Enlightenment 101

People are looking for some grand, sweeping epiphany. They want trumpets and clouds and at least a moment of glory. But that’s not what enlightenment looks like. It’s not pomp and circumstance. It’s not an ultimate. It’s not a peak. It’s not a summit or an achievement, nor is it exciting. True enlightenment is to move through life with your awareness open to, and watching for, your own simple, flowing good-fortune. It is not a giant moment, it is a collection of tiny, simple moments. As Eve Ensler says, “Love is this simple gathering of daily kindnesses that add up to an amazing life.”

466 Relax and Succeed - It is up to you to see the beautyStop wishing to be struck by enlightenment and instead invest your day in the way that will actually make a material difference to your life. You can sit on the bus or train or in your car and notice everything about everyone that you do not like. Or you can do exactly the opposite. One leads to the agony of ego and the other leads to the peace of wisdom and understanding.

Stop using your psychological energy to judge others with your thoughts. Stop using that energy to create criticisms and judgments of yourself as well. As often as possible avoid using your life force energy for anything negative. Negative things generally feel bad, so that’s how you can quickly identify them. Then as soon as you are able, shift your thinking to something of a higher frequency. Empty the teacup of your mind of the rotten tea, and leave yourself empty so that you can pour in positive experiences.

Surrender wanting things a certain way. Start to open up to the excitement of anticipation rather than the disappointment of expectation. Stop wanting specific things to make you happy and start instead looking for other gifts. I remember I was once disappointed that I got a book for Christmas when my brother got a new high-tech plastic hockey stick blade. As it turned out that book lead directly to a lifelong love of reading for which I am eternally grateful. So my expectation of getting something “as good as my brother’s” actually caused me to snub 466 Relax and Succeed - I am grateful forone of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Bottom line, we should stop being so sure that we know what will make us happy and instead we should just watch the mystery of life unfolding in front of us and we should jump in whenever we feel the natural impulse.

Can you see how much easier it is than trying to impress everyone? You don’t have to be thinner, or prettier or stronger or tougher or a better dancer or fighter or skier or mathematician. You can just be you. And then you can just start watching for the almost constant awesomeness that the universe delivers to anyone who has their eyes and mind open.

Stop trying to make some big important spiritual achievement. Stop trying to be successful or spiritual, or Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Jew or Enlightened or or or. Just look right in front of you, in the moment that you are in, and keep your eye out for what you like. Far more often than not the world will greatly exceed any expectations you might have had with your limited imagination. Trust the universe. It may be mysterious, but that’s where all it’s awesomeness comes from, so just run with it.

Create a great day for yourself by keeping your eyes, mind and heart open. You can start right now. Start collecting the sort of experiences that will add up to a truly great day and that is precisely what you will have. Enjoy.

Much love, s

A Life of Riches

Long ago there was an an Arab King who was said to be so wealthy that he had everything, and yet it was considered customary that visiting royalty would provide a gift to their host. But this posed a problem for a visiting Hindu Prince; what can one give the person who has everything?

104 Relax and Succeed - Happiness resides not in possessionsOne thing the Hindus had that the Arabs did not, was the idea or concept of zero—the idea that nothing had value. So what can one give a King who has everything? The one thing he does not have: nothing.

Do you value nothing in your life? Do you see your time at rest as being as important as your time at work or play? Are you so busy driving your car that you never stop to fill it with fuel? And if so, where do you think that will take you?

In a culture of achievement the focus is on obtaining things, having enviable experiences, or in gaining control over others. That translates to down-time being considered as sinful, bad or weak. So if you’re gaining possessions, money or power, or if you’re having experiences others will envy, then you anoint yourself as successful. And if you feel you could benefit from rest or if you feel patience would be advised, you see yourself as failing. This is craziness.

There is nothing to go get in life. There is nothing to achieve that makes a life worthwhile. Whether you are a beggar or a billionaire, your life is still only a string of experiences and having a billion dollars and tons of apparent control and power doesn’t change that. I’ve known a few super-rich people in my day and all of them suffered as much or more than anyone else I ever met, except they added the frustration of feeling like they’d walked the wrong direction for their entire life because in most cases they actually surrendered uplifting experiences so they could go chase money or power.

104 Relax and Succeed - Your greatness is now what you haveIs it so hard to believe that insanely busy “rich and successful” executives wish they had simpler lives with more family or recreation time? Can you understand that they have to worry about the motivation of their lovers, who they know may only be there because they’re rich, or famous, or powerful? Do you understand that these people suffer more because they appear to have won at the game of life, and yet they know that deep down they have the same existential struggles the rest of us deal with?

Stop struggling for things. Stop surrendering life in an attempt to make it more impressive to others. You’re just going to die anyway. Everyone does. You have two dates on a gravestone, and all that matters is that little dash in the middle. The little dash of your life. There will be no balance sheet on your gravestone. There will be no list of achievements. There will only be two dates, and a tiny little dash in time. And the best investment you can make with that little dash is not chasing money or power, it’s through giving love. And if you don’t know that now, I know with absolute certainty that you will come to know it before you die—even if it’s only seconds before.

Your life is fine. You can start where you are and still have a wonderful existence. But that has to be your actual objective. Because no amount of fame, money or power can buy a good life. The only way you get that is by consciously choosing it. Why not start today?

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.