Spirituality * Culture * Self-Expression

Tag: enlightenment

Through the Mountain

Your favorite mystic gets asked a lot of silly questions, one of which is “Are you Enlightened?”

How do you answer a question like that?

If I say Yes – you might think I’m bragging (and who would brag about a thing like that?)

If I say No – you might think I’m lying (and who would lie about a thing like that?)

The problem is that to understand the answer to that question you have to know just what Enlightenment is. And if you know what Enlightenment is, you really don’t have to ask the question.

People “think” they know what Enlightenment is, or what they want it to be, but thinking about it makes you miss the point. Enlightenment is a state of BEING not an idea. It is a natural state that anyone can experience and it is also an extreme state that can’t easily be defined.

You could compare it to something like Happiness. When you are happy, you know it without being told. And people who have experienced happiness can usually tell when other people are happy without being told. But happiness covers a wide range of experience – from a little happy to ecstatic (and I use that word deliberately because sometimes Enlightenment is equated with ecstasy). And sometimes if you are in a particular state of happiness for a very long time, you can forget that there was ever any other way of being and so you no longer know that you are happy – you’re just you.

A better question might be “how do you BECOME Enlightened?” And that poses problems of its own because a very real and legitimate answer to that question is “how are you AVOIDING being Enlightened?)

I think I will need to write a much longer treatise on this subject some day, soon.

Enlightenment is a natural state and humans seem to experience barriers to enjoying that state. Where did those barriers come from and how can you get around them are even trickier questions that require a lot of verbiage to respond to adequately.

So, to finish off this post, here’s a little story about getting through the barriers that might stir up some level of Enlightenment within you as you read it.

Imagine you are living in a dark and gloomy world. Easy to do, since that’s how many people see life. Now, as you wander about you begin to notice a large mountain in your path. Did it just appear? Was it always there? While you’re thinking about it, you move closer and see that there is a hole or cave in the side of the mountain. You move towards it. As you get closer, you notice people running out of the cave as if they are terrified or maybe in a state of shock. They ignore you or babble something incoherently as you question them, but you get the impression that something weird is in that cave.

Now as you get closer, you notice that while some people are running out of the cave, other people are creeping in to it. You decide to follow them in and find yourself traveling through a tunnel. Someone tells you there is something amazing at the end of the tunnel but they can’t explain what it is.

You go in deeper.

People pass you going out and coming in. And when you reach a point in the tunnel, you start to see people just standing or sitting around. One of them tells you they have just decided to rest for awhile. They don’t want to go back to the old world, but they just can’t bring themselves, yet, to continue to the end.

But you decide you are going all the way.

You decide you really want to see this wonderful thing at the end of the tunnel, whatever it might be.

You move along. People continue to pass you running out or running in, deeper. You also continue to see people just stopping on the way. But you no longer try to talk to anyone. You will find out for yourself what is going on.

There are scary sounds, rock slides, pits that open up before you that must be leaped over, walls that must be climbed, shadows of things you can’t understand – but you keep going deeper towards the truth.

You go deeper and then you notice a light. Maybe it was always there. Who knows? You move towards it. It is the way out of the mountain tunnel. Cautiously you step through to the other side.

Your eyes are opened. Everything is beautiful. Bright skies, clean air, pretty birds and flowers and people around you that seem so happy.

You wander around, almost ecstatic with a new found vigor. You suddenly think of the mountain you passed through and look for it. It is gone, it is no where to be seen. Perhaps it was never really there at all.

Petitioning Power

If you want to get the attention of the President of the United States, tell him your problems, ask for a favor, receive some benefits, it’s quite easy – all you have to do is buy one of his fifty-year-old son’s new finger paintings for half a million dollars and you’re in. That’s the state of material politics, these days: bribery, grift, pandering and a bit of leveraging will get you just about anything.

But suppose you want the attention of Universal Intelligence, the Divine Spirit, the Supreme Being, GOD – how do you do that?

Well, according to the self-indulgent, materialistic, fake “spiritual leaders” that the left-wing, elitist entertainers seem to love – pretty much the same way. To them, God is a wish granting genie in the sky, or a cosmic dragon prepared to bargain away pieces of his treasure horde to the right sort of people. All you have to do is spend some money on gifts for his friends or favorite groups, make a few promises, negotiate a little and say the magic words – “I love Oprah” or something to that effect – and you can get anything you want. The “secret,” however, is that you really have to believe in your own B.S. cosmic principles or at least be persuasive enough to convince the dragon that you really believe.

Nonsense, you say – yet millions of gullible souls in the modern world go along with it since the “popular people” tell them it’s OK.

For validation of these so-called “cosmic principles,” celebrity gurus will even point to the words of Lord Jesus in the Gospels when He says “seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you, ask and you will receive.” (Matthew 7:7) Here, the fakers completely misrepresent the Master’s words. He is not talking about material things, but Spiritual things. He is saying seek for and ask for Salvation, Enlightenment, Universal Harmony, Oneness with Spirit, entrance to the Kingdom of God. These things will be given to you, not wealth, power, fame and physical gratification. It’s the “Other Guy” that’s all about sex, money and power.

You see, when you are Enlightened, things like wealth, power and fame are irrelevant. You might need them for fulfilling a particular cosmic mission, but you aren’t going to want them or seek them for yourself.

So, how do you get God’s attention and receive spiritual Enlightenment? Well, bribery, grift, pandering, leverage and bargaining aren’t the way to go. And even people that give to charity, do good deeds and are basically nice to everyone, don’t always become Enlightened. There are also no “magic words.” Whether you follow Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or some other authentic, traditional path, the way to Enlightenment is the same: you have to want it more than anything else, and you have to keep going after it for as long as it takes. You must gradually give up all other desires and meditate on Oneness. What is required is commitment and understanding of the true value of what you are after. Enlightenment is “the pearl of great price.” (Matthew 13:45-46) Keep seeking, keep asking, keep knocking on the door until you achieve your goal.

It is not an easy path; it is not a path for the many. But it is the sure path to awakening.

“For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to Life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Someday

lion-and-lamb-lie-down-together1

I was chatting with some associates about the crazy weather fluctuations and one of them said, “If it gets any colder I’ll have to start wearing my furs.”

I said, “Yeah, that’s ok. I have a can of spray paint here – I can decorate them for you.”

She gave me a weird look and then said, “Oh yeah, you’re one of those people who care about animals. Well tonight I’ll have myself a big steak with bacon strips and smile as I think of you eating your bowl of lettuce”

I said, “Yeah, that’s ok.”

Trapped-animal

Earlier that day I was on the subway and there was a little baby in a carriage on the train. He seemed happy and comfortable just staring at everyone around him. Then the train jolted and I guess his carriage strap dug into him a bit. He started crying. His mother shushed him gently and tickled him a bit and he stopped for a second but then the train jolted again and he started wailing and would not be comforted.

baby-crying

I admit it was annoying hearing him cry. But, you know, he was just a little tyke stuck in a very stressful and confusing situation with limited responses available to him.

Telepathically I said to him, “yeah, that’s ok, little guy, it’ll get better. I’m sure you’ll figure out what’s really going on in the world … someday.”

enlightenment

No Gorillas at the Ballet

 

gorilla_tux

The great stand-up philosopher, Louis C.K., tells a story about a joke his 7-year old daughter told him. He’s been in the business for 25 years and knows exactly how jokes are structured, but his daughter’s joke surprised him.

Gorilla joke

Question: Who told the gorilla he couldn’t go to the ballet?

Answer: Just the people who are in charge of that decision.

Why is this joke funny? Two reasons:

1.  the answer is unexpected and

2.  it is easy to visualize.

People are lining up to see the ballet. A gorilla in a tuxedo is walking in the line, looking down at his phone, pretending to text, trying to avoid attention.

Door Keeper: Hey you. No, no, no – you’re not getting in. Yeah you – yes, the gorilla – I’m talking to you. You’re not getting in.

Gorilla: (looks up from his phone, confused) Why not?

Door Keeper: Because you’re a gorilla – I don’t even have to say anything else.

Gorilla: But don’t I get credit for talking and getting dressed up to see a ballet? Doesn’t that buy me any credibility?

Door Keeper: No. It’s a long show – it’s 3 hours – you’re not going to make it. You’re OK now but half ways through you’re going to start jumping up and down and pounding on people. That’s just the way you guys are. I ain’t gonna be burdened with that — not again. If a gorilla kills everyone at the ballet once – shame on the gorilla; but twice …

sad gorilla

OK, you can see why Louis C.K. would tell this story. But why would I include it here in a blog about meditation and spirituality?

This story makes me think about all those people who pretend to be spiritual – even pretend to be spiritual leaders. You can dress up in the robes, learn some catch phrases and prayers – maybe use a few props – but if you’re not really enlightened then you’re not getting into the big show.

The people lined up with the gorilla don’t notice he’s a gorilla – it’s up to the Door Keeper to point it out.

Who is the Door Keeper for enlightenment? Who are the people in charge of that decision?

In some traditions, the head of the particular order is in charge. The Master of the temple or school decides if the disciple has attained Enlightment or not.

In the western world, however, it is mostly a self-assessment. Just about anyone can say they are enlightened. Anyone with a little charisma and charm can gain a following and pretend to be a spiritual master. However, we find that eventually these pretend masters expose themselves as frauds.  They might not jump up and down on chairs or pound people to death – but in time they reveal their true nature and their cult group or following collapses in disgrace.

phoney guru

It’s important for each of us to evaluate the claims of self-professed spiritual masters. The Master Jesus warned us long ago to avoid the so-called teachers who do not practice what they preach. And he condemned the teachers who do everything they can to get disciples and then make them twice as fit for hell as they are themselves.  You must look past the clothes and the jargon and see into the heart of the teacher.  Anyone can claim to be a spiritual master but to prove it they must consistently act like masters. You must become the Door Keeper to your own spiritual bliss and train yourself to look past the glamour and deception of those who would seek to claim your soul.

Wake up! Wake yourself up any way you can. Wake up and then wake up everyone else.

Wake Up

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