The process of enlightenment is the process of ascending to higher levels of understanding, to penetrating to the heart of things.
So for instance, in religion, there was a time when different forms of natural phenomena were worshiped as gods.
Then greater understanding prevailed and God became one entity, but one that was of a jealous super being who kept on interfering in human affairs.
Then even greater understanding, and he became a benevolent father but still referred to as a king (because people were living in monarchistic societies).
And that apparently still describes the current situation for many people.
But what is the real truth of the matter?
No one can say but I have a feeling it’s probably going to be none of the above.
Not the old thunder god or sun god, nor the concept of a jealous god nor that of a god-king.
(The word ‘jealous’ refers to a human emotion and its use to describe God reaffirms my belief that Genesis had it backwards. God did not create man in his image. On the contrary, the reverse is true, man creates God in his image.)
But back to the subject at hand.
The thing about enlightenment as being a ‘higher’ state of understanding explains why it’s so hard for a person who’s attained it to explain it to those still stuck at the lower levels.
In fact, it’s well-nigh impossible.
And that’s why it’s all the more amazing that the great teachers of the past had been able to convey their enlightenment to their less enlightened counterparts.
Let’s say for example that you decide to go and meditate in the desert.
And after maybe forty days and nights, you begin to understand the true meaning of life. You begin to see the interconnectedness of things, and you begin to understand the great energies that exist in the universe.
And you return to civilization.
You’re fired up with the knowledge of what you’ve discovered. But how to explain such lofty ideas and concepts to simple peasants and fishermen?
(Concepts such as that of God as the source of all things, or love as the positive energy that elevates us, or the ultimate purpose of life being to live to our full potential, just to name a few.)
You reduce them to their level. And you tell stories to illustrate them.
And that’s the genius of the man who lived two thousand years ago, that he was able to explain such deep philosophical concepts in such simple terms.
And that’s why he’s still such a powerful force these days. Because the stories he told are human and timeless stories that we can all relate to.
And I can’t help but think of how many other people throughout the ages had probably attained similar levels of enlightenment and understanding about life and the universe, and either through a lack of desire to share what they learned or the genius to elucidate them so others might understand them, had let their knowledge and enlightenment die with them.
In the novel, “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” Alexander Solzhenitsyn said that a warm man cannot understand a cold man.
I would say the same is true of enlightenment—an unenlightened man cannot understand an enlightened man.
Unless of course if you reduce it to their level, but even then, it’s not the real thing, but a diluted and sometimes rather distant version of it.