The reason many people have difficulty realizing an enlightened state is because they see it as some high-level guru-inspired nirvana-achievement. It is viewed as something very special. That’s how we think of it. But that’s the trick —we do do it all the time. We just don’t account for it.
We hit some super long putt, or a free throw in basketball, or a wrist shot in hockey —and we know know know we’ve scored the moment it leaves our control. Or sometimes we’re busy doing something mundane and we look up and we can’t believe how much time has passed.
Other times are when we’re enjoying ourselves so much that we felt entirely secure. Feeling that way our egos have no reason to perform. Which means that in each of these examples, we were existing in an enlightened state.
If look closely at those cases, we’ll note that we weren’t investing much if any energy on creating a ‘us.’ Instead we were busy taking in the world. We were inputting universe, not output ting ideas about it. We were enjoying the universe itself, even if that form was difficult or scary. Enlightenment can take all forms.
We can be mesmerized and thoroughly absorbed by baby pandas, and we can be just as riveted by a pride of lions taking down a baby gazelle. One thing is cute and one thing is natural, but very harsh. And yet both experiences are equal in that they are fully engaging; meaning they are pure experience and any commentary or self-talk commentary comes later.
There is a great lesson in this. To improve our daily lives, we simply have to apply this same response to less compelling aspects of life. We need to stop reserving this skill for mountain-top sunsets and baby animals. We need to start using this ability with frustrating co-workers and stressed spouses. Because even those things are ultimately not about us, and even they can be viewed in an enlightened manner.
We must accept that there will be days when we, and others who are usually reasonable, will suddenly be difficult. This is not the secret-person coming out. This is not some gross miscalculation of their character on our part or some deficit of ours. This is normal human existence. How’s our/their diet? How about sleep? Are there challenging and unavoidable things going on in life and how good are the support systems?
These are things that will impact a person’s reactions, not to mention big shifts in hormone changes that can be the result of everything from pregnancy to bodybuilding drugs, to puberty, to menstrual cycles and menopause, and changes resulting from drugs or diseases and their treatments.
There’s a lot of reasons for all of us to occasionally get snippy. We’re better to learn not to be so quick to judge. Watch people over the long term. That’s the closest thing you could call who they are. The rest is the weather, not the sky. If we take the enlightened view, we can see that even when people are at their worst.
The world isn’t perfect when everyone’s unnaturally polite. The world’s perfect when everyone is compassionate enough to let themselves and everyone else be a fully realized human being leading a full and rich life — which will obviously include frustration, agony, doubt and struggle. So we must let those moments be. There’s a reason we have the ability to produce those emotions.
Even then, those are merely clouds hovering over the landscape of our life. They only obscure the sun that is our capacity for rewarding experiences. They do not actually make that capacity go away. All we have to do is wait, and when we see rays shining through up ahead, we must set that appealing course as our destination. Because it is by moving toward the light that only we see, that we realize our own path through life.
Accept it. Not everything feels good. So be there, fully. That is what enlightenment is. Total acceptance of the present moment. Then, as soon as possible, move toward what feels better. That process is so much easier with the acceptance that we have remarkable freedoms within ourselves.
Remember, enlightenment is not something you are trying to attain like a degree. It’s a state of mind you’re using like a verb, to see the present moment.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.