Many profess a desire to be enlightened. There are dozens of best-selling books about how to attain enlightenment. Yet very few ever accomplish this goal. Why? With all of the material available to anyone seeking it, why do so many waver between wanting to be enlightened and remaining in the drama of life?
The easiest answer is that enlightenment is difficult. Several psychology theorists based their theory on enlightenment (or a related term) as the ultimate goal. Carl Jung made self-realization the ultimate goal of analytic psychology. Abraham Maslow declared self-actualization the ultimate goal of his theory. These terms are synonymous with enlightenment. Yet both Maslow and Jung declared that few people attain the goal.
The simple explanation for so many giving up on or falling short of the goal is that it is hard. This is psychology, however, with a goal of insight. As such, there should be discussion of why it is hard.
There are many reasons getting caught in life’s pull dominates in the competition with enlightenment. People generally seek enlightenment as an escape from the pain of life. Some continue to pursue it, while others easily slip back into unconscious life once the turmoil passes. I don’t mean this post to seem judgmental. In many ways it is natural not to seek enlightenment. Humans gravitate toward the easiest path. It is likely ingrained in our DNA, and part of our evolutionary process. But it is also part of developmental history to seek enlightenment and to transcend the human experience. The information is there if you’re so inclined.
Copyright William Berry, 2015
Raz, G.; 2015); Interview of Matthieu Ricard and Pico Iyer for TED Radio Hour; article retrieved on 10/18/15 from: http://ideas.ted.com/want-to-be-happy-slow-down/.