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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Enlightenment in One Lifetime?

Can enlightenment be accomplished in just one life? Philosophy 101: that depends entirely upon your definition of enlightenment. Ask those who are rigid, superstitious, fearful, controlling and elitist and they will paint a picture of the Buddha that not only approaches the border of the fantastique, but has crossed it, and set up residence there; claiming him unable to experience certain thoughts, emotions, or impulses: a prisoner of both no self and emptiness, impervious to illness, misfortune, or betrayal.

…fiction is nice, but I prefer the reference section…” so said Ace Ventura in the movie named after its protagonist. For the definition of enlightenment alluded to above would preclude the spiritual mastery of the Buddha, whether we know him as Gautama or Shakyamuni. Simply put enlightenment is the mastery of the eight fold path, wherein one practices it: spontaneously, habitually, easily, and effectively. And, according to the Buddha who knew of such things, could be accomplished in as little as seven years, seven quarters, seven months, seven fortnights, seven weeks, or even seven days.

One could learn any of the Buddha’s techniques from a book, a webinar, and discourses be they public or private. But of course one must always stop and notice the results that a set of techniques are giving us. Methods that increase our rigidity, fear, controlling, tendencies could be best to put back on the shelf, whereas techniques that help us to be flexible, loving, laid back, and egalitarian are to be cherished.

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