Day 21 – The Secret of Enlightenment
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” – Lao Tzu
The idea of enlightenment is generally understood as a remote, hard to attain state of knowledge and peace. And it is true that the fully matured state of spiritual awakening is far removed from the typical everyday existence of most people. However, the secret of enlightenment is that the seed of enlightenment is always with us and has always been a part of every moment of our life. Enlightenment is self-realization, and whenever we notice the presence of our awareness – that thing inside that is having an experience right now – we are touching our enlightenment. That self-recognition is the starting place of enlightenment, of freedom.
Well, friends, we’re reaching the end of our meditation experience. Today on Day 21 we follow a path of hope to explore the secret to enlightenment.
I have a busy life like so many of you. There are entire years I can barely remember because I was rushing from one thing to the next. For 25 years every morning I drove from a basement car garage to another car garage and then had my time dictated and measured in hours and minutes and, even, down to the seconds. I know that many of you feel the same way about your life right now. “It’s too busy.” “There’s not enough time.” “It’s too chaotic.” “Too much. Too much.”
Whelp, I’ve learned that the secret to slowing down time is bringing your full attention to it is your breath. Just breathe. Take a deep breath. Right now. Do it. And see how that brings you right back to this moment. And throughout the day I find moments just to do just that. Inhale. Exhale again. Taking the time to notice your breath. It snaps you into the present moment. It also, for me, gives me a little charge, a surge of energy, that reminds me, “I’m alive. I’m here. Right now.” And I get to be fueled by hope, if I choose to in this moment.
Buddhist monk, teacher and writer, Thich Nhat Hanh, says this, “When you breathe in and are aware that you are alive, you can touch the miracle of being alive.” “That is a kind of enlightenment,” he says. The secret to enlightenment is to live happily in the here and now.
Being present turns up the volume in your life; you’re tuned into awareness instead of the jumble of thoughts in your head and you begin to understand that you are not your thoughts; you are much bigger and deeper and wider than the thoughts. I’ve learned that the constant chatter in your head only holds the power you choose to give it.
Let’s follow Deepak’s guidance toward enlightenment.
Every moment of hope brings the light into your life or another person’s. You know this is happening by experiencing more joy, beauty, and love. This opens the way for the possibility of living in the light all the time, which we call enlightenment.
Hope is the engine of consciousness that leads us to enlightenment. Hope is what impels awareness to realize its true potential. Society fosters the belief that enlightenment is rare and even difficult. The Worlds Wisdom Traditions take the opposite view. They compare the process of becoming enlightened to recognizing yourself in a mirror. A dusty mirror reflects the light of you dimly. A clean mirror reflects the light without dullness, blemishes or distortion. But recognition of your true self is not difficult or time-consuming. It is simply recognizing yourself as the presence of awareness that is always there.
The realization of the self is the essence of enlightenment. What takes time and practice is the process of clearing away the dust from the mirror. Every time you experience your true self in mediation, every time you feel compassion for the suffering of another, every time you accept someone just as they are, you remove more and more dust from the mirror and facilitate that self-realization into higher states of consciousness.
Hope is the promise of our spiritual awakening, the way a seed is the promise of a blossom. Enlightenment is possible for you because pure awareness is already present in every experience you have. Your current experience without the mind’s commentary and analysis is the simple reality of the true self. Nothing is simpler or closer than recognizing yourself. As the experience of the true-self matures awareness realizes it remains unchanged even though the party in mind change.
Self-knowledge is only the beginning of enlightenment. Awareness continues to expand and see itself in others. Seeing oneself in another is the experience of love. Seeing oneself in an object or perception is the experience of beauty. This irrepressible impulse of life to expand into greater expressions of love, joy and beauty is the spiritual force of evolution that drives our enlightenment. This is true hope. The knowing light in our heart that shows us that regardless of uncertainty around us our life is always unfolding into greater knowledge, love, joy and beauty.
In every moment of hope, I free myself.
Sat Chit Ananda
Life is absolute bliss consciousness.
Really, what is enlightenment?
sharing her musical enlightenment with her children: insight, understanding, awareness, wisdom, education, learning, knowledge; illumination, awakening, instruction, teaching; sophistication, advancement, development, open-mindedness, broad-mindedness; culture, refinement, cultivation, civilization.
The journey I’ve been on these past decades of my life from the “in the depths of hell” alcoholic I was to the “enlightened” recovering alcoholic that I am today has given me all of the meanings of enlightenment above that I am crazy grateful to be an alcoholic in recovery. I never had enlightenment when all I was obsessed with was my next drink, how to sneak it, where to get it, how to hide it. Today that space of the active disease that fully engulfed my entire body and mind has been freed up…my awakening.
Now that I know who and what I am from working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and practicing all of the suggestions offered to me by my fellows living in the “solution” on a daily basis, I can live in the now, and I can have hope. I can turn off the jumble of thoughts in my head by embracing them and then asking them to leave. I can live from my heart!
So today, rather than wallowing in my confusion and self-pity, I have freed up the space within me to be in the moment, to be mindful, respectful, and compassionate. Not only with those around me, but with myself. I can be loving, nurturing and accepting instead of judging. I can be me…the true me that was meant to be!
Today I wake up with gratitude and hope for what the day will bring. I am excited what I will learn today, how I will grow. And as Deepak says above, “The knowing light in our heart that shows us that regardless of uncertainty around us our life is always unfolding into greater knowledge, love, joy and beauty.”
For those interested in motivational and inspirational gifts, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and have an awesome day!
From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Experience on HOPE.