The Buddhist idea of “Enlightenment” describes a set of rungs on a spiritual ladder; each rung is stage of personal maturity and the joy you might feel comes from the efficacy of self-actualization, like empowerment. The final rung of this ladder is total “omnipotency” yet here I would caution that the Buddha no more changed our ordinary day than Jesus did, if you catch my drift. After his “complete and total omnipotence” Gautama Siddartha Buddha led his life spreading this “gospel”. That is to mean, wherever you are just keep at it.
Not everyone who is Buddhist chooses the actual “Enlightenment” because as you have seen it is like “Contemplative Christian” practice; and different segments of Buddhism will espouse focusing on different methods to becoming a ‘good person’.
This contemplative life-style, for lack of a better term, depends on your type of personality. There are aspects of this contemplative path which have benefits in a broader sense, much the way you might become more active and more diet conscious, does not mean you become Japanese or a giraffe. Along with meditation is the daily life following Buddha’s ‘gospel’. Such that if you meditate yet follow Jesus’s ‘gospel’ you are a Christian even though you do Yoga too.
Lastly, it is recommended to follow an official ‘gospel’ because this type of ‘exercise’ will make you stronger and if you can imagine a ‘black belt’ without any wisdom, if there is such a thing, you can just as easily be defeated by real obstacles.
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