Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed and Yogananda. These are just a few names that come to mind when I think of someone who may have been enlightened. But were these divine souls actually enlightened, or were they simply further down the path of enlightenment than most people?
Imagine you walk into a pitch black room and the door locks behind you. Panicking, you fumble around trying to find a switch. There is nothing to be found. Your mind is racing, you feel chaotic. You have lost your sense of balance. And then, when you stumble upon something big and soft in the corner. You feel relieved to have something to lean on, to help you find your balance again and settle your nerves. It feels like layers of blankets. You don’t know this yet, but beneath this blanket is a beautiful glowing lamp.
Hoping that this may be something covering up your only way out, you start pulling at the top layer and with a lot of effort you remove the first blanket. It’s heavy, dense, and there is no real perceptible change in the amount of light in the room. But your curiosity has been stirred. So you keep going, removing yet another blanket. This blanket is slightly lighter this time and you think you can see some light, but you are not sure.
So you keep going, blanket after blanket, and slowly the room starts to become just a touch lighter. Lifting all these heavy blankets has been hard work. You can’t quite see your way yet, but you know there is something beneath all these layers. The blankets continue to get lighter in weight and lighter in texture, until you can now see just in front of you.
You think you can make out the shape of your hand. Your awareness starts to expand into the corners of the room until with enough layers removed you can take in the full space of the room. You are feeling more at peace. Your mind is more calm and you have regained your full sense of balance. You are not sure quite yet how to get out of the room, but you do know that as the room gets lighter and lighter, you too start to feel lighter.
This is what we all do every day. Some faster than others. You could call it ‘enlightening-ment’. Being ‘enlightened, is not a destination, it’s a process of becoming lighter. Those layers represent all the things we have accumulated in this life and from past lives. Everyone has their own pace of ‘enlightening-ment’.
For me it was a gradual process. At first I just fumbled around in the dark, not really even searching for the lamp. I lived with the chaos and lack of balance, until one day I fell hard. That for me was the time of my divorce. That fall hurt real bad and my body suffered as a result. But in that darkness I started to search. I found comfort in that soft pile of blankets. I knew there was something more for me.
As I started meditating I became lighter. It wasn’t always easy. Lifting that weight off your shoulders can be hard work. As the layers peel off, you can expose fresh wounds that are more sensitive to the light. But you adjust. You always recalibrate to this new level of lightness until the universe gives you that sign to keep going, moving closer and closer to the light.
In 2017 I ripped off a lot of layers very fast, and the light was way too bright for me to absorb. But slowly I have acclimatised to this new lighter way of being, and in the process exposed more scars that were ready to be healed. The work continues. Just as I thought I was starting to understand myself and the world around me, I felt like I was sent back to consciousness kindergarten.
But we never go backwards. We are always moving forwards, towards the light. The word ‘scar’ comes from the ancient sanskrit word ‘samskara’. All of our thoughts, words, feelings, actions and behaviors create impressions on our consciousness that are like scars. You can think of them as scratches on a piece of metal, but these scratches can be polished off.
In a recent interview I was asked by an audience member, “What is the best way to get started on the spiritual journey?” Well, to start with, we are all on a spiritual journey. The word ‘spirit’ comes from the latin word ‘spiritus’ which means ‘to breath’. Are we all not breathing?
It’s just that some have developed more self awareness. It’s this self awareness that allows us to become more established in ‘being’. So how to do we cultivate more self-awareness, become lighter and reveal more of who we truly are?
Who we truly are is love.
We find this by peeling back the layers. And there is no more effective tool for this than meditation. It’s not the absolute solution for everything, but it is the most effective catalyst. It can bring us back into a state of human ‘beingness’. When you feel like you are more of a human ‘doing’, it’s time to stop, close our eyes, enlighten yourself by peeling back another layer, and let out your light.
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P.S. Always listen to your intuition (and your doctor or practitioner) before trying any new health practice.