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You Can’t Calculate Enlightenment

Life should be cherished and experienced, not measured.

We spend so much of our lives measuring what we’ve done, how good it was, if we met the goal and so on. Our “status” has become a quantifiable algorithm ranked by how many followers, impressions, and likes we have in our social networks.

People still crave purpose, but so often that quest gets muddled in the quest for measurable results, a collection of achievements and a contrived list of followers. We’ve become a self perpetuating “one-up” society.

Job recruiters have designed systems around this formula. If you don’t have a degree, a thriving social network and an impressive LinkedIn profile, you’re not even in the running.

But when I’m hiring someone, I only want to know that they are driven, passionate, a great communicator and a problem solver. Anything else I can teach them, or they will learn on their own as they figure it out. And I’ve found that if they don’t have a college education, that’s just less I have to teach them to un-learn.

We’ve got to hang up the math and stop calculating the life out of everything. Life isn’t about finding answers. It’s about the journey of asking questions.

I’ve always been driven towards enlightenment. I want to understand people and the universe around us. I care about humanity. I don’t care about money or things. My priorities and values revolve around relationships and understanding, neither of which is quantifiable.

I’ve been studying the concept of enlightenment as long as I can remember, from Jesus to Gandhi to Krishnamurti. These were truly enlightened beings, passionately pursing understanding and relationship.

After years of studying these extraordinary examples, I have come to realize that enlightenment isn’t a point in which you arrive, but a state of mind that reflects your willingness to embrace the ongoing journey. It’s the realization that life isn’t a measurable calculation. It’s not about obtaining achievements or figuring out the right way.

You don’t achieve enlightenment. That’s part of the deal. Enlightenment is an ongoing journey of coming to peace with the fact that you’ll never have all the answers or achieve all the goals. You’ll never measure up.

If you can find peace, joy and enthusiasm in the journey, the challenges, the struggles and the gray areas, you can consider yourself to be on the road to enlightenment.


  1. Luke on December 3, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Very interesting post. At my core, I tend to be a goal oriented personality – “mr. fix-it”. If it is broke, there is a solution. If it is good, there is a way to make it better. Admittedly, this effects my relationships and so on one hand I agree with your statements above. However, I find some of them a bit contradictory.

    As a student of Jesus, I find him extremely goal oriented – one could say that relationships were his goal. He said that he came too seek and save the lost. And if you were to measure his success, even quantify it, he was the ultimate success. The difference in my mind was that he was perfect at who he was and so people were always first in everything he did.

    You mentioned that if you were hiring someone, ” I only want to know that they are driven, passionate, a great communicator and a problem solver.” How do you know they are driven? How did you measure their passion? How did you quantify the problems that were solved?

    If one is on the road to enlightenment, then there must be a way to tell if one has arrived. Otherwise one is just wondering.

  2. Jared Angaza on December 3, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    Thanks for the feedback Luke. I’m a fixer as well. I’ve made a career out of it. And I have a feeling I’ve experienced some of the same relational issues as you have, as a result of my propensity towards fixing everything. That has a lot to do with where I’m at on this journey, and why I wrote this today.

    How do you quantify or measure the love for your wife or daughter, or the passion for your photography? I don’t know you at all, but if I had to guess, I’d say there is no doubt that you are a passionate, driven man. Why? I can see it in your photos and hear it in the way you talk about your family. It’s not quantifiable or measurable, but it means more to you than anything that is. Would you say you have arrived at perfection or perfect happiness with your family? Or is it growing and evolving and sometimes blowing your mind with experiences you never imagined? Have you arrived?

    Your perspective is your choice. Embracing the journey, or wondering?

    It is easy to look at an icon like Gandhi (or whomever) and say that he was truly enlightened. But would he have said, “I am enlightened, I have arrived”? Or might have said he was on an ongoing journey that he embraced and found peace in?

    As always, this blog is not a place where I post answers to life. I have none. It’s just a place where I articulate my thoughts and opinions along my personal journey of life. Godspeed to you on your journey as well.

  3. Osayi on December 5, 2012 at 5:59 AM

    I love this sentence:
    “Life isn’t about finding answers. It’s about the journey of asking questions.”

    Sometimes I find that I am disappointed with where I am, or the decisions I’ve made, but it means that I’m missing out on the real life. If I see life as not about picking “the right” answers (as we’re conditioned to think in schools), but but about always asking questions, and continually learning, then there’s no time to focus on regrets, and wondering what would have happened if…

    I’m starting to realize there is no “right answer.” And that is the most freeing realization ever!
    Thank you for sharing this post.

  4. Jared Angaza on December 5, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Thank you. I actually just wrote a new post (that I’ll publish next week) on the gray areas of life, and how I’ve learned to embrace those areas. You are right, there is no right answer. The more I study and learn about humanity, the fewer black and white answers I find. But I like that. Humanity wasn’t created to be simple, or black and white. We’re complicated. And in that complexity, we find beauty.

  5. Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight on December 7, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    “the ongoing journey” – so true.

    Every time I think I have it figured out, I realize how ‘stupid’ I am…and begin another leg of the journey.

    I think if I ever ‘arrive’ – I won’t need Christ anymore. So I’m with ya, brother, as we journey on.

  6. Cass on December 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM


    Again, thanks for getting my head in the right place to start my week. Life is about the journey and how you choose to embrace it.

  7. Jared Angaza on December 10, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Thanks Cass! Glad it you enjoyed it. Everything you read here is as a result of me trying to get my head right, too. Glad we’re on the journey with you and G!

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