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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chop wood, carry water.


Enlightenment is a very special thing. But in truth, one should not focus on it. Focus, instead, on the walls of your own making that are blocking the light.”
Michael J. Singer (The Untethered Soul, p.118)

I've always thought of “enlightenment” as this eureka moment when I would comprehend everything, and never be the same again. It would be like a lightening strike; I would say, “Yes! Now I understand! Now I see all things clearly.” After that, I would be a changed being—glowing with the light of all knowing. Not so much, I'm afraid. Michael Singer, in his book The Untethered Soul, defines enlightenment as simply allowing life to be what it is and going about your business without defending the walls your ego constructs around you. Enlightenment is knowing yourself so well, that you do not need the security of walls.

Lao-Tzu agreed: “Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing yourself is enlightenment.” Singer describes the walls we build as all the ways we try to protect ourselves from feeling insecure and vulnerable—such as turning on the power of angry words, using the identifiers we place on ourselves to help us feel important, hiding our sensitivities behind either bravado or indifference, to name just a few. First, however, we have to know what our sensitivities are, and how we defend them before we can take down the walls that protect them. That's where the work comes in.

The other slowly dawning realization is that enlightenment doesn't happen in a moment. In fact, the only way one may recognize it is the sense of peace, and dare I say, even joy, within, regardless of what is going on around you. It is a quiet thing, and not a lightening strike. It is contentment, solid ground beneath your feet. It is exactly like that old Zen saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” Nothing changes except your insides—and that is everything.

                                                         In the Spirit,


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