Enlightened people are simply people who know how to live in the moment a lot of the time. We still slip out too. We get caught up in our thoughts just like you. The only difference is that we will notice we’re “out” sooner and we’ll be a bit better at getting back “in.” But we do not live free from suffering. Nor would we want to. So that’s the graduation you’re looking for. Not an enlightenment where you don’t suffer anymore. But an enlightenment where you don’t mind that you still suffer.
It’s very easy to intellectually understand duality. It’s easy to understand that you can’t see these black letters without the white background. But that’s recognizing the effect. You need to recognize the principle behind the cause. You need to understand the Nature of Duality. You cannot have a wave without a crest and a trough. They are separate yet you cannot have one without the other. So it is with duality.
I cannot know hot without knowing not-hot. I cannot know tired without not-tired. I cannot know happiness without not-happiness. You don’t have to spend much time in states of mind you don’t enjoy, but if you don’t resist passing through them you can pretty easily escape back to grateful, appreciative thoughts. Since those are more natural, it’s like there’s three channels on your life TV, and the horror channel that you don’t like is between the other two. So it’s easier to watch something you like, but you still can’t get from the love story on channel one to the comedy on channel three without passing through the horror on channel two. If you just accept that, you can flick by it very quickly. But if you actually tune to it and then get mad at the TV as though it controls the TV station then you are simply locking yourself onto that channel with your dislike of it. It’s kind of crazy so stop it.
Accept that life will always present situations where there is no point in trying to see it as positive. But you also don’t have to dwell there. So after something crappy has happened, move your thoughts on to your future as soon and as often as you are able. Remember, the pain is your guide. Those thoughts will hurt, so that is the Yang urging you back to Yin. Dark, black, ugly thoughts feel terrible because our spiritual selves knows that these feelings are not our nature, and so the bad feelings urge us to change our minds—to think different thoughts.
Be grateful for the ditches in life. They carry the water away from the road. Yes occasionally you might go into one, but that’s not the ditch’s fault. It was just Being and you went there with your absent thinking. It’s not like it made the road go away. So use its roughness to remind you that it’s your responsibility to steer your thoughts.
Unpleasant feelings are your sign to check in to your thinking to see if you can make different choices regarding what you’re currently inviting into your consciousness, so be grateful for them. That is how you come to experience enlightenment. You simply accept that even the things you thought of as “bad” are in a strange way still just a part of the things that are “good.” And knowing that can’t help but lead to a very nice life. Congratulations.