- Dec 7, 2002
Enlightenment has to be your first priority for it to be attained. As long as your top priority isn't Enlightenment, you will not attain it. It is exactly because Enlightenment is probably just in our Top Ten To Do's list of important things, yet not positioned number one, that renders us unenlightened. We have to renounce the items of higher placings in our list of priorities in order to shift the priority of Enlightenment up. This can be as simple as giving up a not so important fun outing which we crave to enjoy... in order to dedicate more time to meditation or self-reflection. Let's face it, we are almost always inserting other new non-Enlightenment top priority items in our To Do List as fast as the previous ones are fulfilled. Yes, it is spiritual procrastination.
You can't attain Enlightenment while entertaining a single thought of samsara. A single drop of poison renders a whole glass of drinking water impure. As long as you do not consider advancing towards total mental purification, you will not become totally pure. This means that Enlightenment not only has to be the first priority in your life in order to attain it, it has to be the only! This is not to say spiritual progress is not possible as long as we do not place Enlightenment on top priority; but the final lap to Enlightenment requires the relinquishment of all other concerns or attachments. Think of it likened to a rocket needing to accelerate to the critical escape velocity in order to break free of our world's (Earth) gravitation. In relinquishment of everything holding it back, it wins the "freedom" of space, and escapes the grasp of an entire planet. Speaking in a parallel way, Enlightenment is the fruit of the relinquishment of "all worlds"- the letting go of our craving for existence, non-existence and sense pleasures.
When Enlightenment is your top priority, everything you do becomes nothing less than direct or supportive actions for aiding you to attain Enlightenment. Eating, for example, should no longer be out of craving, for the sole purpose of sustenance of the body as a necessary vehicle for attaining Enlightenment. This is part of the practice towards perfect wisdom. The additional task of the Bodhisattva is to help others realise the Dharma... including this very snippet of Dharma... which helps lead to Enlightenment. This is part of the practice towards perfect compassion.
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