I have heard many accounts of people who have had enlightening experiences, usually brought on by a precipitous event whereby they suddenly transcend the ego and are in a place of ultimate truth and freedom.
Although I’ve enjoyed these stories, I’ve wondered what about someone like me who has reached a mature age with no sudden and profound opening, no guru to transmit wisdom, and no near-death experience (thankfully) that transformed my life? What do I do in the meantime, between this current moment and some iffy day when I might be struck by enlightening? “In the meantime, I’ll just . . . attend every satsang or spiritual retreat in the tri-county area? . . . read every book that contains the latest and greatest spiritual information? . . . continue to bumble along as I have in the past?”
I am writing this blog with the assumption that there are others like me wondering how to proceed “in the meantime.” And if there never is a full opening up and the meantime means the rest of my life, I want to feel that I have spent the time, if not enlightenedly, then wisely and as open to life as I am capable of being at any given moment.
Now, a word about enlightening: the word is “awakening.” I prefer this word because it suggests a gradual process rather than an all-or-nothing enlightenment. Unless awakened by a loud noise, mostly we awaken gradually. It’s something we do every day and are very familiar with. Furthermore, we know what it means to awaken: to be more alert, more present, to hear and see more, to experience life more fully. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
I imagine awakening to be like opening a door that has been slightly ajar, from which we have been able to see only a sliver of what is happening beyond the door. Say we begin with a tiny opening, then gradually double the size. That’s still a small opening, but it’s twice as much as we’re accustomed to seeing! In other words, the rewards, though we proceed gradually, can be dramatic and immediate.
Of course, not everyone aspires to fully awaken. I certainly have had the usual array of life goals, like fulfilling careers, financial stability, the life partnership of my dreams, vibrant health and fitness, parenting that nurtures little ones into loving and responsible adults. The point is that no matter what we aim for, which we think will make us happier, improve our quality of life or help others, there is always a “meantime” sandwiched between the present moment and some unknown future realization of our aspiration.
Even if your life objectives are different than mine, it couldn’t hurt, in the meantime, to gradually become more awakened, to more fully experience and enjoy life, and (my personal favorite) to let life dance through you—even if enlightening never strikes even once.
How does one gradually awaken? It is my current dream that this introductory blog post will be the first of many to contain some insights and experiences that have helped me. I imagine that rather than trying to put a one-size-fits-all garment on a variety of shapes, it will be more fun and effective for you to read of my experiences and learnings, then custom design something that works for you. If you do aspire to awaken, I hope that these writings will help spark your creativity and unleash your inner couturier. I also hope that you will share your experiences with me so that we may learn from each other.