Enlightenment For Dummies

I don’t usually think of myself as a skeptic, but there’s a “how to” book on enlightenment that is both intriguing and doubt-provoking. It’s not that I think enlightenment is out of the question. I just wonder if it can be obtained so neatly.

Shamar Rinpoche’s new book, The Path to Awakening, presents a plan for enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition. Elements of the plan include:

  • Meditation and contemplation
  • Study of scripture
  • Yoga and correct body posture
  • Celibacy
  • Correct breathing, and breathing exercises
    (including Tonglen)
  • Correct eating (your stomach should always be ¼
  • Mantras and chants to recite and sing
The Buddha’s path is not for everyone.

Rinpoche’s book is intended to present a newly translated and approachable version of some of the Buddha’s earliest teachings about the path to enlightenment—the path to freedom from all earthly bondage, fears and concerns.

Trouble is, the Buddha recommended a tight schedule on this path. The day of spiritual practice begins at 5:00 am and ends at 10:00 pm.

That’s where my western, 21st century mind begins to rebel. That’s where I begin to question the definition and aspiration of “enlightenment.” Must I devote most of my life and waking hours towards understanding God better? Must I assume the monastic life in order to know and celebrate union with the Divine?

Maybe not.

Ernest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind, had this to say about enlightenment:

“We believe the ultimate goal of life to be a complete freedom from all discord of every nature, and that this goal is sure to be attained by all.”

This is a wonderful assurance to me! My path to awakening includes many of the same practices as the Buddha (especially meditation, contemplation and study). But it also allows me to live my life “in the world.” I feel sure that my goal of freedom, of enlightenment, will be attained. I feel sure that as I practice my spirituality, my consciousness expands.

I’ll just relax my expectations as to the time-table.