Sunday, January 10, 2010

The State of My Enlightenment

This morning I said to Jesus, “It is so deeply engrained in my thinking that miracles happen by luck; like God chooses who gets grace spontaneously according to some secret and unfair system.” I was being honest. I truly have this grievance against God; but now, putting it out in the open, Jesus can help me.

From this admission, the story of my quest for enlightenment came into a new perspective (which is the definition of miracles according to A Course in Miracles). This quest has been going on for nearly 30 years, but I am going to look now only at the past seven years.

After leaving the monastery (2003), and beginning a wider spiritual exploration, I developed a deep resentment of “the enlightened.” Only now do I see that Clyde was included because I thought that by kicking me out, they had unfairly deprived me of my chance at enlightenment, that they had stolen it from me.

I went to the monastery to seek enlightenment thru contemplation, God, divine union or whatever you want to call it. Clyde billed itself as a contemplative religious order. I had read books by Merton, read The Cloud of Unknowing and read John of the Cross. By these books and many others, I developed a definition of enlightenment which meant “special to God;” and I wanted this condition more than anything. At that time, I didn’t know I had that definition, but I knew I wanted ecstatic release from this world into the God dimension.

I thought that the cloistered environment of prayer and silence would give what I wanted. When I got kicked out, I thought that my chance at enlightenment was gone. By that time, I knew no one in that monastery had achieved what I seemed to want; but I thought I could do it on my own, using their tools and environment. I didn’t admit to myself that they didn’t have what I wanted and instead resented them.

On leaving the monastery, I was determined to somehow find enlightenment on my own. I was waving a finger at God and the nuns saying, “I don’t care if you have kicked me out, I will achieve union without you.” Really? This thinking is somewhat insane but I didn’t really look at it, I just kept searching for a method which would work. My resentment towards God and the enlightened became deeper and deeper as my exploration continued. Enlightened people seemed to have encountered circumstances and situations which were impossible for me. I developed a list of impossibilities:

- Go to India, find an ashram with a genuine guru, study under him and have him impart enlightenment.
- Tibetan Buddhism was out because I am a woman. The llamas don’t think a woman can be enlightened.
- Can’t go through Roman Catholic ordination because I am a woman.
- Fasting on water for 30 days. Wait, I pass out after 3; so I’d have to find a place to do it under supervision. But I don’t have 30 days of vacation from my job.
- I really think Native American vision quests work only for those raised in that tradition; and probably only the male warriors.
- Some enlightened have brain injuries, near death experiences, cancer or some other dramatically desperate physical condition. Ummm…should I go get in a car accident?
- Some ultra-marathoners experience enlightenment during the 75th mile of a 100 mile race, in the middle of the night when they achieve delirium. I did try training and doing ultra-marathons.
- Spontaneous miraculous stories were the cruelest of all. My response to these was to make up some self punishing story about why God didn’t choose me to be special.

But, I was determined to achieve enlightenment so I did try what was available to me. For the first four years or so after the monastery this included: meditating for long hours every day; lectio divina (Google this); juice fasting for up to 19 days; eating a 100% raw diet; and increasing my running mileage in hopes of going in a 100 mile race.

I secretly harbored a hatred of the lucky enlightened ones; including the religious order who had stolen mine. I secretly hated the opposite of enlightenment; the unconscious masses who seemed content with their American middle class family life. I hated the rich and famous. I hated the authors of self help books. I hated the gifted athletes and ultra-marathoners. Well, I hated everyone. The hate was killing me. I was in extreme pain.

What happened? Well, all along, God kept sending helpful messengers, but it took awhile for me to work through various healing techniques to get ready for the perfect path for me. I kept listening, trying things out, writing in my journal, reflecting and talking to whatever spiritual entity was listening. One day I read something which pointed to A Course in Miracles which got my attention. So I went to my book shelf and took down the plastic wrapped book which had been purchased right after I left the monastery (hint hint). I began to study. The words of the Text were a healing balm and super charged nourishment for my starved soul. Through doing the Course, inner healing has been occurring and inner peace growing.

What I had really found in A Course in Miracles was an open door, a pathway completely unqualified upon which I could freely enter. There were no impossible circumstances or un attainable achievements. I had the book of instructions and the ability to listen to my inner spirit. Nothing else was required for me to walk a path guaranteed to lead to divine union. I didn’t need a church, a priest, a religious profession, vow or sacrament, a guru, a physical talent, a supernatural talent, good luck, God’s favor or (indeed) a miracle (as I knew it then).

So I have been studying the Course for 2 ½ years. I’ve read the Text 5 times and done the workbook twice. I know today that I have found something which no one can take from me. It is internalized. A Course in Miracles is healing for my one basic mistake: I wanted to be special to God. This mistake is the root cause of all my misery which the Course heals at the root level. I’ve started to understand and believe with unshakable conviction the basic concepts.

- The miracle has happened to me and I am a miracle-worker (as defined by the Course).
- I understand forgiveness (as defined by the Course) and I practice it from my heart as the underlying action for all situations happening in my life.
- I have abundance in the holy instant (as defined by the Course).
- I understand my ego as the tiny mad idea which tried to separate itself from God because God would not make it special.
- I have forgiven God (as the Course defines it). It says we must forgive God. This means we have to look beyond what this world teaches us about God. We need to look beyond the tiny mad idea who thinks God hates it because it is not special. We need to look beyond our fear of God. God is only love.

I don’t need enlightenment anymore. I have inner peace. I have freedom from the tiny mad idea, ego. I live in the holy instant. I am a miracle-worker. Enlightenment is not a goal but a way of life. I don't need to be special. Ahhhh! Freedom from the ego's quest for divine specialness has released me from its torture chamber. And, free from prison, I find myself automatically in the sun light of the spirit. And that is it, nothing more.

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