A Modern Approach – Enlightenment Part 20
Looking at the various approaches to enlightenment that we find in the West today, it is obvious that a great deal of emphasis is placed upon looking to the east for methods, for teachers, and for well worn paths to that experience. This is because many cultures of the east recognise that enlightenment is a potential within the growth of an individual. But there are a number of difficulties about this for many people in the West. Most individuals in the West are very pragmatic. As a culture we have torn our own religions apart in search for what is valuable and what is hypocrisy or dogma. For many Westerners, what is offered from eastern sources leads them to believe there are connections with a mystic religion. Or perhaps the Eastern path seems to be some form of escapism practised by eastern ascetics. This is a bit like saying all film stars are addicted to drugs and indiscriminate sex. Of course this is an over generalisation in both cases.
Another difficulty is that in many Oriental countries, the path to Enlightenment was part of a social structure. Whether as an individual aspirant, or as a monk or nun, and the role was well recognised and supported, even by impoverished householders. This is no longer the case in the West, although we have well marked traditions in past ages. But for many of us these traditions cannot be found in modern times. And it must be remembered that in East or West, the aspirant for enlightenment was not sold a weekend course for $1000.
Because some of these approaches require us to adopt a different lifestyle, a different religious outlook, may require us to be dependent upon a particular Guru, or to access the experience only part-time such as in weakened courses, these approaches may not suit us. They may not wholly satisfy. We will not be able to live them full-time. How can we when the doorway to enlightenment depends on being near a particular teacher, or attending a special course?
I want to say to young people who are starting out, “look, I am an old timer. I am past my sell-by date, and I am not particularly wise. Nevertheless, I have learned some hard lessons. One of the most wonderful of these is that enlightenment, wholeness, is your right. It isn’t something you have to earn, it’s yours. You don’t have to pay a mortgage to get it. You don’t have to be terribly good, or to conform to some rigorous moral practice. You are an integral part of the universe, of that living consciousness, now! You are loved and you are wanted. When you hear the Core of your being speak to you, it says, “I want you. I love you. I want you in every conceivable way. Don’t hold yourselves back from me.”
When we hear that godhead speak, it says, “I want you in every conceivable way because you are my body. I wanted you as baby, and as a young person. I want you in all your feelings in all that you can be. You are my life. Without you I am nothing because I am you. Therefore how can I am not want you to have everything that I am?”
I want to say about the mystery of love, that we all want to be loved. We confuse this so utterly with a particular person, a particular body, that it causes tremendous pain in many relationships. There is only one life, one being in this entire universe. There is only one love, one ocean of love, and that does not belong to us. We do not possess it. It flows through us. We express it but do not own it. Therefore, when we try to control it, when we try to own it, or hold another person, then we meet pain, loneliness, disillusion. William Blake says, “He who clings to himself a joy/Doth the winged life destroy./He who kisses as it flies/Lives in eternity’s sunrise.”
See Meeting yourself