March 9, 2007

The Work on "I Will Never Become Enlightened"

I will never become enlightened.

Is it true?
I don't know. I don't even really know what enlightenment means.

Can I absolutely know that it's true that I will never become enlightened?

No; I gather one doesn't get to choose how, when and if it happens. So it could happen, if enlightenment even exists.

How do I react when I believe this thought?
I become saddened and discouraged whenever I am reactive and "unenlightened" (like today). I read accounts of "awakening" and I feel that I am so far from anything like illuminated that it is hopeless; I can't even imagine living out of this mindset. I compare myself unfavorably with those who appear to be awake to their "true nature," whatever that is. I am jealous and not a little mistrustful of those who teach about this state of oneness and illumination; if it is so natural, why can't I have it or be it right now?

I live in longing for something that to me, right now, is unreal. I don't love my "unenlightened" life or self.

When I have short-lived glimpses of what seems to be awakened awareness, I mourn for those moments afterwards. Or I become cynical; I tell myself that wasn't "it," and that maybe there is no such thing.

When I think this thought and I believe it, I'm no fun to be around. I'm in God's business. I experience increased stress, physical fatigue and am more aware of physical limitations than I normally am. I feel lonely and lost.

I hold this belief because it gives me an escape clause. I don't have to be dedicated to understanding myself. I get an excuse to play harder (which is not playing at all), to get lost in the world of emotions, to backtrack to what is comfortable.

But I also get such a deep sense of sadness and separation.

Who would I be without this thought?
I would inquire into my stressful beliefs and love the deepening and quickening that results. I would not worry about the future. I would love my "enlightened" moments and be gentle with myself the rest of the time.

I would revel in the beautiful descriptions I read of awakened awareness. And I would realize that I love those accounts because they reflect what is already true for me, what I already know and where I occasionally live.


I will always become enlightened.
This thought could be just as true. Byron Katie says, "You don't wake up forever; it's now. Now. Now." There is no future. Enlightenment occurs each time suffering is met with sanity, each time a stressful belief is revealed to be a lie.

I will never become unenlightened.
That feels truer than my original statement. As the old story goes, that snake is really a rope when we look closely. And once the truth is glimpsed, even if momentarily forgotten, the rope can never again be believed to be a snake.

I feel a bit closer now to being enlightened about what enlightenment is...even though my work's not done.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.


Mona said...

When you were gushing about BK's new book in recent posts, I was doing an inner eye roll like this:

"Here we go again. Another one of my friends is going to get all wrapped up in something BK says, does (or even hints at) - they're going to get all excited for a while - and then they're going to beat themselves up with it."


I know how good it can feel to get all blissed out, but it is hard for me to watch people I care about do this.

When you get all ga-ga over being with BK or reading her books, it doesn't seem like that's who you are without your stories.

It seems like that's who you are when you try on BK's stuff and try to see what she's seeing. Which is fine, but then it seems like you get attached to it. Which is also fine, but that's when I start arguing with reality...

Sometimes (like now) I wish that you didn't get so attached to what BK says and does.

It's like you're putting on new clothes and going, "Ohhh...I feel good and pretty in these!" And then later you're like, "Ugh, but it's still just me under everything I just put on."

The feeling good isn't coming from within you at that point - it's instructed by what you're trying on - so is it any wonder that it's not lasting?

So yeah, it bothers me to watch people get all wrapped up in how amazing they think BK is, and how her book is opening them up to a whole new whatever...

Actually, I guess I'm all for your enlightenment too - enlightenment of what's up for you in the moment instead of comparing yourself to people who seem more awake than you.

Maybe your path of getting blissed out and then bummed out is your path to finding self-love.

I guess we both want the same thing - you want you to wake up...and I want you to wake up. Haha. (Wow - It felt like I just woke up when I got to this part of my post.)

Love ya, Girl! Thanks for this post this morning. It stirred some stuff up in me and I just found the gratitude for it.

Carol L. Skolnick said...

Dear Mona,

Actually I wasn't thinking only or specifically about Katie when I wrote that work; as you know, I did the advaita trip for years...have several friends who claim to be "awake"...and I can occasionally get into the story that they are better off than I am.

I can understand why you'd think I got excited about Katie's book, got blissed out and then "fell off the wagon." I do have a history of such things.

What I most appreciate about The Work is not the promise of enlightenment but the continual reminder that there is balance in the universe when there is balance within, and that this is entirely within reach. I worked with this "enlightenment" stuff, moving into whatever still feels like "not-enlightenment," not because I have crashed and burned (I haven't), but because I want to know each dark crevice of myself...what has been, whatever's left, whatever might reappear to bite me in the behind.

And, I also experience major eye-rollers around some of my friends who claim sweetness and light and gratitude and anything smacking of "enlightenment" immediately after doing inquiry. (You and I have both done that one!) I don't like seeing in them, or in you, what I don't like seeing in me...a resistance to letting myself feel and experience the totality of humanness, as if it's all black or if, when I'm crabby or teary or reactive or otherwise not entirely happy, it means I am not okay, not doing it right, or at best I'm "confused."

Do I ever get all ga-ga around Katie or from reading Katie's books or listening to her audio programs? Absolutely, yes. Sometimes it can feel like a screaming, fainting 1960s teenager at a Beatles concert, or the way it felt to be in the dewy-eyed devotee energy surrounding my former Indian guru. More often these days, I experience my response to Katie as a recognition and reaffirmation of something about myself (what, exactly, I don't know), and that excites me, inspires me, makes me glad to be living this life...even glad to be examining all the crap I think is still there.

I don't know that it's possible to know who I am without my stories; the answer to question four is as much of a mental construct as anything else, just a more pleasant one and therefore likely "truer." But as someone not in a coma, someone with a brain that apparently thinks, I have never been without several stories running at once. I notice I am fascinated with all of them. I do, as you say, always remain under the clothes...I love knowing that this is a constant...and silly me, I still love to try on clothes. I'm really attached to them: the new clothes, the old used clothes, the "enlightened" garb and the apparent other kind. The ones that don't fit don't feel as good; that's what I seem gradually to be waking up to. It's all a game of dress-up anyway, seems to me. "Waking up." What a silly notion; who thought that one up? (Me!)

Love you too, grrrlfriend!

Mona said...

Here's an inquiry I did after submitting my comment on your blog:

It's the March 10th entry. I'm not putting the direct link to the post because it's longer than fits here comfortably.

It was great to move into some questioning after I talked things out here.

In your comment you wrote:

I don't like seeing in them, or in you, what I don't like seeing in me...a resistance to letting myself feel and experience the totality of humanness, as if it's all black or if, when I'm crabby or teary or reactive or otherwise not entirely happy, it means I am not okay, not doing it right, or at best I'm "confused."

Yeah, this summed up what I was thinking about. When I see people who seem to be grabbing onto the happy stuff as if there's something wrong with anything else, my ears totally perk up.

That I even SEE that happening shows me what I need to watch in my own life because I have had a tendency to bliss out and then bum out - just as I described in my first reply.

And now for something completely different...

One of the things I love about us is how we play with our inquiry - going in for what's left - whether it's current or not. Whether it triggers other people's stories or not.

We can explore whatever thought we want and for whatever reasons - including no reason at all.

Carol L. Skolnick said...

Absotively. Posolutely. I love that about us too, sistahfriend.

Rock on!

diogenes said...

Not knowing anything and knowing thatyou dont know makes you enligtened in the first place. most of us never know that we dont know many things. Nice post Carol.