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What Is the Point of Personal Growth? For You. For Anyone.

What is the point of personal development? For you. For anyone.

What is the point of personal development? For you. For anyone.

A passionate question came to this blog today, over at Perspective on the Sex Scandals of Great Enlightened World Gurus.

New commenter at this blog, SINDWA KANYIMBA, asked this:

“From your article, I conclude that being enlightened does not make one to be more morally upright and does not build ethic.

“If so, it’s of no use and I see no need to pursue practices leading to enlightenment.

“Most of these gurus were meditators. This to me implies meditation does not make one a better person in society.

“Why the hype on the benefits of meditation since it does not confer high moral/ethical standards?”

Let’s try this experiment, Blog-Buddies. How about YOU answer this, one comment at a time?

Only let’s provide an alternate version of the question, in case you prefer to answer that. My reason for the following variation?

I haven’t taught Transcendental Meditation since 1986 (with one exception, my son, who did it very, very briefly — exactly what I hoped would happen; I wanted him to experience it just a little.)

And in serving as an Enlightenment Coach, I don’t necessarily recommend meditation. Today, in fact, I’ll be doing a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s next-to-last meeting of the Enlightenment Basics Teleseminar Series. My students have many choices about how to design a unique, effective, plan for personal growth.

To me, meditation isn’t the point of SINDWA KANYIMBA’s question. Striving for Enlightenment, any which way, is the point.

So feel free, Blog-Buddies, to answer this question instead.

A thoughtful person might wonder, since some public figures in Enlightement have been caught up in scandals, whether that state of consciousness means a person is morally upright.

If striving for Enlightenment doesn’t make a everybody perfect (by my standards) what good is it?

Go, Blog-Buddies! What do you think?

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  1. 1
    Charles says:

    Aiming for a better life, even if not attaining perfection, sure beats aiming for nothing.

  2. 2
    Helen says:

    If somebody in the limelight falls short, like those gurus, that hardly means that personal growth is a waste of time.

    I would rather die than stop striving for a better life.

  3. 3
    Amanda says:

    Accepting that we fall short is part of being human.

    Not tolerating failing, errors, mistakes means we don’t learn. This includes in ourselves and in others.

    The point to me has always been to self-actualise.

    And setting a guru up to behave in ways that we don’t is missing the point of our fundamental equality!

    🙂

    Amanda

  4. 4
    Amanda says:

    One thing I have learnt over and over is that high moral standards are productive of a great deal of pain, judgement and anger.

    Tolerance and compassion are worthier goals. For me, anyway!

    Amanda

  5. 5
    Amanda says:

    I teach meditation. To me the point of a regular practice is the development of tolerance, acceptance and compassion through every circumstance.

    It is not about making myself better. It’s about being a good friend.

    It also helps me keep perspective. People make mistakes but it does not invalidate them. A moralistic judgemental mindset is one of the unhelpful ones that can come up to be examined and befriended.

    Amanda

  6. 6
    David B says:

    I sat on a large discussion panel last month in CA. One of the major themes of discussion was that, no matter how exalted the enlightenment, a human remains. And that human needs to be taken care of and could use some peer support.

    There are a number of issues with a guru role that can encourage problems. Feeling complete or invincible. Being idolized by students. Feeling beyond or above it all.

  7. 7
    Kira says:

    I was not originally striving for “Enlightenment”; I was attempting to be the best, and happiest, version of me that I could. It just turned out that I had an experience that reminded me of what I’d read about Enlightenment, wound up at this blog, and realized that a) my experience was an awakening and not Enlightenment and b) Enlightenment is essentially what I was, in fact, striving for.

  8. 8
    David B says:

    Plus, shadows (deeper than Stuff) and karma remain. So while the person may have cultured high standards of ethics, they can still do the stupid. And then be blind to it.

    Enlightenment isn’t about personal perfection. It’s about major quality upgrades.

  9. 9
    David B says:

    A few years ago, to amuse myself I made a list of some of the reasons you may want enlightenment. These are some of the things that can blossom as it matures.

    http://davidya.ca/2012/01/29/108-reasons-to-seek-enlightenment/

  10. 10

    Huzzah, AMANDA!

    Thanks all. 🙂

  11. 11

    DAVID B, thanks somuch for these comments. I especially like this part:

    Enlightenment isn’t about personal perfection. It’s about major quality upgrades.

  12. 12
    Grace W says:

    This is a very interesting question.

    Having recently crossed the threshold into Enlightenment as defined by Rose, I find that these tales of gurus who’ve had lapses are instructive.

  13. 13
    Grace W says:

    It’s easy, especially in the realm of personal growth and the New Age world, to slip into living in a world of concepts.

    As in, if I’m Enlightened, then ___________. Fill in the blank.

  14. 14
    Grace W says:

    But actually, I find that it’s even more important to not have particular expectations.

    The concept “Enlightened” can be so loaded! Very tricky territory to enter, living in concepts.

  15. 15
    Grace W says:

    It’s interesting to me that in the few months prior to this shift that Rose and I identified, I was focusing on living concept-free.

    Staying focused on the present moment, on objective reality, on what I want to create in life, and not on the way anything is supposed to be according to any particular concept.

  16. 16
    Jesse says:

    Maybe Enlightenment is about efficiently exercising your own self authority.

    To thine own self be true!

    It’s not about morals. It’s about expressing who you are.

  17. 17

    I think being enlightened increases the likelihood of behaving ethically, but cannot guarantee it. To me, ethical behaviour is an exercise of free will, and free will by definition creates space for unethical behaviour.

    I also wrote this a couple of years ago on this topic:

    https://www.rose-rosetree.com/blog/2013/03/10/enlightened-do-bad-things-householder-enlightenment-coaching/

  18. 18

    Hi Grace,

    I have personally found it very helpful to let go of notions around how being enlightened is supposed to change my human life. It was a big source of confusion and discomfort for me at the beginning.

  19. 19
    Sarah says:

    I can relate to Kira’s comment #7. Although my path to this was a bit different, it has a similar “flavor” if you will.

    I’ve spent my whole life in some kind of nebulous seeking mode, although the object of the seeking has varied, and found myself on this blog during this seeking process. I wasn’t ever thinking in terms of “enlightenment” and kind of skimmed over those articles.

  20. 20
    Sarah says:

    I don’t even remember when I put two and two together and realized that maybe this WAS what was really underneath all that seeking. I mean, if you’re seeking anything at all, why not seek enlightenment?

    Except right now I’m in a bit of a weird place in relation to that, so I’m also asking all kinds of “why the heck seek this, anyway??” questions, and everyone’s responses are very helpful. 🙂

  21. 21
    SINDWA KANYIMBA says:

    Thanks for all the comments. The overall picture I get is that being enlightened still leaves one prone to major moral/ethical lapses. Although one may improve (the degree of improvement is uncertain and I suppose it varies widely), one still remains vulnerable to human error, and is essentially no different from un-enlightened individuals. May someone educate me: what really are the benefits of being enlightened/awakened, since morality is something one can achieve without being enlightened, and enlightened persons are not necessarily any morally better than non-enlightened persons. Some of the scandals I have read concerning the enlightened gurus leave me with serious doubts on the value of pursuing a spiritual path.

  22. 22
    Amanda says:

    Grace, yes, yes, yes. You are so well named! 🙂

    The conceptual divided mind is at best living in a daydream state and at worst creates horrors that don’t exist.

    Big shout out to your comments! For me, that’s meditation.

    Amanda

  23. 23
    Sarah says:

    So right now, I think the best answer I have is that I’m thinking of enlightenment as just… the next thing.

  24. 24
    Sarah says:

    I don’t expect it would make me a better person (although that would be cool, I guess).

    I don’t expect it to make my life any easier (but if it did, that would also be cool).

  25. 25
    Sarah says:

    But I can say that the PROCESS of seeking has taken me through a lot of helpful steps, and quality-of-life upgrades.

  26. 26
    Sarah says:

    So I can’t say anything about what it’s like to be in enlightenment, but the road there now seems a lot more interesting than it did before I ever thought about where it might be going. If that makes any sense.

  27. 27

    SINDWA KANYIMBA, I have learned some things as a spiritual teacher, active since 1970.

    And one of them is not to waste time answering questions like your latest version… of the same question you asked the first time. Those who offered you helpful ideas included people already living in Enlightenment: AMANDA, DAVID B, GRACE W, ADAM McINTOSH, and me.

    If the responses here are not meaningful to you, please seek them elsewhere. Or don’t seek them at all. Sounds like you’re happy with your life as it is. Enjoy!

  28. 28

    Thanks for starting this thread, and thanks also to fascinating responses from all who have participated.

    Insightful!

  29. 29
    Dana20 says:

    SINDWA KANDYIMBA, I think that enlightenment is a state of consciousness, but we achieve that state of consciousness while still being human, and our humanity and our free will still remain and we still make human choices.

  30. 30
    Dana20 says:

    Why wouldn’t you want a higher state of consciousness?

    Just because you’ll still have to be human?

  31. 31
    Dana20 says:

    I think that our judgments or gurus are just that, judgments, and ones born out of our human cultural and individual lenses.

    So if we judge a guru having an affair as “bad,” we do so probably because our culture says that is “bad,” whereas for some cultures that is “normal.”

  32. 32
    Dana20 says:

    Also, people in enlightenment are still learning and growing.

    I think it is just one threshold of consciousness. Why not reach for that threshold even if there are others?

  33. 33
    Grace W says:

    I consider “morality” to be just as loaded a concept as “enlightenment.”

    I just read an article about 3 young women who recently escaped from Raqqa,Syria, the headquarters of ISIS.

  34. 34
    Grace W says:

    The last of the series of choices they made, thinking it would help them and their families survive, was to join the morality police.

    Part of their job was to report friends and neighbors who’d broken the morality laws and so would be subject to beatings.

  35. 35
    Grace W says:

    IMHO, seems that a big part of the latest waves of violence in the world stem from extreme views of “morality.”

    So, again, I’m not a big fan of hanging on concepts and making them the center of my world.

  36. 36
    Julie says:

    There is a famous saying by the poet Rumi:
    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

    I would add that’s a great place to meet God – beyond right and wrong. Beyond beliefs.

  37. 37
    Julie says:

    Beliefs held too tightly can limit or restrict, whereas consciousness advances, or wants to.

  38. 38
    Irene Kr says:

    Very insightful comments here, thank you, everyone!

    My version of this is an echo of Kira’s comment #7: “I was not originally striving for “Enlightenment”; I was attempting to be the best, and happiest, version of me that I could.”

  39. 39
    Irene Kr says:

    I learned that the label for my seeking is enlightenment. Knowing that helps me more easily and effectively find people to connect with and to learn from. It helps me to discern the teachers and community that will help support my progress, as well as giving me a historical framework of other people that I can learn from (even if they’ve made mistakes) without re-inventing the wheel.

    It also helps me come up with a path to move me forward most effectively. (Shout-out for the Enlightenment Basics course!)

  40. 40

    Such wonderful comments to read first thing in my morning! Thanks so much, DANA20, GRACE W, JULIE!

    And a special shout-out to IRENE KR, for the first recognition at my blog of the new Enlightenment Basics Teleseminar Series. 🙂

    It has just one final meeting to go. I will be developing a second offering of it, for those on the waiting list and also for new arrivals. To be announced here at the blog, of course.

  41. 41
    Lilian says:

    Yes, beliefs and concepts do change. You notice these in your mental energy, and that’s just one element of you.

    For me, seeing beliefs and concepts change is similar to the experience to adapting my ways of seeking God after the shift.

  42. 42
    Lilian says:

    You just keep adapting and learning, while you explore what your connection to God, yourself and others really is.

  43. 43
    Primmie says:

    I wonder if all seeking is seeking for Enlightenment. I feel I’m made to grow in much the same way that I’m made so I can breathe.

    Perhaps it’s impossible to stop the process of growth even if it looks like it’s stymied in a person or it’s happening very slowly.

  44. 44
    Primmie says:

    I got very annoyed when I first read about Alan Watts being Enlightened. It irritated me that an active alcoholic could be considered Enlightened in any way.

    That was a long time ago though and now I think it’s funny that I thought like that.

  45. 45
    Primmie says:

    What a “guru” may or may not do had no bearing on whether I want Enlightenment or not.

  46. 46
    Primmie says:

    Actually, I have a hunch that what I consciously want also has no bearing on whether I become Enlightened, but perhaps I’ll know for sure if I ever pass that threshold.

  47. 47

    LILIAN, thank you for these wise comments.

    And PRIMMIE, what a treat to hear from you! Those twins are keeping you busy, I know.

    A couple of the points you made just scream out for comment… at least to this Enlightenment Coach.

  48. 48

    About Comment 43, ooh, let’s consider this idea:

    “Perhaps it’s impossible to stop the process of growth even if it looks like it’s stymied in a person or it’s happening very slowly.”

  49. 49

    An orange has juice. But if an orange is pretty dried up and shrivelled, it might deliver just a few drops.

    Is that the same thing as a juicy orange? Would you, as a consumer, want to settle for such a thing as an orange?

  50. 50

    Free will is immensely important in spiritual evolution.

    Sometimes an entire lifetime will be devoted to an experiment in slow growth. Or doing something stooooooooopid, just to find out how that feels.

    Ugh!

  51. 51

    Here I think of a session I facilitated, Soul Energy Awakening Hypnosis®. After moving out loads of major frozen blocks from a lifetime that was squandered on being a fraud as a teacher, JOE was moved forward to his life review.

    Souls in his group cried out in a chorus, “What were you doing?” He didn’t need to waste his life in that particular way. A much better life path had been available, one he originally had in his life contract. Instead he settled for lies and excuses and feeling sorry for himself. Ugh!

  52. 52

    As for Comment 46, I couldn’t disagree more strongly.

    Of course what you want has bearing on your pace of personal evolution.

    You’re not living in the Middle Ages. You’re living now, in the Age of Awakening. Millions of people CAN move into Enlightenment, and do it has householders.

    But which ones will do it? That’s PERSONAL. Up to each of us. Enlightenment Coaches can help with that… only if a person chooses to accept that kind of help, or any help.

  53. 53

    Another way to put it more bluntly:

    You can have your pride. Or you can have Enlightenment. Up to you.

  54. 54
    Primmie says:

    Rose it’s lovely to hear from you, yes the twins are keeping me very busy. I know a lot about Autism and my house is full of fluffy pink things. Life, always informative and surprising!

    You make great points. It occurred to me that I may have appeared rude saying “I think people are primed to grow and that’s going to happen whatever”. It wasn’t my intention to be rude and I’m sorry if I came across that way.

    If I moved to Italy and went out a lot I’m sure I’d eventually learn the language, but it would be a lot easier if I took a class and had a great teacher.

  55. 55

    What a great analogy, PRIMMIE!

    And you didn’t appear rude, not in the least. You have those proper British manners that I sorta-envy, sorta feel relieved I wasn’t raised to use. (Probably would have been really, really bad at them.)

  56. 56
    Daisy says:

    This is all such an interesting read. I have been following this blog for some time but this is my first comment.

  57. 57
    Daisy says:

    I just have to respond to comment 51. Ouch! I can so relate to that client.

    Not that I have ever committed fraud, but I absolutely feel that I am not living the life I signed up for in my life contract.

  58. 58
    Daisy says:

    My problem is, even though I try and try to change things (with my alleged ‘free will’), nothing changes..

    So I am skeptical about free will, for that reason.

  59. 59
    Daisy says:

    I would love to believe that our choices can make a difference and change things. It’s just not true in my experience though.

    I guess all we can ever do is try harder? And then at least we will have an easier conscience.

  60. 60
    Cynthia says:

    In a way we hold those in enlightenment to a higher standard as we feel that they are more responsible for their choices as there is no major STUFF clouding their judgement.

  61. 61
    Cynthia says:

    So when someone in enlightenment behaves in a way that harms other, it shocks us & makes us question what real value there is in that higher state of consciousness if we still have the capacity to harm others. That wasn’t the enlightenment we had imagined in our minds.

  62. 62
    Cynthia says:

    Whether in enlightenment or not, we still have choices to make. Those in enlightenment are still learning & growing & evolving & making human mistakes.

  63. 63
    Cynthia says:

    I think it is similar to the way we have certain expectations for how other adults should behave, but are more forgiving to children or teenagers who act out as we understand that children & teenagers are still learning.

  64. 64
    Cynthia says:

    We tend to forget that adults are still learning too. Those in enlightenment are maybe in the ‘adult’ stage of consciousness.

    Adults in the human world make mistakes often, so why wouldn’t ‘adults’ from a consciousness perspective still be making mistakes too?

  65. 65

    Wonderful comments, DAISY and CYNTHIA. Thank you.

  66. 66
    Rachel says:

    I guess it’s tempting to think of enlightened people as “better” than other people, as though they have climbed higher up the ladder to perfection than everybody else!

    The way I think about it, if every individual is a divine spark, the only difference between an enlightened person and a non-enlightened person is that the enlightened person actually feels it.

    That doesn’t make them more moral, or kinder, or wiser, or superior to us lowly unenlightened mortals :-)!

  67. 67

    That’s an interesting analogy, RACHEL, and I see how it could be helpful.

    Except for that “lowly” idea. 😉

    However, from my perspective, there are MANY differences between living in Enlightenment and what precedes it.

    Also, if the person has not become corrupted, as described by JESS in today’s guest post, someone who lives in Enlightenment does tend to be more moral and kind and wise than previously.

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