Enlightenment is not always the end. Sometimes, people mistakenly believe that upon achieving enlightenment, everything is finished and there is nothing more to be done. However, this notion is not necessarily true. While it is correct that there is nothing that needs to be done to improve oneself or to attain happiness and contentment, there is still the potential for a deeper understanding.
Consider the analogy of waking up from a dream. When you realize you are dreaming, the dream doesn’t disappear; instead, you become aware of its nature and can play with it out of curiosity and enjoyment. Similarly, upon awakening to reality, it doesn’t mean you cannot engage with life. For instance, you might observe the scars or recurring patterns in your body. Some enlightened teachers might disregard them, but personally, I find them interesting and worth exploring. By examining these patterns and gaining understanding, they often dissipate and do not reappear. It is fascinating to witness how things can fall away simply by looking at them and seeing through the illusion or ignorance.
Enlightenment is the dispelling of the ignorance of the ego, seeing through its illusory nature. However, it does not imply that one understands everything or has seen through every illusion. There remains the potential to unveil other illusions of the mind and dispel further ignorance. Moreover, enlightenment does not mean that everything becomes known and differentiable. It is comparable to waves in an ocean—each wave moves in its unique way, yet they are all composed of water. The separation exists only in our minds when we label them as separate entities. Ultimately, there is no separation; it is all in our perception.
Even after enlightenment, spiritual practices need not come to an end. Personally, I still engage in meditation and find joy in it. Additionally, I have incorporated appreciation and caring as my spiritual practices. I appreciate everything around me, such as my warm house, friends, family, or a sunny day. Moreover, I try to genuinely care for the well-being of others, whether they are strangers, co-workers, or fellow travelers. Appreciation and caring bring a sense of engagement and vitality to life. While these practices are not necessary, I find enjoyment in them, and they add depth to my experiences.
There are numerous facets to what can unfold after enlightenment. I wanted to convey, as clearly and concisely as possible within five minutes, that enlightenment is not the end. Some may even argue that enlightenment is the beginning, as it brings true peace, contentment, and joy. From this point, there is more to be discovered—not because it makes you a better person or is obligatory, but simply for the joy of exploration and the delight of curiosity.
Thank you very much.