Enlightenment Is As Enlightenment Does

I hear the word “enlightenment” thrown around a lot. It has traction that has launched a very lucrative t-shirt and trinket industry. I recently found myself wondering, “That’s nice, but what does enlightenment actually MEAN?” When I looked up the definition, I saw that several explanations were listed…Some feel it is attaining an awareness of God consciousness. Some feel that it is transcending duality and living in a perpetual state of bliss. Others want off the hamster wheel of reincarnation…I realized that just like most anything, it’s up to our particular discretion to adopt whatever is most resonant with us.

I’ve also noticed that having a remembrance of our innate energetic nature can actually be a relatively common occurrence. Traumatic events, near death experiences, meditation, ecstatic dance, pranayama, kirtan, sacred lovemaking, extreme exercise, and psychedelic exploration are a few methods of connecting intimately with our own divinity.

Great! But what about life and the “problem of permanence?” Say we have a pinnacle experience at the weekend tantra retreat with our yummy conscious lover. We may think, “Ah ha—I get it! I remember my true nature as love. I am unity consciousness. Look how enlightened I am…” Pleased with ourselves, we smile and laugh, and want all of our friends to hear about our enlightened discovery. And then we go home. When we arrive we find dog poop on the carpet, unpaid bills on the counter, messages from relatives that want or need something from us, and a toilet that needs scrubbing. POOF! In an instant, we forget the transcended state and land smack in our mundane existence.

To me, this moment is a fertile choice point and opportunity to embody enlightened awareness. Many people think something is “wrong” if they lose their high and don’t live in perpetual bliss. They may believe they somehow “failed at enlightenment” if they go back to “normal.” They may then use this as fuel to either chase a perpetual high or turn the perceived failure into evidence that supports a self-defeating prophecy. Either path is a rabbit hole that can spiral off indefinitely.

One of my perspectives on enlightenment is having an awareness of everything and nothing simultaneously. After many years of falling on my face with negativity and self-depreciation, I now recognize that EVERYTHING is divine. The poop on the carpet is actually as sacred in the grand scheme as an ecstatic kundalini release. It’s our ego and judgment that discerns one as better than the other. So now, if I’m feeling euphoric, great. If I’m bummed, alright. Whatevs…I notice it, feel it fully, and allow it to be there without trying to change or shift it at all. It just is. And it’s transient. This entire human experience is transient.

Recognizing and remembering that everything just IS what it is can help us become less reactive. When we are less reactive, we more easily maintain our personal power, which can then lead to more patience, empathy, and understanding with others. When we have more of that in our lives, we can more easily shift our focus away from self-centeredness and place it outside of ourselves. The less selfish we become, the less we let the little things bug us. When we don’t trip out over every little thing, we become more easily able to tap into that quiet space deep within us that holds wisdom, balance, and yes…bliss.

Enlightenment. Everything and Nothing. Expanding and Contracting. Death and Rebirth. Together and also perfectly Separate. The energy…IS. Whatever your definition, I encourage you to look within. It’s there. Always has been. Always will be. And while you’re at it, cut your mortal self some slack. If you lose it from time to time—no worries. Take a breath and start again. Relax and enjoy your ridiculously blessed, ecstatic, and messy life. We are truly only here for the blink of an eye and then POOF—