Many years ago I began to write a book called Walking to Nirvana: A Very Western Enlightenment. The idea behind the book was to explain the nature of the state Buddhists call enlightenment in terms of cognitive development, based primarily on the ideas of Jean Piaget, the great Swiss developmental theorist. I’m not sure why I stopped, except that it’s entirely like me to overburden myself with projects, so I suspect I simply stopped when I decided that other goals were more important.
It’s at least three years since I began another Zen-related project, which was simply to attain enlightenment. This project – really, a complete transformation of my life – focused not on the conventional Buddhist methods of self-discipline but – again – on my understanding in western terms of what enlightenment is and means and how it is to be achieved. No chanting, no saffron robes, not moral or ethical positions. Just straightforward cognitive development.
The pages and blog entries connected to this page are also a return to my previous ambition – to write the the theory and narrative of enlightenment. The pursuit of enlightenment itself proceeds – with some success – but I’d like to articulate what the underlying ideas were too. This is partly because I am an inveterate theorist, but increasingly because I want to explain to my children what it all means. I can offer them nothing more important, but at the same time it is hard to speak about it in everyday conversation. So for the time being this will have to do.