Enlightenment gets a bad rap in some circles, for obvious reasons that no one will talk about.
I elect myself for the unsavory job of approaching this conversation because I’ve been on both sides of the equation—a member of the walking dead until age 45 and a believer in magic ever since.
As a formerly addicted to-do list minion I have a unique perspective. I totally get why people who have not come to this new-ish way of thinking believe we’re nuts, delusional or smoking weed 24/7.
As enlightenment seekers we have a tendency to only want to see the “light” of the world and a knee-jerk reaction to respond to difficulties with an OM. When someone is living through a cyclone of adversity they don’t like being told, “Think positively, the sun will come out tomorrow.”
Mindfulness is a two-way street that encompasses all of life—not just the parts we like.
Enlightenment means wisdom, understanding, and awareness. Coined as a term in the West in the 17th and 18th century, being enlightened was described as, “emphasizing reason and individualism in place of traditionalism.”
I wrote on this subject in a previous piece called Why The World Can’t Afford To Sugarcoat Enlightenment. I listed the whys of full awareness, neglecting what is often neglected when discussing unfortunate topics—the elephant in the light brigade soup.
I first encountered this elephant during the six years my children were safely ensconced in a Montessori school. I loved that place. When I dropped my kids off at the registered “peace site,” my inner warrior steadfastly guarding the perimeter for creepy weirdos peacefully sighed.
But the truth is, there is no blankie life.
I learned this the hard way when a bully situation cropped up at the soft-spoken school. I tried explaining my concerns in quiet tones, but wasn’t heard in the vacuum of whispers. Their response was the exact replication stated at public schools everywhere: “Teach your child to cope.” In other words, the bully stays and we’ll pretend we’re a peace site.
During the ongoing three year conversation a school administrator mentioned: “I don’t read newspapers or listen to news, the information is too violent and I don’t want to give it my attention.” When this was said I remember thinking, but you’re running a school.
My flat-life existence before enlightenment was mostly about the big, bad and ugly. Entire days were spent cataloging the wrongness of every situation. This is a common refrain from our tribe. Many of us left those aspects when we stepped on this side of the street, bringing more joy, happiness, elimination of the to-do list life, and an overall easier go at breathing.
But the big, bad, and the ugly will not go away if our eyes are squeezed tight in aware-ful, non-awareness.
On the enlightenment path, it is necessary that we exist to “see” and explore the full reflection of life, not only to acknowledge what is “light.” Which means consciously dealing with bullies and other harsh aspects of the news.
I was gifted with experiencing both sides, the before and after of this equation, having grown up in an abusive childhood that reached its gnarly tentacles into my adulthood until it sucked out all the joy. Now awake, I still remember my overwhelming unhappiness and despair that anything could ever change for the better.
So I get why we tend to spur the gruesome aspects of our existence. No one wants to go back to mindless grey misery.
If I were told I had to return to my former existence, I’d run away and hide in a cave until my last breath. But I know there is no reversing the wake up. It is impossible to reassemble the veil. Once pulled aside it disintegrates.
Reading about politics will not bring back the flat life.
Also, conscientiously not engaging with what is–isn’t really enlightenment. I call this practice “white out.”
I was once in a blizzard that obscured the landscape until nothing else existed but snow. I knew a forest was there, but without definition the foliage became slightly grey blobs in a blur of white. If I had been seeing trees for the first time, I wouldn’t understand anything about a tree.
Confining an enlightened view to heroes, relationships, astrology, essential oils and all the good and weird aspects of life, makes politics, child abuse, immigration, refugees, guns, the education system, ongoing war and terrorism the barely glimpsed grey tree behind a white out.
It also gives enlightenment a bad rap.
On the day the administrator told me her perception of the news, I stopped listening to her. I realized she had no ideas for change, only a wish that difficulty did not exist. Wishing was something I did as child mired in a horrible situation. But wishing on a full moon didn’t remove my abusive childhood or take away my miserable adulthood.
My conscientious actions brought change.
This wasn’t done by focusing only on the light and obliterating the harsh landscape. My transformation came when I faced the entirety of my history for what it was with full awareness and healed.
There is no better conversation about difficult topics than one that is enlightened and thoughtful, which can only occur when we choose engagement with what is.
Change takes the power of intention consciously set into motion.
Since enlightenment has grabbed us by the ankles and thrown our life around until our eyes pop open, society is better served by us looking at, and investigating, everything. We’re awake and that has purpose, not only for going woo-woo wistful under a full moon.
If we want global change, and enlightenment professes itself to be all about change, the only way we will truly be enlightened is to pay attention and read articles and listen to voices that make us sad, uncomfortable and frustrated.
Change is a product of being uncomfortable and frustrated with what is—ask a caterpillar.
That’s how most of us came to enlightenment in the first place. We looked around, got frustrated with our lives or disgusted with how we were living or some cosmic, outrageous, hideous, and painful event threw us into the wake up process.
It’s time the rest of the world experienced what that means. For that to be possible, we of the enlightenment tribe need to be in the entirety of this existence.
May we see the trees within our forest, with a dusting of white, effervescent, and illuminating snow.
Author: Deb Locos
Editors: Travis May; Catherine Monkman