What is enlightenment? Have the experience and the idea of enlightenment evolved with time?
Enlightenment is not something special, it is one of the most simple, natural phenomena. Just because it is so simple and natural it has become extraordinarily difficult for man to understand it.
Man’s mind is attracted toward the difficult. There is challenge, something to prove, something to feel one’s mettle. Man is interested in going to the moon. It is absolutely pointless. There is nothing there at all; it is a dead planet. But man is ready to risk his life to go to a dead planet where he is not going to meet anybody, even to say hello.
Man is interested in reaching Everest. The peak, the highest peak in the world is so narrow that you can barely stand on top of it. You cannot do anything else there, and there is nothing else to do…eternal snow. But for a hundred years, hundreds of adventurers have been going to climb Everest. The majority of them have died on the way, but still it has not prevented new adventurers, new climbers.
One has to understand this point very clearly: the difficult is attractive because it is ego-fulfilling. The impossible is very magnetic; it pulls you to risk everything, to risk even life, because if you can manage that which has been thought up to now impossible, you have fulfilled your ego the way nobody has yet been able to fulfill it. You are the first man, like Edmund Hillary on Everest – the first man in history – but what is the point? What have you gained? What has humanity gained? No, nobody even asks the question. Everybody knows, deep down, the answer; that’s why nobody asks the question.
The more difficult, the more impossible, the more attractive: its impossibility has a gravitation. The ego is not interested in the simple, in the ordinary, in the day to day; everybody is doing it. Because of this stupid ego, religions turned enlightenment also into something very difficult, perhaps the most difficult thing in existence. It has to be so. It is the realization of God, it is the realization of eternity. It is going beyond death; it is moving into the very mystery of existence.
All the religions of the world have been exploiting your ego. And the ego is very vulnerable to being exploited; it is just ready to be exploited: show it a goal, give it a way, make it difficult, almost impossible. I say almost impossible; I’m not saying absolutely impossible, because if you make it absolutely impossible then the ego loses hope. You have to keep the candle of hope burning. It is difficult but possible – almost impossible, but yet possible. But it is possible only for rare, superhuman beings.