How will I know if I’m living an enlightened life?
So often the shortest questions are the most complex. Other people will have no idea if you’re living Enlightened or not. But the short answer is that you’ll usually learn that you know how to flow by looking backwards and realizing that you already have been moving through the world without any judgmental thoughts. Without the friction of your ego you become like water and you can flow with and around experiences of any shape or size. But if you’re analyzing if you’re in flow or not, then you’re in ego because you’re judging. So you can’t be Enlightened and “know” you’re Enlightened at the same time. That’s a very clever question you’ve asked.
Of course most people are routinely Enlightened. Every time you’re laughing with friends or enjoying someone’s company, what we are really doing is being in that moment fully. Breathtaking vistas, cute animals, love, these things can all lead to Enlightened states of mind where we feel no need to defend our identities. In fact, we’re so fully absorbed in what we’re experiencing that we don’t even take the time to spin our usual story about what’s going on and how “we” fit into it. You are Enlightened every time you’re having experiences but with no sense of time or self.
Nurture these experiences in yourself. They are profoundly healthy. Actually pay attention to what’s going on when you catch yourself having lost track of time. Was it who you were with, what you were doing, the way that you were doing it? Don’t try to be healthy by not being sick. Be healthy by moving toward health. Don’t look for what things go wrong and analyze those, analyze the things that go right. You have more to learn from those. There is no need to negative yourself into Enlightenment. Love is the only doorway in. Love yourself.
Lower your defences. Quiet your battling, complaining, judgmental, critical, wanting thoughts. Forget trying to advance your ego’s plight in life. Focus only on the moment you are in and where peace is within that. You’ll be surprised at some of the sources of your moments of Enlightened joy. And stay open-minded. Sometimes that peace will even come from something like a fight—you can even be Enlightened while being attacked by a wild animal.
There have been many accounts of people who were attacked by bears or lions and such, and many who have survived have talked about an odd calm that came over them during the attack as the whole experience made sense. So there’s someone in the jaws of a lion, and instead of pain they’re in the strange state where they’re processing the notion that the lion is merely being a lion and there is nothing personal in the attack—in fact given the surrounding facts, it makes perfect sense that such an attack would be happening. In that moment those people return to our prehistoric pre-language identity and they are once again pure animal without the sheen of civilization placed over them. There’s something exhilarating about that. It’s why I love driving the racecar. By being nearer to death I am able to come alive in a unique and special way.
Watch your own life. Watch it not for troubles or problems or things you want to fix. Presume you’re magnificent and perfect and watch your own life for signs of your amazingness. Your friends are your friends for a reason. There are wonderful aspects to who you are. Get to know them. That acceptance of your worthiness will quiet your ego which will thereby allow the real you to emerge. And that’s a great path to Enlightenment. Love yourself not for the things that you do, nor the things that you are. Love your own existence as a part of the whole magnificence of the universe. And have fun!
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.