What is Enlightenment?
What is enlightenment? The dictionary defines it as ‘the action or state of attaining or having attained spiritual knowledge or insight, in particular (in Buddhism) that awareness which frees a person from the cycle of rebirth.’
Your guess is as good as mine, and today the word almost feels ‘faddy’ it’s thrown around that much. What I do know is that we are all seekers. We are searching to be seen, to be understood and ultimately to be free. We spend a huge amount of time trying to fulfill our desires with external influences, however you and I both know that true contentment and freedom comes from inside. We know this on a deep intuitive soul level. We know we are soul beings, and that there is so much more to us, than the physical body.
I recently went to see a film called ‘Becoming Nobody’ , the teachings of Ram Dass and if you don’t know who Ram Dass is, he is a deeply respected spiritual leader who shares his wisdom and teachings with the world. He delivers this in such a relatable humorous and humble way. All I can say don’t walk run to see this movie. It’s amazing!
I am no film critic, but I left the movie theatre a different person than how I entered. In it he speaks a lot about his search for ‘enlightenment’. He spent years practicing yoga, visiting ashrams, exploring every type of meditation – everything you would expect him to do be doing, from the outside, that would lead you to enlightenment, however this was not the pathway. After years of seeking and trying, he had a moment of realization that it wasn’t the way.
We get so caught up on what we think we ‘should’ be doing. We spend years meditating daily, thinking this is helping us become more ‘enlightened’ but what matters more is how we move through the world in all of those smaller unnoticeable daily moments, all the small acts. The director Jamie Catto did a Q&A afterwards and he said something that really resonated with me ... a person who comes and says “I have been meditating daily for 12 years” …. is no more ‘enlightened that a person who never has. The fact he has to say it has been 12 years, shows that the Ego is still playing a part.
Why do I share this? We wrap ourselves in fear and doubt. We constantly seek approval from the external world and always feel like we have to prove ourselves to be worthy for others. For me as a Yoga teacher, I often doubted my ability to teach, wondering if I should be doing more training’s, promoting myself more but this is not what it is about. When we teach, guide and speak our truth, and it comes from the heart – this where wisdom and ‘enlightenment’ occurs. It’s felt.
In the movie Ram Dass mocks himself many times. He jokes about meditating daily for 6 hours while living in an Ashram, and from the outside he looks like the perfect ‘Yogi’ but inside he was creating a very detailed porn scene (yes you read that right!) He jokes about his image, he says he looked like the perfect Spiritual Guru with his beard and his robes, however inside he was filled with anger. The point he is making is that it is not about what we do, but how we are, how we move through the world with others.
His guru is Maharajji who he met on a trip to India after his mother died. In their first meeting he turned to Ram Dass and said, ‘Love Everyone’ and I just loved Ram Dass’s response. He said openly and honestly ‘I can’t’. I think we all feel like this, it feels almost impossible. We spend so much of our life separating ourselves from others, placing people in boxes, creating so many stories that become so elaborate we don’t even know what is real and true anymore. Remember the memory is not accurate, as much as we believe it to be, it is not.
The question remains…. How can we love everyone? His guru goes on to say “Love everyone and tell the truth’. Read that again and take a moment to reflect and ponder this ….
Love Everyone and tell the truth.
By telling the truth we are being loving. If we can come to every situation with love and with grace, we can find our way towards enlightenment and let’s get real here…. It’s a practice and it begins at home with the people we love the most. The people who know our triggers and can bring us right back to our shadow side in a split second.
I left this movie with a deep understanding of my own pathway towards my truest Self. Big words I know but it’s true. I understand that it’s not about my training, my profile or anything of the sorts. It’s my connection to my inner world, a deep understanding of my internal network and how I use this in relation to every person, animal and thing that encounter. No pressure!!!
Ram Dass’s life work was based on his mantra ‘I am loving awareness’. A mantra is something repeated daily to yourself as reminder of what you are or what you are becoming.
If you are loving awareness, you love everything you are aware of … the sky, the room you are in, your body.
The soul loves everything. It’s loves all beings.
He goes on to say that the journey to ‘Sadhana’ (enlightenment) is through loving awareness. The soul loves everything because it knows it is everything, we are all connected in Oneness.
There is a clip in the movie showing footage from his younger days when he is giving what he describes as a ‘far out talk to a bunch of hippies’ who are hanging on his every word, however there is one woman in the audience sitting front and center, dressed differently to all of the others in a more formal way. As he continues to talk openly about spirituality, she is nodding her head in agreement and understanding all of the time, which provokes a curiosity in him, as he is speaking in what he believes to be a very ‘enlightened advanced way’. Keeping in mind here on some level he was still acting from a place of Ego during this life stage. So he comes to the end of his talk and goes to this woman and asks her what she does and how she knew all of these teachings, her response “I crochet.’
I love this and what I love is that our connection to our soul - our spiritual being, comes through and is remembered once we are in connection with ourselves. We don’t need to be practicing yoga or meditation daily, we just need to be spending quality time alone in solitude, finding the space and inner stillness to get that clarity and strengthen our connection and deep inner knowing. Yoga and Meditation are tools to help us along the way, but not necessarily are the way.
Our lives are busy, we are working, going to the gym, listening to podcasts, raising families, hanging out with friends, cooking food, shopping, entertaining, planning and checking off our to-do lists. We need to find the time for stillness and find enough time on a regular basis so that when we arrive there our minds can quieten, and we are able sit without having to ‘do’ anything. We can just be.
Go and watch this movie and share with me what you took away from it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Have a wonderful day.
I see you. I love you.