There are many definitions of enlightenment, but the one that makes the most sense today is acceptance.
Acceptance of self and the world.
People who accept themselves and life — whether modern mystic in the marketplace or spiritual seekers in a monastery or cave — without complaint give off a different energy than the ones who rarely have a day without giving an Oscar-award-winning imitation of Chicken Little.
How many of us know ourselves, like ourselves and are committed to being our own best friend?
How often do we sail the ocean of self looking for that undiscovered country? Of the daring souls who do, how many slink back to port when the seas get a little stormy?
By not trying, or giving up too soon, we miss reality, and our own sheer wonder. In all creation there has never been anyone like us, and there never will be.
Never again will there be a chromosome cocktail stirred, or shaken, quite like us — or like our spouse, our children, our neighbour, or the paperboy.
In the movie, Matrix, Neo only come into his own power — become whole — when he accepted the fact he was the one. Not many of us face life-or-death decisions in our every-day life or fight a system that enslaves humanity, but we do face demons of our own creation — the fear, dread, anxiety and stress we summons from our private hells.
Yet, once we align ourselves with life and get into the flow, we won’t have to cast out those devils, they’ll disappear like the phantoms they are.
We create our own matrix with what we believe about ourselves and the world. The result is different if we believe we are separate from everything than if we believe we are aligned and woven into the tapestry of life.
One belief creates artificial boundaries and one opens us up to our own greater good.
We are all the chosen ones, every one of us; we all choose who we are and who we would become. We are here because we were there, a logical consequence of the steps we have taken.
And the steps we take now will lead us ever on.
“We are already one and we imagine we are not,” said Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton. “And what we have to recover is our original unity. Whatever we have to be is what we are.”
When we withhold the gift of us from ourselves, we hide our light and deprive humanity of our uniqueness. Many males secretly see themselves as John Wayne figures — strong, resolute, the good guy righting wrongs — but most of are more like Woody Allen or Pee Wee Herman — dithering, indecisive and anxious.
And it is at this point where we have to work on acceptance; accepting that we are wonderful in spite of not being who we think we should be.
“You can’t change your shortcomings until you accept yourself despite them,” said Dr. Bernie Siegel.
We could do worse than follow the advice from Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose essential teaching was belief in self. That essay has been on the nightstand of many a great man and woman.
It had a profound influence on author Wayne Dyer, who read it at 17 while waiting in the principal’s office for not being respectful enough of authority.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies with us,” wrote Emerson, who, considering what had happened to him — wife and son died, no job, at odds with his society — was probably shoring up his own belief system, talking to himself as much as the reader.
Most of us are disconnected from self and don’t trust ourselves enough to buck the perceived wisdom of society. We pay so much attention to others that we don’t recognize our own innate wisdom.
Anyone who has ever watched trivia shows on TV – Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader — know the answers often come to us in a flash of insight, but we dismiss them because we don’t think we should know.
Yet, no matter how many times we find out we were initially correct, we still consider it coincidence.
Emerson made that point quite clearly in Self Reliance: “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages.
“Yet, he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts, they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
Like Emerson, most great spiritual leaders have stressed the uniqueness of self, of the need to go inside, into our silence. There we learn the great lessons, there we tap into the wisdom of the ages.
“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves,” said Vivekananda, the Hindu religious leader. (The great seers) are signposts on the way. That is all they are. They say, ‘Onward, brothers!’
“We cling to them; we never want to move. We do not want to think; we want others to think for us. The messengers fulfil their mission. A hundred years later, we cling to the message and go to sleep.”
It’s much easier to let someone else tell us what to do, what to believe because accepting responsibility for ourselves, our actions, our beliefs is scary. But when we do, we miss our life.
We strive to be true to others, to meet our obligations to organizations such as banks and the electrical company and gas company, but can’t be bothered to be true to ourselves, to be impeccable with our word to ourselves.
If we did, we’d be slimmer, non-smoking, calmer, serene version of the person who pounds the steering wheel while stuck in traffic.
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string,” Emerson wrote. “Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.
"Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the Eternal was stirring at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being.”
We can re-establish that intuitive connection that the birds and the bees still have with the Eternal. We can emulate the butterfly, which allows itself to be transformed and then answers the call of a place it has never been.
Butterflies and mystics see into the essence of Big R Reality.
“All the talents of God are within you,” wrote Hafiz, the 14th century Sufi poet.
“How could this be otherwise when your soul is derived from his genes. God disguised in myriad things and playing a game of tag has kissed you and said,‘You’re it — I mean, you’re Really it!”
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.