Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Fastest, Cheapest, Easiest Way to Enlightenment

The Dalai Lama was once asked in front of a live audience what was the cheapest, fastest, easiest way to enlightenment. His reaction was to put his face in his hands and weep. After a few moments, he said that this was not a question a practitioner (of meditation) would ask, and that if he knew what enlightenment was, there would be no hesitation to do what it takes to attain it.

In this same way I could weep when I hear those who wield influence in the field of education talk about the cheapest, fastest, easiest way to get a kid through school. If we knew of the value of a rich, purposeful, meaningful education we would not hesitate to do what it takes to provide each child with one.

While enlightenment and graduation are very worthy end goals, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into them that cannot be sped through or done without mindfulness. This time and effort is not only necessary, but also valuable in and of itself. As tempting as it is to get to the end goal, there are tremendous benefits all along the journey.

It may be no coincidence that Buddhism is referred to as a "path" rather than a religion. A path is a journey. The Buddhist path is full of opportunities for personal growth through and to self-discipline, practice, reflection, examination, striving, and compassion. It is through the thousands of attempts of mastery that we become masters. These are many of the qualities we would like for our children, and they each take time and effort. If education were viewed as a path, not just a goal, would we take the time to savor it, to value the everyday efforts and achievement that make each experience an important step along the way?

How gratifying and powerful education would be if we all (politicians, parents, educators, students) viewed education as a path to explore slowly, carefully, and joyfully - as a daily gift. The thought that there may be no end to the path might change our perspective and our willingness to "do" rather than to "get".


  1. Instill that in each child and the journey wouldn't end after grade school, middle school, high school, college... it wouldn't even end in death. Peaceful and enlightening. We are all still learning.

  2. Good one on enlightenment and it helps a lot.

    Karim - Mind Power