11 Essential Ebbs of Enlightenment.

Via Brent Binder
on Apr 17, 2011
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Let’s start with a simple truth: it is unlikely that you will ever walk on water or levitate off the meditation pillow by repeating mantras or observing the breath.

Photo: H. Koppdelaney

With practice, however, spiritual levity can be attained in this lifetime. Just by showing an interest in spiritual progression, you attract the same illuminated energy that surged through historical figures such as Buddha, Jesus Christ and Haile Selassie. Dedication to the external message of any dogma, combined with listening to that innate identity which speaks to us from within, reveals the massive potential for any person to spiritually embody any of the apparent human deities who claimed earth as their stomping ground.

For each moment through the expanse of an entire lifetime, here is my personal daily reincarnation to Nirvana:

#1. Accept That You Are Already Enlightened.
Photo: Sophie Ffrench-Constant

I have always considered human intelligence and curiosity to be a universal paradox. We are given the incredible gift of consciousness, yet we use this gift as a tool for questioning its purpose and attempting to justify it with religion, philosophy and science. (I do, however, find them beautiful and equally essential for the human experience). There is certainly space for progression along this path. I recently heard Bhagavan Das say, “You are the way and the only thing in your way is you.” Guiding your spiritual life with meditation, yoga, worship and information collection is an integral part of the ultimate realization, but the mere presence of your individual self on this planet is an absolute miracle. The ability to recognize that presence is an even greater one. Keep this in mind above all else: the path to enlightenment and enlightenment itself are the same thing.

#2. Throw the Golden Rule Out the Window.

The saying, “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself,” is outdated and overused. As my mentor once told me, “Not everyone wants to be done unto like you do.” Instead, I (and perhaps many before me) have now enacted the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as if they were God.” Seriously! How would you treat your spouse or best friend if they were God? Imagine that every person on the planet is acting in this manner. In many ancient philosophies, we are all part of a oneness that, in totality, is a supreme being. You, your imperfect family and the world of war-faring and impoverished nations are all parts of this ridiculously unfathomable perfection.

#3. Befriend All Aspects of Your Mind.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: “There is no good or evil. It is only the thinking that makes it so.” So don’t be too hard on yourself. You are here in this moment. Therefore, it must be perfect. Your thoughts will come and go—some will please you and some will not. In your life, sometimes you will be brave and other times fearful. You will love and you will rage. Inherent human characteristics such as fear, anger, anguish and suffering help keep life real. Jesus rampaged through a temple while the Buddha walked out on his wife the day after she gave birth to his son, but we all know what happens in the end of their stories. Even the sixth Dali Llama was known to sneak out of his palace and into the city streets, where he would get as drunk as a monk and womanize ‘til sunrise. So don’t feel too bad if you inhaled another quart of “Chunky Monkey” last night; perhaps it is just an aspect of being a supernatural life force.

#4. Embrace Your Past. Act in the Now.

Mistakes are definitely one part of the enlightened human experience. Furthermore, it is completely natural to rationalize our errors. We externalize blame as something that has happened to us, whereas in reality, it has actually happened for us. We wouldn’t be such incredible people if it weren’t for the trials and tribulations that caused heartache and suffering. So skip the online self-psychotherapy session (I am not denying psychological illness, as I highly respect the field of psychology). Maintaining mindfulness in the moment places all responsibility in our present-time consciousness as decisions are being made. Awareness is the true Nature Of Wisdom (NOW), which allows us to embrace the past that has shaped our experience while empowering us to choose who we are in each moment.

#5. Predict the Future—For Better or For Worse
Photo: Kelly V.

Sure, “life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get”—unless, of course, you have previously eaten from that box of chocolates, Forest. The dark bumpy circles are coconut and the skinny rectangles taste like Twix bars. Life repeats itself and even new experiences can teach you different versions of the same old lessons. If the past was perfect, why wouldn’t the future be perfect, too? Yeah, you’re going to make more mistakes because you’re not finished learning yet. Let’s just hope you’re not making the same mistakes again and again, like choosing the chocolate squares filled with pink chalk dust.

#6. Speak as if We Were One: Stop Saying “I”, “Me”, and “My”.

Don’t get me wrong…individuality is sacred. One of the most amazing aspects of this existence is that no two souls are exactly alike, and this fact should be celebrated. Everything is better in moderation, though…especially ego. The words “I”, “me” and “my” are the “trio of ego.” Try to reduce these self-identification symbols and begin reorganizing your language to embody a more universal perspective by using words such as “we”, “us” and (my personal favorite) “everyone”. What began as an impossible task will unfold into a joyful experience of selflessness. Paradoxically, through this universal perspective, one may discover the true individual contribution to the greater cosmic scheme.

#7. Release Your Negative Projections of Other People

I can hear my mother now, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…” It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend who can’t get past his or her old relationship hang-ups, or an entire group of political adversaries. All people are perfect just the way they are. Their status is perfect; their flaws are perfect; their hatred is perfect. We are all brothers and sisters. Those who act outside the realm of social norms (or your perception of “normal”) are people who need love just like you do. The least you can do is send them some peaceful vibes, rather than the exact opposite.

#8. Meditation is for Practice Only.
Photo: Umberto Salvagnin

As stated by Kabat-Zinn, “The real meditation is your life.”  Your level of enlightenment is directly related to the level of awareness you maintain as you live it. This awareness exists in many forms, beginning with breath and posture. Breath awareness elevates your perception, both on the pillow and off. In conversation, for example, breath awareness is important since voice sounds are a biological function of breathing (try talking without exhaling). Postural awareness elevates your yoga and “stance” when choosing to act in a situation. These two elements of breath and postural awareness can directly stimulate the brain centers that initiate emotional healing, spontaneous creativity and instantaneous divergent thinking. Practice does make perfect, so next time you’re slouching over your Facebook page or cursing the clover that’s crowdin’ your veggie patch, remember to sit up strait, stand tall, breathe mindfully and acknowledge with appreciation the ever-present intelligence that we spend so much time recognizing when we are on the mat or at the alter.

#9. Live Out Loud.

Once my yoga guru told me that this was a mantra of hers, I immediately chiseled it into my heart. What’s the point of a life spent sitting on a pillow always looking ahead and waiting for the next big moment of epiphany? Stop for a second and look behind you. There are other frustrated human beings who are stuck at that same place you were recently stuck. If the opportunity to teach arises, be-careful; it’s easy to get excited and “should” all over your student.  Speak with precision, gentleness and honesty and avoid a lecture filled with “you should” and “have to”. The true essence of learning can only be achieved when the teacher asks open-ended questions, which elicit thought and self-realization.

#10. Depend on Nothing Else But the Self.

If you want something done right, do it yourself. When it comes to enlightenment, your true self-discovery is exactly that: discovered by thy self. Only you can put one foot in front of the other and walk towards the inevitable truth. Amazingly, becoming self-sufficient helps us to develop the patience and skills necessary to help other people do the same. Another universal paradox emerges from taking independent actions—an eternity of support emerges from the universe around you.

Photo: Greg Riegler
#11. Drink Lots of Clean Water. Eat Clean Food, and Less. Think Clean Thoughts.

Thank you to all my teachers who continually enlighten my experience and who inspired this list.


About Brent Binder

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102 Responses to “11 Essential Ebbs of Enlightenment.”

  1. drbinder says:

    That's right Max, but all we can do is start with ourselves, right?

  2. drbinder says:

    Awesome Renee- Way to combine 2 concepts in to 1. Unfortunately I have to break them all up and discuss seperately otherwis I would have a very short list. But your right! They all come back around in some way or another!

  3. drbinder says:

    Great one Jackie, lets just look around at eachother a little more, right? How many times do you walk right by someone and not even a smile is exchanged, let alone a heloo…

  4. drbinder says:

    Justin, way to go man. Keep it real, be honest, and know yourself.

  5. drbinder says:

    LOL Zach, I can't even imagine what it's like to work at Wal-Mart. I guess you have a lot of time to work on #7… Keep up the good work.

  6. drbinder says:

    I love Floyd, and I love this response. Very beautiful indeed. "a person's identity is reflected by their intentions…actions." I totally agree, but only as a reflection, our true identity is much more mysterious…

  7. drbinder says:

    Thanks Katie, it's totally not mine though. I don't know whose it really is, or if it just IS…But I have never heard that George Elliot quote before (or forgot it if i did) so thank you, it made my day!

  8. Carrie Sterner says:

    Dr. B, overall I liked this article, more specifically number #7 mostly because it jump out at me. It does seem like it would be hard to let go things that keep people apart, but if people could the world would be a lot better place.

  9. drbinder says:

    Bravo…so for #2 you don't disagree with the ebb, you just disagree with my interpretation of the golden rule, right? I can see your point and I accept your rebuttal as fair, Janice. But i do not think the golden rule means "to force my beliefs and wants on to other people." For #3, you actually nailed it right on the head when you stated "the IDEA of good or evil." An idea is a thought. I would love to hear more from you on this… I considered the commandment "thou shall not kill." Then I imagined the billions of lives that have been taken over the last couple thousand years because of war. Both sides thought they were justified to kill other human beings. In war both sides consider themselves good and the other evil… so who is right and is it really absolute?

  10. drbinder says:

    Thanks B, a smile goes a looong way. You never know whose life your going to improve, "randomly." To tie it all in like this is great. Self responsible and self discovered people are usually happier, attract happiness and spread it too…..

  11. drbinder says:

    OK Kelly, go get em, you know the way! Thanks for your response.

  12. drbinder says:

    True, True and Truer! I love the last part "change things you are unhappy with." It's all right there, waiting for you. Thanks for the kind words. The understanding of "life, myself and health" is what I'm all about and "every step is important" Thank you for those words, they impacted my day!

  13. drbinder says:

    I know Carrie, why is it so hard to let go? Why do we cling? And do those reasons even matter if we do learn to just let go? Just like anything else, it gets easier with practice… Thanks for the comments!

  14. drbinder says:

    Mark, I agree 100% that clean thoughts are a result of clean water and clean food. Or at least, it's way harder to think pure if your diet is full of chemicals and preservatives. Very Nice, and I appreciate your honesty very much!

  15. drbinder says:

    Kimberly, it's time for a sticky note on your dash board that says "Enjoy Today." I'm making mine right now! Thank You!

  16. drbinder says:

    Thanks Karina… Thinking leads to action! I think!

  17. Erica says:

    Great article! I really resonate with number 3…befriend all aspects of the mind. Feel heartache, sorrow and joy but approach them with non-attachment. Acknowledge both the feeling and the reasons behind the feelings and be fully present. But there's no reason to be sorrowful for being sorrowful…that just makes it worse!!

  18. Chad Garbrick says:

    I like the idea of treating everyone like gods, if we give everyone 100%, no one can be unhappy. Awesome article.

  19. drbinder says:

    Thanks, Erica. After reading your response I felt very happy. But I am not attached to that feeling at all. HA.!

  20. Gana Park says:

    I had to read very carefully several times!! All the lists you mentioned are not easy things to understand easily in one second. But, I enjoyed reading them.
    “Do unto others as if they were GOD.”, “There is no good or evil. It is only the THIKING that makes it so. So don’t be too hard on yourself.”, “We EXTERNALIZE blame as something that has happened to us, whereas in reality, it has actually happened FOR us.”, “Life is like a box of chocolate:)”, “ALL people are perfect JUST THE WAY THEY ARE.”, “Your level of enlightenment is directly related to the level of awareness you maintain AS YOU LIVE IT”…. These are some of sentences that I liked, knocking the door of my mind because of thoughts in my head and heart recently. Some of them help my thoughts simpler and easier. I appreciate about the posting.

  21. Raj Singh says:

    Once again…great article! I don't know about treating people like God, but I certainly agree upon all of your other points(especially about living and eating clean).

  22. Cindy Lam says:

    I really like #10 and #11. It is absolutely true…if I want something done right, I need to do it myself. I have to be able to take the initiative to make progress in everything I want to pursue. I find myself developing more patience and skills to help others when I am more independent. I also believe that consuming clean water and food is very important for one's health. It is very essential in wanting to live better.

  23. Evan Winter says:

    Honestly another amazing article. In my individual life I try to practice by "Golden Rules." I believe in Karma, and now I have a new way of looking at the Golden Rules, God is a great way to view people, because you never know. I agree with all other points, if I took into practice at least half of these in my daily routine I know I would see a difference. I appreciate all the time you put into these articles. Keep it up!

  24. XUAN ZHOU says:

    I am not quite a religious person. I see many religious terms in this article, such as nirvana, and the idea of samsara. I do not agree with those opinions very much. But I do see a lot of thoughts I believe can be universally applied. "Depend on nothing else but the self" is really one thing I firmly believe. "Befriend All Aspects of Your Mind" is a new idea to me, and is something I might try. Though I have heard of the saying "there is no good or evil" many times, I do not necessary understand it. Say if I feel like going out and get drunk the night before the final exam, do I do it or do I not? Dali Lama might have had some "crazy" acts, but is it worth it for him to break the precept of all monks and listen to his own mind? It's hard to tell.

  25. drbinder says:

    Try it some time Raj, you will never know until you try!

  26. drbinder says:

    Yes! Patience is crucial to independance. It is easy to see that self motivation is actually a rare quality and therefore if you are working steadfast while others around you delay and procrastinate, it can be easy to feel frustrated! Deep Breath…

  27. drbinder says:

    Xuan, i appreciate your cautious approach. I would not consider myself "religious" either, so I am not concerned with the semantics as much as I am the context. We can simply observe our reactions to such ideas and choose to use them or not based on our internal feeling. Over time this may change as we revisit old concepts and perhaps find new meaning that has become relevant.

  28. XUAN ZHOU says:

    Well, I am sure my opinions change over time. I am now learning a lot of new ideas, and I got a lot of new ideas in my religious studies course. Honestly, it is hard for me to absorb them right at the time I hear them. I agree your opinion that we need to observe our reactions and revisit old concepts some time, so we can get better understanding and grow from this process.

  29. drbinder says:

    The Religions of Mankind have many Great Ideas about God!

  30. Nathan Tulchinsky says:

    Dr. B, I found this article interesting and very relevant to my lifestyle as a college student. In my opinion these next few years are the ones that shape you as a person by finding out your beliefes and setting life goals. #2,#4, and #11 I found particularly relevant to myself. Do unto others as if they were god is a great way at changing the not so golden rule. I have heard "do unto others as you would want them to do unto you" about a million times and have always questioned its meaning. your new phrase seems to be a more worldly approach, I like that. In #11, it is clear that diet is looked over in our busy lives, why make a healthy meal when mcdonalds can do it in a minute. Well, The time of your life that you will probably save going to mcdonalds will not be worth the impact it will have on your life. In essence, your thoughts in this post are intellegent, relevant, and thought provocing. Thanks!

    -Nathan Tulchinsky

  31. Brandon says:

    This is some deep stuff Doc B. Quite interesting to say the least. Makes me wanna jam out to a Tool album.

  32. drbinder says:

    Thank You Nathan, I appreciate the kind words. As far as mcdonalds investments go, I like to think of not only the time you will spend sick but also the hundreds of thousands you will pay in medical bills!

  33. drbinder says:

    WOW, thank you Indira for the thoughtful response. I'm blushing! 🙂

  34. drbinder says:

    Tool Huh? Now thats deep!

  35. MikeA5062 says:

    Being a strict non-theist, I have lived by GOLDEN RULE my entire life… and you just told me to throw it out the window.

    #2. Throw the Golden Rule Out the Window.
    The saying, “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself,” is outdated and overused. As my mentor once told me, “Not everyone wants to be done unto like you do.” Instead, I (and perhaps many before me) have now enacted the Platinum Rule: “Do unto others as if they were God.” Seriously!

    I do not believe in god, nor do I think "it" can be disproved…. but I CAN imagine how one would treat such an entitiy. I feel like this new PLATINUM RULE is one I can adopt to my personal life.

  36. Janice B says:

    Well, what i am about to state may "end this discussion" because one might just say "oh, okay well that is what you believe, so we shall agree to disagree and thats that", but here goes….I, personally, am a Christian, and therefore believe in a higher power that which is Jesus Christ. The wars that we see and have seen taking place in history occur because of the on going struggle that ensues between good (God) and evil (the other guy…satan, lucifer etc). Therefore we cannot look at the physical participants in a war as plainly considering themselves good or evil because there are many more intricate principalities occuring with each person on the battle field that we cannot even begin to fully comprehend. But it is safe to say that there is such a thing as an absolute truth. And in this world that we live in, it is at this junction that most people part ways or disagree. The problem does not lie with being justified to kill another human being, but with what authority you have in carrying out ideas and actions that you adopt. Would you bet your life and others on that authority and consequently present proof to have succeeded in the end. Its a tough decision…

  37. […] The 11 Essential Ebbs of Enlightenment […]

  38. XUAN ZHOU says:

    OK. will take a look maybe in summer!

  39. drbinder says:

    Thanks Sylvia! #11 was originally "Print out this article and refer to it again and again"

  40. drbinder says:

    Well, I don't tell anyone to do anything. I have simply made a suggestion based on my own experience!
    Thanks Mike

  41. drbinder says:

    Thank You Francis, I love the child intuition holding strong in your current value system. That's HUGE! Children Know whats up…

  42. drbinder says:

    Thank You, Christine for your honest comment. I agree that we all need a little help sometimes. That's why I wrote this article… to help people realize they can change.

  43. Ken Knowlton says:

    I really enjoyed this article, these are all great ways to live and your message is very positive!

  44. Jason B says:

    Insightful article. Number 4 brings up the good point of the focusing on events happening “for us” and not “to us.” That one word change is able to change the entire outlook from negative to positive. Number 10 is certainly important to remind everyone that being self-sufficient is the most important step a person can take.

  45. drbinder says:

    no chocolate? what kind of a…
    of course, jk- Thank you Mikha- awesome stuff! I appreciate the enthusiasm.

  46. "Let’s start with a simple truth: it is unlikely that you will ever walk on water or levitate off the meditation pillow by repeating mantras or observing the breath." ….DAMN

    🙂 Great article Brent!

  47. drbinder says:

    Thanks, Ken. I appreciate the feedback!

  48. drbinder says:

    Thanks Jason B! It's all about perspective!

  49. […] Enlightenment is a form success. It is a form of production. And, anyone who rises in higher levels of spiritual understanding will be the first to acknowledge that it is most definitely work. Hard work. […]

  50. […] “With careful measures of clarity and ambiguity, I hope to create imaginative space for viewers to bring their own perspectives and experiences […]