Enlightenment is Not Something to Have; It is Something We Live

We are a goal-oriented society. We are motivated to set goals and achieve them by listing them on paper, using storyboards, making sure our goals are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely), and finding the right “app” to keep us organized, motivated, and on track to reach our goals. We even attempt to set goals to achieve spiritual experiences, such as kundalini energy, enlightenment, and samadhi.

I believe that enlightenment is not something to have; it is something we live. To be enlightened means to practice mindful awareness: to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, internal sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, accepting, and nurturing lens. It means that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging, criticizing, or analyzing them—without believing, for example, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in any given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we are sensing in the present moment rather than reliving the past or imagining the future. We learn to practice compassion in each moment and each situation.

It has been said that Thich Nhat Hanh was once asked to summarize all of Buddhist teaching in one word.  He said, “Ahimsa,” which means non-violence or non-harming.  Gandhi used ahimsa as his touchstone for his doctrine of nonviolence.  The Dalai Lama says, “My religion is kindness,” and he is expressing a similar sentiment. Thus, someone who can embody the deep meaning of kindness (non-harming) may be said to live a life of enlightenment.

If you want a goal, strive to be the best human being you can be. Live your life with kindness, compassion, and non-harming. Aspire to see God and the good in all of life. The spiritual experiences you are to have will come to you in time as you grow as a human being, not as a human doing.

Written by Jeanne Adams, owner Inner Connections


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