No, you don’t need enlightenment. Here is why.

This article is small, but potentially controversial.

Lucy the Oracle
5 min readJun 9, 2024
Photo by Hossein Ezzatkhah on Unsplash

*If you’re new here, yes, I always use the Greek version of Hellenic god names. It’s an attempt at decolonising, and not endorsing empires.

Today’s topic in a nutshell: let’s not mistake spiritual progress with social privilege.

In one of the traditions I practise, we say you need both Apollon and Dionysos at the same time. (This is why they were worshipped at the same temples all over the Hellenic world). One symbolises the ideal, but the other brings you back down to Earth. Without one, you become a slave to your 5 senses, but without the other, you lose touch with the material component of your existence. Of course they’re much more complex than this contrasting quality, but I’m merely citing it here.

This is a problem I see a lot in spiritual and religious communities: people who need to bring themselves back down to Earth every once in a while. They need some Dionysos. But they don’t want to go “meet him” (and no, I’m not talking about wine) because it involves facing, acknowledging, and integrating their shadows. That’s no fun! Isn’t it so much better to bypass that and go straight to spiritual perfectionism? Beware — too much Apollon will also get you drunk. Metaphorically so, and a lot more dangerous than its literal counterpart. (This is even more dangerous in people who DENY that they’re verging on the extreme Apollonian side of things because “they prefer mother Earth” or “they prefer Pan” or whatever. Yeah, okay, I hear you, sure… But you’re still acting stiff, perfectionist, idealistic and holier-than-thou… which DOES NOT sound like Chthonic gods energy, dear).

If you focus too much on ultimate ideals [we never truly achieve] like death of the ego, enlightenment, mindfulness, and a flawless moral code… You’ll inevitably burn out and achieve none. It’s almost ironic.

We must remember that the exact same things we dislike so much (our vices, our habit of getting lost in thought, our negative feelings towards each other, etc) have a useful, positive side to them (for example, getting us out of predatory cults). If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have a reason to be so common. I mean, nature is intelligent, and we’re a part of nature. If we have developed these instincts, that’s because they serve a good purpose. Otherwise, we wouldn’t bother, we would have evolved in a completely different way.

I’ll repeat the 2nd Delphic maxim for the zillionth time: nothing in excess. The only problem is the excess. Don’t be making a taboo out of the “human flaws” in and of themselves. And for heaven’s sake, stop shaming yourselves and each other for having these flaws. Everybody has them!

I’m not outraged at overt flaws, what I dislike to see is people who hide them under a facade of “all is excellent here”. But regardless, my bias aside, my expectation, too, is a common human thing to be acknowledged and integrated — so don’t listen to me on that one.

This is why I’m an oracle and not… I don’t even know, [insert here literally any priest job in any of the known religions today]. I can’t stand the holier-than-thou pretentiousness. Everybody fucks up from time to time, but for some reason, if you get into religious career paths, you must pretend to be a saint (or at the very least be on your way to becoming one). Why the fuck? I’d much rather go drink with regular folks and laugh at how stupid, envious, angry, contemptuous, hubristic we are from time to time. This is also why I get on well with the Afro-Diasporic crowd. They’re not afraid to say “yes I’m as imperfect as any human. Now, did you need a reading, dear?” — See, that’s the energy. That’s the vibe I’m after. It’s the rarest thing ever among white (and white passing) people.

No, don’t come at me with “religion and spirituality imply a focus on transcending the human condition” or any such nonsense. It’s nonsense. I don’t sugarcoat. Some religions put far too much emphasis on that because they wanna. There’s no requirement. Look… We can practise compassion where it’s due, but fight for justice in other occasions. We can practise mindfulness where we can, but USE that oh-so-sinful rational mind when dealing with an emergency or during a stressful work shift. Ain’t no paramedic gonna reward you for relentless optimism if it’s just vibes and no concrete action to help a victim of an accident. Ain’t no boss willing to be satisfied that you didn’t participate in the brainstorming because you were “committed to living in the present moment only”. And perhaps more importantly: it’s kind of difficult to get heard by the powers that be when you’re not out protesting and instead opt for silently praying in gratitude for the things you already have.

I mean, sure… It’s very beautiful and idealistic to be so agreeable all the time because you can’t call yourself a spiritualised person if you dare expressing anger or fear. That’s also a form of superficiality, ya know? Deep down, we all feel the ugly stuff. And when we’re in religions, we sometimes guilt-trip ourselves against “entertaining the ugly stuff” in fear that it might make the problem grow or (worse!) that someone might see it. But how can we ever understand that side of us, if we’re not looking at it?

The irony is… When you face your shadows, they don’t grow bigger. Quite on the contrary. Go read some Jung. But the wide majority of people in spiritual communities already know that. So, they aren’t really afraid of worsening anything. They’re just afraid of owning up to shit. Accountability takes balls, after all.

Is enlightenment a good ideal to keep in mind as we live our lives? Sure. It’s like the magnetic North on a compass pointing towards your destination (which is North of somewhere, but it’s not necessarily the North Pole itself). Similarly, we can guide ourselves by ideals without necessarily wanting to arrive at this ultimate destination. Westerners have a bad habit of taking everything and anything to extremes. But the good news is, you’re free not to join them in this bad idea.

So no, you don’t need enlightenment. Don’t beat yourself up (or even subtly feel ashamed) if you don’t have the time, the privacy, or the “spoons” to spend on exercises that usually only the more privileged can afford. Religious teachings hold precious wisdom for you to improve your life, yes, that’s true, but it’s only absolutely true in an ideal world. We live in the real world. And here, sometimes you aren’t the problem. Sometimes, systems bigger than you are the problem.

I’m not kidding. And I remain as Buddhist as I’ve ever been. But Buddhism isn’t immune to misinterpretation — it doesn’t only happen to the Bible, you know. Stay smart. Give yourself credit. And if any cult leader drains you, show me where. I’ll protect you, fam.



Lucy the Oracle

Oracle learner / spirit worker based in Ireland. Buddhist/polytheist. I don't read minds. I don't change minds. I don't sugarcoat. Take my message or leave it.