Enlightenment Ain’t What It’s Cracked Up to Be, Robert K. C. Forman

Apr 16th, 2017 | By | Category: Articles

Waiting for Enlightenment

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. When we took up meditation in the early seventies, we all were going to gain enlightenment. It would be life-shattering, the end of all neurosis, clean. It was to be the end of all suffering, the revolution of the soul. Enlightenment will, we heard,

… put an end to all suffering; filling the heart with happiness brings perfect tranquility to the mind.

As enlightened beings, we would not be a little happier or just more content. Such people are filled with happiness. The realized man, the illumined soul… ahhh… he will be steeped in perfect joy. All his desires would be fulfilled, all his suffering at an end.

A soul evolved to this cosmic state is eternally contented.

When we became truly without stress, having utterly relinquished the knots and tensions that had held us in our mundane egos, we would live eternal freedom in divine consciousness.

My guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, used to recite some of the Indian texts he had memorized in his youth. Quoting the Hindu Upanishads, for example, he assured us that,

When [the individual soul] it discovers the Atman

Full of dignity and power,

It is freed from all its suffering.

When a man knows [the infinite], he is free: his sorrows have an end…

I wanted that. I didn’t want to be happier, I wanted perfect happiness. I didn’t want less suffering, I wanted to be utterly free from suffering. Not fewer but all my sorrows should end. I wanted the life Maharishi described: dignified, full of power, helpful to others, deep, suffering-free.

That was the deal. We’d meditate. We’d do our yoga. We’d let go our stresses. We’d work for the TM movement. And we’d gain divine consciousness, full-on perfection, Enlightenment. My Buddhist friends were well on the way to Nirvana. My Christian friends were going to gain Heaven on Earth. And wouldn’t it all be grand?

Dr. Charles Tart, eminently sane scientist of meditation that he is, put it this way. Serious spiritual seekers like me and he himself,

[tended] to think of enlightenment as all or none. Somebody is enlightened or somebody is not enlightened.

And because this was so, to gain enlightenment would be to become perfect.

In this all or none model of enlightened functioning… [we think] every single thing an enlightened person does must be perfect.

Enlightened gurus like Maharishi, Swami Muktananda, Rajneesh or a Zen Roshi like Eido Roshi carried a presence unlike anything most of us westerners had ever encountered. They seemed like god-men. So it was disconcerting to witness, over the years, their feet turning more into clay than we expected: Rolls Royces, sexual dalliances, strange money management, faked miracles, the full catastrophe.

One purportedly realized soul led his followers to stage a bloody gas attack on a Tokyo subway station.

No, enlightenment turned out to be far more ambiguous than the single summum bonum, the supreme good, for which I and so many others had been longing.

So here I sit, in just that ambiguity, steeped permanently in some approximation of the openness to which enlightenment points, yet at the same time anxious about the loneliness and the cold and whether I’ll have anything worthwhile to say. Whatever this strange both/and life is, it is far more ambiguous than any all or none, or indeed anything I could ever have imagined. I am way too much beast to be a god-man and far too much god to be beast.

Dr. Robert K.C. Forman is uniquely qualified, both personally and professionally, to re-imagine the spiritual goal and the path to it. Personally, Dr. Forman hasn’t missed a day of meditation in 40 years. He broke through to the first major life shift he sought during a nine-month meditation retreat, just two years after beginning Transcendental Meditation. Further developments have continued through his gaining of a Ph.D. in mystical experience from Columbia U and his 20 years as a Professor of Comparative Religions, through his lifetime of yearly solo meditation retreats, self-reflection, 18 years of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic training, his marital work, his teaching, writing and leading of workshops, and his research into and national leadership role in the “spiritual but not religious” community.

What if you spent years of your life seeking spiritual enlightenment, but were looking in the wrong place over a long time? It’s happening right now to millions of seekers around the world.

That’s why Dr. Robert Forman has written his revolutionary book. Told in often poetic prose, it offers new direction for people looking for a sane and healthy spiritual pathway in our increasingly confusing world.

Traditional spiritual models are giving seekers a wrong and frustrating impression about spiritual enlightenment. By exploring his own 39 year experience of spiritual enlightenment, Dr. Forman offers a remedy to folks who are:

Convinced they don’t have the right stuff to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime…

Disillusioned by spiritual teachers who don’t live up to their lofty self-portraits…

Worried that choosing a spiritual life means leaving their everyday life behind…

Hungry for a different way to be, but unable to express it…


Through metaphor, humor, vulnerability and achingly beautiful prose, Dr. Forman’s book offers newfound hope to spiritual seekers everywhere.


Buy this Paperback £9.99 / $16.95: AMAZON US  |  AMAZON UK  |  HIVE  |  INDIEBOUND

Buy this e-book £7.99 / $12.99: AMAZON US  |  AMAZON UK  |  HIVE  |  INDIEBOUND


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