February 12, 2015

The Brutal Truth about Enlightenment.


Enlightenment often conjures up images of yogis on lotus flowers hovering in serene stillness.

An enlightened state of mind where one feels light and free and flowing; a state free of compulsions, every day attachments, and difficult emotions or people.

But the truth is that enlightenment hurts.

I like the idea of enlightenment as:

  • Being able to accept life in its entirety.
  • Being able to surrender to the difficult truth that pain and sadness are as much a part of the bigger whole as happiness and joy.
  • Knowing that happiness is not our only goal on this planet.
  • Looking within into our most disturbing experiences so as to feel deeply the interconnectedness of everything and relish in the beautiful mysteries of life.
  • Refusing to blame the external factors of our lives for the reasons we are miserable.
  • Saying yes instead of saying no, or being totally aware of the reasons why we made the choice that we did.
  • Trusting in love and goodness.
  • Making choices about how we react and perceive our life circumstances.
  • Finding freedom even in a prison.
  • Being able to hold and see and feel your pain so that we can make peace with it.

With this perspective, we can move beyond the expectations we have that things will or should be any different from how they are now. Only then can we truly surrender and hold that knowledge in loving awareness.

Enlightenment is painful because life is painful.  When we can accept that, it can set us free.  We no longer have to be dominated by our jealousy, fear, anger, loneliness, or judgments because they are all expressions of our pain, and pain is a part of life that we can’t avoid.

Rather, let your pain be the thing that brings you deeper into contact with life and the world. You’ll be amazed at what you find.

“If your everyday practice is to open to all your emotions, to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that—then that will take you as far as you can go.  And then you’ll understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught.” ~ Pema Chödrön


Author: Sophie Frost

Editor: Caroline Beaton

Photo: elephant archives

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