I’ve spent the last little while researching the work of a particular Enlightened Master. I’d studied his teachings and methods, read his books, watched his videos on YouTube, and contemplated on his work. As I neared the end of this process, I added the words “scandal” to his name in the Google search bar and up came a story about him screwing his secretary. Ironically, this is such a common theme among spiritual teachers that I haven’t given away any clues to his identity.
I began thinking of all the “non-enlightened” men who had engaged in office infidelity in the public eye. If “screwing your secretary” was the end goal, then wow, it sure seemed to be a lot easier to be a … CEO of a giant tech company, President of the United States from Arkansas, golf legend, decorated military general, U.S. congressman, or famous football player-turned-broadcaster … than to be a perfectly holy Enlightened Master with all of that pressure and scrutiny.
As all those juicy gossip stories of powerbrokers and their affairs polluted my consciousness, I asked myself a question: “Is an enlightened master enlightened when he acts the same way as a philanderer?”
We dealt with a similar concept in a different context when President Clinton was caught cheating on Hillary with Monica Lewinsky. Was he a great president or an adulterer? Was he a brilliant leader or a perjurer? Was he the creator of great economic times or a scandal-ridden scoundrel?
The obvious answer, to me at least, is that he was none of the above. Bill Clinton was, and is, a human who performed many acts (and has had some performed on him … sorry, couldn’t resist). He presidented and adultered; he led with compassion and got carried away in his passion. He was a collection of verbs that we desperately tried to fashion into a noun with which to label him.
And that’s the truth about us all. That’s the human experience. We are infinite expressions of the divine, sparks of GOD or the whole ball of Godly wax, depending on your belief system, AND in our humanness we are a giant stew of verbs mixed by the wooden spoon of life.
Which brings me to my point about enlightenment:
It needs to be thought of as a verb, not a noun.
I know these may be sacrilegious words for many. But here’s a parable to share the insight I’m trying to communicate:
One day an enlightened master was driving down the street. He had just left his ashram and was feeling really high, full of love as the chants of his followers played in his mind. Being a yogi, and not the best driver, he lost track of the physical moment and his foot weighed on the gas pedal. He began to speed toward an intersection where a little girl was crossing on her way home from school.
That same day, a convicted murderer had escaped from prison and was fleeing, on foot, through the same town. He had committed heinous acts and for that had been branded a criminal and jailed for life. So this day, with nothing to lose, he fled the prison yard.
As fate always seems to have it in stories like this, the speeding car driven by the enlightened master, the innocent little girl, and the escaped convict all reached the intersection at the same time. The convict, in an act of selfless service, scooped up the little girl just before she was surely to be killed by the reckless master.
And in that moment, if that little girl was your daughter, who was enlightened?
A silly story, I know. The point being, however, that all the nouns with which we are labeled are the result of verbs. The trouble is that nouns are permanent and often difficult to live into, while verbs are fluid and flexible.
As a verb, I can engage in enlightening acts. I can stretch, meditate, love, laugh, sing, play, serve, teach, learn, and on and on. As a noun, though, I don’t know if the verbs of my life add up to my being enlightened (cue the bells and spotlight from heaven). And the truth is, I don’t know if the sum of anyone’s life can ever measure up to this label. But we can all, and have all, experienced ourselves ENLIGHTENING.
Each moment of each day we engage in verbs. Working. Talking. Thinking. Loving. Breathing. Every one of those moments is an opportunity to approach that act from an enlightened place, to add light to the action, to bring love to what we’re doing. No matter what it is, or where it takes place, we can enlighten our daily practice. A smile in the morning, a green juice instead of a soda, a hug and a kiss for children instead of a scolding, a work decision fueled with people as a metric versus just money, a walk filled with innocent wonder and less judgment and fear.
In this way we are all “enlightening” as we walk down the paths of our everyday life. With this definition, every moment is an invitation for us to express the highest and best within us, to infuse some of our light into everything we do. From here, the experience of enlightenment is within reach for all of us … we just won’t have the satisfaction of being permanently stamped as ENLIGHTENED and will have to live moment to moment … doing the best we can with each step we take … to let the light that is already within each one of us burn a little more brightly.
Big hugs of love,