Enlightenment is characterized as the “the extinction of desire and suffering and individual consciousness.” Note that the definition does not say what it actually is, it just says what it’s not.
From my own studies I’ve seen two schools of thought on Enlightenment:
The first shows that it’s state of pure bliss… In the preface of Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle is in the throes of a deep depression when he says, “I cannot live with myself.” Suddenly that sentence makes him think, “Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself there must be two of me… maybe only one of them is real.”
At that realization he is drawn into a vortex of energy, and gripped by intense fear as he falls into it. When he comes out of it, he’s in such a state of bliss for months that he can barely do anything except take in all the joy and wonder of simply being.
This is a state I’ve hit on rare occasion, and I constantly study Tolle’s work to bring me back to it.
Now, there’s another school of thought that says true enlightenment actually exists beyond this state of bliss. This school believes that a deep nothingness is where everything comes from, and that nothingness is the ultimate truth. One of those people is Steven Norquist, the author of Haunted Universe.
The first half of the book is a long argument for why you should put down the book and stop reading it. The author actually begs you to stop, because once you know that nothingness you can’t go back. He talks about all the things that he used to love, and how he doesn’t even do them anymore because all he knows is the nothingness. But for anyone else who wants to know the truth, they should read on.
I read the book, late at night (a must for any good horror story).
It was gripping. I could not put it down. And to my amazement, I got there. 3/4 of the way through I knew the nothingness so intensely that it felt like not only was there nothing to do, but I even had nothing to say.
I felt terror because I had just started dating someone and I couldn’t imagine her reaction when all of my feelings for her were just gone. I realized how much I liked my life and how I wanted to return to it. Soon after I was somehow able to shake off the nothingness and return to my ignorant bliss.
So here’s the interesting part…
I miss the nothingness.
It felt like such a pure state. Thoughts reduced to nothing. No need to change anything, acquire anything, become anything. I desire not to desire.
So here’s the question…would you trade passion for total peace?
It’s a trick question, actually.
Is that your final answer?