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Achieving Enlightenment?

by Dr. Ilchi Lee

Someone asked me in a recent lecture, his face hard set with doubt, "Are you really enlightened?" I answered him with a question: "Do you know what enlightenment is?" He said no. Then I told him, "If you don't know what enlightenment is, you would not believe me if I were to tell you that I am enlightened or believe me if I told you that I was not enlightened." He pressed on, again with an expression of someone reluctantly mining for the truth: "Then what was it that you were enlightened to?" Laughing, I answered him, "I was enlightened to the fact that there is nothing to be enlightened about."

Although the reluctant truth-seeker did not continue with his interrogation, I sensed that many in the audience had the same question or curiosity in mind about the nature of enlightenment. I pointed to the ceiling with my index finger and asked, "How many fingers do you see?" The audience giggled, some looking mildly offended and others looking childishly eager to find the deep, Zen koan answer behind such a simple question. "I see only one," I continued. "How about you? When there are no special conditions or devices preventing us from seeing something as it is, there is no difference in what you see and what I see. Truth is thus. Unless you have an impediment or a handicap with your sight, without any preconceived prejudice to see more than one finger, one finger will look like one finger to you all. This is enlightenment."

Enlightenment Is A Choice

To see something, you don't have to know the particulars of how your eyes work. In fact, the foremost ophthalmologists, biologists, and bioengineers do not agree on a single explanation as to how human beings see. However, we can see without knowing how we see. We know that we can see and that we are now looking at a single finger pointing towards the ceiling. Do not imagine that the world seen by an enlightened being is in any way different from a world seen by you. A finger is just a finger, no matter whose eyes focus upon it. Enlightenment is no different from the process of seeing, hearing, and feeling. To be in the natural state of seeing, hearing, and feeling -- this in itself is enlightenment.

Therefore, enlightenment does not take an effort. If you seek enlightenment through some type of effort, then it is not true enlightenment. An effort is needed to make something incomplete complete, something imperfect perfect. However, enlightenment is already perfect and complete, not needing any efforts at improvement. The reason that we cannot see a single finger as a finger is not because of the lack of "enlightenment", but because of prejudices, egos, and attachments. If you can divest your consciousness of these obstacles, you will realize your consciousness by itself is complete and perfect, the realization of which is enlightenment. Therefore, enlightenment is not something that you have to strive for; it is something felt and realized naturally without any effort. This is why your enlightenment and my enlightenment, your truth and my truth, are not different. Because truth is unchanging, it can be communicated and transmitted to others and expressed in actions. If enlightenment cannot be communicated and truth cannot be shared among all, then such things are merely personal illusions of grandeur.

Enlightenment is seeing, hearing, and feeling -- a natural state of being, a realization at which we can arrive by allowing ourselves to acknowledge it. That's why I say that enlightenment is a choice -- the choice to acknowledge or deny the enlightenment that we already possess within. Therefore, enlightenment is not a finish line but a starting point.

When you acknowledge the perfect and complete enlightenment within you and realize that you are the master of your own choices and life, then you are ready to embark on a life of spiritual and universal responsibility. The important thing is not whether you consciously realize that you have joined the elite ranks of the "enlightened ones", but to make your daily choices based upon what you see, hear, and feel, and to take responsibility for your choices.

Enlightenment and Character

We make judgments and choices based upon what we see, hear, and feel. Life in itself can be called a series of continuing choices. Whether we realize our own innate enlightenment or not, we continue to see, hear, and feel, and base our judgments and make our choices upon these underpinnings. Unless you have a handicap or a deficiency in your senses, there is no difference in what you see, hear, and feel and what I see, hear, and feel, regardless of whether you realize that you are enlightened or not.

In other words, enlightenment does not by itself guarantee you will make the best choices. Of course, the ability to see, hear, or feel something as it is will aid you in making a wise decision; however, it does not necessarily lead you to make the best possible choice. Ultimately, the process of making a choice depends not upon an acknowledgment or a realization, but upon your sense of discipline and character. Your choice is based upon your character.

The root of your character is your habits. A once-in-a-bluemoon choice does not reveal your character. Numerous choices will gel into a habit, out of which the flower of your character will bloom. A good character is a fruit borne from the tree of good habits. Your goal should not be to attain enlightenment, for enlightenment is something given to you already -- whether you realize it or not, admit it or not. Enlightenment exists within you, independent of your choice; it is already a flower in the divine Garden of God. Your responsibility lies in nurturing a good character, bearing the best possible fruit or the most beautiful flower from the perfect seed in the Garden of God.

Your soul is this divine seed. We call this divinity. All souls are perfect. Depending into which soil you plant this seed and what care you give it, it will bear fruits or flowers of different sizes, shapes, smells, and tastes. The process of planting and nurturing this seed is a series of endless choices. An accumulation of such choices will become your habits, the root of the tree from which the flower, your character, will blossom.

Proving Your Enlightenment

To be able to nurture the blossoming of a beautiful flower from the perfect seed of the soul is an exquisite accomplishment. However, something nobler awaits those with the desire to see, hear, and feel further. That is to become a gardener in the Garden of God and to help other seeds to achieve their perfect beauty. This is the true meaning of Healing.

The meaning of healing lies in helping others discover the divinity within and apply it to their everyday lives. If we call the realization of the divinity within "Enlightenment," then we can call the actualization of this enlightenment, "Healing."

Until now, we have been obsessed with attaining enlightenment; however, there is no true purpose in realizing that one finger is one finger unless you now put that one finger to good use. Action is the key. If enlightenment is a choice, then your actions will reveal your enlightenment. How else are you going to prove your own enlightenment other than through your actions? You can't prove it through words or scientific evidence. What else is there except action with which you can prove your enlightenment? This is why the time has now come for us to concentrate more on healing than emphasizing the pursuit of enlightenment.

We need a new trend in spirituality, from the pursuit of enlightenment to actualization of enlightenment, from meditation to healing. When meditation was a fad, it was very difficult to distinguish between genuine and fake, real and fraud, for meditation is an experience that is intensely personal and non-transferable and not subject to scientific inquiry. We no longer have time for such flighty enjoyment. We no longer have time to discuss the truth as an exercise in wordsmithing. We no longer have the luxury to listen to the sounds of our own voices as we debate the meaning of the truth in catchy, seemingly profound terms, ultimately going nowhere concrete.

If truth is something that we can readily see, hear, and feel in our natural state, then what else is there left to say? What other explanations do you need to explain the phenomenon of seeing one finger as one finger? Unless you purposely try to see differently or distort your sight, you will see only one finger.

So, let us take this "one-finger" sight and gaze at our collective home, Earth. I see problems. How about you? With this sight, what do you see of our society, our world, our Earth?

Many "enlightened" people try to avoid taking responsibility for the problems that we face today by spouting the concept I summarize as "Existence is by definition perfect." Which means that we cannot destroy the ultimate harmony of existence no matter what, for cosmic law ultimately will balance everything out in perfect cause and effect and give and take. This is "truth," yet it is irrelevant to the situation we face today. I have no interest in such abstract discussions. Perhaps people who support this view haven't considered that we all have roles to play in making the "perfect" in the perfectness of existence. If we have a cancerous cell in our bodies, the perfectness of our immune systems can be evidenced by the destruction of that cell; however, a higher perfectness of our healing power can also be demonstrated by converting the cancerous cell into a healthy one. In both cases, the cancer cell will be gone and harmony restored.

If humanity, in its wanton destruction of the environment, can be considered a cancer in the body of Earth, then it would only be divine justice and an expression of the perfectness of existence that human beings become extinct, through our own making or by divine retribution. This would set the cosmic balance right. However, we can also right the skewed balance by achieving a collective conscious evolution and working together to help our society and Earth recover their lost health. The final reading on the cosmic balance will be the same, but which would you choose?

No one way is "truer" than another, but which way would you choose to express the truth? If death is the truth and life is also the truth, which would you choose? In which form do you want the truth to express itself to you? Although truth is eternal and unchanging, its expression is constantly shifting. Independent of our choices, truth always finds a way to express its perfectness, no matter where it is recognized. It is always pouring in wherever there is a lack, and pouring out where there is an excess.

In places of overflow, pouring out will be an expression of the truth of the cosmic balance, and in places of dearth, pouring in will be an expression of the truth. If we see a problem in ourselves, our society, and our Earth, then truth is solving these problems. Healing is expression of the truth. When more of us open our eyes to the truth in healing and seek to join others who have this sense for truth, then healing will not be relegated to the scrap heap of history as another fad, but will give birth to a worldwide cultural phenomenon that will heal ourselves, our society, and our Earth.

Healing has many dimensions and associated methods. Just as soil, sunlight, and moisture act in concert to nurture a seed into a beautiful flower, we can use light, sound, and vibration in any combination to heal the body and soul. We can also use soothing music, inspiring messages, and various activities to heal. We have healing on an individual basis and healing on a societal or global plane.

Healing society or the world is like working as a gardener to help flowers bloom and trees to bear fruit by making the environment for growth into the best one possible. Under unfavorable conditions, even a healthy seed will not be able to mature into its full potential. Only when the right combination of soil, sunlight, and moisture exists will the seed express its full potential.

This is why we need like-minded individuals to join together to form an enlightened community, for the community that we live in and the people whom we communicate with on an everyday basis shape the conditions and the environment under which the flower of character will have to grow. In a fundamental sense, Earth and the community of human beings comprise the most basic environment in which we, as humanity, share as we try to nurture the seed of the soul. Therefore, healing, in its most fundamental and largest sense, is a healing of Earth and humanity. If the whole world is in winter, no matter how hard you try to maintain warmth inside your home, how long can you escape the cold? Even is a rose miraculously blossoms in a field of snow, how long do you think it can maintain its beauty?

We seek not only to help individuals reach their divine potential, but to cultivate the best environment possible for all of humanity to reach its collective divine potential before this garden called Earth becomes too barren for any life to exist and too desolate for any seed of divine potential to blossom forth. Let us move quickly, but with a purpose, with a sense of urgency, but without fear, for we already work in God's Garden and have all the tools that we need.

Do you believe in your divinity? Do you want a confirmation? Then, let your healing efforts for Earth and humanity be your evidence for the existence of the Creator within.


The Twelve Enlightenments for HealingThis article is excerpted from The Twelve Enlightenments for Healing Society, 2002, by Ilchi Lee. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hampton Roads.http://www.hrpub.com



 



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About the Author

Author The Twelve Enlightenments for HealingDr. llchi Lee is the founder of the modern Dahn Hak movement, a traditional Korean system of physical and mental exer cises that seeks to use the energy, or "Ki," system of the body to attain a spiritual awakening. Currently, Dahn Hak has more than three million participants worldwide, with three hundred centers in Korea and more than fifty centers in the U. S. Dr. Lee is the author of seventeen books, several musical CDs, and is a well-known lecturer on spiritual health and enlightenment. He was recognized as one of the fifty preeminent spiritual leaders of the world at the United Nations World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders in August of 2000. You can find more information about Dr. Lee and Dahn Hak at www.healingsociety.org or www.ilchi.net


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