Let us assume that enlightenment isn’t some far off ideal,
but it is real, and close, and in fact within us right now.
Let us suppose that we are able to tune in
to our most enlightened self, right here, right now.
What would that self be like?
What would it say?
Where would it go?
What would it do?
If we keep trying to get there
how will we ever know what is here?
Let us assume we have access
to our highest potential, right here, right now.
Let us believe that we can express
the highest version of ourselves,
let our lives be a reflection of that self.
It’s so tempting to think
enlightenment is the goal,
the result of doing the work
walking the walk
becoming a better person,
is just the beginning.
On the path of awakening
we realize how very little
we actually know
and our eyes,
all become a little more open,
a little more clear.
In this space,
the light has enough room
to shine through
and reveal to us
exactly where we need
to be working,
in this moment
we cannot know
This spacious not-knowing
lifts away the heavy darkness,
makes us light.
This kind of enlightenment
is the beginning
of yet another journey.
Enlightenment happens now,
not some time far off in the future
when you are exercising more
and eating healthier foods,
or when you have kept a regular practice
and have built up an escrow
of good karma for all your good deeds.
It’s not some day at some point next year
or ten years from now
when you live in the ideal place
with the ideal mate,
the ideal job, house, car, lifestyle.
It doesn’t happen when you have
healed yourself of your old wounds
and those of your family of origin.
It won’t happen when
someday you find happiness
you find peace.
It happens now.
So don’t wait.
Open your eyes, your mind, your heart
now, right now.
This path is all we have.
This path is all we have.
Even in the midst of turmoil
you are never far from
your enlightened self.
Even when you have lost it
because you are tired,
or your heart is broken
and you doubt it will ever be fixed,
when you are longing for something
you are sure you will never have,
or feeling bitter, or resentful
or guilty, or misunderstood–
even then you are never far
from the awakened one in you.
It is always right where your heart is,
so look there, where it has always been.
Your suffering draws you closer to others,
activates your capacity for offering compassion,
renders you a source of inspiration
for all beings who are in the same boat as you.
The enlightened one is within you.
The enlightened one is you.
Every life experience,
each joy and sorrow
each success and failure
in sickness and in health
for richer and for poorer
can be used on the path to awakening.
All experiences are our teachers.
But don’t take my word for it,
see for yourself.
You might wake up tomorrow
with the thought,
I will learn from everything I experience today.
You might discover
that life is even more beautiful,
more spacious and opening
more heartbreaking and healing
than you ever thought possible.
Live one hundred days like this,
there is no choice but enlightenment.
My daughter wasn’t in the napping mood today. She wanted to dance around and play dress up and sing and do all the things four year olds do. Ah well, might as well enjoy it, I thought to myself, she won’t be young forever.
I had had so much fun last night collaborating with the girl, playing around with a coloring app for kids, so I decided to relaunch the app; I asked her if she wanted to color with me again, and she enthusiastically agreed.
What strikes me as we go about coloring these pictures together is how different her ideas are from mine. I end up with my set way of seeing the world–the grass needs to be green, the sky blue, and a cat should be brown, white, black, grey, or orange…My daughter sees the world with fresh eyes and has strong opinions about the color everything should be.
“No, the kitty is PINK!” she announced.
“Okay,” I said, and I colored the cat’s face, hands, and feet pink.
“No,” she said, “The dress too!” It was a polka dotted dress, so I colored the background pink and was going to leave the dots white.
“NO, no no!” she persisted, “The polka dots too!” And there went my ideas of interesting color contrast and careful distribution of color to achieve balance in the over all look. The cat had to be all pink.
I ended up really loving the drawing. Her ideas continually freshen the art experience for me by getting me out of my ingrained perceptions and showing me a new way of seeing. I play outside of my strict rules for conduct, I get to be free for a moment. It reminds me of how when I sit down to meditate I need to quiet the mental chatter enough to allow for something different–a clearer, more quiet mental space, so that I can have this experience of myself outside of all of the habitual thoughts.
If I do this coloring with my daughter with enough frequency, letting go of my mental constructs and embracing the moment with an open heart, I might just attain enlightenment.
So here it is, in all of its glory, yet another pink kitty. (Dig the balloon that had to be brown.) May all beings–especially those who long to create–experience freedom and lightness. Everyone needs a little pink kitty in their lives.