I don't know how else to phrase this question, but please advise. I have this constant irritating feeling that I am kind of enlightened. It is confusing.

I don't really know if it is my ego which is trying to assume this sort of "super self", when in reality I am just a normal person, making normal mistakes. I become unaware of my mental formations sometimes, or careless about what I say, or I get angry at times.

A little more about this. I know about this ultimate goal, like Nirvana or Moksha or call it anything. I listen to talks by Ajahn Brahmavamso, Alan Watts, J.Krishnamurti and some other yogis. Then I think my ego blends into acting like that enlightened being. I sometimes advise my parents on some matters also. It is definitely weird. You see I want to achieve that final goal, but I accelerate towards it in a moment. It definitely seems wrong. Or is there a final goal at all?

It seems like I am constantly checking myself against enlightenment. It is funny too.

So please advise. And also I would like to know if there was any such situation(in the texts) which the Buddha faced.

  • 1
    "Better the Devil you know, than the Devil you don't know." So, it is good to become aware of all the sorts of tricks that your ego will play. More good experience. "Is there a final goal at all?" is a very good question to carry around, not so as to promote doubt, but to keep focused on inquiry and self-awareness.
    – user2341
    Jul 6, 2016 at 1:56

5 Answers 5


The appropriate response to such a thought of personal enlightenment is: "fart".

Su Dongpo was an avid student of Buddhist teachings. He was quick-witted and humorous; as a Zen Buddhism follower he was very serious and self-disciplined. He often discussed buddhism with his good friend, Zen Master Foyin. The two lived across the river from one another.

Following is an interesting and famous story about him and Zen Master Foyin.

One day, Su Dongpo felt inspired and wrote the following poem:

稽首天中天, 毫光照大千; 八风吹不动, 端坐紫金莲。

I bow my head to the heaven within heaven, Hairline rays illuminating the universe, The eight winds cannot move me, Sitting still upon the purple golden lotus.

The “eight winds (八风)” in the poem referred to praise (称), ridicule (讥), honor (誉), disgrace (毁), gain (得), loss (失), pleasure (乐) and misery (苦) – interpersonal forces of the material world that drive and influence the hearts of men. Su Dongpo was saying that he has attained a higher level of spirituality, where these forces no longer affect him.

Impressed by himself, Su Dongpo sent a servant to hand-carry this poem to Fo Yin. He was sure that his friend would be equally impressed. When Fo Yin read the poem, he immediately saw that it was both a tribute to the Buddha and a declaration of spiritual refinement. Smiling, the Zen Master wrote “fart” on the manuscript and had it returned to Su Dongpo.

Su Dongpo was expecting compliments and a seal of approval. When he saw “fart” written on the manuscript, he was shocked . He burst into anger: “How dare he insult me like this? Why that lousy old monk! He’s got a lot of explaining to do!”

Full of indignation, he rushed out of his house and ordered a boat to ferry him to the other shore as quickly as possible. He wanted to find Fo Yin and demand an apology. However, Fo Yin’s door closed. On the door was a piece of paper, for Su Dongpo. The paper had following two lines:

八风吹不动, 一屁弹过江。 The eight winds cannot move me, One fart blows me across the river.

This stopped Su Dongpo cold. Fo Yin had anticipated this hot-headed visit. Su Dongpo’s anger suddenly drained away as he understood his friend’s meaning. If he really was a man of spiritual refinement, completely unaffected by the eight winds, then how could he be so easily provoked?

With a few strokes of the pen and minimal effort, Fo Yin showed that Su Dongpo was in fact not as spiritually advanced as he claimed to be. Ashamed but wiser, Su Dongpo departed quietly.

This event proved to be a turning point in Su Dongpo’s spiritual development. From that point on, he became a man of humility, and not merely someone who boasted of possessing the virtue.

  • 2
    Hahahaha, awesome. Just awesome.
    – Sorav
    Jul 18, 2017 at 6:33

This is what my teacher (Ven Nawalapitiye Ariyawansa Thero) had to say on this, @BlackFlam3.

“If we regard ourselves as knowing the Dhamma well, we will be of the “I am the one who knows” mindset. Without allowing that to happen try to come to the view “I do not know. Only Supreme Buddha knows. I will accept it that way”.

“I am the one who knows” can be equated to a Thorn Bush. It is like this. There is a bush of thorns at the bottom of a hill. When it rains fertile soil settles down round the thorn bush after getting washed down from the hill. The soil is fertile but what gets nurtured is the thorn bush.

“Like this it is the fertile soil of Dhamma that we gather round us. But what gets nurtured is the thorn bush called “I am the one who knows”. When the thorn bush grows up even an animal does not approach it. Will not go even passing it. In the same way the biggest danger to a person on arriving at the view “I know”. “I understand” is his becoming a person who does not listen.

“He loses his sincere friend. He loses his ability listen to Dhamma well. (He loses both external sources of help). Then what is he left with? Only with the notion “I know” and “I understand”. He keeps on repeating this. Finally he will say “No one taught me. I studied on my own. I do not need anyone now. I will become solitary now”.

Supreme Buddha knows that the person with defilements is wrapped up in the idea of Self, is egoistic. Also that he is wrapped up in the concept “I know”. Some people struggle to understand this simple truth in depth. That is why it is important to think and retain in your memory the following “I will obey Supreme Buddha and conduct myself in the way he wanted us to conduct ourselves. I will not do anything else”.

“Getting back to the simile about the thorny bush. When it rains fertile soil comes down to the bush of thorns and it grows up in a couple of days. Ultimately it becomes too big to be pulled out. Sin is also like that. So we must pull out this thorny bush and plant a good tree on that fertile soil. The biggest thorn bush we have is the notion “I know”.

“The good tree we plant after uprooting the thorny bush is “Supreme Buddha knows. I don’t know”. These thoughts lift up the man to a noble level. If we are of the idea “We know” it amounts to our tightening our own necks. We read what Supreme Buddha has preached. Then we assume “I know”.

“Therefore if we become humble in this manner we would have done something very much beneficial to our lives. The instant we start having confidence that way, Kammic actions, causing rebirth in the fourfold hells will not take place in us. So to further oneself in the Noble Path, the thorn bushes that need to be gotten rid of are “I am the one who knows”. “I can” “I have memorized. Others aren’t up to it”. “I understand well. I can speak well”. You must not have room for these and discipline this mind saying “I will do whatever the Supreme Buddha preaches and whatever my sincere friend tells me to do”.

“The immense benefit of understanding the True Path to Liberation has come to us. It is a pity if we let go of it. Therefore let us all try our best not to leave room for those immature thoughts such as “We know”. It is because we do not have confidence that we say “this is impossible” etc. If we step into Saddha we will be able to end our Sansaric journey at most in seven births. Attaining Nibbana is not a dream. Think of establishing Saddha in these principles and think of getting liberated from this sorrowful Samsara.”

  • 1
    Everything after the first sentence: is that a direct quote (or translation) of what your teacher had to say? Or is it your explanation (using your own words) of what your teacher had to say? And if it's a direct quote, are you copying that quote from a published source (e.g. a printed book or an online web site), and if so then please reference the publication you're quoting)?
    – ChrisW
    Jun 21, 2016 at 15:46
  • 3
    @ChrisW, Ven. Nawalapitiye Ariyawansa Thero's sermons are all in Sinhala. You will not find even a single English translation of his sermons on line. This translation once appeared in a local paper in Sri Lanka and I copied it. So I am not in a position to reference the publication that I'm quoting. This article once appeared in the Mahamevnawa Web Site, but as he is no longer with the Mahamevnawa, they have removed the few translations of his sermons that were there. Jun 21, 2016 at 23:24
  • 2
    Thank you for explaining the source, and for transcribing this teaching.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 22, 2016 at 10:40

Posting my comment as an answer:

"Do not be a bodhisatta; do not be an arahant; do not be anything at all. If you are a bodhisatta, you will suffer; if you are an arahant, you will suffer; if you are anything at all, you will suffer." - Ajahn Chah

Also from MN 44

"Now, lady, how does emergence from the cessation of perception & feeling come about?"

"The thought does not occur to a monk as he is emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling that 'I am about to emerge from the cessation of perception & feeling' or that 'I am emerging from the cessation of perception & feeling' or that 'I have emerged from the cessation of perception & feeling.' Instead, the way his mind has previously been developed leads him to that state."


How should I stop thinking that I am even slightly enlightened?

To add another perspective to the existing answers (because you might want to know opposing or mutually-exclusive extremes in order to steer a middle way between them), maybe you shouldn't "stop thinking that you are even slightly enlightened".

For example if the Buddha and the Dhamma (the Triple Gem) cannot even slightly enlighten you, then what's the point of "Buddhism"?

There's at least one Pali sutta which says that conceit (that you can become enlightened) is helpful (because you hear that someone else has become enlightened and you think, "Why not me?").

And you might find it helpful to read this answer which describes Dzogchen and the earlier answer which describes tantrayana.

Saptha's answer said, "Only Supreme Buddha knows".

One way to stop thinking that "I am enlightened" might be to think "Buddha is enlightened. Am I Buddha?"

Various answers follow.

One is to consider Anatta. You wrote, "I become unaware of my mental formations" -- maybe it would be better instead to think that, "There are mental formations, but they are not mine and not me."

To avoid "identity view" you might also find it helpful to think, "There is (sometimes) enlightened practice, enlightened understanding -- that too is what it is and not mine or me."

I don't mean you should try to renounce "right view" or "ethical conduct" (by saying that they are "not me"), what I mean is that adding an "I am" view to those things is an extra complication which you and they may be better without (see also the answers to this topic which describe 'identity view' and 'conceit').

I have this constant irritating feeling that I am kind of enlightened

An alternate way to view that might be that the "constant irritating feeling" is of not being enlightened.

However maybe "I am not enlightened" is an ego-conceit, like "I am enlightened".

Also I think that the "irritating feeling" is a symptom of a fetter or a hindrance. Apparently you have associated "being enlightened" and "feeling irritated" -- maybe that's a mistake to associate them though, maybe it's better to associate "being enlightened" with "not feeling irritated" (and by "associate" maybe I mean saṃskāra i.e. "things put together").

If you do have any "irritated feeling" sometimes maybe that's not surprising! For example maybe it's uddhacca, or passion, which you might expect of/in anyone who's not an arahant.

Maybe not "constant" though, I guess it's more probably experienced as "continual" than "continuous":

Things that are unceasing or exist without interruption are continuous ... they never pause. Things that occur frequently or recur intermittently are continual. The continual action doesn’t happen ceaselessly, but it does happen regularly.

Another thing to note is that a characteristic of irritation is avoidance, i.e. if you characterize something as irritating then your inclination might be to avoid (not experience) it. Beware that this might be unwise, that it might be better to be willing to experience (better to know) your actual thoughts and feelings (I think that "be mindful" and not "be averse" is what some meditation teachers tell you).

A little more about this. ... It is definitely weird. ... It is funny too.

Perhaps, if you want, your relationships with other people (e.g. parents), and how you "check myself against enlightenment", could be the subject of some other questions.

And also I would like to know if there was any such situation (in the texts) which the Buddha faced.

Well, I'm not sure how that's relevant but MN 26 is one the suttas in which the Buddha describes his quest for enlightenment. I read it as saying that he successfully learned what his teachers were teaching (and didn't for example pretend that he couldn't learn what they were teaching).

He also had no "doubt" (see also vicikicchā) when he did finally attain enlightenment.


To check the enlightenment with pali Tripitaka

Chabbi­so­dha­na­sutta MN 112.

Majjhima Nikāya 47 The Inquirer.

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