I am enlightened. No man is more enlightened than I am, and I am no more enlightened than any other enlightened man. Enlightenment is enlightenment. And that's that. It's an unalterable, unwavering state of knowledge and being beyond doubt, a completion every moment by grace of the Most High, the unspeakable one, God. That's the ultimate; the absolute being beyond any description. But the ultimate, the enlightenment of man, must translate into his living life. And to me and my teaching that means an enlightened man is liberated from unhappiness. Being and living free of unhappiness is the natural and simple state of all life on earth - except man. He has been misled away from it by spiritual lures and glamour and the result is the conflict and pain, the fluctuating unhappiness, of his short life.

Enlightenment can't be pursued or sought after. Even mentioning the word puts people further from the state. It gives the impression enlightenment is something to get that they don't have. This creates a multitude of inimical reactions; chasing it by following paths and ways; or feelings of discontent, self-doubt, frustration and inferiority; or the defensive ridicule of this most admirable and completely natural state of consciousness.

Today the carrot of enlightenment through priestly traditions continues to promise something to be gained in the future. Whether it is the Buddhist nirvana, the Christian heaven, the Islamic houri paradise, the Judaic Eden or the Hindu moksha, the prize is never now. Paths take time, ways take time, and traditions are the very stuff of time. So there's always the talk of time past in the form of Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Mohammed or other past masters and what they supposedly said or did.

Truth is the reverse. Truth is here now; no past, no future. People are unenlightened only because they believe in the truth of the past and therefore must look to the rewards of the future. To be enlightened, to return to the original state of life on earth, requires action now in the present with no reference to the past. What has to be done is to kill the old priest in you, starve out the traditionalist, the follower, the believer.

If you go to think about what you should do next to become more enlightened, don't. The thought is the priest trying to get you to think of what some teacher or so-called master said instead of being responsible for your self and the truth now. If you see yourself discussing enlightenment, stop; it's the unenlightened priest talking. If you want to run from the present difficult situation, don't; it's the priest giving you more time to suffer again. If you want to wear clothes of another culture midst the people of your own culture, don't; it's the priest wanting to dress up, impress and glamorise himself. If you are moved to shave your head for spiritual reasons, don't; it's the priest getting up to his old tonsorial tricks when your only concern is being what you are now.

In other words, to be enlightened of the acquired burden every spiritual belief and notion has to be abandoned, every reference to what any spiritual teacher or master has ever said must be set aside.

What does that leave? Your own experience. Not your historical or memorable experience, for that's the problem. Your own experience is your self-knowledge of life. Let's establish once and for all what this means now. Forget everything I've said in this article except this question: Do I want to suffer or not suffer NOW? That's the only truth for you. There's no tradition, no past, no discussion in it. It's all you need. Keep it with you and at the next temptation to suffer it will prevent you suffering.

But only if you've learned in your own experience what causes you to suffer. If you haven't learned that, you're still attached to suffering and will unwittingly embrace it. In that case you have to read on, take more time and ask yourself more questions.

Have you learned yet that you only suffer when you think about events or feel about them, that you don't suffer from events themselves?

Have you learned yet that every thought about yourself is a thought of the past, that worry is thinking and that all thinking eventually leads to worry, fear and insecurity? If so, each time you go to think, or catch the thinker thinking even about "good" things like last night's movie, don't; stop. Not because Barry Long says so but because you've realised the truth of thinking in your own experience. It's what you've learned from life, not from someone else's experience. Therefore it is the truth for you now and every moment. Otherwise you must go on thinking and go on suffering. One day, when you've had enough of the pain, you'll come to your senses.

Have you learned yet that every feeling is a feeling of the past and that every "good" feeling soon changes and eventually becomes the feeling of doubt, confusion, boredom or sorrow? If so, stop believing your feelings; don't act on them; wait.

Action will happen in its own time. Action taken on strength of feelings inevitably leads to more feelings to correct the action previously taken - and so the feelings of discontent and conflict, and corrective actions go on and on repeating themselves. If in your own experience you haven't yet learned the truth of the deception of feelings, then you just have to go on believing and thinking, having faith in the past and hope in the future, being happy today and unhappy tomorrow, but never being in command of your own life for long.

What about compassion? Compassion is another word like enlightenment that Eastern-based teachings have ritualized, taken out of context. This influences followers to try to be compassionate. But compassion is natural. Any concept or thought of it is phony. You can't try to be or do anything that's natural; it's already there. What has to be done is to stop indulging what's not natural in you- such as suffering. Trying is trying to get something for yourself, the sufferer. And compassion is the absence of self or personal suffering. Only then, in the absence of motive, can the one and only compassionate God be compassionate as God sees fit, and not as selfish man imagines. No self means no selfish intent, no personal satisfaction, no personal feeling of achievement, no personal decisions or choices. Compassion then is simply an activity of divine being and not of any person.

Is suffering humanity (suffering under its own self-delusion) really served by the hoary old story of the bodhisattva who supposedly out of compassion refrains from entering nirvana and chooses to save others instead? Where is he? If he's not here now he's a phantom of the imagination distracting people from the truth of being now. And anyway, in the enlightened state life unfolds without the burden of choice or alternatives. You just do as you do.

Barry Long

© The Barry Long Trust