Funny, isn’t it. You’re positively sure you know some fact or other; you understand it completely from your head down to your toes. And then one day the candle of Knowing spontaneously ignites, and whoosh! It’s made a liar out of you, just like that.
The other night I came to know — really know — there’s no point to the goal of attaining future enlightenment.
Mind you, I would have said I already knew that chasing a phantom “future enlightened state” is an exercise in futility. I seem to recall I wrote a book on that very topic.
And yet I discovered I was doing just that.
I realized I was still seeking enlightenment as a future-based end goal, complete with checkered flag and trophy cup. One more item to check off the to-do list. But there is no end goal, and no finish line where enlightenment is concerned. How could a limitless state of awareness ever be brought to completion?
I honestly thought I knew better. [You probably know better too.]
But when an authentic knowing floods in and rewires your perception, as it did the other night, you can’t help but recognize with a shock that up until now, you really didn’t know what you thought you knew.
That you didn’t, in fact, know squat.
Because now, suddenly, you have become the knowing — and no amount of shriveled-up previous mental “knowledge” compares, once that fully integrated whoosh of living, breathing, juicy, mind-body-Spiritual embodied wisdom takes permanent hold of you.
• • •
It happened this way:
Having recently vowed to live our lives as “loving servants of God *with plumbing*” (it was me who added the plumbing clause to the contract, because I do enjoy a good hot shower in the mornings), Steve and I have taken to spending big chunks of our day in meditation or contemplative prayer, since we have no clear idea of what form that service might take.
But we haven’t been praying in the sense of asking or telling Spirit what our ego minds think should happen; rather we’re doing our best to simply stay open and empty and trusting, and rest in God while listening for…what?
Inspiration, I guess.
Mostly I get Big Silence. Peaceful, sure. Grounded? Absolutely. But not much clear direction happening on the topic of loving service – or any other.
This particular day’s meditation was much the same. But then suddenly at the end, the candle whooshed, the dominoes fell and a fully formed knowing clicked into place: It’s pointless for me to go on chasing the goal of enlightenment. It’s only my ego mind that seeks it, and what’s the mantra of the ego? Seek and do not find.
I had long ago convinced myself that awakening was a necessary step toward choosing Love instead of fear, because theoretically if I’m awakened I’ll be present enough at all times to remember to choose correctly between them.
Sound enough logic, as far as it goes. But it’s a future-based ego trap, designed to put an end goal on something that has no finish line.
And then a second knowing whooshed in: I needn’t wait for, or struggle toward enlightenment (which is a pointless effort anyway because the time and circumstances of my awakening are not within my control). I need only choose to let my life be guided by Love in every moment starting right now. Awake or not awake is kinda beside the point, when one’s life is being shaped and moved and art-directed by God.
So I let go of enlightenment as a goal. And I chose to let every moment of my life be guided by Love instead.
I can’t say it felt good, letting go of that firmly entrenched goal – which is a pretty fair indicator of how deep my attachment actually was.
I felt disappointed, deflated in the pit of my stomach. And alarmingly close to tears. My identity as a spiritual seeker was a huge chunk of who I thought I was. If I was no longer chasing enlightenment, my ego mind would now be forced to give up acres of prime real estate.
And then a third knowing tumbled in on the heels of the other two: Letting go of the cherished goal of future enlightenment allows me to have less resistance to what’s going on right now, in this moment.
THIS moment is the classroom, the treasure, the eternal choicepoint. Every gorgeous, messy, imperfect, confusing moment of it is a fresh opportunity to be guided by Love. But if this moment is chronically unworthy because there’s no awakening happening in it, how can I hope to embrace it fully and receive all the infinite gifts it has to offer?
Ah. Oh I see. Ok, I get it now.
It’s all well and good to agree to let my life be guided by Love. But it’s not quite the passive activity I imagined it to be. (Not at this stage of my development, anyway.) I’m no leaf, peacefully surrendered to the eddying stream; I’ve got a very bossy ego that is still mostly sure it knows best in every situation. And that ego will not hesitate to grab a motorboat and tear upriver at full throttle against the current anytime I let it.
So am I serious about living my life in alignment with Divine Will? Do I really want to let Love guide me?
If so, then an ongoing commitment to action is required. It’s my moment-to-moment responsibility, as crap hits various fans, to pause, step back and ask: How would Love have me respond in this situation?
To ask it over and over, as many times a day as I manage to remember to do it. And this is key: To ask it and listen. And not assume I already know the answer.
Oooh, another small whoosh: Yes, forgiveness will always be a component of the answer. But Love is chiefly concerned with extending Love. So the decision to be guided by Love is a request to be used by Love as a conduit for actively healing, nourishing and replenishing everybody and everything I encounter.
Them, before myself.
And I haven’t a clue what’s the best way to do that in each new situation. Only Love knows.
So it’s a whole new moderately unfamiliar landscape here that I’m looking at, one with several key landmarks missing. And a certain amount of mildly uncomfortable newfound humility heaped on top.
I haven’t entirely made sense of it all yet, but there seems to be a faint, sparkly joy playing around the edges of it. But I can’t absolutely swear to that.
I’ll let you know.