What Is Enlightenment?

What is enlightenment? Yeah, I know, big topic for a random midweek post. But it’s something I’ve been pondering lately.

A friend and I tend to have impromptu metaphysical discussions when we find each other in the same space. As a martial artist, he comes at it from a perspective I find interesting.

In a recent chat, where we were talking about using our personal energy in various ways, he noted that the purpose of life isn’t to continually seek more and more direct connection with the Divine. It’s also about enjoying the journey of physical reality.

His ideas make sense to me. We emerge from the non-physical realm of pure consciousness to explore the more limited scope of this playground called Earth. One of my favorite authors, Mike Dooley, talks about this all the time. He envisions souls lining up for their chance to come down and experience what we’re already immersed in. I picture the queues for the hottest rides at DisneyWorld, with all the souls eagerly jostling for their chance on the roller coaster of life.

But as the discussion continued, I realized that often I do think of my spiritual practice as getting me closer and closer to that pure source energy. I aim for the imagined bliss of enlightenment, but I’m still here in human form.

I sometimes forget about enjoying the journey.

Yeah, I admit to being an overachiever Virgo type. I do this in various areas of my life. I set my vision, take the inspired actions, listen for guidance, and even have fun doing it – and then there comes a moment in the process where I’m all “But where are my results?! What about the awesome rewards for doing all this good Work?” 

Sigh. That’s when I start feeling resentful or victimized.

I suspect enlightenment isn’t actually about transcending the day to day. It’s not getting to a point where you’re emanating that magickal glow no matter what happens around you. It’s not being happy all the time.

It’s more about enjoying the ride – the dips into sorrow and grief as well as the lifts to bliss and joy. 

When I thought about it further, I realized that I do have spaces in my life where I’m not trying to get somewhere. Like when I’m spending time with my immediate and extended family, or reading for pleasure, or doing yoga.

The thing is, our souls are already fully enlightened. They live in the light like mermaids in the sea, emerging into the physical realm to explore what it’s like here on the other side. Our physical selves are the expression of that desire to experience something new. Let’s revel in the journey.


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