Ever since I heard the word “enlightenment”, I wanted it. It is a word that is surrounded by mystique and mystery, something only a few people in the world have attained. Why is it so illusive? What is the gift of enlightenment, or is there a gift involved at all? Or is enlightenment something that we can only obtain at the verge of dying, when we realize all that we have attained and desired are illusions?
My understanding of enlightenment is that is the state of our consciousness once we have rid ourselves of all desire. Immanuel Kant argued that enlightenment was the state of maturity, and therefor unobtainable by most humans. Humans are too lazy, too victimized and too comfortable to seek true enlightenment. Who seeks true freedom, which is the initiation of enlightenment, when captivity and immaturity is rewarded? What concepts must we let go of in ourselves in order to achieve this rare state of existence?
Most people want to use reverse engineering to achieve enlightenment. They have heard that enlightened people know stuff that “muggles” (ordinary people) don’t know. They have powers that muggles don’t have. They can see into people’s souls and heal their greatest illusions. Who wouldn’t want that? The problem is everything is relative and no one is willing to pay the price for these mystical powers. People promise systems and modalities to achieve enlightenment, but they don’t have the dedication or desperation to give it everything they have. They believe that they are willing to sacrifice everything to obtain enlightenment, but when things start disappearing from their lives they revert to victimhood and self-doubt. They forget that the hallmark of the spiritual path is to remove the illusion of pain, and the only way to do that is to go through test after test until they can understand that pain really is just an illusion.
When I first started on my spiritual path, I asked a very wise person how I could feel safe in a very unsafe world. His statement continues to unfold like a lotus blossom. He said, “get over it”. How do you get over the traumas and experiences that shaped my soul and my psyche? I continue to struggle on that one. While there are some character defects that I continue to heal, I happen to like a lot of things about myself. I am kind, compassionate, generous, wise and humble. (You can laugh). The pity is that in order to obtain enlightenment, not only do I have to let go of my character defects, I have to let go of everything I think about myself. Whatever I think about myself is a distraction and interferes with connecting with the divine. So I have to let go of myself.
The truth is I have to let know of everything I know in order to rise above my limiting beliefs about who I am. This includes what I consider to be “good” as well as the “bad”. This includes the notion that I would like to have a companion to share life with. This is an antiquated notion that I inherited from my parents which has not served me very well. I have to let go of my expectations and needs, especially the feeling that I need anything. After all, everyone I meet is someone I can love and share my life with and the fact that I am interacting with any person is by definition sharing my life with someone.
Intellectually I know that if the divine wanted me to have a life partner I would have one. Intellectually I know that if the divine wanted me not to have a life partner there is nothing I can do to have one. Enlightenment is the realization that the divine is operating in my highest and best good and it is only my myopic and short sightedness that keeps me from embracing that thought. I think I know what is best for me, and that is my biggest trap and impediment from achieving enlightenment. I must accept the fact that my highest self, my divine self, is running the show and as a physical being I do not.
So I have to give up everything I know or want from life in order to transcend the physical, mental and emotional barriers that keep me bound to suffering in this life. As an aside, that doesn’t mean reject abundance given to me by the divine as karma, dharma, or grace from the divine. Simply because I have abundance does not mean I am attached to it or desire it. The zen nature of enlightenment requires that I not want it in order to achieve it. I have to give it up, let it go, and accept what karma and grace has given to me. That is probably the hardest thing in life to do but it must be done to transcend the illusions of reality and human life in order to achieve the deep divine connection that my soul seeks.