“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Some people think that the spirit is within the body. This is a mistake. It is the body that is within the spirit”
– George Ohsawa
I prefer to view “enlightenment” not as an “awakening” (to a supposed higher state of awareness or consciousness) but, instead, as a “remembering” of simply who or what we are. We only momentarily forgot this because we have been so amused, enamored, and engrossed by all the wonderful distractions that this world and life has to offer.
Shakespeare once wrote that “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women are players in it” and so we don our costumes and assume our roles as marvelously entertaining characters to play to the delight of ourselves and our audiences. We become so deeply engaged and absorbed in our roles that we believe ourselves to actually be the characters that we play.
Our characters are the heroes and heroines who stand up for justice, fight for righteous causes and are willing live and die for love. They are also the victims, the oppressed, the down-trodden and unloved. They enjoy the thrill of grand adventures and delight in the smallest of pleasures. They are fearful and jealous of others and are greedy and petty. They are joyful and sad, wise and foolish and they make love, fight courageously and commit cowardly acts as well. They take on the various beliefs and causes of ethics, religion, politics and self-worth. And in the seriousness of our role playing we forget who we are and that we are only acting those characters.
We forget who we truly are and in our forgetfulness we suffer. We become miserable, we harm others and we cause our own demise. In final frustration, we ask ourselves those age old questions, “Why?” and “What is the purpose of life?” and in our seeking, if we are desperate enough, we give-up our worldly possessions (our stage props) and discard our beliefs (our costumes and uniforms) and do our best to remove our distractions ( the dialogues and stage directions) so that the answer to our questions (like “Who am I?”) may hopefully be revealed to us.
We live in poverty, climb tall mountains, sit for years in meditation and seek out the counsel of wise men and women whom appear to know the answer and those of us who are left; the select few; the elite and anointed might eventually find the answer.
And yet we don’t need to do this. We don’t need to take a vow of poverty; we don’t need to climb the Himalayan Mountains and we certainly don’t need to sit for ten years in earnest meditation under a waterfall to become enlightened and achieve a higher state of awareness. We might do these things for the thrill of it but it is not necessary because we’ve known the answer all along. We just simply forgot and only need to remember. We don’t need to be “awakened”.
We only need remember that we are not the roles and characters that we play. We are not our ethics, our beliefs, nor our convictions. We are not our politics, our religions nor even our different biological manifestations. We only need remember that who we are lies beyond the limitations of language, of biology and all other forms of self-identification. We only need remember that our ultimate purpose is that we came here to play; we came here to take on our lives, roles and characterizations that we may enjoy everything that this world and life has to offer. We only need to also remember to not take our roles too seriously as they are not who we really are. In other words, we only need to remember to “lighten up” (or to be “enlightened”).
Enlightenment is not an “awakening” into a higher consciousness that only a select few can attain. It is simply a recalling of that which we all know but simply forgot and which we all can regain. It is simply remembering who (or what) we were and have always been and will always be. All you have to do is remember. You know.
In closing, I invite you to take this moment now and remember who you are. Do not take life so seriously. In other words, be enlightened.