A New Kind of Enlightenment
Insight Magazine Australia - January 2007
The film Samsara is about a Tibetan Buddhist monk who spends three years meditating in a remote hermitage. His return to his ancient monastery has unexpected results. Despite a life devoted to the rigors of spiritual development, he finds himself experiencing a surprisingly profound sexual and very human awakening. For the first time, Tashi begins to question the spiritual values of his monastic existence and beliefs in renouncing and then transcending the world. The monk was experiencing what many of us on the path of awakening are discovering: what use is Enlightenment if we aren’t able to experience it and use it in the world in which we live?
The monk realized that if he was to truly feel alive his fulfillment would only come from going out into the world and engaging with life. Would he lose his state of enlightenment if he merged with the masses? Maybe. Or maybe he would experience a new kind of enlightenment, one that included the highs and lows of genuine human living. The monk’s dilemma brings up a question we need to ask now: In reaching the heights of spiritual awareness, have we left our humanity behind?
I feel yes. It is time to descend from idealized heights of world transcendence into our bodies, taking our hard-gained wisdom with us and using it to give it meaning, power, and purpose in every aspect of our daily life.
We are being called to a new kind of enlightenment, one that takes all that we have discovered on our inner journeys into our every experience. Fellow souls, it’s time to get out of our caves and take whatever enlightenment we have into the world, into corporations, governments, politics, schools, media, health and social systems. We have been waiting for the world to change, meanwhile the world is waiting for us to act.
This new kind of enlightenment challenges us to embody, act upon and live all that we know. It calls us to fulfill our human need to take action and engage with world events just as we have been fulfilling our soul need to awaken and evolve.
We need a new definition of enlightenment, one that we can take with us everywhere we go. This new enlightenment is an attitude, it is a perspective, it is a way of being. It engages with people, it doesn’t look down from the mountain-top while humanity struggles. It doesn’t hide in stillness, but uses it to feel deeply and empathetically. It merges consciousness with action, and action with consciousness. We can’t continue to experience unity in our meditative states yet perpetuate separation in our physical lives. It is not ‘unspiritual’ to make some noise and challenge the system! Far from it, this is our highest duty right now. The New Earth isn’t just going to appear magically - we have to create it!
People often use the excuse that in a state of enlightenment we ‘should’ have complete non-judgment and acceptance toward situations. So they don’t watch the news and they don’t get involved in heavy discussions. Many people mis-interpret acceptance as sitting back passively while events that are detrimental to the wellbeing and health of individuals, humanity, countries and the planet unfold. People talk about the poverty, famine and dis-ease crisis in Africa, wars, climate change and other situations whether global, national, local or personal, saying “well they chose that life on a higher level”, “they must be playing out some karma” or the numbing cliche “everything happens for a reason” as a justification for inaction.
Yes, the humanitarian injustices in Africa and elsewhere in the world have a higher purpose, and they ultimately are going to teach many people many things. However to sit back and remove ourselves from this process is to ignore life and avoid any opportunities the situation is presenting.
I feel we are not supposed to sit back and use spiritual platitudes as justification for inaction, or to avoid the emotional responses that would be triggered by actually facing the realities of the world in which we live. Those emotional responses hold the key that will guide us to whatever action is most appropriate. It is through our emotional experiences that we find our humanity and ultimately express our spiritual “enlightenment.” The greatest measure of our enlightenment now lies in this question: In the face of watching brothers and sisters in extreme crisis, what are you going to do?
We are coming to the end of a great evolutionary cycle. At the end of this cycle there is a blank page representing not the end of time, only the end of time as we know it. We have in front of us a choice that literally comes once in a lifetime. We have a choice to make an evolutionary leap into a new experience. We have a choice to create a new reality for ourselves and the planet. We have an opportunity to create a new kind of enlightenment.
We all have a part to play in creating this new chapter for Earth. All you have to do to play your part is be your true self and live it every day. Do what you are called to do. Listen to your instincts. Speak your truth. Make some noise. Get in the game. The planet and humanity need you.
(c) Dana Mrkich 2007