We're all on the path to enlightenment,says relationships counsellor Dr Charmaine Saunders.We can learn the hard way, or we can embrace the process.She offers her guidance.
Enlightenmentis consciousness. Enlightenment is wisdom. Enlightenmentis spiritual awareness.
There are many paths to this state of being. Some aredeliberate, chosen; others, we find ourselves on justthrough the business of living and the daily choiceswe make. The latter is the more painful route, the roadnot chosen. We've all been through it in one way oranother, regardless of our age, lifestyles or life experience.A crisis, a tragedy, a death, a loss -- any of thesecan force enlightenment upon us and yes, the rewardsare deep and rich but earned the painful way.
I for one prefer to learn my lessons as effortlesslyas possible so that's what I put out to the Universeat the start of each new month, each new year, eachsolar return (birthdays)-- may I learn my lessons painlessly.Since I've begun asking, my prayer has been greetedwith a measure of clarity that indeed allows me to garnerwhatever insight I'm meant to have more quickly andeasily. I no longer have to experience all the angst,dramas and prolonged emotional catharsis I used to.The challenges still come, of course, because I'm aliveand here and a human being, but I see them differently.When we look back at the particularly dark periods ofour past and revisit the loneliness, isolation, confusion,hopelessness, self pity, the sheer hurt, we wonder howwe got through it and straightaway also comes the memoryof the gifts that accompanied even the worst agonies.
We humans are magnificent, beautifully flawed, braveand spirited, most of all, resilient. Enlightenmentis worth whatever we have to do to get it. But the smartway is to choose it, embrace the process, whether itbe traditional religion, Eastern religion, Yoga, meditation,New Age principles, bodywork, whatever path appealsto you. Don't try to understand it intellectually; surrenderto it. I've had Kinesiology a few times and couldn'texplain it if my life depended on it but it works. So,when I lie down on the practitioner's table, I let goand trust. I've done Yoga, studied astrology, numerologyand Buddhism. I'm a traveller, a seeker, a student oflife and I will never stop learning till I leave theplanet. Am I enlightened? Certainly not all the way,but I see the light firmly ahead and I 'm always walkingtowards it. That's what enlightenment means to me.
Why then, if we're all directly or indirectly beingled to enlightenment, is there so much unhappiness inthe world? Fear. Resistance. And more fear. Even whenwe're shown the light, we still have to know it's lightwe're seeing. Some only see darkness and that darknessblocks out the sun and everything that is good.
How then can we seek and sustain enlightenment ina world gone mad with materialism, technology and competition,one that is riddled with fear and insecurity?
Here are some of the things that have helped me:
Acceptance takes away judgement and therefore enablesthe light to come through. Anything that takes usaway from the light, from our truest selves, suchas fear, control, self doubt, hatred, anger, conflict,negative thinking, should be avoided. In the light,we can flourish, spiritually, psychologically andemotionally. Acceptance brings with it a sense ofpeace and serenity because we put down all that fatiguesus, all the fighting and arguing over differences,all one upmanship. What differences? Acceptance wipesthem all out and only radiates love.
Detachment is directly related to acceptance becausewhen we detach from judgement, we start becoming moreobjective about other things too. I always suggestto my counselling clients that as we grow and changemore, gain more interior wisdom, we can start becomingobservers of our own lives. In this way, we step outof emotional responses that might lead us astray.Indeed, we become truly enlightened, able to makewiser choices, know our true hearts and drop our defences.
PEACE OF MIND
This is really the foundation of all happiness andthus, enlightenment. Without peace of mind, everythingis difficult; with it, everything is possible. Itis absolutely imperative to all areas of health andwellbeing. It stems from self acceptance and feelingcomfortable in one's own skin, feeling complete andin harmony.
Fear is the antithesis of trust. It engenders controland defensiveness. When we trust, we are totally opento life, willing to surrender the reins and knowingthat all is good and we are safe. What could be brighterthan that?
Almost all topics in NOVA lead to love. That's becauseit is the living ingredient in all our endeavoursand certainly in the quest for enlightenment. Loveis enlightenment and enlightenment is love.
Remember love resides inside each of us which meanswe can never be without it. So the ultimate enlightenmentis within. We have an inner sanctuary which is nothingbut light and we have access to it 24/7.
Joy also emanates from love and flows from the lifeforce,and is thus, again, a birthright and constantly availableto us.
The astrologer, Jonathan Cainer, says, "Whenthe light of happiness is shining, sadness simplyhas to disappear." I see enlightenment as anumbrella that shields from us darkness and ignorance,protects all that is good in life.
Now we know what brings us to enlightenment, maybewe should consider how to best reach it by choicerather than wait for it to be thrust upon us. Hereis a blueprint based on the counselling process Iuse and that you can apply in your own life.
MOVING PAST DENIAL
Just the act of asking for help seems to have a magicaleffect. We know that acknowledgement of a problembrings us halfway to solving it. But how does counsellinghelp, specifically? There's the obvious benefit ofventing, expressing feelings and basically just unloading.After this happens, there can be a sense of euphoria,but then the hard work begins. There can be no healingwithout pain, not because we can't learn lessons joyfully,but rather because the pain itself is the cure. Wehave to delve deep to where the truth lies, wherepain is and salvation too.
UNDERSTANDING THE PAST
It begins with confronting the past. Childhood hasa lot of information for us. It's not about blameor dwelling on old hurts, but rather to look at theinfluence of our childhoods on our current lives,our choices, feelings, behaviours, actions, relationships,everything. As children, we absorb core beliefs aboutliterally everything. These form the patterns by whichwe live as adults and the key belief is the one aboutourselves which, in turn, dictates our self value.We can't know what beliefs are at the conscious level,but we can ascertain what they are by looking at thelives we lead. Poor health, relationships, work life,financial affairs, home life and so on tell us a lotabout our self image and what from the past is harmingus. Once we identify the problem areas, we can workto release the patterns
that are negatively driving us.
EMBRACING OUR POLARITIES
We are not one dimensional. We are made up of a massof polarities.
Part of self acceptance is embracing the many opposingqualities that make up our personalities. If we onlylove the positive parts of ourselves, we are in judgementand thus, not self accepting. It's hugely liberatingto see our light and dark aspects and love it all,to walk in balance between the two energies with nopreference. That is true psychological health. Whenwe love ourselves unconditionally, we also stop judgingothers - enlightenment.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
We can't live free, pure, enlightened lives untilwe synthesise past and present, exorcise the old demonsand stand proudly in our imperfections. This processis arduous, lonely, even frightening. But what wegain is literally priceless. More than a new beginning,more than life change, more than emotional and psychologicalfreedom. Spiritually, we are already perfect, butwe're not here on the planet to be anything otherthan human. That is the whole point and our journeyson Earth are about growth and lessons and healing.Our stories may differ, but that experience doesn'tultimately vary.
So, going back to the beginning, the three definitionsfor enlightenment I offered -
consciousness: substitute the word awareness. Awarenessis the beginning of all enlightenment. Without it, weare most definitely in the dark. Self knowledge andflexibility opens the door to further exploration andpositive change.
wisdom: here I see the absence of hatred, bigotry, judgement,conflict, pettiness, competitiveness, limitation. Noenlightened person engages in these. Instead, there'scompassion, love, honesty, forgiveness and empathy.
spiritual awareness: from consciousness comes wisdomand then spiritual awareness. We're all spiritual frombirth, but awareness of our spirituality is somethingelse. There might need to be some effort expended tocome to this realisation in the same way as counsellingor bodywork or yoga or meditation brings us to betterself knowledge. Living intuitively and in trust changeseverything.
Life becomes experiential, experimental, daring, adventurous.
That's what living in light is all about.
Welcome to enlightenment.