"This is the moment I’ve waited for all my life
To open my heart and show you I’ve nothing to hide
You see the best in me and I owe it all to you
Take a look at me now
Living out my dreams now
Sure as I am standing here tonight
Make this last forever
You and me together
Living all my dreams out loud tonight"
(Living Out My Dreams, Roch Voisine 2014)
It seems pious when people claim to be enlightened. Although I know what the term implies, I find it difficult to claim it as my own. If somehow I have achieved it along my way, no one bothered to tell me. Outside the academic definition, I question what this state means for me and my life. I cannot be sure that those who arrogate the term to their persona aren't just indulging, somehow pseudo in the nature of the experience. I suppose that faithful cliché applies. If you have to say it, then you're not. True enlightenment is a cognitive form of "Intellectual evolution" (Tesla), a sense of awareness and learning that results in both personal understanding and the distribution of knowledge. It is often characterized as the extinction of one's desire, separation from one's suffering and a progression away from individual consciousness. The modern distinction derives from an 18th century movement which advocated the use of reason when examining social establishments and recognized ideas of that time. Rather than a status symbol, or an acquired sense, the term refers to internal dialogue and development, allowing for a continual exposure and absorption "of new and greater prospects" (Tesla).
Despite my sins, I had always tried to be a good and proper Christian. The lessons and examples of Love and Grace which once held me, I have brought with me into my new way of thinking and being. There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than to serve and please Jesus. Any problem I had with Christianity did not only come from what I felt God demanded of me but also the lack of consistency with those same expectations on the part of the entity I worshipped. I have always maintained that if God requires something from us then we should expect the very same things from God. To chastise and punish someone for murder is one thing, but when the very same expectation is not met by the object of our devotion (does God kill?), you have to ask yourself if that is really something the true God would do or say or enforce. I was so afraid to question, ashamed to doubt that when I did just that, I was only flagellating myself. Religion convinced me that I had no right to inquire, no need to have anything but what I had been told to expect from my Faith. This lowly and undeserving sinner merited forgiveness but only if I towed the line and met the criteria. Salvation comes but at the expense of free will. Eventually, the price became more than I was willing to pay.
"Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious - that is, that we are all trying to decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following our own paths of enlightenment."
(Dan Brown, American author)
(Dan Brown, American author)
It was a hard rain of observation and analysis to pass through the storm of condemnation and conditioning that came with letting go. I had to find a new path and I had to be deprogrammed. While I have a good idea where I am going now, I realize I am not there yet. I can only assume that enlightenment may never come, considering all of my flaws as a human being. This does not deter me from trying, from looking, from listening and from thinking for myself. As a Christian, I didn't have to think. I was trained, read to, and told how to be. The first step away was not even something I had planned. It just happened and all the dominos fell into my face. The voice of one woman changed my entire life. I will never meet her, I will never speak to her again, but her example opened my eyes. If she only knew. Rather than saving me for her Lord, she sent me further from Him than at any point in my life.I had called the Christian help line because I needed someone to talk to. All the questions running in my head were coupled with the grief I still battled over great loss. I was confused, contrite and rather void at the time. I barely got out a full sentence. Instead of talking to her, I listened as she coined off one formula after another. I should have hung up. It was her responsibility to dictate what was required of me. When she touched on salvation, she hit a nerve. Informing me that only born-again Christians, no one else, could receive the
As a human being, I recognized quickly just how wrong she was. The claims were not new to me but they never shook me to the core before. Perhaps it was the grief, perhaps I was just ready, but her warped display of divine love snapped me out of it. One moment of Christian ignorance led to complete apostasy. As the years passed by, I essentially took the best parts of my birth faith and left the rest to the bigots, racists and those closed minded. If the truth be told, that woman was correct, at least from her point of view. Scripturally, you are either with Jesus or against him. I just could no longer accept that the God I knew was like that. All the terrible, hypocritical actions taken by the Abrahamic god had proven my mistake in it all. I made an exemption when it came to my own Faith. I believed it was right because I was told it was right. It was clear to me that this was not the case. No longer manifesting these delusions was a huge step towards any level of enlightenment that I might one day achieve.
It was almost expected of me to return to the Shepherd like a lost black lamb. Then came the anticipation of finding a new Faith to adhere to. Although I wanted to believe in something, I no longer saw God the same way. As I evolved, so did my understanding. It became rather clear to me that almost all religions are basically the same. They may express themselves culturally, they may seem savage and unnecessary, but their messages are essentially identical. I began to recognize them as the tools rather than the carpenter. It was okay to use the essence of a religious teaching without the anthropomorphic and projected biases of mankind. I could engage with ideas more freely, I had to refine myself, escape the coercive persuasion and retrain my belief into something else, if anything at all. Once I could breathe in and sense that I was alive, really feel alive, then I knew I was going in the right direction. An entirely new world appeared before my eyes. As I changed, so did my thinking. So did my God.
"Quantum physics tells us that the world is composed of one underlying field of intelligence that manifests as the infinite diversity of the universe. The field of intelligence experienced objectively is the world of material objects. Mind and matter are not separate entities; mind and matter are essentially the same. Our essential being, stripped of the superficial layers of the mind and body, is neither mind nor matter but the source of both. In other words, the human body is the human mind at the same time. We are actually a body-mind; we can't really separate the two. Nor can we confine the mind to the brain or even to the body, because the mind extends beyond our body into the whole universe."
(Deepak Chopra, Indian-American New-Age advocate)
(Deepak Chopra, Indian-American New-Age advocate)
Human beings are deeply flawed. We believe that enlightenment will make us better, more rational, even reasonable, but this is not true. Most of the time, people are none of those things. Being aware of how rotten I really am does little to encourage me. True enlightenment is not something one gains or accomplishes. It is not something you achieve. Enlightenment is "the absence of something" (Beck). What we push for and reach for, always wanting, striving, holding to, these are the things we must let go. Since we cannot possibly know anything, not really, then God becomes unknowable. Just because something cannot be known does not mean it is not there. In striving for enlightenment, I gained freedom. I will not be tricked. To expect that any level of greater awareness will change the essential me is foolishness. This thing we reach for will open your eyes, but it is you that must see. To find the possibilities, despite yourself, this is to attain Nirvana. To understand that you are part of the love, part of the order and the chaos that is "underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment" (Tolle).I may not know but I most certainly believe, even if the idea of a God, the very notion, can seem quite laughable at the best of times. To recognize the limitations "men" face when trying to relay His message seems to be the biggest problem. If God is unknowable, then most if not all that has been reported about Him filters through blindness. It should be okay to move yourself away from something when you discover it just isn't true. After all, the truth is relative. I do know that for me, letting go of god became the catalyst to finding God. I see Him in the flowers and in the night sky. I can hear Him in the wind and through my Father speaking. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can feel Him all around me. I can breathe for the first time. Somehow all the trying to get somewhere got me nowhere but here. All I have is now. I may not be some enlightened creature, but I 'm finally starting to see.
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song"
(At Last, Etta James 1960)