I'm Ben Gruber

2013 / 25 April

Is Enlightenment Selfish?

“Nearly by definition, purely internalized growth or “enlightenment” is a selfish, self serving act and exercise. Only once it reaches others can it even have the possibility of being anything but for ones own well being. Therefore rules or standards to which you become enlightened must include physical traits and manifestations if you believe your form of enlightenment to not be selfish.”

~ Ben Gruber circa 2013

I recently have been thinking about the concept of “Enlightenment” – yeah pretty normal sunday afternoon stuff. But in all seriousness, what does that really mean? I have no idea. But in the context that I have been thinking about it, it means the deep self reflection that people do, which eventually results in a “ahhh” – followed by a sense of relief. So, for the sake of the rest of the post, that basic concept is what I am referring to.


This concept of “Enlightenment” can be found in many religions such as Hinduism and Buddism, where more or less you search your own self, internally, until you find an “ultimate truth” at which point you are “freed” from some sort of struggle (the endless reincarnation cycle in the case of Buddism). It can even be found in everyday sayings like “look deep within yourself and only there will you finally find happiness”. Basically, explore your own mind, reflect on yourself, the world and others and eventually you achieve some form of contentment or happiness.


Anyway, I have always thought of this concept in general as a pretty nice way of thinking. True happiness, the meaning of life, and all the rest of that good stuff comes from within. I thought of it as being anti-superficial – on par with “beauty comes from within.” But during a recent tennis match of ideas in my own mind, a new thought emerged victorious. The Thought: this type of “Enlightenment” by it’s own definition is actually SELFISH.


What I mean by selfish is that the exercise of reflecting and finding something from within is inherently for own good. It is meant to make you happy or to relieve a struggle you feel or to allow you personally to end your reincarnation cycle. I guess my point is that even if what you find for your Enlightenment is something extremely selfless like, “others matter more than yourself,” it is still a selfish act until you actually do something different or change your behavior in the physical world. Because if you just stop there and simply feel good about it, then nothing changed for anybody but yourself.


That is not to say that after people have been “Enlightened” they do not go out and do something selfless. It is just that “Enlightenment” can’t possibly be the part of the equation we are striving for if we are trying not to be selfish. And if our goal is to not be selfish then who cares how you got to the point where you did something physically selfless. So Enlightenment should not be the goal, your actions should be.


Basically, “thought is cheap” – get out there and prove it!

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