On Facebook, Tolly Burkan, enlightened author of The Self-Empowerment Trilogy posted about spiritual enlightenment:
Being spiritually enlightened does not give us a new personality – just a different perspective. For example, many years ago, my neighbor’s dog used to begin barking loudly every morning just before sunrise. I reacted by getting uptight. I considered speaking with the neighbor, but chided myself for being petty. So week after week, I did nothing… not outwardly. Inside, however, I was stewing. I wanted to handle this with my inner abilities. I began thinking that if I was more enlightened, I would somehow have the power to calm the dog and stop it from barking. But as it turned out, through introspection and inner growth, my enlightenment gave me the ability to not even hear the dog. The dog kept barking, but I stopped reacting.
I replied a bit critically:
And maybe your hearing has faded, or the now-old dog can’t bark as loud. And we know the mind gets used to stuff. Taking many years to let go of the upset of a dog barking is certainly an example of enlightenment. But it doesn’t seem compelling enough for a book…
Trump announced that he’s going to smite North Korea. My wife and a friend are very upset about it and the impending nuclear war. I caught my reaction early. But again, we’ve had over a year to figure out that Trump’s words don’t matter. And I’ve had years of practice letting go of my wife’s words seeming important.
In my own enlightened practice, I realized I was resigned about politics. Letting that go revealed an excellent, easy, inexpensive solution. The harder part has been letting go of being upset that I don’t have the resources to make it happen, and almost no one is enlightened enough to listen to something new, despite most people complaining bitterly about the problems it solves.
Tolly showed enlightenment
And then Tolly showed his true stripes. He could have taken my words as criticism. A normal reaction would be feeling hurt or lessened. But he’s an adult. He simply “liked” my post.
What has this to do with spiritual enlightenment?
My reply about spiritual enlightenment:
People use the word “spirit” in two senses. One is some magical, mythical ghostly sense.
The other refers to emotions, lightness of being, energy, attitude, the spirit with which you tackle life and bring yourself to the world instead of letting circumstances and your reactions create these for you.
Enlightenment, with respect to the latter, is how thoroughly you can be free of the seemingly powerful influence of circumstances to define and limit your spirit. It’s being responsible for who you are, rather than being limited to who you seem to be. In that sense, it’s the freedom to be “who you are.”
More than that, it’s the freedom to actually create yourself. We all grow up to be characters. We seem to be defined by our own minds and by others. Enlightenment is realizing this isn’t true. Actually, our minds and others minds try to define us, but we can choose to accept those definitions or not.
Enlightenment is, instead of being the character we seem to be, being the actor who chooses what character to play.
In the normal course of events, I “am” a software engineer and a husband and father and homeowner and taxpayer and frustrated citizen. When I realized I was resigned about politics, I also realized I hadn’t chosen to be resigned, and it limited my participation. So I gave it up.
The ensuing adventure took me completely out of anything normal either for my usual character or even for the culture. I try to roll with it, maintaining enough of my former character to make the impact bearable for my less-flexible family, yet stepping up to this new challenge and roll of visionary.
I have not succeeded yet, so it feels like failure. And it seems like I’m the only one with a “fix” for our political problems, including the ones that threaten, injure and kill people worldwide constantly. It often seems like a huge burden with severe disappointments. I have even frequently experienced depression- even with the symptoms where colors become gray and weeping arises. I’ve even had frequent thoughts that I wish life would be over- it’s a lot of emotional pain to endure. It often seems endless.
But it’s clear to me that I invent all of the ways “things seem”, so I can let go of them. I could certainly escape by giving it up. But it’s such a great solution, and so needed. So I keep trying.
It’s often very difficult. Many times I’ve had to reach out to others very experienced in this kind of enlightenment for support. They step up. Once it took a whole day to let go of a particular funk!
You can read about it on this blog, and on that page is a link to more about my adventure, as well.
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