The First Four Stages of Enlightenment

You did it, you are finally “enlightened” ! After a lot of efforts, a lot of reading, a lot of travels, you finally reached the so sought-after state of enlightenment.

Don’t flatter yourself, though. You are not better or smarter. You only see things in a different way, you are more aware of stuff that elude other people. If you can now see all those “enlightened social-media posers” who post about enlightenment without really living the enlightened life, you are on the right track. The experiences you had brought you to this new state and you decided to change your life for (what you think is) the best.

In this early stage of your enlightenment, you may ask yourself : “Now what ?” This is a valid question. Your enlightenment probably brought you to the conclusion that the social experience is at the core of the human experience. Although it may be cool to drive yourself into seclusion in a faraway cave Zarathustra-style to deepen your understanding of the gears of your own mind, your enlightenment made you more altruistic (such a fool) and you want to share the new knowledge you have. At this moment, you will go through the first four stages of enlightenment.

1 — You want to help people change

You made some changes in your life and they work great for you. Those changes helped you be happier, healthier, more aware and more empathetic. Naturally, you decide to offer the gift of your own enlightenment to your loved ones. You talk about those eye-opening experiences, the moment some idea finally clicked in your head, the deep connection you felt with “the Universe”. Best case scenario, they will mildly smile as if they didn’t want to awake you from your comforting dreams. Worst case scenario, they will slap you in the face with their negativity. They will find every reason imaginable to refuse the change you offer. “I have no time,” “I must keep this job to feed my family”, “the world doesn’t work this way”, etc.

You don’t understand what is going on now. You tested your solutions on yourself and they work, but no one wants to hear about it. You talk about an epiphany you had on top of a mountain in the Philippines ; people ask you how much the trip cost. You speak about the chain of events that brought you to a simple conclusion and you share it with the others so they don’t have to go through the same experiences ; people look at you like you’re from another planet. Every time you want to share something out of the ordinary, you hit a wall. No one listens to what you have to say. You then slip slowly into the second phase…

2 — You realize you can’t force people to change

This is the first puzzling stage. You understood so many new things and this one eludes you. Why do people reject what you have to offer ? But if you made it to this stage, you are probably comfortable with your thought patterns. So you reflect on it. You observe people. Every interaction brings you a little piece of the puzzle.

Then it strikes you : people don’t want to change. People are contented with repeating the same shit again and again. They probably don’t like it, but a safe and sad tomorrow is better than an unsafe and obscure (but happier) one. All the changes you implemented and that made you happy, it’s just pure luck for them. You quit your job to pursue your dream of opening a healthy vegan smoothie shop ? They prefer scribbling on paper in an office 8 hours a day. You found an amazing opportunity to work from home that changed your life ? They don’t think it is work if you don’t waste at least one hour a day in traffic jam.

At this point, you do want to go full hermit and check on Google Maps where’s the closest cave. But you cannot forget this little feeling tickling your altruistic bone : you want to help people. So what can you do to help them if they don’t want to change ? Here comes the third stage.

3 — You want to help people be happy

That’s it ! Instead of pushing them to the way of enlightenment, you will use your own enlightenment to bring them joy. You don’t know it yet, but you set yourself to waste (again) a lot of your time.

Your enlightenment maybe helped you land a job that makes you both happier and richer. So you use a part of your hard-gained money to (try to) make people happy. Maybe you open a Medium account to post deep stuff that will make people smile. If you cannot help them change, you can help them be happy, right ?

Wrong ! You look around and people are not happier. Even people who shouldbe happy are not ! You try to explain it to yourself. The pursuit of happiness should be a fundamental aspect of human nature. That’s something we should all be doing. Who doesn’t want to be happy ??

4 — You realize you can’t force people to be happy

People don’t want to be happy. Yeah, they say they do, but deep down, they don’t.

The first reason they can’t reach happiness is because they don’t want to change. They know things don’t work, the situation doesn’t make them happy, but they are scared to try something new. It’s understandable. You broke your chains to reach this state of blissful enlightenment, but this didn’t happen without the realization that most people won’t even think about doing it. A lot of them don’t even see the goddamn chains ! You talk about experiences, life-changing travels, trivial encounters that later brought together two pieces of the puzzle in your head. They think you are a crazy hippy.

The second reason is because they spend their time hiding their sadness. We live in a world where being happy is like being in shape, it is something others should be able to tell from the first look. You have a big house, you are happy. You have a new car, you are happy. You have a smile on your face, you are happy.

People use a lot of different ways to hide their sadness. They drink, they smoke, they party, they watch TV, anything that can take their mind out from the reality of their life. All those activities have only one purpose and one effect : they hide the facts because they don’t want to deal with them and they take them away from the real solutions. Once they have a vegan smoothie shop, they can party or drink if they like. But when they don’t have the life they want, the repetition of these activities only masks the reality they don’t want to confront.

And there is nothing you can do about that, you altruistic fool. Most of the people around you don’t want to change and don’t want to be happy. The way towards true happiness is personally designed by every individual and only attainable though drastic changes. You gave it a try, but now you broke free and you won’t let anyone drag you back down. You have to move forwards, whatever it takes…

Conclusion

I call “enlightenment” a state of awareness that’s only reachable through experiences that most people won’t have. Others call that “being a pretentious douche”. Fair enough. If 99% of your life is about going to a 9–5 job longing for the week-end and your next vacation at the beach, you are far from the state I describe. Enlightenment doesn’t make people better or smarter. It helps them see the world and feel all kinds of things other people don’t see or feel.

Enlightenment is a very lonely state, the higher you get, the more you realize there’s no one around and the only way to see people is to look below. But the satisfaction it provides is worth leaving some people behind. Fly high and don’t look back :)

Self-taught programmer building stuff on the Tezos blockchain and writing about it