Back in the late 80’s, Jacquelyn Small wrote a fantastic book called Transformers. It was a revolutionary book that influenced me more than anything else I can remember at the time. This was long before Eckhart Tolle came out with The Power of Now, long before Byron Katie developed The Work, and long before Satsang became popular. And in that wonderful book, there’s one particularly wonderful sentence that stands out among the rest.
“You don’t have to be ‘perfectly enlightened’ in order to be an agent of enlightening.”
It’s really worth savoring the taste of that statement like a good wine. Sip it. Let it linger on your taste buds for a few moments. That little sentence dispels so many myths and so many reasons we give ourselves to hold back our true gifts.
The old model, which has dominated the discourse around awakening for so long, is that you must go to an “enlightened master” (almost always a man) to get “de troot.” Through this dynamic, we not only set another human being up on a pedestal, but we also blind ourselves to our own wisdom.
Thich Nhat Hanh came up with another gem that I also love.
“These days, the sangha is the teacher.”
Sangha means community, the meeting among friends. These days, awakening is not a top-down affair. It happens in mutuality. It happens in friends meeting friends.
So here’s one simple, loving, creative way that you could be a secret agent of awakening starting today. It’s incredibly simple, and I doubt that anyone will even notice that you’re doing it. For about half an hour, maybe during a lunch or a car ride or something, speak about, and ask questions about, what’s true in the present moment. Don’t tell anyone you’re doing it, just do it.
So the conversation might go something like this:
“I was thinking about going to France next Summer, but I don’t know what’s going on with the exchange rate with the dollar.”
“Hmmm… yeah…the rate does go up and down.” you say. “Look out the window for a moment. Look at the colors on that tree. It looks like just one color, but it’s actually lots of different shades of brown, all dancing together.”
Be careful not to do this in a preachy way. Don’t make someone feel like they’re wrong for talking about concepts or the past or the future. And don’t be rude. If you need to briefly acknowledge what the other person said, then do so. But for half an hour, keep bringing the attention back to the now: to colors, sounds, tastes, and even the feelings in your body. Here are a few interesting questions you can ask about the present moment:
“How do you feel right now?”
“How does your sandwich/coffee/wine/dessert taste?”
“Oh, look at that picture/tree/dog/baby.”
“I have an interesting sensation tight now in my belly/knee/throat/whole body.”
You get the idea. This is just one of countless ways to be a secret agent of awakening. Not through being a teacher or a preacher or a seeker or having anything to sell, but just through your simple presence, bringing everyone’s attention back to where the real goodies are.
I’m going to offer a free tele-seminar this Thursday, November 4th, at 6pm PST. During the seminar, I’m going to share with you this way, plus five other ways, to become a secret agent of awakening. If you can’t make the live event, register anyway, and you can use the play page to listen to the replay.
See you then, I hope!