When I get on the radio, or in an interview for a magazine, they often want to fit what I am saying into a pre-established pigeon-hole. Indian sounding name… been to India… talks about awakening…, aha, this must be a spiritual teacher talking about enlightenment. And so the first question I’m often asked is,” So, Arhooonah, how can someone become enlightened?” Or even “Are you enlightened?”
My mission in life is to bust through the enlightenment myth once and for all, so that we can get on with being alive here in this moment and giving our gifts as they are, magnificent or meager.
“But Arjuna, what about awakening? Isn’t that the same as enlightenment?”
No, not at all. My 2005 book, The Translucent Revolution is about people who have, either in a snapshot or a more sustained way, recognized that who they are is not the story they have been telling. The story exists, yes, the story of me and my past and my relationships and my children and my parents and my money and my triumphs and my defeats. But it’s a story, just like a book you might read or a movie you might watch. The story is being experienced. As soon as we can, even for a moment, shift the attention from the story to that which is experiencing the story, we recognize that we have all been suffering from a ridiculous case of mistaken identity.
The story has a beginning and ending in time, and that which is experiencing it is timeless. The story is all about limits and boundaries, but that which is experiencing it is limitless. The story is all about noise: sometimes harmonious and sometimes discordant, but that which is experiencing it is silent.
Whenever anyone recognizes this simple undeniable reality, everything changes. Seeking stops and living begins. In The Translucent Revolution, I interviewed 170 people whose lives had been irreversibly impacted by this kind of awakening. Most of them were not “spiritual teachers.” None of them were followers of a particular guru, tradition or teaching. They had simply discovered a freedom from the tricks of the mind.
One question I asked each and every one of those 170 people, with my tongue in my cheek was, “Are you enlightened? Not one of them said, “Yes.” But also, not one of them claimed to be seeking enlightenment. Mostly they just laughed out loud at the question. What these people had in common was that they had cancelled their subscription to the concept of enlightenment. They no longer believed in the idea of a state better than this one, however it is showing up in this moment.
My very best friend in all of my life, who helped me to bust through the myth of enlightenment, was named HWL Poonja. He happens to have been an Indian, but he could just as well been from New Jersey or Tasmania for all that it matters. Because the sanity that he initiated me into has no nationality. “Enlightenment,” he used to say, “is a concept in the vocabulary of those who are asleep.” What did he mean? I have spent the intervening fourteen years since he made that statement finding out.
People talk a lot about enlightenment but no one agrees on what it means or who is supposed to be there. Almost everybody who talks about it, and is trying to get there, proclaims to be unenlightened. So that makes it a concept, you see, like heaven or Shangri-La. It’s something you’ve heard about, read about, been indoctrinated to believe in, but it’s not our experience.
Life is always here. It’s full of color and sound and physical sensation and it’s constantly being experienced by a mysterious presence that can never be defined. It is always like this. It has always been like this, never mind what concepts you hold in your mind.
Maturing beyond the idea of enlightenment, as a present or future state, is the greatest quantum leap in evolution that we can hope to have happen to us.
So how did we ever get caught in this habit of the neurosis of perfection? Enlightenment is a con trick of the hyper-masculine mind. The masculine energy in all of us likes to make everything about breaking though obstacles and reaching a goal. Even though life itself is not, for the most part, about that at all. We got so caught up in this all because we are the offspring of premature ejaculators.
What did you say?
I’ll share more about that with you in a couple of days.
Part two of this article is a little controversial, so it will be sent by e-mail to the subscribers to the Translucent View, rather than posted here on the blog site.
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