The Illusion of Searching
We live in a world where people are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing, the magical formula that will grant them enlightenment or some higher state of consciousness. Whether it’s a new retreat held by an “influencer”, a secret mantra passed down to those who can afford to hear it, or enlightenment courses with 10 part videos promising immediate enlightenment at 50 % if you purchase today!, we’re tempted by quick fixes and instant gratification. When I first embarked on the spiritual path in the mid-1990’s, I thought enlightenment was the ticket to universal consciousness and mystical miracles. Monks were driving Ferraris and mystics were still doing laundry.
However, the pursuit of enlightenment is far different from seeking material possessions. It’s not something that can be bought or sold, but rather an internal realization.
The Enlightenment Industry
In the mid-1990s, the concept of enlightenment seemed elusive and mystical. Spiritual leaders were driving Ferraris, and many offered quick paths to Nirvana. Back then, I saw enlightenment as something grand, like talking to the dead or foreseeing the future. The spiritual industry, as I refer to it, was just getting started. There was no spam offering meditation, consciousness, or mindfulness.
Fast forward to the present, and the spiritual industry has exploded. Everybody seems to be selling their version of consciousness and enlightenment. Some claim to have a special knowledge of heaven, while others sell healing powers and “magical” spellbinding words. But after swallowing the bait and taking some of these online courses, I realized that their version of enlightenment was no better than mine.
Despite years of studying people who have been called “enlightened”, I am no closer to a simple definition. Many claim to have special knowledge of mystical concepts and yet are abusive and callous towards their followers. It seems that the best work is done by people who don’t care about enlightenment, as they are simply answering the call to help others. I have heard that people who think they are enlightened aren’t. I disagree with that, it depends on what people do with their enlightenment.
Authentic Journey to Enlightenment
The path to enlightenment is not a one-size-fits-all journey. I’ve studied Eastern philosophy with renowned leaders of the spiritual movement and devoured texts ranging from the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, The Autobiography of a Yogi, and The Power of Now, amongst so many others. Yet, I can’t say I know any more about the concept of enlightenment now than I did when I began. However I do feel different.
For me, enlightenment is a feeling, a state of being. It’s the ability to go bankrupt and not care. It’s the realization that nothing bothers me anymore. It’s a perpetual state of happiness, laughing without worrying about what others think, and being authentic.
It is the state of awareness, noticing everything and being attached to nothing. It is being emotionally mature and accepting life as it is. The deeper I go into the rabbit hole of who I am, the more I love myself. Enlightenment is the realization that my thoughts, emotions and beliefs are not me. In that state, negative thoughts, emotions and beliefs are released and are no longer stumbling blocks of my existence.
Enlightenment is Already Within You
What I’ve learned from my spiritual exploration is that enlightenment is not something to be chased. It is not found in a course, a book, or a ritual. Enlightenment is whatever you think it is, and it is already there within you.
One does not need to confuse the attributes of enlightenment with the Kool-Aid sold by New Age entrepreneurs. Enlightenment is personal and unique to each individual. It’s a state of being where criticism, problems, and life’s speed bumps become part of the great game we were born to play.
The answer does not lie in any drug or teaching. Those may help heal emotional wounds and clear our minds, but they do not offer us any truly new knowledge or power. All of that is already inside of us.
Be Still and It Will Find You
If you are seeking enlightenment, consciousness, or mindfulness, all you have to do is relax, let your life unfold, and pay attention. Stop chasing and start being still. Embrace your life’s challenges, enjoy the journey, and remember that death is irrelevant because it does not exist.
Your enlightenment is already there, waiting for you to recognize it. Stop seeking and start being, and it will find you. The proof is in the taste of the pudding. An enlightened person knows that life is a game and enjoys the ride, transcending the problems that could otherwise destroy us.
Enlightenment is not a destination but a journey, not a purchase but a realization. It’s an internal transformation that can’t be sold, a personal experience that can’t be dictated. Seek not to find it through external means but to uncover it within yourself. Be still, and enlightenment will find you.
What’s your definition of “enlightenment”? Get your crayons and fill in the blank. The path to your realization awaits.
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