Are we all born to be enlightened, are some people there to help others become enlightened, do we really care about being enlightened and what the hell does being enlightened mean?
I would like to try and answer some of those questions here, but let me start by saying that enlightenment is a purely subjective experience and I cannot tell you what it means I can only tell you what I think.
What is enlightenment?
With all the books I've read, the TV programs I've watched, and the seminars I've attended about self help and spiritual awakenings etc enlightenment has been described as a state of being. There are some books that describe it otherwise and it is the latter of the two groups definition I will be working with. So my definition of enlightenment is:
Enlightenment is a brief awakening of the mind when all prejudices and discriminations are momentarily set aside, and the world around you becomes a source of wonder.
The emphasis here is on "˜brief'. I don't think it is possible to be in a constant state of enlightenment but I do believe we get a glimpse of it from time to time and we can learn to experience more of these brief moments. The trick is recognising the glimpses.
Have you have had an enlightened experience? It's an experience hard to describe to people, one in which you were happy with your lot just for being alive, just for having the people in your life and just for having the intelligence to appreciate it all. It's like momentarily waking up from a state of grogginess to a state of heightened awareness.
Think of the time when you first get out of bed in the morning, really groggy, you stumble about with your eyes half closed, you're groaning as you try and fumble for the bathroom light, you stub your little toe off the end of the bed, the light from the bathroom hurts your eyes and eventually after half an hour or so you are able to function well enough to have a conversation. Now, think of the time of day when you are at your peak, usually just before lunchtime, all your senses are working properly, you are able to do lots all the things you need as you go about your work day, you are in a state of heightened alert and your brain is in gear and ready for the rest of the day. Enlightenment moments are the difference between the first scenario I described when you first get up in the morning and when you are at your peak in the middle of the day. We are all half asleep in our lives and we are waking up year by year with little moments of enlightenment.
An example of one of my enlightened moments is when I first awoke from having a lucid dream. Lucid dreams are the dreams when you consciously wake up in your dream, you know you are dreaming but you continue to stay in the dream and you can actually control it, it's amazing. I woke up that morning amazed, astonished and full of wonderment at the power of the mind, the brain and the possibilities of this amazing type of experience. I was elated and the world suddenly became a source of wonderment. I looked at people with deep compassion, I looked about my home town and the beauty of it's architecture , it's art and it's sense of culture. I was on cloud nine for about a week and it was truly amazing, the world never looked the same after that and the people in it would never be the same. I was much more confident and felt I had a place in the world and had something to contribute. I didn't concern myself about how people would react to me when I spoke or did certain things I previously thought they might disapprove of, I was totally myself and loving the experience.
That's just one example of one of my enlightened moments and it changed my life forever, that's how powerful an experience like this can be. To you it might sound a little out there and you might not understand what I am talking about but when you have one of these experiences you will know exactly where I am coming from.
5 Keys to enlightenment
- Recognise that enlightenment is a purely subjective experience, nobody can tell you how to become enlightened as it is your own inner journey.
- Learn to recognise the little moments when you do become enlightened as they are moments you suddenly grow as a person and your brain suddenly plugs you into another part of the universe.
- Don't go chasing enlightenment as it comes to you when you least expect it. It could be something as simple as seeing your baby walk for the first time, feeling compassion for someone, reading a book, kissing your spouse. Don't chase it but learn to recognise it.
- Write your enlightenment moments down in a special book. You might only write in that book once a year but you'll be glad you did.
- Try and resist the temptation to tell everyone about your enlightened experience as nobody will understand it and they will think you are losing your mind, which will detract from the experience itself. By all means tell the people who are closest to you and the people who really understand you but not your work colleagues or your drinking buddies, trust me they will think you are losing it. J
I would love to hear you stories of enlightened experiences so feel free to leave a comment about your experience of enlightenment.