What Does “Enlightened” Mean?

Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul, says this:

In India, guru means “self-realized being.” To be self-actualized means divine self-mastery–you literally learn how to tell your thinking mind how to think and your feeling mind how to feel, so you pre-ordain your destiny. If all life is imaginal, meaning imagination creates your reality (which I believe), then you want to have an imagination that is under your control.5

So the flawed mind is the vehicle for becoming an enlightened mind? In the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind, mathematical genius and schizophrenic John Nash, played by Russell Crowe, is told by his psychiatrist that he can not reason his way out of his condition as if it were a math problem. In denial of this fact, Nash responds in frustration, “Why not? Why can’t I?” The doctor replies, “Because your mind is where the problem is in the first place.6

This exchange sums up the human spiritual condition; man cannot enlighten himself because his nature is where the problem is. (The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? [Jer. 17:9].) Hansen would probably say that one needs a guide or guru to show the way, but how did the guru get beyond his own flawed nature? Is he divine? If man is really divine and only needs to re-recognize his divinity, how did he lose touch with it in the first place? If the divine can be corrupted, is it really divine?

The innate desire to please the self (sin) eventually overcomes man’s noble motivations, no matter how many external rules are in place or gurus are employed to prevent it. Only a truly divine source beyond man can provide enlightenment (Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? [Isa. 40:14]).