicized it for agendas that are the antipathies to the dignity and tolerance that the prophets of all the major religions preached in their day."

Very true.

....................

Not at all true of the religions spawned in the middle east. Killing non believers or people from other tribes is a big part of their founding scriptures. Jesus may be an exception but certainly not Moses or Mohammed. They both engaged in slaughter. Religion itself is an unfortunate blight and always has been.

 
At 9/01/2009 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

betty:

Religion basically is a set of beliefs to streamline & bring orderliness in the society.

Don't know about other religions.But yes, the Vedic Shastras are crystallised wisdom as I read a little bit of Kanchi Shankaracharya's books. That is not exhaustive.

But one has to calibrate.One size does not fit all. How much all knowing can this society & pontificators be? In fact Kanchi Shankaracharya or Ramana Bhagavan are no obscurantists at all.

It is the others who come in between enforcing their desires and decisions.

 
At 9/01/2009 5:11 PM, Anonymous ellen said...

'Religion itself is an unfortunate blight and always has been.'

I would say that religion can, like everything else man has invented, be used to both harm and heal, It's up to us how we use it. I'll take the dignity and tolerance bit.

But hey, if I ponder on it and practice what I preach, I can do dignity and tolerance without religion just as easily as with.

 
At 9/02/2009 8:18 AM, Anonymous betty said...

ellen said... I can do dignity and tolerance without religion just as easily as with.

.............

Exactly. The only real examples we have of religion having a positive effect in society are in story books. In the story books as in "history", the winners do the writing. Right now is when the positive inspiration of religion is needed but what I see is religion being used by the powerful to fleece, kill, dominate and destroy. I know there are small pockets of good things being done by religious people but if you look closely even at these you would likely find coertion on the mental and emotional level, people being herded towards a view of existence they wouldn't have gone towards naturally.

 
At 9/02/2009 7:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ramana Bhagavan effortlessly emancipates us all from the oppressive compassionless preachers & practitioners of religions thus :

" The mere enquiry 'to whom these defects ,karma(action performed with desire) lack of devotion ,separation from God and Ignorance /ajnana ,is itself karma ,bhakti ,yoga & Jnana. How?

When thus enquired ,I(individual ego)is found to be non existent (not illusion but mithya ,seemingly existent limited by time place & subject to annihilation).And hence these four defects are also found to be ever non existent. The truth is then revealed that we ever remain as the Self.

Since all the benefits of the 4 yogas, which are charted out for the removal of these four defects are achieved through the path of Self enquiry ,Who am I?, it is to be understood if one takes to Self enquiry none of the 4 yogas are necessary."

 
At 9/03/2009 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one instance of how an Enlightened Person (Jnani/Prophet whatever) behaves:


MS Subbalakshmi the famous carnatic singer whose *husband* sadasivam was a brahmin ( spare me encomiums like great freedom fighter philanthropist etc am not denying)

Most of the brahmin clan claim they are ardent devotees of Kaanchi Paramacharya.

Once sadasivam invited Him over to his house to accept padhapuja as a
token of their devotion/love towards God).

MS Subbalakshmi was ordered by him to stay upstairs.She allegedly belonging to devadasi lineage was considered not that propah by him. The entire family vehemently seconded that.

When Kaanchi Mahaperiyava took His seat , casually asked:

" Where is she ?"

sadasivam:

" What will she do, is she really required?"

Kaanchi P:

" You needed her for marrying right ? Call her.

Let the padhapuja start with her.Rest of you can follow after her."

She at once donned the proper saree for that purpose and offered puja with tears streaming down.

As soon as she was done, He got up with lightening speed and left the house for good.

For the general public media creates an illusion with photos of MS happily standing beside sadasivam. He controlled her with incredible autocracy. But using her to raise all the money for donations , freedom fights etc.

ALL her possessions that she earned ( including gold) were confiscated by the entire parasitical family.In her last days she was abandoned with no adequate money to buy even provisions.

Did anybody genuinely care?

RK Narayan's short story 'Selvi' always brings MS Subbalakshmi to my mind.

 
At 9/15/2009 7:27 AM, Anonymous quackers said...

that list gave me a headache!

 
At 9/19/2009 7:31 PM, Anonymous swamy said...

"Enlightenment can happen only to men"?. Jody, what is your take on that?

 
At 10/09/2009 8:04 PM, Blogger Darin said...

truthfully jody i like ur blog better I enjoy the occasional post from fanatic cult members stuck in some of the guru scams u expose and all of the people like myself who bring logic to these scams, keep up the good work.

 

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