By Caroline Knight
There are many who claim to be ‘awake’. Awakening is a personal process. It is very difficult to measure where you are in that process – there are no official milestones, and although you may be able to discern general levels of consciousness, it is a mistake to think that we can judge another’s capacity or position fully.
The word ‘enlightenment’ is bandied about like some holy grail of attainment at which we’ll finally have ‘cracked it’. But who can claim to be enlightened? Who can be so certain that there is nowhere else to go, nothing else to learn? From where I’m standing, that doesn’t seem to fit with the way of the universe: constant change and evolution. We can revere others so much because their knowledge, actions and awareness seem to surpass our own significantly. Thus we call them enlightened. Yet we do so only because we can’t fully understand where they are at. They seem mystical to us; people to be admired, followed, and promoted. Why does it not occur to us that to judge another as enlightened, we too must be equally ‘enlightened’?
Besides, who says that version of enlightenment is the ‘right’ one? We should stop seeking enlightenment; it’s too abstract a goal. We would be better placed to accept where we naturally are, no clock-watching, no overestimation of development... no superiority complexes. Seeking ultimately leads to finding, but at a pace that will be set by experience and gutsy honesty, not ego.
Intelligent curiosity and political discernment don’t guarantee growth
A lot of people do seem to overestimate their level of spiritual development. Having the intelligence and curiosity to ask questions and discern negative political agendas, as well as feeling immovable ‘morality’, does not automatically equate to compassion, spiritual growth or awareness.
One thing I have noticed - and I see it as part of a path to awakening to deeper spiritual truths if the mind is open enough - is the amount of finger pointing at the ‘bad guys’ in the world; at the formidable and oppressive machine. I used to do it myself, so I’m not saying there are no bad guys, but there is an unhealthy reason that we spend so much time focusing on what's wrong outside; be it politics, war, corporate domination, consumerism, starvation, etc. These things are real, and there’s nothing wrong with disliking them. That's how we find our orientation in life. But our focus and attitude dictates how detrimental or positive the impact of our actions is.
One man’s moral is another man’s immoral
Morality is another interesting concept. Morality is even subjective, dependent on culture, which in turn is an instilled behavioural complex that affects us more than we can probably imagine. It is often the case that one man’s morality is another man’s unforgivable breach, depending on what your culture dictates.
Morality would be better placed in life as a personal orientation rather than something we impose on others. I know my moral orientations very well. Is it helpful, though, for me to dedicate my life to putting everybody right who doesn’t have such tenacious grip on their orientation?
I can go around highlighting that people do bad things all day long, pulling them up on it. It is my compassion for victims that urges me to do this, but is it helpful? In the big picture, surely my anger could be channeled better, so that my own example becomes an inspiration instead of me acting like a righteous dictator? I can still be honest about how I see things, of course.
If we examine our morality and find that it is truly based in compassion and the desire to help other beings and the world, then that’s a positive thing. Even the Buddhists admit that anger has a very useful place in the world if used wisely. That’s not so when our morality is aggressively used to spread anger, fear and despair because we so badly want to ‘wake up’ others, ultimately forcing the directions of our own moral compass on them. To do this is to condemn others’ freedom of choice. I may not like what they do, but do I owe it to the world to put ‘right’ everyone who is going ‘wrong’, or simply to live by example so that they can see there is another way and choose it for themselves? It can feel like a tough call, and it takes discernment to know how and when to say what you think.
Division or resolution? There are many layers to the onion…
What this boils down to is division versus solution. If we are going to create the world we really want, we need to be realistic. Complaining about it isn't going help us or anyone else. Every time we get angry with someone else for not 'seeing things as they are’, we’re feeding the problem of division, not encouraging resolution.
We can use our discomfort with the world’s issues to motivate us to create the reality we really want. Without this ‘big squeeze’ - the heightened negative occurrences in the world - how would you even know what you need to do? Nobody else is going to fix it for us, so telling others to ‘wake up’ is misguided; especially when done contemptuously. It's you, your constructive actions and your positive examples that count.
We are very quick to assume that we can see things as they are where others can’t, and it leads to frustration. If you’re honest, how many times in your life did another layer come off the onion and allow you to realign your perspective a little? Many, I would imagine. So who is to say more layers aren’t waiting to come off? We have to give others the time to develop at their own pace. Compassion says so. How can we be compassionate toward the Earth if our compassion toward the humans on it is dependent upon the rate of their spiritual progression?
We are not separate from the Earth. We were born on it, we are part of it. We are not separate entities, bouncing on its surface. The Earth has intelligence far beyond that which our human minds can comprehend. Maybe the Earth is like a mother who feels sad watching her children fight? It’s food for thought, at least. We cannot continue to be angry with each other for ‘lack of awareness’ if we are to bring in a new paradigm.
The monster wants us to think that it is big
Remember that the monster wants us to think that it is big. This is why we see more negative 'news' - even on social media - than we do positive. It appears that problems are insurmountable and that we’re going down on a sinking ship. But consider this: every time we share info/misinfo/disinfo (we can't always be certain which) about the world’s problems, we are doing the same job as the mainstream news - spreading fear, hate and despair.
Yes, it may 'wake up' a few, but what if every single person who 'woke up' to the world’s problems responded in the same way? It’s not hard to see where that would go wrong. So who really needs to do the waking? Maybe we all need to wake up a little more - to physics, the field of all potential outcomes, and how we are collectively creating this reality - and then we'll be better equipped to resolve our problems.
Earnest seeking will bring you the answers you need. Angry finger pointing will not. When we come to realise this and turn within, the journey really starts. This is why people come to plant medicines. They want to go within, and see what they are made of. This is the Earth’s chance to commune with us, to speak to us. It’s funny how, through her intelligent plants, she finds a way to teach us this simple truth. The way I see it, she is trying to let us know that we must have more compassion, if we are to create the world we so badly want; for ourselves, for others, and ultimately for all.