What Is Enlightenment, Part 2 – June 23 2019

What Is Enlightenment, Part 2 – June 23 2019

All you need is already within you, you must only approach yourself with reverence and love.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That 

People only see what they are prepared to see.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though many men and women have had the experience of spontaneous enlightenment–Sri Ramana Maharshi, Eckhart Tolle, J. Krishnamurti, to name a few–for the lion’s share of the world, enlightenment is more a slow and steady dawning than a lightning bolt; a dimmer switch progressively becoming brighter, rather than an ‘either/or’ proposition. 

This is more in line with what the psychologist William James calls ‘the educational variety’ of ‘religious experience,’ as opposed to the white light experience of some.

Enlightenment is our natural state. To know ourselves as individuality, while at the same time being able to experience ourselves as universality–this is cosmic consciousness. Cosmic, meaning “all.” Conscious of, aware of, present to the all of what we are. In our analogy of consciousness as the ocean with ourselves as waves upon that ocean, this would mean knowing ourselves as the ocean itself, while at the same time remaining aware of our individual status and structure.

This is how we are designed to function. This is what we are in our least-excited state. If we could let go of all the ideas of who we are, of how we’re “supposed to be,” this is what we would experience. But of course, letting go of our self-definitions is not always a simple thing. 

So we slog on, meditating each day, progressively unwinding the stresses we have accumulated and, of equal importance, correcting the intellect–shifting the way we think about life, about ourselves, about consciousness, so that we become more and more willing to be the truth of what we are.

And each day, the light shines from us a bit more brightly.

Today I will let go of my ideas of what should be in order to allow myself to see more clearly what is; and I will gently suggest to myself that nature would love for me to accept my part in its utter enjoyment of itself. 

Toy Blocks, self-portrait, wet plate collodion tintype, LA, CA