Monday, September 19, 2005


“After Enlightenment, the Laundry,” doesn’t quite cut it. Enlightenment changes things. The laundry still has to be done, but after enlightenment, we quit doing some things, and begin doing something else instead, and we do everything with presence, with mindfulness, with consciousness, awareness, examination and evaluation. After enlightenment, we don’t spend our money or our time as we did before.
And, we don’t spend our time describing post-enlightenment life. We don’t say what we will do and what we won’t do. We don’t make lists of things that are prescribed and things that are prohibited. Enlightened people won’t spend their time or their money in the same ways. They won’t vote for the same candidates. They won’t attend, or boycott, the same movies. They won’t do things the way they did them before enlightenment, but they won’t do the same things. Enlightened people won’t have anything to do with rules based on “If you are enlightened you won’t have anything to do with rules based on ‘If you are enlightened…’.” You cannot predict what an enlightened person will do, or not do, except to say that life after enlightenment will not be the same as life before enlightenment.
More time doing things one enjoys doing. Less time doing things one doesn’t enjoy doing. Less money spent on glass and plastic. More money spent on the things that matter—which will vary from individual to individual. More time supporting that which serves the common good. Less time with frivolity and inanity. Less time following “the crowd.” More time in the company of the right kind of people.
Time and money are the primary indicators of what is important to us, and what is important to us changes with enlightenment. With enlightenment comes a perspective shift that transforms all of life. We are no longer the same person. The same life will no longer fit us. But, the shape of that life is impossible to predict, and that is precisely the value of enlightenment—unpredictable living. Unregulated living. Ungoverned living. Uncontrolled living. And, yet, disciplined living. Aligned living. Attuned living. Harmonious living. Living that is in synch with, and flows from, the heart of the best that can be imagined.
In light of what do we live? Toward what do we live? What are we doing with the time that is ours on the earth? What is our contribution? What will remain of us after our death? What is our gift to the world, to those who share the world with us? What does it mean to “live well”?
We are our contribution. We are our gift to the world. What remains of us after our death is what remains in the minds of those who love us while we are alive. How capable are we of loving and being loved? How present are we in the lives of others? How available are we for the tasks of love?
Enlightenment is a function of love, a quality of love. We “see” with loving eyes. We cannot consider ourselves enlightened if people do not feel loved in our company, cherished, esteemed, honored, valued. We are to live so as to increase the quantity of love in the world. The perspective shift called “enlightenment” allows that to happen.
So, rather than think of “enlightenment,” we might think of “being loving.” “What does it take to be enlightened?” becomes “What does it take to be loving?” “Enlightened loving” is loving in the truest, deepest, best sense of the term. It is love as love ought to be. It is enough to live toward loving like that.
The barriers to living toward loving like that are the barriers to enlightenment. The perspective shift required to remove those barriers enables enlightenment, enables us to love as love ought to be. What enables the perspective shift? Anything. Sit before the barriers and wait. And, if you don’t know what the barriers are? Sit before your inability to be loving and wait. With your eyes open. Ready to see when the time for seeing arrives. In the company of those who know how to wait with you. Unhurried and unhurrying. Lovingly waiting to be able to love.
I don’t know what needs to happen. I know escape, diversion, distraction, denial and addiction have too much of a place in our lives. I know we cannot live to be entertained. I know we have to face our lives, embrace our lives, live our lives exactly as they are toward the best we can imagine, toward the best we can manage, using the givens at our disposal, the resources at hand. I know that our choices expand or restrict our options, increase or decrease our possibilities. I know our present has implications for our future, and that we can seal ourselves into a future just like our past, or worse, or open ourselves to a future that serves the good and produces “abundant live,” by the quality of our relationship with “the here and now.” Beyond that, I don’t know.


Le Roi said...

Too many questions and not enough answers: I counted 14 question marks in this post. I'm reading your blog for answers, not questions.

rrusso said...

The great thing about having a "weblog" (sounds better than 'blog') is that you can get instant feedback. BTW, you could also call this your 'journal' on the web. I agree that 'blog' is somehow undignified. It is also known as 'personal journalism for the masses'.
At any rate, I like the notion of enlightenment as being loving. I remember when I first understood about the word 'holiness' after reading in a Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words that one of the definitions for 'holiness' was 'being loving'. That resonated with me immediately. I reasoned that if I am being loving then I necessarily would not do all of those things most folks considered 'unholy', i.e.; covet my neighbors possesions, etc.
So, I thank you for your perspective on 'enlightenment'.

Laurie said...

I liked this post too. I need a reminder that it's okay to "sit before the barriers and wait" sometimes. I'm doing what I can to remove the barriers, but it can be discouraging at times.

In slow food, one of the sayings that keeps coming up is "Don't just do something, sit there."

Jim Dollar said...

What WAS that answer...27? 32? 66? I can't remember. That's the thing about answers. You memorize them for the test, and then they're gone, just like that. Now, a question hangs around like a bad odor. It's always there, like a dead goat. It never leaves, like your inlaws when they get too old to get to the toilet and move in with you.