Enlightenment FAQ - Part 2
By Leo Gura - April 13, 2015 | 39 Comments
Answers to the most common questions about spiritual enlightenment.
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org, and in this video we’re doing enlightenment FAQ, part two. This is one part in a multiple-part series where I’m answering the most common questions that people have about spiritual enlightenment.
This is part two of the series, go ahead and watch part one of my enlightenment FAQ, those will be some of the preliminary questions, and this continues from that part, and we’re going to answer a lot of pretty basic and fundamental questions that are going to help you get your mind rapped around what spiritual enlightenment actually is and disabuse you of some of the myths, caricatures, bad assumptions and fears that you might have about pursuing this for real in your own life. Let’s go ahead and get started.
The Brilliance of Being Enlightened
One really important question is: what are the benefits of enlightenment?
It’s not quite obvious, at first blush, what the benefits are, because, if you’re going to pursue enlightenment, you’re going to invest a lot of time and energy into it.
It seems that you would want to do it because there’s some gain for you, right? What’s the value to you? Actually, in my first enlightenment video, the Spiritual Enlightenment Introduction video, there I talk about many of the benefits. I have a whole list of them there. Let me just briefly summarize what the benefits are.
The real benefits of enlightenment are that you break free from your mental prison. You stop being a slave to your thoughts and to your emotions and you really get a deep, meaningful tranquility in your life, which is something you’ve been searching for your whole life without realizing it. And here, you’re going to actually be able to experience this tranquility, regardless of external circumstances.
How cool would it be for you to stay calm and even-keeled, no matter what was happening in your life, whether good stuff was happening to you or bad stuff, whether you lost job, or whether you lost a family member, or whether something didn’t go the way you wanted it to go, or whether you weren’t making the money you wanted to make, or whether you didn’t get accepted into college, or whether you didn’t get that dream career you wanted, or whatever?
How cool would it be if you could keep your cool and stay tranquil and calm throughout that without getting crazy agitated, the way you do now? Without having these fits of drama, without having these relationship problems, without having these career problems, without engaging in all this neurotic thinking and monkey chatter, without having been swept up by emotions, without having fits of rage, without being frustrated and annoyed all the time, without being lonely and sad, without getting depressed — how cool would that be?
Well, that’s the primary reason I think that most people pursue enlightenment. One of the other benefits is that you get a deeper understanding of reality and truth. If truth is a value for you and you like understanding what the hell is going on in this universe, understanding how your conscience works is like the key that unlocks it all, so it’s another really amazing benefit.
It’s important to understand here that it’s not like you’re going to be ecstatically happy all the time in your life, and it’s not the case that, if you’re enlightened, you never have a moment of sadness, or a moment of loneliness, or an emotion of frustration or anger or annoyance. You can have these emotions, but your relationship to these emotions changes completely, so that these emotions no longer become a source of suffering, but they just become another experience, not really any worse or any better that any other experience. You can live your life really, truly free, without any kind of obligations.
Another really cool benefit, which I talked about in my other video, is that you get relief from your self-image problems. And self-image problems are things like shyness, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, worrying about how you look, worrying about what people think of you, trying to impress people, trying to live up to certain people’s expectations, right? That’s a huge category of problems in almost every person’s life. So, how cool would it be to just wipe all that away, to make it completely irrelevant? Well, you can do that by getting rid of the self.
Mastering Your Emotions
Next question: Leo, does this mean that I’ll have complete control over my emotions once I’m enlightened?
This is a very interesting question. Again, let’s go back to the truth that we’re talking about, which is the truth of no-self. There is no self. There is no you. So, who’s going to have complete control over his or her emotions? Nobody. If you think this is going to give you control over your emotions, then I got some bad news: you have zero control over your emotions because you do not exist.
Paradoxically and counter-intuitively, once you surrender yourself to this fact, what happens is that you get complete peace and calm with your emotions. And what you get is some kind of pseudo-control, you get the appearance of control. It’s as though you have total control but, in fact, you have zero control. Very paradoxical, but also very cool and fascinating.
How can this be? Well, the biggest problem and the biggest reason why you need control over your emotions — the reason that you want control over your emotions — is because, right now, you’re a slave to your emotions. Once you free yourself and you realize that there is no you who’s actually experiencing emotions, and there is no you to control emotions, what happens is that you just get calm and cool with whatever emotion is happening.
It’s not the case that, with enlightenment, you become emotion-less. You will have emotions, there will be plenty of emotions in your life, but your relationship to these emotions will change completely. And so, people looking at you from outside will think that you have complete control over your emotions or, if not complete, a lot more than the average person.
But, in reality, what’s going to be happening on the inside is that you’re going to realize that there is no me who’s experiencing emotions, and so, therefore, everything’s cool, no need to get my pannies in a twist, the way that other people do. The reason that other people suffer from emotions so much is because they believe that there is a “them” inside who’s being threatened by the external world. Once that notion is removed, life flows very, very smoothly.
Why Pursue Enlightenment
Next question: But, Leo, what if I’m already happy in my life? You’re telling me that I should pursue enlightenment because it’s going to give me this peace and tranquility and happiness, that I can’t get otherwise, but I’m already happy, I have a good family, I have a good relationship, I have a good career, I’ve worked really hard on all these things, I’ve put them all together, I’m happy with my health and my fitness, and all that stuff.
Well, another bitter pill for you is that, actually, you’re not happy. What you’re doing is that you’re lying to yourself and you’re saying that you’re happy but, in fact, you’re not. Why is this happening and how can this be the case?
Well, the first thing that you got to realize is that, even if you’re happy right now, in the moment — maybe your career and your relationship and everything else in your life just has come together right now and, in this moment, and maybe for the next couple of months, things are going to be going great, and you’ll be happy — but, see, your happiness is contingent upon external circumstance.
If we remove your relationship, if we give you a divorce, and if we have you go to the doctor’s office and get some bad health news, and if we have you lose your job, and if we have you lose some money in the stock market, and if we have you break your leg, or whatever, all of the sudden you’re not going to be happy, you’re going to be very, very miserable. And so, your happiness is extremely contingent. So, you got to be very careful here about saying that you’re happy because, actually, whenever someone says this, they are lying to themselves.
How can I know this? I can know this for a fact because it’s not possible to actually be truly happy without being enlightened. So, unless you’re enlightened, you can’t be happy, it’s not possible, it’s just psychologically impossible. Why? Because there is a falsehood that you’re living. You’re telling yourself that you exist when, in fact, you don’t.
So, happiness is not possible under this paradigm, it’s just not. And that’s actually reflected in your whole history of existence, for your entire life from the point you were born to the point where you’re going to die, or from today, to the point where you are living now, you’ve never been able to have consistent, true happiness. What you’ve had is this rollercoaster ride. For this very reason because external circumstances change all the time.
When someone tells me that they’re happy, what that is in my mind is like someone who has tripped and fallen off a cliff, and he’s falling to the ground, onto the jagged rocks down below, and it’s like a five-thousand foot drop. And as he’s falling, he looks at me and he says: Look, Leo, I’m happy, look, flying, it’s fun, it’s fun to be flying through the air, I’m so happy right now.
Well, you’re happy right now, if we take one snapshot, but how happy are you going to be five minutes later? You’re not going to be very happy. So, that’s basically your current condition in life.
Now, what you might do to yourself is that you might trick yourself and you might say to yourself: Well, Leo, why don’t I just keep putting more and more good things in place in my life, until everything is perfectly in place? Why don’t I just go earn lots of money and then, basically, everything will be figured out? If I earn a hundred million dollars then it’s like no one can touch me?
But, see, that’s a delusion. Even in that situation you’re still not going to be happy, because even if you have a hundred million dollars and you can become “untouchable” by society — you have all this power, you can do whatever you want — in the end you’re still going to have to face disease, and loneliness, and you’re going to have to face death. In the end, your life is going to end in misery, no matter how happy you think you are right now. So, really, you’re not happy.
And even if you think that you’re happy right now in the moment, like, your life right now is all put together, I got news for you: even there you’re lying to yourself. Because even if you say that you have a great relationship and a great career and great health, that’s not actually what’s happening in your life. On a minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour basis, what’s happening – even if you have all that stuff in place — is that your mind is driving you nuts. You’re literally insane in your mind. You’re having insane thoughts. You’re sabotaging yourself, you’re getting angry at people inside, you’re getting jealous, you’re having fear.
Even if you have everything put together, even if you have a hundred million dollars, you still have the fear of losing the hundred million dollars. You have the fear of losing your beautiful relationship, or losing your kids, or losing your health, or losing your life, or whatever else. It’s not possible for you to be happy because you actually believe that if you lose these things you will be unhappy and so, therefore, it’s not possible to be happy with that kind of paradigm in place. You have to get very aware of how the mind tricks you into a false sense of happiness.
One of the ways that we do enlightenment work is that we first start to realize that: Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute. I’m lying to myself all the time about how well this paradigm, this egoic paradigm is working for me. The ego keeps telling me that it’s working well and that I should continue using this paradigm, but if I look really carefully, I can actually see that this paradigm is rotten, that it’s not working if I’m very honest.
Next question: Should I stop pursuing my goals in career, in my relationships, with my health, with my hobbies? Should I stop those things? And this depends, it depends on why you’re pursuing these things. So, just because you’re pursuing enlightenment, or become enlightened does not mean that you no longer have any relationships, or that your health now doesn’t matter, or that you don’t need to have any hobbies, or that you don’t have to go to work and have a decent career. It doesn’t mean these things. Again, enlightenment is an inner knowing and a realization, it’s not any lifestyle per se and it’s not any particular external situation.
If you really, authentically want a relationship, be in a relationship, and if you authentically want good health, go get good health, and if you want to live in your house and be able to pay your electricity bill, then you should probably have a job. And if you enjoy some particular hobby, like playing basketball on the weekend, or you like sailing or surfing or whatever, those are probably fine hobbies.
The problem here is that a lot of people have goals in their career, in their relationships, in their health and in their hobbies that are egoic goals. What this means is that you’re pursuing this goals because you think that these goals will make you truly happy, and so you’re like an addict. You’re a career addict, you’re a relationship addict, you’re a health & fitness junkie, or an addict with your hobbies, and you think that that’s going to be your salvation.
If you’re pursuing goals for those reasons, then those are the wrong reasons and those you should probably stop. Why? Because they are not going to make you happy, for one, and, two, because they are an opportunity cost, they are taking away time from your ability to find what would truly make you happy, which is doing the inner mental development.
So, everyone is going to have to judge for themselves which goals are authentic and which are not authentic, and this is a very tricky process. You don’t really know which goals in your life are authentic and which ones aren’t.
You might tell yourself that going to the gym is an authentic goal of yours, but you might discover, actually, upon lots of deep reflection, the only reason I’m going to the gym is because I want my girlfriend to think that I’m hot, and that’s because I have this need for upholding my self-image, that I’m this hot ripped dude. And then, authentically, if I wasn’t trying to uphold this self-image of being this hot ripped dude, then I probably wouldn’t need to go to the gym so much. That might be just one example there.
The Only Danger
Next question: Leo, isn’t enlightenment dangerous? This stuff you’re telling us here, isn’t it dangerous? Couldn’t it be eroding the foundations of a happy, healthy, normal life?
The only danger, really, is the current egoic paradigm that you’re living under. All the evils in the world, where do you think they come from? They don’t come from enlightened people, they come from selfish people. They come from the egoic paradigm. Your paradigm.
And if you think that, somehow, you’re above the egoic paradigm but you’re still living the egoic paradigm, you’re kidding yourself. If you think that you’re not capable of crime, and theft, and rape, and murder, and genocide, and bigotry, and racism, and getting angry at people, and violence of different sorts, and whatever else, all the things you think are evil in life, if you think that you’re not capable of that, news flash: the only reason you think that is because, right now, you’re sitting in a cushy position in life where you’re not being threatened.
As soon as your ego is threatened sufficiently, you will resort to all those evils. All those evils that you think you wouldn’t do, you would do them under the right circumstances. Why? Well, fundamentally, because you think that you exist and that you need to be protected and defended. How do we overcome this? By removing the notion that you exist and that you need to be defended. In fact, there is nothing that needs defending.
This can be difficult to appreciate, and it can seem dangerous and threatening to be talking about this because we’re kind of destroying a lot of your worldviews and a lot of traditional, cultural assumptions, and we’re destroying a lot of beliefs in this inquiry.
It can seem like we’re doing a negative process here by destroying stuff, as though this destruction of mental concepts in your mind is somehow eroding the moral fabric of your being and it’s going to lead to some sort of nihilism or something like that. Or it’s going to make you anti-social, or it’s going to turn you into a serial murderer or someone who’s insane.
In fact, no. All of those bad things, that’s the ego paradigm run amok. That’s who you presently are, but you’re just masking it. The enlightenment paradigm frees you up from all that. This makes you the least dangerous to yourself and to everyone around you, to society. Because, when you have nothing to defend and protect, you have no need to go out and hurt people, and you have no need to commit suicide, or to do any kind of stuff that you would consider dangerous.
People who are insane, or serial killers, these people have monkey chatter in their mind all the time. This is the exact opposite of enlightenment. Enlightenment is the silencing of the monkey chatter. When the monkey chatter is silenced, when you’re perfectly calm and present and happy in the moment, who are you going to bother? There’s no one to bother. What’s the danger? There is no more danger. Everything’s perfectly fine.
You can easily discover this in meditation. When you’re meditating and you’re very focused, you can see that this is just a totally peaceful, very innocuous, innocent state. It’s not a dangerous state, it’s an innocent state. What’s telling you that it’s dangerous is the ego. Why? Because this is how the ego defends itself, this is a defense mechanism. Watch out for that trap.
Enlightenment Is For Everyone
Next question: Leo, isn’t enlightenment only for radical people? A certain, very small segment of the population?
The answer is: No! Enlightenment is perhaps one of the most universal things that I’ve discovered that people ought to pursue. I can’t come up here and say: You must go get married, or You must go get a job that will earn you six figures, or You must go learn how to scuba-dive. Because those are all particular things that some people might like and some people might not like.
But, actually, I feel very comfortable coming up here and saying: You, no matter who you are, no matter what culture you live in, no matter what you religion is, no matter what your scientific background is, no matter if you’re old or if you’re young, no matter how much money you make, no matter what your family situation is, you should become enlightened.
Why? Because this is one of the most fundamental truths of your existence — understanding your true nature. What is your true nature? Your true nature is not what you’ve been told by society. Your true nature is not this entity that you think that you are, this body or this mind. Your true nature is, actually, nothingness. That’s your true nature.
But you need to go discover this. And everyone can discover — anyone with normal mental health can discover this. And everyone should discover this because, if everyone discovered this, society would be completely transformed.
This would be the biggest shift that human civilization has experienced in all of its history. This would be more important than the invention of the atomic bomb or electricity, or the computer, or the Internet, or anything else that we have invented. This would be more powerful, because this would change your orientation and the whole world’s orientation towards life. This would give you the happiness and the peace that you really, really want. So, this is not for radical people.
If you want to live to your full potential, if you want to be happy and peaceful, if you want to the truth of your being on a profound level, than this is for you. This is not just for monks, this is not just for some crazy, hard-core self-help junkies, like you might think I am.
This is a very desirable thing, because one thing you can find universally, across all cultures and all peoples is that they have monkey chatter in their mind, and they drive themselves crazy with it, and they have emotional, neurotic problems. And because of this, they can’t be happy. And everyone, basically, wants to be happy.
The only reason you do anything in your life, and the only reason anyone else does anything in their lives, is because they believe it will make them happy. Of course, the problem is that most of the stuff you do, and most of the stuff other people do are not going to make them happy, but they don’t realize it yet and they don’t want to admit this fact. So, because happiness is the objective of life, this is for everyone.
How To Stay On The Right Track
Next question: Leo, won’t I become a tree-hugging, hippie slacker if I start going down this path of spirituality and enlightenment?
I’m sensitive to that myself. I don’t really identify with hippie, New Age thinking, in fact I don’t like that sub-culture. I don’t really see myself as a hippie, or a tree-hugger, or whatever, and I don’t consider myself a slacker. I’m a productive person. I actually want to go and achieve stuff in my life. But this is a stereotype. In fact, hippie tree-huggers are not enlightened. Slackers are not enlightened.
If you actually go and meet a real, enlightened person, you’ll see that they are not a tree-hugging hippie slacker. These people are productive when they want to be. These people are not just coming up with some New Age theories, and singing Kumbaya, and going to some retreat in the woods, or going out hugging trees or saving the whales.
That’s not what enlightened people generally do. This sub-culture, even though it seems like it’s all spiritual, is actually a false spirituality, which is one of the things that I don’t like about hippies. I feel like they are incongruent. They live their life incongruently.
If a hippie was really living congruently, they would become enlightened and then, what would counter-intuitively happen is that they would drop a lot of their hippie ways. Because hippies are reacting against a certain element of society, and this creates another element, a philosophy, and a mind-set, and belief systems, and a world-view. But we’re talking about enlightenment wiping that slate off clean, so that you don’t have all those cultural reactions and you don’t have all these beliefs and world-views, it’s just a calm, peaceful neutral. So, don’t worry about becoming a hippie slacker.
Coping With The Vices
Next question: Leo, but I enjoy stuff like sex, alcohol, drugs, food, and I enjoy going to work. I don’t want to give this up, in fact, I refuse to give this stuff up. If the cost of becoming enlightened is to give all this stuff up, then I don’t want to become enlightened.
The answer to this objection is that none of these things in and of themselves is wrong, or bad, or evil, or even anti-spiritual, or in any way incompatible with enlightenment. Again, enlightenment is not a particular lifestyle. It’s an understanding, a realization.
After enlightenment you could still have sex, in fact your sex will become amazing if you choose to have it. You could still consume alcohol and, in fact, you could appreciate alcohol more. You could consume drugs, and you will appreciate drugs more, and you are less likely to get addicted to them. You can eat great food, and you will appreciate that food more than you’ve ever had. Why? Because you’re able to stay focused and in the moment, and you’re able to get rid of the money-chatter.
You can go to work and perform amazingly at work. Again, why? Because you no longer worry, and doubt, and have fear, and need to protect your ego, and need to look after your self image, and need to think about money and all this stuff. You could just focus on doing great work and you could be more creative, too, in your work. So, none of these things need to be given up. Maybe you will give some of this stuff up.
Right now, if you’re a drug addict, you’re probably going to give that up if you become enlightened. If you’re a glutton and you use food as a crutch and as a source of excitement and stimulation in your life, maybe you’ll stop doing that after you become enlightened.
If, right now, you’re a workaholic, and the reason you’re workaholic is because you feel like your life is pointless if you’re not a workaholic, maybe you’ll stop being a workaholic. And if you’re addicted to sex and you want sex all the time, or love in a relationship, because you feel like that completes you, and you’re, basically, again addicted to it, maybe you’ll give that up too.
What enlightenment basically does is that it unhooks you from needing these things. So, if you engage in these things in the future you’re going to do it consciously, deliberately, because you actually want it, and you’re going to be able to appreciate it much more than you’ve ever had in the past.
So, you don’t really need to give these things up and, in fact: sex will continue. I don’t really recommend that you do alcohol and drugs, those aren’t really healthy, but you’re still going to eat, and you can go and eat good food. I think you should still work and make a living in life, because you need money and resources to live in life. Those things will still stay in place most likely in your life.
The Moral Aspects
The next question is: But, Leo, what about, specifically, sex, alcohol and drugs? Aren’t these things bad? Aren’t these things evil? And what about, for example, making money: isn’t that bad too? If I become spiritually enlightened, will I no longer be able to engage in these activities?
The first question is: Why are you so attached to engaging in these activities? It’s for egoic reasons. And even if you think these things are evil, you still probably have a hidden urge to do it. You have to really hold yourself back and maybe you guilt yourself for having some sex, or doing some drugs when you shouldn’t have, or having a drink when you shouldn’t have, or swindling someone out of some money when you shouldn’t have.
The fact is that none of these things are bad in and of themselves. There’s nothing wrong with sex, there’s nothing evil about sex. There’s nothing even wrong with drugs per se, there’s nothing wrong with alcohol and there’s nothing wrong with making money and, in fact, I’m going to make a really blanket statement, just outrageous — there’s nothing wrong with any action that you choose to do at all. There’s nothing wrong with any action!
The question is: why are you doing it? What’s the motivation behind it? It’s always about the motivation. When you get the motivation right, when you remove the ego and you act selflessly, without addiction and clinginess, then you can engage in these things and they will be of value in your life and they won’t have all the negative repercussions that these things generally have.
You can use drugs and alcohol in moderation and it’ll be fine. You can have amazing, enlightened sex, and you can still make lots of money after being enlightened if you feel that’s something that’s worth doing. So, don’t worry about losing that stuff, don’t cling to it.
Enlightenment Through Drugs
Next question: I’ve had an enlightenment experience using drugs or meditation. People use mushrooms, or DMT, or there’s a bunch of other types of hallucinogenic types of drugs that induce enlightenment-like experiences, and also, people go out and meditate at retreats and stuff like that, and do guided meditation and claim to have enlightenment experiences.
So, the question is: Leo, isn’t that it? Isn’t that what you’re talking about? This is the truth of no self, right?
Enlightenment is kind of tricky because, what happens when you get on this journey, is that you start to have little — think of it like the clouds on a very cloudy day, and the sun beams, breaking through the clouds but then, all of a sudden, the clouds just open up and there’s little beam of light going right through the clouds – that’s like a little moment of enlightenment. But then, quickly, the clouds come back and close up and the light beam goes away.
One of the frustrating things on this journey is that you’re going to have mini, brief, tiny moments of no-self, maybe for five seconds here, for one second there, for a whole hour here, maybe for a whole day, but they are all going to escape you, you’re not going to be able to hold on to it. This is like an expansion of consciousness. Your consciousness dilates like the lens on a camera, it zooms in and out. When the lens dilates up, you get this expansion, but then it closes back down and falls into its default state.
So, what I’m really interested in here is not in a temporary expansion of your consciousness. That’s cool, and if you can get that — that’s great — but I’m more interested in the permanent removing of the clouds. What I really mean when I say “enlightenment” is: the clouds are completely gone and you’ve just got light shinning all the time and you’re not trying anymore. You’re not holding on to something, you’re not struggling to make it work. You don’t even have to meditate anymore. You’re permanently enlightened.
This is possible. This is a real state. Thousands of people have achieved this state, so it can be done. Any normal human being, as far as we know, can do it with enough work, but it takes quite a bit of work. In my original video, I said it takes about a thousand hours. That’s kind of a ballpark.
A thousand hours of work, maybe more, maybe less. So, generally speaking, a drug will never give you permanent enlightenment. I don’t really know of any people who have become permanently enlightened off drugs. The best a drug can do is give you a brief couple of hours of enlightenment-like experience. So, it’s not really helpful.
Meditation? Meditation is more helpful. Meditation is very good. I recommend you start doing a lot of meditation, and if you’re starting to experience more and more enlightenment-like experiences with meditation, that’s great — but don’t just stop because you think you’ve made it. You haven’t made it yet. So, keep meditating until you get the real, permanent deal.
And don’t assume that just because you’ve had a little experience with drugs, or a little experience with meditation, you know what enlightenment is going to be like, because I’m guessing it will probably turn out very different than you’d expect in the end.
Your Friends And Family
The next question: Leo, what about my friends and family after enlightenment?
What’s going to happen to them?
The reason people ask this question is because friends and family are very important for many people. A top value for many people is family and, of course, people worry: if I become enlightened, will I abandon my family? Will I abandon my friends? What’s going to happen there? Am I not going to care about them anymore, because I’m so detached from everything?
The answer is that, again, it all depends. A lot of people have very dysfunctional families and friends. So, if you’re hanging around in a gang, or you got a bunch of horrible friends and then you become enlightened, yeah, you’ll probably abandon those friends, because they weren’t very healthy. And now you guys don’t have much in common. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with family or with friends.
So, if you have a good family and your family brings you authentic joy, and if you have good friends and they bring you authentic joy, then you’ll probably keep them. In fact, your relationships with them will improve, because a lot of people have dysfunctional family and friends not because those people are dysfunctional, but because you have buttons that those people push.
And it’s because your ego is involved in these relationships. When you take the ego out of the relationships, even if you have a dysfunctional family member, or one dysfunctional friend, it’s not going to bother you anymore. You’re going to be able to have compassion for them, be kind to them. You’re not going to need to be mean to them.
Also, if you’re in some sort of a relationship with someone, one of the things enlightenment will do is make you independent of that relationship. So, if the relationship serves you, you will stay in the relationship. If the relationship becomes toxic, or it stops serving you, you’re not going to have any hesitation walking away from that relationship.
Now, some needy people will latch on to this point and say: “Well, Leo, this makes me some cold-hearted monster! I don’t want to become this way.” Actually, right now, the way that you’re living is very unhealthy. This is what neediness does — it produces a toxic attachment.
So, the toxic attachments that you might have now, those will be cut. But that’s something that you want. That’s a really good thing, it’s not a bad thing. In general, I think that your friends and your relationship will be significantly amplified and improved with enlightenment.
Next question: Leo, what about love? How does love play into all this?
Love is a pretty deep concept which I want to shoot a whole video on at some point, when I’m ready to talk about it, but the thing that I’ll say about love here is that, what you call love right now, is not true love. You don’t really have an experience of true love. What you have is egoic love. And a lot of people hate to hear it put this way, but this is true. It’s another bitter pill to swallow.
What you call love now, even in your most sacred relationship or even in a relationship that you consider a blood-bond, like with your family, with your children, with your mother and father, this is still egoic love. You love those people, but you only really love them on your terms. What this usually means is that you try to change those people, you try to manipulate those people in subtle ways, to make sure that you’re getting the love that you want.
It’s a selfish love. Yes, you love them, but the reason you love them is because it serves you in some sneaky, underhanded way that you don’t like to admit. If you want real, true love, all you have to do is break down the ego. Without the ego, you can love everything as much as you, right now, love yourself.
Imagine how kind you would be to your family, your friends and your intimate partner, and even people in general if you honestly believed that this body here is not separate from that body over there. That they are literally one and the same thing — that they are all one thing. This is the true meaning of the Golden rule. The Golden rule says: do onto others as you would do onto yourself. You can’t do that when you actually believe that you are here and everyone is separate and out there.
You can only truly live the Golden rule when you actually believe that I’m here and I’m there, and I’m there, and I’m everywhere, so I treat everything as though it’s me. I’m kind, and compassionate, and loving towards everything. That’s what real love is. Almost no one knows this practically because of their unenlightened state. If you really care about true love, you should definitely want to become enlightened.
Handling Your Doubts
Next question: Leo, you’re talking about all this stuff, and I’ve been doing regular personal development, I’ve been following your regular videos and now this is all very confusing for me, and this is creating a lot of doubts in me about my life, my goals and my ambitions. Maybe even my relationships and my business. A lot of doubts now. I used to be very confident, and I was getting more and more confident as I was watching your videos, and now it seems like you’ve cut the legs out from under me.
In a sense, that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Because enlightenment is not about building up more of your ego, it’s about cutting out the ego. And this is going to feel threatening, it’s going to feel emotionally disturbing to you. It’s not going to be pleasant. This is why so few people are enlightened, because this is not a pleasant process — this is a scary process.
One of the things that your mind want at all times is certainty and clarity. Your mind hates being confused and uncertain. It hates to doubt itself. But you need to get comfortable with uncertainty, because enlightenment is not ultimate certainty. It’s actually getting comfortable with ultimate uncertainty. It’s not about clinging to some truth. It’s actually about realizing that the truth is that there’s nothing to cling to and that there is no truth. The truth of no truth. Again, very paradoxical and fascinating how this works.
If you’re doubting yourself, good. I want you to be doubting yourself. Stop trying to be certain all the time. The problem with most people is that they are too certain and that they are too afraid of getting confused once in a while. And that they are too afraid of questioning their world-views.
This is good stuff. This is what an intelligent, open-minded, intellectually honest human being does- purposefully putting himself into situations where he doubts himself. Because he knows that this is healthy, this is building him up, not tearing him down.
When To Start With Enlightenment
Next question: Leo, isn’t it better to hold off on this enlightenment until I’m older? I’m in my twenties, or in my thirties, wouldn’t it be better if I spend the first half of my life doing all this cool, fun stuff, putting my life all together, running a business, having a relationship, all this stuff, traveling the world? And then, when I’m fifty or sixty, or seventy, when I’m retired, then I can do this enlightenment stuff.
The answer is- no. You’re procrastinating, you’re ego’s procrastinating. Why is it not better to put it off? What do you want in your life, do you want happiness or do you want suffering?
That’s the fundamental question. If you want happiness and peace, then you want enlightenment sooner, not later. Why would you put off a great thing? We have talked about all these cool benefits that you get, why would you want to put that off? The longer you put it off, the more suffering you will have in your life.
It’s like you’re saying: Wouldn’t it be better to spend the next twenty years suffering and then, only when I retire, I’ll finally be happy? That’s basically what you’re saying. The truth is that your life will be so much more rewarding and fulfilling and better if you become enlightened. And sooner rather than later.
In fact, one of the things than many people report after becoming enlightened is that this is the most positive experience that has even happened to them in their lives, and that they’re sad they didn’t have it earlier. They wish that it happened earlier in their life.
Some people become enlightened in their forties and their fifties, but then they have very bad experienced in their twenties and thirties, because they are just emotionally all over the place. There’s monkey chatter going around. This goes back to the earlier question of: Are you truly happy? The answer is that you’re not. Don’t put off happiness for another ten years. Go get it now.
Someone might say something like this: I’ve heard enough of this nonsense, fuck all this nonsense, I’m just going to go and have my normal life. I just one to live a normal life. If you want to do that, go and do that, I’m not here to force you to do anything that you don’t want to do. And, in fact, no one can force you to become enlightened, You’ll have to work really, really hard at it. One or two of my videos isn’t going to do it.
If you really feel that way, go off and do it, but realize that the reality of what you’re saying there is that you’re closing your mind down. You don’t want to do a self-honest inquiry, you’re being lazy, you don’t really want to put the work and effort into this process.
Also, realize that you’re committing yourself to a life of suffering, mental and emotional suffering. Realize that your life is going to end in a very bitter way no matter how successful you are in the end. Your going to die, and your going to have disease, and your going to have bad relationships. All this stuff is going to disturb you a lot.
This thing that you call a normal life, well — normal is a very bad standard. The normal life is really a crazy, dysfunctional life. Even what you call a normal successful life- that’s still a very dysfunctional, neurotic, miserable life. If you’re not buying into all this stuff and you think it’s silly and you think it’s nonsense, and you think it’s religion, mysticism, and whatever, and you think it’s all hippie bullshit. It can seem that way on the surface, when you first start.
What you’re really saying when you say this is that you’re at the lower stages of your development and that you haven’t gone to the higher stages yet. Maybe you need to go off and do some stupid stuff in your life. Waste ten-twenty years, and get yourself to the point where you finally say- this is not working, let me now swing my pendulum towards the spiritual end. And that might be a necessary step for you.
You could do that if you need to. But, hopefully, you could have the wisdom to short-circuit all that nonsense, save yourself a couple of decades and get to a good life. Not a normal life, but a good life, much sooner than you think it’s possible.
The Possibility Of Being Wrong
Next question: But, Leo, are you yourself not enlightened? And if you’re not, how can you be talking about all this enlightenment stuff? Aren’t you being a hypocrite? How do you actually know? What if you’re wrong on this?
The answer is that I’m not enlightened right now. But I’ve been on this journey now about two years, really heavy for one year, and the reason I feel I can talk about this stuff: I don’t feel fully qualified to be your guru and tell you all the stuff about enlightenment, because I still have a lot to learn. I’m very humble with myself about what I think I know about enlightenment. Even though I’m up here and I’m very confident, and I’m telling you all this stuff as if it was set in stone. In fact, it’s not set in stone.
There’s stuff that I get wrong and there are mistakes I can make There are revisions that I’m always making in my mind. There’s a lot that I’m learning. And this is going to continue, even after enlightenment. Because enlightenment is a long journey. Even after enlightenment there’s still more to discover about consciousness.
The reason that I feel I have some valuable information to give you here is because I’ve gone through the initial, early stages: the fight, the resistance to this idea of enlightenment. Like I said, the journey is like this progression, this expansion of consciousness, this growing, this development.
I’m still early enough in the process that I’m no master, and there are many people out there that are much more enlightened than I am and know this stuff much better. But I think that one of the benefits that I can give to you is that, actually, I’m like a normal person that you can identify with. I’m not some hippie, I’m not some spiritual guru, I’m not some Indian yogi who meditates in the woods for ten hours a day. I’m not a Buddhist monk, I’m not the Dalai Lama, I’m not some religious leader and I’m not some Zen master.
You might say: well, those people are more knowledgeable about this stuff. Yes, but those people also bring their own perspective to it and that perspective is probably very incongruent with the way that you presently live your life. You probably live a much more normal social existence, the kind of existence that I live. And you probably resonate with the fact that someone is going through this journey. And the fact is that I am, like, three steps ahead of you.
I can point you to the traps that are going to be there. I know a lot of these questions. A lot of these questions in FAQ that I’m answering, these are all questions that I had to struggle through. So, when you’re struggling through them — know that I had to struggle through them too. It’s not like this was all easy for me and I just knew it all. Every one of these questions I struggled through. And some of these I still struggle with. It’s not like I’m just making this stuff up.
What’s really fascinating about personal development is that when you start rowing and going up in this chain, this staircase ladder that you’re going up, and you’re ascending to higher levels and you’re transcending and releasing old levels is that, once you move to the next level, all the other levels suddenly make so much sense. And it’s so clear to your when you look backwards on your life, and the lives of people around you who haven’t advanced yet, why they’re stuck.
For me, that’s clear. With a lot of you, we’re just starting this journey. If you’re very advanced, then maybe you want to go to some very advanced teacher, but if you’re starting off and also you like a very no-nonsense, non-mystical, non-religious, somewhat of a logical and scientific approach to enlightenment, that can be rare to find in a teacher. That’s my own bias, my own perspective that I’m bringing to it. That might resonate with you more than other teachers might resonate with you.
As for this objection that I might be wrong about this whole thing, well: an intelligent person has to always leave open the possibility that he might be wrong about anything he says, or anything he believes, or anything he advocates, gives advices to other people on. I always leave the possibilities open that I could be wrong in any of my videos. I don’t come out there and say it every time, but I always leave that possibility open in my mind and I’m always revising my worldview. I’m always growing. There are videos that I’ve shot six months ago, a year ago, that in my mind I need to go re-shoot those videos.
One of the problems with YouTube is that they don’t allow me to actually replace old videos. I have to upload a whole new video, that creates a duplicate video, so there’s a kind of problem there, but if I could I would actually go back and re-shoot many of my older videos so that now they are more accurate, more true than they were six month ago, even one month ago.
I’m growing all the time, and the same is true with enlightenment videos. If you really want to stay on the cutting edge, keep watching the newer videos because they are becoming more and more accurate — not perfectly accurate. Yes, I could be technically wrong with this enlightenment, as I could be with any advice that I give to you whatever I’m talking about, a non-enlightenment topic.
And you know what? The same is true with everyone that you listen to. No matter who you listen to, whether it’s a scientist, a religious person, the Dalai Lama or the Buddha himself, or whatever — they could always be wrong. That’s just a fact of life and a fact of communication, so we have to deal with that.
I don’t want you to believe me on blind faith here. That’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to use your own intelligence, your own rational faculties to think about all this stuff very critically but also very self-honestly, not just with monkey chatter and ego defenses. And to start to piece it together yourself and actually go out and prove it to yourself.
This is not a belief system, this is not a philosophy. This is something that you go out and you actually achieve. You achieve it, and that’s how you know that it’s real. If I do end up being wrong about this, I’ll be sure to tell you. That’s the best promise that I can make you on this point.
That’s all the questions for now, I’m going to have another part to this series with more FAQ questions coming up in the future, so stay tuned for that. But for now- that’s it. I’m signing off, go ahead and post me your comments down below, click the like button on this video, please. Share the video with a friend, and come sign up right here to the Actualized.org newsletter.
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