Debunking the #1 myth about enlightenment | Robert Waldinger

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Enlightenment: After the ecstasy, the laundry. Why enlightenment is never an end in itself.

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Ask people what it means to be enlightened and you’ll get a wide variety of answers. But according to Zen master Robert Waldinger, permanent enlightenment rarely — if ever — exists. In fact, we should be suspicious of those who claim to be “fully enlightened” beings.

Although some people claim to have acquired total enlightenment after experiencing some fantastic spiritual event, Waldinger believes this perspective of “acquisition” can be dangerous. Instead of viewing enlightenment as something you acquire, he believes it should be something you practice in each moment, like an activity or a habit.


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About Robert Waldinger:

Robert Waldinger, MD is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a practicing psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and a Zen teacher and practitioner.

For the last two decades, Waldinger has been the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. This study, conducted over more than 85 years, has analyzed the entire lives of 724 families to determine the activities, behaviors, and dynamics that enhance a person’s life-long well-being. Waldinger has dedicated his career to examining these elements and discovering what brings true fulfillment to human existence.

He is the author of several books, including his most recent, The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness.