The definition of enlightenment is quite simple, although can be put in different ways:
- Ground awakened to itself (emptiness, awake to itself)
- Realized selflessness (no separate self anywhere, just awake emptiness and form, and form as no other than awake emptiness)
- Differentiation of the absolute (awake emptiness and form, as is), and the relative (any stories about it, filtering the absolute through stories)
- The timeless now (awake emptiness) awake to itself, that which time/space unfold within, to and as.
- The complete allowing of any forms (inherent in Ground) awake to itself.
Of anyone, I appreciate the most how Byron Katie talks about this… as usual, it is simple, clear, and uncompromising in a kind way.
No one is permanently enlightened. That would be the story of a future. There’s only enlightenment in the moment. Do you believe in a stressful thought? Then you’re confused. Do you realize the thought isn’t true? Then you’re enlightened to it. It’s as simple as that. And then the next thought comes, and maybe you’re enlightened to it as well, and maybe not.
This way of looking at it explains why people who are not “officially” enlightened still can be very enlightened in some situations and areas, and people who are officially enlightened sometimes are not… still stuck in rigid beliefs (I certainly saw that a lot during my time at the Zen center…!)
The quote is from chapter 13 of A Thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie, edited by Stephen Mitchell.