Nope. Unless you’ve already seen it, you have no idea what enlightenment means or what it is. Whatever you think it is, you are wrong, so let it go.
See it for yourself. BE it for yourself…then try and explain it and see if you know what it is.
Perhaps we can laugh about it together while we swing.
“You don’t act awake.”
“He doesn’t act like he’s enlightened”.
Have you ever thought this thought or known someone who has? It’s more common than you might think. One of the curious things about the spiritual seeker is the preconceived notion of what someone looks/acts like when they are awake or enlightened. Many believe that a person who is enlightened will be in constant bliss, always calm, always smiling…on and on. But is that true? One of our foremost and well-known spiritual leaders, Jesus Christ, was known to get angry and knock over a table now and then. So does that make him less awake than he is depicted in the Bible? In truth, it makes him a very good example.
When awakening happens, yes, it does bring about a certain calmness, a certain contentment with everything that comes. You see that everything is right, just the way it is. What it doesn’t mean is a loss of personality. What it doesn’t mean is that you will necessarily “like” everything that happens. There is still an attraction to certain things and a repelling from others, kind of like a magnet. Certain energies will flow together more than others.
Will there still be emotion? Of course. It’s the identification with the emotion that fades. It becomes more a movement of energy instead of something you own, and it doesn’t come from thought. For example, I still see an anxious energy arise sometimes before I give a talk or teach a class but instead of getting wrapped up in it, I step back from it and observe it flowing and essentially watch it fade away. I don’t identify with it and I don’t attach to it. I observe it arise and I observe it fade. I don’t try to control it or change it. I just observe it, appreciate it, watch it fade.
There is no mold. An awake or an enlightened person may be the man who spends the rest of his life in a secluded cave in silence. It may be the person who finds solitude in a cabin in the woods. It may be the woman who leads her own Sangha to point others in the direction of their own awakening. It may be the grocery store clerk who scans your items and takes your money. It could be the old yogi who smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day and grumbles at the ignorance of his followers. It may be the gas station attendant. It may be that old oak tree in your back yard. It may be you. There is no mold to fit. An awake being can take any form and can perform in any way. It’s not up to you and it’s not what you think.
(And I’ll add that the awakening process itself can be a quite messy affair. It isn’t usually some instantaneous snap of the fingers where the clouds open up and the angels sing. It’s not always light and glorious. Most of the time it’s messy, confusing and can look like a complete mental breakdown to an unfamiliar observer.)
So check in with your conceptions now and then. Because we can never know the expression the universe has in store for us, until we let it happen.
There are different levels of awakening. Rarely does someone simply “snap out of” the dream with no residual pieces of ego left behind. Lately my awareness has come to focus on a piece that many hold on to, even without knowing it. The piece of ego that says, “you should not be that way” or “you should not act that way”. You can see this everywhere. It’s part of what creates the human drama. True freedom cannot come until you allow others the freedom to be who they are. Allow others the space. Accept them for who they are. If you are not allowing them to be who they are then there is resistance to what is. Full awakening includes a release of that resistance. It is allowing everything (and everyone) to be as it is. This isn’t to say that you will always agree with it, or even like it, but you can accept it. Allow it. This is true for ourselves as well. For example, maybe you meditate and get frustrated that your mind will not slow down. What would happen if you just allowed yourself to be as you are, busy mind and all? What would happen if you accepted yourself as you are instead of trying to ‘better’ yourself, change yourself or resist yourself? Instead, allow yourself to just be as you are. Make it your practice. Allow yourself and others to be as you and they are. It will not only assist in allowing reality to be as it is but it brings you to a place of presence. A place of true freedom.
Enjoy the beauty.
I love snow days. My kids do too (of course). We were blessed with one just the other day. As with all of our snow days, it was a wonderful opportunity for us to just stop. A great time to ‘drop out of life’ for a day. We relaxed, played games and, of course, basked in the beauty of a foot of newly fallen snow. Even the need to shovel the driveway was a gift, the wind in my face, snowflakes wetting my cheeks and the birds chirping overhead. There was nowhere to go and no timetable to keep.
I did, despite the gift of a day off work and school, check my e-mail now then and, yes, I jumped on Facebook. In that, this past snow day brought another aspect to my awareness, one I hadn’t spent much time with. It caused me to take a step back and look at how life on this planet and within our society works. To look at how conditioned we’ve become within the societal boundaries. There were so many people concerned about missing work, getting kids to school (those that didn’t get the day off) and a myriad of other issues related to the weather. So many things that people were set on doing but couldn’t or things that would now be more difficult because mother nature had the “nerve” to bring on a snowstorm and interrupt their plans. In one way, it’s our society that keeps us in the chains of busy-ness. It has conditioned us to believe we must be busy. We must produce. We must get out there and make money. We must get our kids to school so they can learn. In another way, it’s ourselves that bind us in these chains, because we believe it and we ourselves keep so busy that we don’t know how to stop. We feel confined because of all of this perceived societal responsibility or perhaps our own personal fear of just stopping and being in silence (but that’s a whole other story in itself). Many people are even penalized if they miss a day of work, either by loss of pay or the threat of a “black mark” in their employee file. Just another link the chain.
During this past snow day it never occurred to me to be upset with it. It snowed. My kids were home from school, which meant I was too. Pretty simple. Work could wait (even though I’m one of the ones to get a “black mark” with this particular job). School to could wait. I was going to enjoy it. I was going to take the day to slow down and jump out of life for a while and it was wonderful. There was no conflict within me. I went with the flow and enjoyed every moment.
This is something that comes with awakening. Call it trust. Call it “going with the flow”. Call it what you will. It is the realization that this moment is all we have. Wherever we are is where we need to be. You can struggle with it, fight against it and be angry with it or you can accept what is and enjoy it. If there is a snow day and you can’t do the things you have planned then trust that. Get your notions and your expectations out of the way and enjoy.
The next time there is a snow day, it is a gift. Relax and enjoy. Trust that the universe is doing this for you, not to you, and you will not be disappointed.
In being awake you realize your connection with everything around you. You realize that you ARE everything around you and everything around you is you. It is all one. There is nothing more simple. There is nothing outside of you. There is nothing separate. There is just one and you are it.
Once this is realized, all there is left to do…is play.
If you see things only through the filter of your mind you aren’t seeing clearly. You are seeing an altered reality. A reality you’ve only imagined.
Waking up is getting off the stage. It’s like sitting in the audience knowing you are just watching a play but the actors in the play still believe it is real. Day to day life? 99% are still in the play.