Can you be enlightened without robe, beard, or poverty? Some people fear that once they are enlightened and find the extreme joy of being in the present moment, that they may not return. They think, “Why would you get out of your chair?” They worry that they would just sit there and melt into extreme ecstasy.
But that is never going to happen. Your mind will always be a tool available to you. You couldn’t get rid of your mind even if you tried. You just may decide to use it less frequently. Your mind will always be there for you if you need it. You might be surprised how little you need it though. It may eventually seem primitive to you. What you wear, how you cut your hair, and your level of wealth or poverty, have nothing to do with enlightenment. Those all exist in the material world and prove nothing about your internal awareness of the nature of being. Enlightened without robe, beard, or poverty–of course–why not? Those are material things.
If anything, your increased awareness and peace of mind in the enlightened state is likely to make your life more joyful, and thus attract even the material world to you more quickly. Mind resistance stops the flow of everything–material and joyful. You can have a mind without the pain. You will know when the mind is taking you down a painful path.
When I am living in the present moment, my mind is always nearby.
I am the same person as far back as I can remember.
And I consider who I am to be what’s behind the mind because it’s more calm and peaceful and often the mind is self-centered. My mind seems more interested in mental constructs like how do I survive, what am I going to eat, I want to have sex, how do I get rich, how do I get people to like me, … it is very material centered. But it seems to create pain by looking for shortcuts for all these things. Mind energy seems to create a resistance by focusing too much on what is missing.
And being in the present is more relaxing, spiritual, connected, joyful. The feeling of having a heart beating, and having trees around me, or living my life … the feeling of being in the present moment … it is more enjoyable. The present moment puts me in a zone where things come to me more effortlessly.
And so what I observed and wanted to share about being in the present moment is … some of the commentators on being in the present moment, kind of hint at their mind going away forever.
Like, once you find the present moment, your mind goes away.
And yet that’s never been true for me. My mind has always been nearby, whenever I’m ready for it. Like if something important happens, my mind plugs back in and is ready to do its thing.
And honestly, I have to say, I don’t know of a speaker or guru, who doesn’t have a mind. I can tell by listening to them when they speak. Once you know what a mind sounds like, you’ll notice a difference, when someone is in a mind space versus the present moment. The mind is much more subtle in many Gurus, but it is still there.
Once you have an experience of the present moment, you’ll be able to recognize the mind space. You’ll see it on people’s faces. You’ll know it by how and what they speak about.
And so, why am I talking about this? I’m talking about this because there is a bit of fear I think in some people when they first hear about being in the present moment. They have a fear that they are going to lose their mind, their family, lose their house, lose their job or whatever. Like they are not going to care about anything anymore.
In the west, they see what Gurus look and act like, and their mind is afraid that they will be judged if they look and act like that. They are afraid enlightenment means they have to wear a robe, grow a beard, and speak in parables.
They fear that once they are enlightened and find the extreme joy of being in the present moment, why would they ever get out of their chair? Would they just sit there and melt into their chair? It is similar to the fear of being brainwashed. Will they still be the same person? Will they still be able to make rational decisions? Would they be in control of themselves?
But it is clear to me when I hear them speak, that they do have a mind. It probably sounds odd to you, but they do have a mind. You can tell by how they speak.
I became aware of the distinction of being in the present moment when I was 20 years old. I have lived close to the distinction ever since. It did not affect my ability to cope or have a normal life. I went to college and got a software degree and then went to law school. I have practiced as a lawyer and traveled the world. I have made real estate investments and started and run businesses.
Being enlightened is how you relate to the world around you from a more observational state rather than a critical or positional state.
You could shave a Guru’s beard, put her in a suit, and prop her up on wall street, and she will be completely functional in the material world.
She will be more honest and empathetic to those around her but she is likely to do better in business than a typical person stuck in the mind paradigm because she is able to see facts without the bias of her personality. The tendency of the ego to skew facts to support the mind’s believed position is not so strong in her. She can see the mind taking positions that make no sense. She doesn’t need to be right, she just needs to make her clients money.
Enlightenment will cause you to make decisions that are more win-win for everyone around you, but there is no reason it should stop you from doing other activities, like having a job, going to college, having a family, creating a successful career, being the president, or investing for retirement.
Awareness doesn’t require a robe and beard.
Your mind will always be a tool available to you. You just may decide to use it less frequently because you know the appropriate time to use it and when to instead be in the joy of living.
Not my usual conversation, but the thought came, so I shared. This is Dan from Vagabond Buddha.