I know someone who likes to think too much about things that don’t matter. A couple days ago he randomly engaged me in a discussion about Buddhism, saying “so do you think people can reach enlightenment?”
To which I looked at him quizzically, kind of annoyed, and responded, “no.”
He replied, “see I think Buddhism leans in the right direction (finding enlightenment I guess is what he meant) but is limited.”
To which I said simply, “some Buddhist schools believe you can attain enlightenment.”
Well, then he started monologuing about his philosophy. So, here it is. Try not to laugh, and if anyone on here believes this, then keep in mind this is just my opinion, and I’m not claiming I know anything. When we’re born into this world, our life goes in a line from start to finish. Enlightenment is essentially walking in the other direction — subconsciousness, I guess, is what he meant.
Now every person has an aura, apparently, and this aura is a mix of “pure light” and “pure darkness”. (At this point I was convinced this guy had just finished watching Avatar the last Airbender and thought he was basically an OP fantasy monk walking the earth). Anyway, so people have these auras, and so enlightenment is apparently the ability to stay exactly in the center of light and dark all the time, without being moved in any direction. And after you do that, you essentially break through light, darkness, mortality, and become…idk. “Realized”, I guess. And oh, this balance can only be achieved through experiencing life to the fullest.
And there was a bunch of other nonsense, but let’s just stick to this “light vs darkness, god vs devil” idea. How are any of these concepts well defined? Light. What the fuck is that? Kindness can be perceived as condescension, and can be more harmful then good in most cases. Justice? Justice is often cold, cruel, and very rarely spares second chances. Mercy? The Allies showed Hitler mercy and lenience in Germany, look how that played out. “Light” is such a stupid concept. I don’t understand what people mean when they say this word. I mean most people, when you say the word “good”, think of something. I do too. But I don’t automatically assume this is some sort of True Good that can do no wrong. I just recognize that these are the qualities I admire. So to say that universally within all of us there is some shared “good” fighting some shared “evil” is…. :/ . I mean I have to start using emoji’s at this point to articulate my argument further. Saying A vs B is happening only makes sense when you can show the existence and universality of A and B, and neither property holds true.
Same for “evil”. What is evil? Most people might immediately think of people that do bad things. Rape, murder, torture, you name it. But what if the murderer is a drug addict, has lost everything they loved, etc? What if the psychopath was just born with a compulsion to kill? Many animals kill for fun (not for food or anything). Are they all evil? Ok, well if they’re evil, then you can probably divide the world into evil living things and cowards. And if the thought is all that counts, then every living thing is evil. And really, every desire is evil. The word antagonist is derived from agonizesthai, which roughly translates to “contender”. Someone that initiates change. And so, if you really explore your thoughts, you’ll find that most of your motivations are “evil” under this kind of categorizations. Again, there are things that we find detestable, but that’s just a personal preference. To argue that there is a universal evil needs a little more work.
So ok. No good, no evil. What about the idea of “aura” coming from “competing internal forces”. That part’s actually fine, but rather obvious. No one is completely decided about everything — people need to “make up their minds”. That phrase comes from the existence of competing thoughts within individuals. Pretty clear, right? Without the flashy labels of light and darkness, this idea becomes pretty self evident and hollow. So sticking to the center of conflicting forces. Isn’t that just called being undecided and always taking a middling stance on everything? If that’s Enlightenment, then I’m ok, thanks. I’ll keep my unenlightenment for now.
The thing is that bothers me a lot is that people like this are a breeding ground for a very sinister thing — Hate. Say you’re good and you’re already assuming the position of an antagonist, actively standing against something called evil. And where there is such adamant antagonism, there will be Hate. And hate is not something to be fucked with. Because hate creeps up on you, and before you know it you’re living a life consumed with bitterness, convinced of your self-righteousness, and adding to the suffering of the world. I’ve seen this transformation. I’ve been a part of this transformation. And I’ve seen the suffering it causes.
It’s strange to think about…but humanity’s strong sense of ethos is what creates suffering. We destroy ourselves, constantly eating our own attempts to do good by those very same attempts. And so the Ouroboros continues to be a relevant archetype in our subconscious.