There is much truth behind jokes. The joke of the divine trickster is that he’s serious.
Enlightenment is not a set of achievements to be reached for. In truth, the effort to reach for enlightenment would itself keep the understanding from manifesting in your experience. Enlightenment is not something that requires some sort of otherworldly supernatural intervention.
I speak of stages because it does seem to occur in steps, like a stair, and we can step up and down more or less freely to be honest. Of these steps there are ultimately only about a handful, and some of them are difficult to discern being as we are in most situations. In Buddhism, they teach that the human condition is a privileged condition. From my own experience, I would agree with that.
On the first step we have what some might call the “animal” level, driven entirely by stimuli and circumstance, possessed of perhaps the most limited scope, and while I refer to this as the animal state, animals as we refer to them are not limited to this first step in enlightenment. At this stage you have organisms like simple fish, very short memory and attention spans.
I’ve often said that my dog is enlightened. I would agree with you. Each of these stages of enlightenment is really a form of being enlightened. The more fully one of these stages unfolds, the more it transitions into another. They overlap.
So a simple mind is an enlightened mind? Yes.
As fish prosper and grow in their environment, their instinctive responses become broader, broader and more complicated. A possible example of a “Buddha” of the instinctive stage would be a cephalopod.
I wonder what the whole school of fish thinks when they see a whale’s mouth opening. “Oh god!” is my guess.
At the next stage, you have the awakening to social awareness. This stage is most readily apparent in simple mammals, but there is a divergent example of this stage in hive insects. The individual members of the hive won’t recognize you, but the hive as a whole can and will.
When a consciousness begins to understand the world as having complex events that stem from the activity of independent agents, when a species comes to understand that it can benefit from the cooperation of others of its own kind, this is the second stage.
Above this level you have the realm of contemplation. The previous being the realm of emotion, the first being the realm of instinct.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.