Monday, August 30, 2010

Are you ready to fully enlighten?

That is the question I found in an email I recently received -- an advertisement for a retreat or workshop I think.  The sender was looking for a few people who were really ready to commit.  Now, I do have more than a little doubt that the program the email was trying to sell would have the promised result, but let's assume for a moment that indeed the offer was completely valid and that I could in fact watch a video, take a 3 month course, and attain what some Buddhists refer to as full and perfect enlightenment.  Let's assume you could do the same.  So let's take that question seriously.  Are you ready to commit to be fully enlightened?

I don't want to get bogged down in other really great questions, such as "What is enlightenment?"  Let us assume it is a perpetual state of higher awareness in which one is fully actualized as a human being.  One is no longer confined to limited narratives of themselves or the world around them and is no longer compelled to act out in attempts to gain power, security or approval.  For some this may be referred to as Budhha-nature or Christ-consciousness and for others it may have a different name or none at all.  Some may say we possess enlightenment and hence it doesn't need to be acquired, yet it would still be true that we have a kind of amnesia all the same which we need to address.

So what if it could be done, just like that.  *snap*  You get the whole package.  But then, you actually lose quite a bit too.  At least from your current perspective.  The layers of self-image we have added over the years would become paper thin, enough to allow a virtually undiluted experience of our world, which may be frightening enough, but more importantly it would involve a truly intimate experience with our selves.  Even those of who are solitary by nature and enjoy sitting stress free in peace and quiet still have ways of distracting ourselves from ourselves.  Maybe we don't want to be there when what we label as negative emotions or bad thoughts arise, or when the positive ones do.  Perhaps we don't want to be there to see our failures -- or successes.  So we tell ourselves stories.  We are afraid to try and fail, and so the more we believe in something that brings us joy the bigger the risk of disappointment.  And what could be more joyous than becoming fully enlightened?

Enlightenment is fine as a self-help or group therapy project, either in a secular or religious setting.  As long as it is a far distant goal and can be turned into another project for control by the ego, it is nice.  It is pleasant.  It is safe.  But when we start to really have faith in the potential for our own awakening, it can be an occasion of awe and fear.  It isn't guaranteed to be nice or pleasant.  It is compelling, it is powerful, it is dynamic.  If that is just the energy of faith in enlightenment, what must it be like to fully experience the real deal.  What must it be like to be swept up like Job or Elijah in the whirlwind of the Divine?

I am not so sure I am really, truly ready.  Yet the call echos down through the ages in different cultures...

...Be not afraid!

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