Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Rant on Enlightenment

"Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is"
Peggy Lee

      We are all hopefully far enough along our spiritual paths that we recognize we are simultaneously dark and light, love and fear and it is our job to simply hold all of the shards of our psyche in the light of compassion. If a darker part of our nature causes us to despair and we try to push it away it simply grows. And so we sit with ourselves in the light of the present moment. This realization for me was kinda a bummer. For decades I have been reaching for a place, an illusion I labeled enlightenment. A mystical place where unicorns pull Gods chariot. When I got there everything was going to be super shiny and I would have a direct line to the Divine Mystery and little sparkles would shoot out of my fingertips. I yearned for this lofty place to finally emerge on the horizon. And perhaps it does exist, maybe there is some heaven on earth and then again maybe its just opening our eyes to the here and now. And that, my friend, is much less sexy than the journey to the mythical village of Enlightenment.

     Is this all really just about paying attention to this moment, feeling my fingers keyboard and my body breathe and then feeling my feet walk away from the computer? Is the entire point to feel pleasure and just notice and feel pain and just notice? What about the sparkles? What about the unicorns? Coming to the realization that all there is for us to work with is quality attention to the moment was kind of a blow to my goal oriented self. As much as I love the idea of sitting by a stream with Walt Whitman examining the changing leaves in reality I am a lover of speed, of cities, of the hustle and bustle of going somewhere and sitting in present moment sounds so mundane.
But, it is because I have harbored the desire to know Divinity and the belief that heaven on earth can exist that I very grudgingly began to sit with present moments. First it was washing dishes. mmmm warm water on my hands could feel pretty good and a little gratitude for a good meal did give me a small tingle. then I began being present washing my face and moisturizing became an exercise in self compassion as I gazed at my sweet aging face. My face and body are always doing their best even when I am abusive to them. Simply being present turned out to be the path for me to body love. Then it turned into the path of actually caring for people I wasn't naturally close to challenging clients, strangers, other drivers... Being present in the moment is melting my walls I have hidden behind in order to avoid the other. And people became a lot more interesting.

     And a funny thing happened after I passed the speed bump of disillusionment with present moment and became present (at least some of the time). Thing did begin to sparkle sometimes. The yellow flowers blooming in our yard became as rich as the sun. my husbands eyes sparkled with the appreciation of being seen. I noticed a lot more laughter around me. Was it always there? I'm not sure, I wasn't present for much of it as I was busy yearning for a better place than here. But I'm here now and while I know I will go on auto pilot many more times in this precious life I have tasted the present moment enough now to know that it is where the sparkles reside.

     So, if like me, the idea of simply being present makes you want to shoot yourself from the tedium take heart. Whether you are sitting quietly by that bubbling brook, driving way too fast on the highway, washing dishes or leaving on a jet plane to Istanbul every moment of your life has the potential to sparkle, to take your breath away as presence births gratitude. So, no in the beginning practicing present moment awareness is so not a sexy idea. But the more you notice your here and now the shinier life gets. Being present when you're troubled and in pain allows the moment to be a little softer. Being present when things are going swimmingly allows the moment to be a little richer. And, who knows we all may be surprised to find ourselves a little bit lighter. And these days my favorite definition of Enlightenment is "to lighten up". And by that definition I am here for a moment as my hands relax. Listening and feeling the discomfort I felt this morning working with a softwear update and being present with my bodies tension allowed me to lighten up. And feeling the joy I felt this morning watching our new chickens explore the freshly mowed backyard things got a little sparkly just for the moment. And then the moment was gone and a new one came,

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