Enlightenment Your Own Way

For a period of time I enjoyed woodworking as a hobby.  I especially delighted in making things with the wood lathe.  My interest caused me to enroll in a special class to learn how to make a long stem wooden goblet from a block of wood.  Our teacher was an internationally known artisan from the United Kingdom who taught us many things to help improve our craft and ability to work on a lathe. Finally, the time came for us to make the goblet.

Following the instructions of my teacher, I first made the base and chalice. Next I would create the stem between the base and cup. This is the tricky part. As the stem gets slimmer and slimmer the tools must be used more expertly—one slip and the goblet will break in half.  As my stem became thinner I worried that I would break it. Several of the participants had already failed. It was then that I had an idea.  While the goblet was rotating on the lathe I decided to reduce the stem to its final size by lightly applying sandpaper to the spinning stem.  The teacher was a good-natured fellow who teased me about this choice.  He told me that this was the first time he had ever seen someone make a goblet in this way.  It may have been unorthodox, but I was one of only a few participants who took home a completed project.  I did not complete it the way I had been taught—I did it the way I knew was best for me. The same is true about spiritual awakening.

Before awakening it is common for seekers to read countless stories about enlightenment. I read hundreds of books and websites about yoga, Zen, Christ Consciousness, Hinduism, diet, cleansing, pranayama, martial arts, Christian and Sufi mysticism, Taoism, extra sensory perception, light working, and a hundred other things as well.  Each path and tradition  promised untold spiritual riches and enlightenment if I would follow their practices, do their spiritual exercises, eat their food, follow their master, and so on.  I chanted, toned, exercised, dieted, meditated, contemplated, held crystals, went to seminars and did all of the things that most seekers do—trying to find a path that would help me break through. It was all very confusing. Adding to the confusion was my religious tradition which proclaimed that God could only be followed a certain way.

But just as there is more than one way to make a goblet, so it is with each person’s journey of awakening.  Some awaken in a flash and others gradually over time.  Some have mystical experiences and others do not.  The important thing is not whether one walks, drives, flies or parachutes from the clouds towards the destination—its whether or not the journey has been taken.

The New Race

One of the concerns a newly awakened person faces is whether or not our awakening is permanent. For most of us, there were precursors of awakening that gave us glimpses of what was ahead.  We would experience clarity for a period of time and then it would pass. The moment of initial awakening feels more permanent but most of us cannot be certain—at least in the beginning.

Think of the ego-personality as an amateur runner who has been allowed to run a few laps with an Olympic athlete.  At first the amateur was permitted a sporting chance and allowed to lead by several laps. Later, the Olympian closes the difference and runs alongside of the amateur for a few laps. At some point the Olympian begins to pull away, perhaps gently and slowly at first, but before long the amateur is left far behind. The Olympian has assumed his/her rightful place and full control of the race.

So it is in the new life of an awakened person.  For sometime Source consciousness has been catching up with the ego personality.  Soon Source consciousness begins to set a more deliberate pace until it pulls away altogether and becomes the clear leader.

Even though we have awakened, as long as we are in physical form, we will have an ego-personality—and this is a good thing.  The ego was never our enemy.  This time the ego will assume its proper context in our lives.  It is no longer the master—but a faithful servant.  Ego-personalities help us do repetitive tasks like driving, working and reading.  Egos translate the spoken word into something our brains can understand.  The ego-personality is a useful tool for Source to use as we relate to people, places, and things. Now that it no longer holds a superior position in our lives, we are able to see situations more clearly, drop our fears, set aside drama and self-aggrandizement and act from higher motivations.