Units of Perception

Units of perception means that, since we are autonomous beings, our perception could also be autonomous. But it is not, because by coming to an agreement with our fellow men, we all perceive the same thing. That extraordinary ability, which began as a voluntary consent aimed at survival, has ended up tying us to our own descriptions. ~ Carlos Castaneda, Encounters with the Nagual

That said, I would like to explore enlightenment, a concept that is the goal of many. Enlightenment is described as a state of blissful liberation that includes detachment, emptiness, silence and peaceful being. It promises freedom from all suffering, never-ending happiness and unsolicited joy and is most often depicted with a person sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, oozing compassion with a serene look on their face and sun rays and halos illuminating them from behind. The image may vary slightly, some with chakras ablaze, fractal universes or angelic trumpeting from a carpet of clouds. Really? Well, I guess so, for some. This idea, this concept of enlightenment is very limiting and has the potential through its definition to prevent the most enlightened beings from realizing that they are. Worse, it provides a concrete definition wrought with expectations and narrow single-mindedness that encourages others to feel obligated to live up to a concept and as such produces a bunch of phonies. Here’s the story the way I see it. People strive to become enlightened, to attain the supreme state of detachment and utter bliss. Many claim they achieve it and project their joy onto the world with lofty attitudes, breathy voices and various techniques with promises for success. However, some seekers find themselves striving and striving repetitively, caught in the pattern that holds them to chasing after yet another carrot dangling in front of them. The über carrot.

For a Toltec warrior, enlightenment, I suppose, is arriving at a state of total freedom from the mold of man, detached and at ease. Enlightenment is a state of being without any definition and can mean many things depending on the person experiencing it. And isn’t this the way it should be? If we’re free then why must we display character traits that fit within a definition? It seems contrary to the way of the warrior. I’m not claiming to be an enlightened being, however, after many years of recapitulation, erasing personal history and deep conversation with other warriors of freedom I do feel quite liberated from the repetition of the patterns found within the mold of man. I feel empty, very empty, a kind of gratified void. I don’t feel supreme bliss or peace or outpourings of loving compassion though and I suppose the fact that I don’t experience those traits will have the real enlightened people telling me that I have more “work” to do. Fuck that myth. As a Toltec warrior, my personal enlightenment may not be heralding its arrival in a colorful display of dogma and I don’t expect it to. And so it is.

Our comprehension is the result of a long process of purifications or skimmings’, as Don Juan called them. We skim everything, and in that way we modify the world that surrounds us to such an extent that there is very little left of the original. Although this situation helps us to live under better conditions, it also enslaves us to our own creation, and makes us predictable. ~ Carlos Castaneda, Encounters with the Nagual

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