One reason is that, apparently, it boosts your readership (though I've personally never searched for a topic using a hashtag, so I'm not sure why anyone would).
But there is another reason. I thought it's kind of symbolic of that which I hope to find at the end of my search - enlightenment that works in our current context.
Something universal, something that takes into account all our modern needs, the great speed at which we are moving, the pollution of technology and media, the need for a job and the necessity for completing mundane everyday tasks. I also want to look at all the different practices of reaching out to God, and the teachings of those who don't believe in Him at all. Although I have always felt a deep connection to God, there are many reasons why we feel the way we feel, and each of us has our own individual path that is right for us. So I don't want to take any sides. I simply want to marvel at it all, and expand my mind and understanding, to feel a part of something greater; a brotherhood and sisterhood which has no room for judgement, only acceptance. I want to be that friend who listens and feels compassion, not the one who offers up their advice without anyone asking for it.
This and the following blog posts in this series, will be an amalgamation of my attempts at finding that which I cannot even define. I am sure I will make foolish beginner mistakes. I am sure I will post something on here that will make me feel embarrassed when I read it again a few months down the line. (Hopefully, more enlightened!) But I feel a little better about the futility of my search after learning that in his search for an end to all suffering, Buddha himself went through years of hopeless attempts at defying his body, as told in the BBC documentary The Genius of The Ancient World. It was not until many years later that he sat under that great, big tree and finally reached nirvana.
I am by no means comparing myself to Buddha - I am simply saying that he, too, was a human once, as was Jesus and Socrates, and all the saints, geniuses and pioneers that we now revere.
That is, if we give their historical persons the benefit of the doubt - I don't want to get into scruples over whether they really existed or not - let's save that for another blog post. Let this one be simply about possibility. To realise our own potential and all the possibilities open to us, we need inspiration. And what can be more inspiring than the realisation that any great man (or woman) began at the same starting point - born a human being, just like us.
After working for two years in a fairly large institution, I realised that the only thing separating me from those who held much higher positions in my field, was experience. With enough years and practice, everything they knew, I could also learn - as could anyone else. And with this realisation came great empowerment. So great that I left my job to focus on what I really want to do in life - writing - in the safe knowledge that, with enough effort and practice, I would get to where I want to be. And, although it may seem an unattainable goal right now - it is my belief that the same can happen with enlightenment, for me and for anyone else.
Making a change and taking a leap into the unknown is always a double-sided coin. One side reads bravery while the other - sheer foolishness. I guess time will tell which side of the coin my life will land on, but I feel that leaps into the unknown are essential steps towards enlightenment.
Perhaps we need to take them in order to realise how polluted we are by our upbringing, the values of our culture and society, that we simply are out of sync with our true selves - our own mind, which, if questioned enough, would reveal all the answers.
Just picture how empowering that would be. If each one of us realised the great wisdom of our own reason, how little power forms of authority could hold over us, how little they could intimidate us! There would be no need for governments that are ruled by people we didn't even choose to represent us. We could live according to our own rules, make our own policies. And we'd know when someone wasn't speaking the truth, despite whatever title they have been assigned, because that title would no longer intimidate us. The only measure we would use would be whether or not what they say resonates with our own nature and reason. In short - we'd reach that graceful existence that John Lennon was talking about.
But before I get carried away with Utopian dreams, let's leave it there. So, this first post is about inspiration and possibility. I will look at the definitions of enlightenment in the next one.
*And a quick disclaimer - although enlightenment is associated with Buddhism, I don't want to label myself as belonging to any particular denomination or spiritual practice, since labels only separate us further. I want to keep an open mind to all ideas. When I choose to quote certain texts or people, it is because those specific quotes resonate or stir something within me.
Having said that, I do want to apply something I learnt while watching Discovering Buddhism series. A great emphasis was placed on your motivation when engaging in a certain practice. According to the series, the quickest way towards attaining enlightenment is to dedicate the positive energy generated by your practice, for the benefit of all beings.
I dedicate my own search for enlightenment, which I choose to share on my blog with a sincere commitment to authenticity, in order to reach out to others and inspire them to undertake their own search, for the benefit of all beings.