Awakening to the Journey
I recently read in Oneness by Rasha, “The process of awakening is not one in which a definitive threshold is crossed and one is then enlightened, transformed, or ascended. There is much backsliding to be expected on this journey….Your own preoccupation with the concept of completion will keepthat state of attainment ever elusive.” (p. 92)
Over the years I have known people whose life goal was to reach enlightenment. For a long time I assumed there was possibly a path mapped out in Eastern religion that would lead one to that goal. I never explored Hinduism or its relatives, but when I began to experience Buddhism, I found meditation so challenging that I decided there was no point to set enlightenment as a goal because it was unattainable in my lifetime. If it happened, it happened. Setting enlightenment as a goal seemed self defeating.
The Ego Loves Spiritual Goals
When I first read the Oneness passage above, it really resonated with me. A friend and I had a conversation on this topic. He wanted to attain enlightenment
in this lifetime. I said that I felt making enlightenment a life goal was an ego response. It was the ego that wanted to brag about being enlightened, but that true enlightenment just happens. When we become attached to doing good so that we will become enlightened, we are not being authentic. Again, we are not acting from the heart, but to fulfill a goal created by ego.
Living authentically from the heart will take us to a place beyond ego. We will help others because we truly care about them, not because it impresses them. We will release judgment toward ourselves and others, embrace our backsliding and learn from it how to live more consciously. We will understand that the journey is endless. What matters is not the imaginary end but how we experience the process.
Respect Each Person’s Spiritual Journey
Each journey is unique, and we create it by the choices we make each day. Each of us awakens at our own pace. The reason I use the word “awakening” as part of the title in this blog is that the first step to any growth is to awaken or become aware. Whatever wisdom has awakened within me over the years has appeared when I least expect it. Often as I search for an understanding of one mystery, the answer to another emerges. Just when I start feeling that I’ve reached a point of healing about an issue, the pain or grief may erupt more powerfully than ever. What I know is that this is individual and unpredictable and that it is a gift, no matter how painful it may be.
However, who am I to say that it isn’t good for my friend to choose enlightenment for a goal? Perhaps that is exactly what he needs to do in order to learn his karmic lessons. But my goal is still not enlightenment. I need to keep things simple and just live each day as consciously as I can. I want to treat myself and others with respect, to offer help when I can, and to create activities that stimulate the joy within me so that it will spill over to others. A spiritual teacher of mine used to say our purpose on this earth is to expand our energy and to do that we need to experience love and joy. When we are able to do that, we are enlightened.
How do you see enlightenment? What do you think about Rasha’s comment on
enlightenment? © 2011 Georganne Spruce