I recently attained enlightenment. At 7:46 PM UTC on 3 January 2017, 48 yrs, 236 days, 8 hrs, 15 mins, 31 seconds after exiting the womb and starting the search—I was progressive at a very young age—enlightenment descended over me like warm rays of sunshine. I know this because I tweeted as much seconds after the event—minus the colorful prose.
Many fellow enlightenment seekers will be asking the obvious question: “How?” Unfortunately for my 23 dedicated readers, attaining enlightenment did not come with a certificate to teach. Google, the bastion of all knowledge, implies that in order to provide enlightenment instruction one must be a Spiritual Teacher—both words capitalized because it is a real thing. It apparently helps to teach from truth and love, trust the sacred process, and avoid guarantees. Interestingly, a degree in philosophy does not appear to be a prerequisite—much to the chagrin of many a Philosophy major. In fact, a degree in anything, especially from a Western school, seems to be a limiting factor.
My teaching style is based on sarcasm and disdain, and a general distrust of every process. I do tend to avoid guarantees—this is something one learns early in the consulting field. However, I also have a degree and it is from a Western school—two degrees from two different Western schools, actually—which erases with prejudice any chance at a Spiritual Teaching certificate, or at the very least disqualifies me for membership in STRANGE, the Spiritual Teachers Restorative Awareness and Nascent General Enlightenment club.
Nevertheless, since there are 23 dedicated, enthusiastic robertjrichey.com followers to please, it seems only prudent to share a bit about the enlightenment experience—lest one of you decides to abandon the sacred process of following Robert J. Richey’s musings. So here goes—the 10 most notable things Robert J. Richey knows about enlightenment:
1. It doesn’t hurt as much as one would think. In the movie Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), Debi, played by the wonderfully talented and highly underrated Minnie Driver, describes Shakabuku, “It’s a swift, spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever.” Thankfully, the act of obtaining enlightenment is far less traumatic. There is no blinding pain while hugging your knees nestled in the corner of the room sobbing uncontrollably after a nasty breakup. Instead, there is a pleasant euphoria similar to a mid-morning champagne-induced brunch buzz.
2. There are four stages of enlightenment: Country, Blues, Classical, and Rock & Roll. Those at the ‘country’ stage will have the hardest time attaining enlightenment due to an overwhelming desire to find that cheating whore who left with your dog.
3. Despite what your mother used to tell you, pursuing enlightenment does not cause hairy palms, cancer, or premature baldness. Caveat: I do suffer from a small decrease in visual acuity; however, I believe that is due to age rather than aggressive pursuit of enlightenment during my teenage years.
4. Enlightenment has it’s downside. In his struggle to open Buddhism to Japan, the Japanese Monk, Kobu Daishi, asked, “Why can’t we all have the same chance at enlightenment?” After pondering the question for a while—during which he also achieved satori while sitting on a rock under an apple tree—he set out to bring Buddhism to Japan. After a few years another thought occurred to him, “Why can’t I get anyone to mow my lawn?” The answer: Because everyone was just too busy pursuing enlightenment to waste time mowing someone else’s grass.
5. Speaking of grass, it doesn’t actually help one achieve enlightenment—believe me, I know. The problem is that the ganja only makes people think they’re enlightened until they get hungry.
6. Enlightenment can come at any time, so be prepared. Opportunity isn’t the only thing that doesn’t knock twice. When enlightenment beckons, it’s warm light shining brightly, be ready to grab it with both hands, wrestle it to the ground, and pound the crap out of it. Be careful, though, that light could also mean you are dead—you might open your eyes to find your hands around St. Peter’s neck.
7. Enlightenment can lead to war. It’s true. The Thirty Years’ War, the French and American Revolutions, Spanish Succession, and a bunch of smaller skirmishes all occurred during the The Age of Enlightenment—a time when everyone and her sister was enlightened.
8. Achieving enlightenment too early in life can stunt your growth. Want to grow big and strong? Don’t focus on enlightenment. Instead, eat spinach and experience a little bit of life before your enlightened, self-righteous attitude alienates you from everyone who pretended to be your friend because you controlled access to the only big screen TV in C Block.
9. Enlightenment is a two-way street. In order to achieve enlightenment, you have to give something back. Normally it is simply a small token of gratitude, like a donation to the Robert J. Richey retirement fund. However, occasionally enlightenment can require something more demanding, such as a change of religion, or giving up drinking. Carefully consider whether enlightenment is worth the sacrifice.
10. Sometimes you don’t need enlightenment, you just need to lighten up. The best example of this is the current President elect, Donald Trump. The man doesn’t drink, smoke, or eat yogurt. He thinks Saturday Night Live is serious theater. Trump suffers from the same problem as most people these days—he doesn’t need enlightenment, he just needs to lighten up.
That’s it, the ten things I know about enlightenment. That didn’t hurt nearly as much as you thought, right?
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Unless otherwise noted, I drew or took the photographs in the article—as lame as they may look. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is probably planned. Copyright can be found here for my original work.