what is enlightenment? i can't speak to enlightenment from a buddhist perspective, and this is the association that seems most important to me as i think my adaptation of the words of the dalai lama each morning. i read about enlightenment, but, in order to approach an understanding of the concept, i'd need much more study and the guidance of a skilled teacher. so, how can i seek an enlightenment that seems beyond my ken?
i remember in my college days that there were many christians who sought a charismatic awakening. these seekers would go from church to church, yearning for the holy spirit to engender a mystical experience in them that would allow them to "speak in tongues." i was curious about this phenomenon and had friends who had the experience of "holy ghost baptism" that resulted in their speaking in tongues, or at least that's what they believed. i was always skeptical of the charismatic movement, though it provoked my curiosity. those who had the experience seemed confident that it made a profound difference in their lives, though the difference wasn't apparent to me in their actions towards others.
when i think of seeking enlightenment, i have much the same view as i did toward the tongue-speaking experience. enlightenment is something that i believe may come to me, not through my own pursuit of it an the expense of all else in my life, but rather, if it comes, it will be the result of seeking the other part of the phrase in the affirmation: "for the benefit of all beings." right now, i believe the remainder of the affirmation is the key to enlightenment. i may not become an "enlightened one" in this lifetime; i may never be enlightened. all i can do is to seek enlightenment by walking the path, working for greater understanding, and making lovingkindness and compassion the focus of my life. perhaps the dalai lama's original phrase "to achieve enlightenement" is better that my own idea of seeking enlightenment; i'm not quite ready to speak with the confidence of the dalai lama with regard to enlightenment.
may each of us follow the path as best we know how. may we give and receive love. may we see and understand our own suffering and seek to have compassion for our own suffering and that of others. may we seek enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. shalom.