The Art of DIY Enlightenment

By Seamus Anthony

Or How to Achieve Liberation Without Joining a Cult

By Seamus Anthony

The Age of Do-It-Yourself Enlightenment has arrived. Here’s social proof (check out the comments).

But what does this actually mean? Well, in our welcome post Steve and I explained this concept quite well. No real need to go visit that post, here is what we wrote:

“DIY Enlightenment is about finding your own version of truth, peace and happiness. It’s about learning to go with the flow and really experience life free from other people’s rules and dogma. It’s about recognising that ‘enlightenment’ is a concept that you are free to research, define, and achieve on your own – you DON’T need a guru to tell you what to do or to decide when you have achieved enlightenment…

“The Guru (or in the west, the Hermit) used to have the monopoly on the enlightenment niche because information about ‘enlightenment’ was not readily accessible and so it had to be transfered by direct verbal instruction.

Then as the written word came about, well these handwritten texts could only be in one place at a time so they naturally stayed in the guru’s library. And, frankly, it was good for business for the guru to have all info, so this model was maintained for a long time, even after crazy ideas like the printing press and *whoa* the interweb came about.

But dudes! This system is just a clunky, rusted artifact of the past! Never before has so much information been available so easily to so many people!

So, while it may mean bad news for those in guru business, there is no reason why an intelligent person such as yourself can’t access and study all kinds of different viewpoints and realise your own version of enlightenment right there in your own home in your own time and by whichever method suits you.

Because it’s not the method that matters, it’s the result.

Anyone who tells you that their method is the only way, is either a cynical bullshit artist, or is seriously self-deluded, and if you believe them… well, that’s your decision. We hope it works out for you.”

A Simple Three Step DIY Enlightenment Process

Like most truths, it is actually simple to get in touch with the enlightened state of mind and experience a remarkable increase in the amount of time that you enjoy inner peace and happiness. Probably the most difficult thing is getting out of your own way and allowing new ideas to take hold in your mind. Here’s some of my suggestions.

Step One: Read

Realising your inherent enlightenment is a matter of taste-testing a lot of different ideas. It’s about trying different concepts on for size; mixing and matching until you come up with a personal ‘look’ that suits you. And the most tried and true method is by reading.

There is so much stuff out there on the internet that you could probably read enough to get the ideas you need just by surfing the web. Personally I also recommend an old fashioned concept called the ‘book’ also, but maybe that’s just me being old school!

However, apparently a great percentage of people dislike reading (although I suppose they probably wouldn’t have made it this far into the article) so, personal preferences aside, listening and watching audio/video is probably just as good if that’s what suits your learning style.

Another great option these days is to join in conversations via social media – or start them. Ask “what is enlightenment?” and analyze what people say!

The point is to take in as many different viewpoints about life and philosophy so that you have a wide knowledge base from which to make your own decisions about “what is”.

Step Two: Live Life

Get out there an experience the wonder that is life on Earth.

Travel around the world. Have adventures. Take risks. Open a business. Work hard for the thrill of it. Find your passions and embrace them. Climb Mt. Everest. Explore your dreams without caring what others might say (let them stay home and be safe while you really live). Get tattooed from head to foot. Spend six months in a remote place by yourself painting and writing poetry. Train to become an Olympian. Have several wild, passionate love affairs and then experience what real love means (it’s different). Or the other way around!

Learn what it means to be alive. Get into trouble and then get yourself out of it. Take risks. try as many different experiences as you can and really be aware of these experiences as they are happening (see step three).

I am nearly 35 and have packed more flavour into my life so far than a lot of people ever do. I have been a (seriously minor) rock star, run a vibrant cafe in a strange city, studied acting, French, Kung Fu, Chi Gong, and yoga. I’ve flown around the world and spent weeks – even months – living with locals in foreign lands. I’ve worked my balls off in the corporate sector (Blech! But the experience is priceless) and I’ve spent months doing nothing much but contemplate the breeze.

I’ve thrown myself into excessive hedonism and spiritual asceticism – and wriggled my way back out of both. I’ve had the beautiful lovers and had my heart broken on several occasions. I’ve enjoyed a close and truly satisfying relationship for 8 years now. I’ve sat in deep, silent meditation with true masters, and danced and babbled in tongues with Born Again Christians. I’ve started and run a nightclub of the all night variety. I’ve fathered a child. I’ve taken six months off to write a novel. I’ve battled addictions. I’ve tried any experience that in any way appealed to me, more than I can write about here, and there are many more I intend to try.

I’ve even tried stuff that I am ashamed off (and really don’t want to share with the world) but I am GLAD of those things I did (even if I regret the consequences) because it has all given me one thing: a decent measure of wisdom.

And without wisdom you will never have self-confidence, peace of mind or joy of heart.

Step Three: Meditate

It doesn’t matter what kind of meditation you try. Just try it. In fact try several different types and read lots about it because if it doesn’t blow your mind straight away (and it probably won’t) then be assured it will eventually.

Why is meditation so important? It is essential to enlightenment practice because it develops Awareness, with a capital A.

Awareness, the ability to truly be present in this exact moment, is the most important skill you can ever learn because without awareness you are never really living authentically, but rather you are all in your head living in the past and future and living out twisted versions of reality as filtered through your unchecked ego.

Meditation is probably the best way, but it is true that people achieve Awareness in other ways. Why do you think skydivers get addicted to the thrill of jumping out of planes? They sure as hell aint thinking about much else other than the present moment when they are hurtling through the sky!

As this blog grows, we are going to go further into meditation and how it works to help you realise liberation in this lifetime, but this is too big a topic for this one post.

So for now: get reading, get living and start experimenting with meditation – before you know it you will be a card carrying Rebel Zen Master!

Hi, I'm Seamus Anthony. I am an author, artist and musician from Australia. Here at Rebel Zen, I document my journey as an creative artist and human and in doing so, hopefully help you in your own progress through your life of creativity. Go get your free E-book by me: "Taming The Monkey Mind".

15 comments Write a comment

  1. Apparently the Hermit was viewed with great respect as a wise person way back when, so maybe not so different? According to Pollack it was one of the only ways for women to get any respect from the community during the middle ages as female Hermits were seen a having “conquered” the “evil” of their sex to become wise or holy. I am guessing the Church weren’t real keen on them though and hence witch burning.

  2. Hi Evan – I actually agree with you wholeheartedly, and I am (so I have been told) an extroverted introvert myself (or other way around?). I don’t think you need to jump out of planes or become a rock star, I just think you need to get stuck into living and if for you this means staying in the kitchen that’s fine.

  3. it takes patience and perseverence to be your own guru, something sadly lacking in the hectic world of today…not to say it is impossible, just rather challenging to keep from getting caught up in the distractions.

    zen17s last blog post..Miracle

  4. Hi Aaron (Zen17),

    Thanks for dropping by Rebel Zen. I have actually read your book Perfecting Ourselves, and although I have failed rather spectacularly to do so, I still really enjoyed the book and should probably re-read it come to think of it 🙂

    Other readers of this blog, I hereby exhort you to go check out Zen Yoga

  5. Sounds like you’ve torn a page right out of my life story too. I’ve done things I did well, things that didn’t go so well, things I regret doing but am thankful for the learning experience. I’m excited to wander the path to enlightenment but I’m in no hurry to get there (life’s a journey, not a destination- Aerosmith ; although probably said more profoundly by someone else but that came to mind) I’m also a firm believer that enlightnement and awareness can come in stages…. you know, those “aha” moments.

  6. Hey ZenDad. Thanks for stopping by!

    Totally agree – enlightened growth happens in stages but I also believe that simultaneously it is all there inside of us already. And outside us as well.

  7. Hah, loved this post. The life experience part in particular – I’m starting to see that everything we do in life is actually pretty awesome for us – even if it hurts at the time. Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you contacted me via SU =)

  8. while it may mean bad news for those in guru business

    Yeah, so the idea of cooperation vs. competition. Interestingly, I see it as one of the greatest things ever to happen to the “guru business,” if you will. Instead of one enlightened master walking the earth (think back in the days of Jesus or Buddha), we have literally the entire WORLD itself awakening. i find that to be absolutely incredible. it is the world uplifting the world, not someone who mistakenly gets labeled as the savior. but i digress… 🙂

    The list you put together works really well.

    Finding a path and a teacher who works for you is very helpful. (Again, the beauty of having an abundance of teachers. One size does not fit all.)

    Meditation is like a staplefood in spiritual growth.

    And going off to meditate in a cave in the mountains isn’t exactly practical in this day and age. It’s nice to be able to integrate spirituality within our day-to-day lives, to make them one and the same, to really live life without limitations in any way.

    I loved reading about your intense experiences in life, and the depth to which you are experiencing it. =)

    Ariel – We Are All Ones last blog post..Forcing Presence vs. Allowing Presence

  9. @Albert – thanks for stopping by Albert. And yep, shit sticks just like honey, if you know what I mean. (Which you well may not ‘cos that was a pretty weird thing for me to say really 😉

    @Ariel – I actually agree that the world is beginning to awaken en masse. Suffice to say there’s some way to go before we reach critical mass with that project but the Info Age is helping for sure.

  10. I just had a beer and a bowl for breakfast. Now it’s time to turn on some music. I have so many gurus I can’t even count. Wayne Coyne, Freddie Mercury, Tim Burton, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., and I won’t mention THE master’s name. You are going to need to find someone you can really trust to remind you that you were born enlightened. You can’t just throw away all of society’s BS, because 2% of it is necessary to remain here.

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