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Path to Enlightenment

Grass in a field with light and water beads

Nature is intelligent, but its drive toward evolution allows us to understand the path to enlightenment. Evolution shows us how something previously unknown or that hadn’t existed emerges because of a type of opening. Sometimes it comes through crisis, or a lack of balance. Growth is achieved because of the emergence of something new or different.

Our basic drive to survive is not the whole story of our existence. Just like nature, the leaps and shifts we make can change the entire tapestry. The path to enlightenment often begins when we feel wounded. How can any event be considered negative when the outcome is something as enriching as enlightenment?

Surrendering Intelligence for Enlightenment

Enlightenment is a way of achieving clarity and understanding. It is different from intelligence, which may label our understanding of gender, family and our role in society. Through enlightenment we can grasp a greater meaning for our existence. The path to enlightenment often requires that we surrender intelligence and the way it can trap us in our growth.

The difference between an enlightened mind and someone caught in a routine of survival can be observed by one’s behavior. Anger, frustration and stress are the symptoms of unfulfilled needs. Some of these feelings and behaviors can be operating unconsciously, so the first step in achieving enlightenment is to quiet the mind and become more self-reflective.

Quiet the Mind to Achieve Enlightenment

When we meet any type of negative event, we might step back and ask ourselves what we are defending? Anger, frustration and stress are all derivatives of fear. While our drive for survival is instinctual, we can calm our fear by quieting the mind. When the mind is quiet, we can hover at the threshold of awareness to observe how life can unfold without the need to control the outcome. To the mind that is quiet, the entire universe surrenders. Whatever had previously challenged us – dissipates. We will know we have reached enlightenment when we stop defending anything.

Intelligence allows us to understand our world based on what we learn. The things that are important to us when we are young will not be the same as what we come to value as we get older. A prerequisite for enlightenment is an ability to let go of old and outworn ideas.

Enlightenment Fills Life with Meaning

People who are enlightened demonstrate a sense of joy and peacefulness in any situation. It is as if they are connected to the playful nature of experience. Nothing is taken seriously and one’s ideas can remain fluid. The enlightened person discovers how approaching any experience with preconceived ideas diminishes the experience. The ability ‘not to know’ is a key aspect for achieving enlightenment.

We can see this during the period in history called the Enlightenment. It gave the masses the freedom to explore and generate new ideas in science and politics. These emerging ideas undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. We must sometimes balk the assumptions of ‘his majesty, the ego’ or the spiritual ideas we were taught as children. Our path is our own and enlightenment is not something anyone can teach us. It is a sudden leap into a new context for discovering meaning in life.

Similarly, intelligence can trap us in a type of Dark Age of rote and routine where every new experience is met with the same answers. Therefore, the pursuit of enlightenment is not a destination, because the journey requires that we cross uncharted territory. It is a willingness to jump into the unknown that leads to a major shift in how we understand life.

Enlightenment Through 'Not Knowing'

Enlightenment is a continuous realization that allows us to make peace with and settle into the flow of events. Sitting in meditation is an exercise that can open us to enlightenment, but the clarity and awakening must be revealed through experience. One day, we recognize the amount of wasted energy spent on defending our story. We choose ‘not to know’ so that we can discover how peace and abundance begin with our outlook.

Being enlightened allows us to see beyond the drama and distractions to observe ‘what is.’ We can use compassion to ponder the reason why something unfolds the way it does. Without compassion, we fall prey to pure ego awareness - anger, judgment and responses that merely embroil us in a way that shuts down our ability to understand. Defensiveness ensures that the outcome will be relentless and repetitive.

Compassion and Enlightenment

Compassion is a type of sacrifice that opens us to the moment beyond ego needs. It is a healing gesture directed at life, rather than a defensive one. Meeting each day with a sense of love and appreciation will change the entire texture of what we experience.

Enlightenment comes to us all differently and it is often discovered when we stop searching for an answer. We learn to live the question because it is in what we do not know – that we awaken to a new way of experiencing life. Practicing surrender and acceptance opens us to a type of gratitude that seems to be mirrored back to us. The more appreciative we are – the more life seems to make us appreciative.

Enlightenment by Transcending Duality

Enlightenment is a way of opening to the wonder of existence. It emerges because we climb and fall in cycles that are circular and not judged as good or bad. When we can transcend any sense of duality in existence, life moves through us and we merge with it. We soar above the trees, carried forward by the singing of the birds. We dissolve into the ocean because the crashing of the waves stirs our bones. When the wind blows, we can feel it lifting our heart as it sends our love out into the universe.

We are only limited by the story we make of our existence. Enlightenment allows us to participate with life without any sense of boundaries.