Enlightenment may be more illusion than real… not that it isn’t ‘real’, mind you. Just as Something and Nothing produce each other, so do ignorance and enlightenment. The next question is, to what does enlightenment correlate, ‘Something’ or ‘Nothing’? (See Tools of Taoist Thought: Correlations)
If you see it as ‘Something’, then it correlates to obvious, bright, light, life, full, sudden, special, etc. If you see enlightenment as ‘Nothing’, then it correlates to MYSTERY UPON MYSTERY, DARKLY VISIBLE, DEATH, STILLNESS, EMPTINESS, PERPETUITY, IMPARTIALITY, THE CONSTANT, and such. Thus, by expecting enlightenment to be ‘Something’, you will certainly miss it, if it is indeed ‘Nothing‘.
We must live life until we take our last breath. The biological instincts driving us to resist entropy run deeper than any enlightened ‘singularity’ occurring in our brain’s mind. Enlightened or not, our original animal nature still runs the show. The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath [our] feet each moment, regardless. In this regard, we are all in the same ‘life boat’ together. It naturally follows that the sage has no mind of his own. He takes as his own the mind of the people. Chapter 65 reveals reality; Of old those who excelled in the pursuit of the way did not use it to enlighten the people but to hoodwink them.
Maybe what we long for is an ‘enlightened life’. Everyone can live an enlightened life. Through the ages, many have laid out ways to go about this. Each way has its champions; each saying, “This is the true way!” This often becomes a way to avoid taking “the beam out of thine own eye”, as Jesus said. Such touting of a ‘best way‘ is symptomatic of our core tribal instinct.
I find the ‘best way’ is to care more about my life’s moment-to-moment rather than what I’m doing in particular or where any moment leads. For me, it boils down to the life I actually want to live. For that, it becomes a matter of quality versus quantity; process over resulting success or failure. As my life of desire began to feel less meaningful, I found I had no choice but to take the ‘spiritual’ path more seriously. Indeed, The great way is easy when there is no alternative. In an ignorance of our ignorance, we chase the promises of our desires until finally we can, as chapter 19 puts it, come to Have little thought of self and as few desires as possible. Later, chapter 64 adds, Therefore the sage desires not to desire, And does not value goods which are hard to come by.