Enlightenment in a myriad of beautiful ways


I found a beautiful article by Jack Kornfield recently, which begins with the question, “Is enlightenment just a myth?” There are so many different descriptions of what enlightenment is like, we might begin to wonder whether it’s all made up.

I’m certainly not enlightened, and so I don’t know the answer. But here’s what I do know. Over the years, I’ve watched as my friends and I have changed. And I mean radically. Some of us bear little resemblance to the people we were ten or fifteen years ago. And this is the interesting part. Though I can see that we’ve all become kinder and more confident people, we’ve all changed in very different directions. I think I’ve softened and opened up a lot. Some of us have become natural leaders and community-builders, though with different stripes. Still others have blossomed in their quieter lifestyles — as artists, healers, and the like.

My point is this. I’m seeing living evidence of the many potential colors that enlightenment could come in as each of us continues to grow. We’re all dedicated to the dharma, and yet expressing our commitment in so many different ways. As Jack Kornfield says,

When you actually experience consciousness free of identification with changing conditions, liberated from greed and hate, you find it multifaceted, like a mandala or a jewel, a crystal with many sides. Through one facet, the enlightened heart shines as luminous clarity, through another as perfect peace, through another as boundless compassion. Consciousness is timeless, ever-present, completely empty and full of all things. … Like the particle-and-wave nature of light, enlightenment consciousness is experienced in a myriad of beautiful ways.

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi,

    Great article–thank you for pointing it out. I appreciate your wonderful insights. Much love and peace to you friend. The return trip is so wonderful once we realize what’s going on. Life has truly become an endless parade of joyous experiences. Who would have ever thought that weakness was the trait to be attained that makes this all possible.

    Love and light little one,

    Patrick Buchanan

    • Hi Patrick,
      Thank you for your kind comments! I’m curious what you meant, though, when you said that “weakness” is a trait that makes all this goodness possible. I’m not sure I understand what you meant there??

      All the best to you,

  • I personally feel enlightenment is a myth. I think the Buddha offered the enticement of enlightenment to motivate his followers. They had to think they were going to get something by following his practices. The changes you mention as you age sound like the normal changes that occur as people age. You probably are more thoughtful than the average person, so you are both changing and aware of the change. Of course, there are lots of people who don’t gain any wisdom as they age. Fortunately you did. But that may not be due to your Buddhist practice – in fact it may be in spite of your Buddhist practice!

    • Hi Rich, I’m aware that I’ve described the changes that I’ve observed in my friends and myself in extreme shorthand. And they may sound like the mundane kind that anybody would go through with age. But having experienced the kind of positive effects that Bodhipaksa describes, I would have to say that my practice has done nothing but accelerate the change. Continue the trend for a number of years and the effects are quite remarkable. So is this stuff that could happen to anybody? Sure. Anybody who is becoming more open-minded, clear-thinking, and generous-hearted. So in a way, you’re right. It’s not because of my Buddhist practice. It’s because of natural changes that would happen to anybody with an open mind, clear thinking, and generous heart. But you know what? That’s what the Buddha was saying! It’s a entirely natural process that’s available to anyone, whether they’re “Buddhist” or not!

      Best wishes,

  • Hi Rich,

    I wonder how you’d explain (away) the empirical evidence that shows, for example, that if you take a group of people and get them to meditate, then after a few weeks they are, compared to a control group, happier, have different brain activity indicative of heightened positive emotion, and an increased immune response. Or that expert meditators, when tested, showed brain activity in areas connected with positive emotion that were off the chart. Literally, the scientists doing these studies had never seen readings that high, and didn’t even believe they were possible.

    Then there’s the substantial anecdotal experience of many people like me, who have over and over again sat down to meditate and got up afterwards feeling happier and more relaxed.

    Given those kinds of experiences and the scientific studies that relate meditation to increased health and happiness, it’s rather odd to argue that people are changing “in spite of” their practice.


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