They make is sound so easy. Just be here now, they say. You know who they are. They wear orange robes or walk around with glassy eyes and look as if no one is home inside. Nothing phases them. They can wrap their bodies up in knots or sit at the top of mountains looking at nothing for eons. People who seem to have found the magic key to enlightenment talk like it fell into their laps! Well, it doesn’t. Getting enlightened is damn hard work.
Enlightenment can be rude. There’s nothing easy about getting slapped in the face with your own denial. It’s not always comfortable to see how great you are at justifications, explanations and the myriad of excuses you use. It’s not always fun to clean up some mess made out of your own unconsciousness and it can be the pits to dance around in that vast territory called the unknown. There’s nothing more frightening than achieving real intimacy and it’s enough to shake your world to meet someone elses soul face to face. So why bother? Because once you get on the path, nothing less than lightening bolt growth, ecstatic joy and profound connection that will ever satisfy you again. Naturally they don’t tell you that, or perhaps they do and we’re just not listening.
Here’s the problem. You don’t get enlightenment, you live it. It’s a call to awaken and you do that through a deep participation with your own life. You wake up to a need or desire to start living life right – whatever right may be to you. You begin to understand the importance of living in alignment with your own sense of integrity, truth and wisdom. You stop lying to yourself and pretending that you don’t know what to do or how to be honest and ethical in your own world. As you let go of your claim to ignorance, the searing truth begins to pierce your denial. And the degree to which you are willing to let go of the drama, chaos and temporary fixes that appear to assuage your frustration about your survival – is the same degree to which enlightenment arrives. In other words you have to let go of the small survival stuff to get to the big spiritual stuff. Most of us are not willing to do that. More of us each day, however, are finding that fighting for all that small stuff is less and less gratifying. We have discovered more substance, cars, money, sex, partners and food, do not a filled up, joyful soul make. There must be something more. There is. It’s enlightenment.
The Sufi’s say that it is with your first step that you have already arrived. So what’s the first step? Begin to take every experience in your life and translate it into your personal classroom. Wake up to the experience you are having in each moment. Why am I afraid about money – what part of myself don’t I trust? Why am I jealous – what part of me feel as if I am not enough? Why am I holding on to the steering wheel as if it could fly out of my hands – what tension am I holding in my body? Why did my heart just close down to this person? Why am I playing sexual games with a person I really don’t want a relationship with? What terrifies me about intimacy – and from whom did I learn to fear it? What scares me most about growing spiritually or emotionally? Are these fears still valid for me today?
When the answers start to bubble up, don’t judge them or chastise yourself. You can do this work in your own mind so no one else has to know, nor is anyone able to judge you. Just have compassion for yourself and get to the core. Ask again and again, What’s under that, and what’s under that, and what’s under that – until you get to the core issue inside. Once you get there, your body will relax and you will know you have hit the truth of it. When you understand a belief you hold inside that prevents you from being the truth of who you are, chances are you can let that belief go. It releases it’s hold on you.
Okay so here is this months lightening bolt to the head. Who are you and what are you here for if not to do this work? Is there anything more satisfying in your life than finding yourself and living in the integrity of that discovery? Maybe that is why the fire rages in so many of us. Enlightenment is not really hiding. It’s just under all that other stuff you don’t need anymore.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2008