People often embark on their spiritual path after seeking various material goals, such as money or power. After a while, they realize these goals are empty and don’t lead to happiness, and they begin to seek spiritual goals, especially perpetual enlightenment. They often think that enlightenment is a goal to pursue, and once they reach it, they will be permanently enlightened from that point onward. This point of view usually only adds to their suffering, by generating new goals, along with more dissatisfaction with the way things are, and with what’s missing from the present moment.

Some people have peak experiences, in which they feel complete bliss, and total satisfaction with the present moment, which can feel like heaven, nirvana, or enlightenment. Then, after a few hours, days, or weeks, the realities of life come back to them and they lose this state of mind. When this happens, they usually crave a permanent return to that blissful state of mind, which only increases their suffering.

If you can learn to accept that enlightenment is not a permanent state to attain nor a goal to pursue, nor a goal to pursue, this realization can diminish your suffering and help you stay present with what exists right now.