Might classical enlightenment be a matter of attaining a certain measure of conscious control over one’s own self-definition?
Enlightenment has been wonderfully cut down to size — attainable-by-normal-people size — by Daniel Ingram in Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book.
Among the many hints that classical enlightenment might have something to do with self-definition as described by Leslie Dewart, is the fact that one of the key moments as enlightenment occurs is called “Change of Lineage” which sounds to me like a shift — subtle or profound — in who one understands oneself to be.
The classic metaphor for this is leaving the raft behind once one has crossed the river.
Enlightened beings are not free of ego in the sense of not having any; they become free (I gather) simply in the sense of not being attached to it. Disentangling one’s identity from the particulars of whatever teachings, traditions, and techniques got one enlightened is part of that attainment.
Although the maps of the topology of enlightenment are far from standardized, there seems to be some consensus on the question of detachment from “rites and rituals” even at the earliest stages of the process. This sounds to me like attaining a measure of dis-embededness from the scaffolding of particular institutions of self-definition, externally; and an increment in actual conscious apprehension of one’s own self-definition, internally.
Dewart’s word for this is “autonomy”.
[This post is a stub, a sketch of an idea to be developed later. If you find it interesting or intriguing please Like it, leave a comment, or send me a note and I will be happy to flesh it out more fully.]