Richard Dama, LPC, Counseling & Clinical Hypnotherapy

Welcome to Enlightenment…Wipe Your Feet

Hello my friends; it’s been a while since I posted a blog, but the time hasn’t been spent lolling about collecting dust. I have been working on a couple of new projects which have taken up most of my limited free time, but yesterday I had an experience that I just have to share with you.

First, I have started working on an outline for a training/workshop program in which I distilled the previous three years of blogs into several key, unifying ideas. My intention is to delve into those ideas in greater detail and to give some insights, recommendations and interactive exercises intended to help the participants develop a base upon which to build a practice of mindfulness and intentionality. The outline for the project is almost completed and I hope to begin writing in earnest in the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted on developments.

The other project I have been working on is…well…me. I have been taking the time in the early morning that I was using to write the blogs and spending it in meditation, contemplation and just listening to the world with a quiet mind and spirit.

The intent was to spend some time inside my own skin and skull in an attempt to get to know myself better and to understand the tremendous changes that have been occurring inside me since my brush with death two years ago this month.

In the six months immediately after that disaster, I did my best to run from the changes and, failing that, to medicate myself into a state where I was oblivious to the metamorphosis that was taking place. There came a time however, when I had to stop and face the realization that I had the choice of continuing to hide in a process that would probably eventually kill me, or I could choose to straighten up, surrender to the inevitable and go along for the ride. Thanks to the love of my wife, family and office partner, I came to realize that only real choice was to clean up my act and allow the changes to occur in their own time and in their own way.

The thing is that once I stopped running and turned to face my fate, I was amazed and delighted to discover that I actually liked the person I was becoming. This new person was peaceful, tolerant, empathetic and truly compassionate to those around him and most importantly of all, to himself. I had always thought that I was living the advice I was giving to my clients and sharing with you in these blogs, but I quickly found that understanding the concepts and the practices I was espousing was completely different from actually living them in daily life.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t feel that I was being a hypocrite before; telling you to do one thing and doing something completely different myself. I was in fact, doing my best to put into practice the tenets I was advocating, but I came to realize that the practices were just that, practices; exercises that truly felt good and produced positive results, but I was also becoming frustrated with the knowledge that I had to do more to ingrain the reality of those practices into the very core of my being.

I spent (and am continuing to spend) time studying the wisdom contained in several ancient spiritual practices from different parts of the world. What I have discovered is that the 45 years I had spent in Zen prepared me well to understand and assimilate knowledge and wisdom (two completely different things) contained in other ancient and time honored philosophies. I found that the similarities were much more common than the differences and that led me to begin to follow and experiment with ideas that truly resonated with my soul. Again, the results have been amazing.

Most of my staff have sought me out to tell me of the changes they have witnessed emerging within me. For example, I have always been intensely focused on setting and then accomplishing a tactical objective with as much intensity and drive as I could muster. Now however, I am told that I am much more laid back and tolerant of those who take a while to understand the objective and why I deem it important to pursue. I’ve found that in many cases, it wasn’t that they weren’t invested in the goal, but rather they either didn’t understand the process I was proposing or that they had a better idea of implementation, but my personal intensity intimidated them into silence.

I have also found that by experiencing the world with an open heart and mind that I have developed an intuition and sense of empathy and compassion that I didn’t know existed before. I seem to continuously surprise my staff and clients by genuinely listening to them, then checking in with them to ensure I truly understood their position. I have found that this process has led to flashes of insight that not only validate their positions, but more often than not, shed light on aspects of their ides that even they hadn’t considered.

As I said earlier, yesterday I had a truly transcendent experience from which I am still reeling. I was deep in meditation when a thought occurred to me; “What is enlightenment and how will I recognize it when I see it?” Of course, not having been enlightened I couldn’t even begin to answer the question. Then I decided to take another direction and asked myself, “if I ever manage to find enlightenment, how will my life and choices be different?’ At that point, the answer became glaringly and painfully obvious; they wouldn’t be different at all. I would still make the same choices and probably experience many mistakes. Enlightenment doesn’t mean you suddenly get a halo and carried up to some celestial realm, it simply means that you accept yourself, others and the world exactly as they are.

Suddenly I was everywhere, everyone and everything. I truly felt and understood the beauty and love of the interconnectedness of all things. The magnitude of this revelation is impossible to put into words, because if words could convey it, it would be on bookshelves everywhere.

The experience only lasted a moment; probably less than a second, but it’s power and beauty are still echoing in every fiber of my being.

Enlightenment for me in that moment, also became the knowledge that spiritual awakening isn’t a ‘get out of shit free card.’ Shit will still happen, because that’s the way the world works and cannot possibly work any other way. What enlightenment does allow is for you to truly understand at your most central and primal core that life is, always has been and will always be about accepting your circumstances with unconditional love, and compassion and not to worry about the current state of affairs and your choices. You make the best decision with the information and intuition you have and then release the emotional attachment to those things and go about life as usual.

There are two quotes regarding enlightenment that became so obviously and painfully true that then and only then did I grasp the true profundity of the words. First, “There are only two ways to react to enlightenment; first with tears and then with laughter.” The second is, “Before I was enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water. After enlightenment, I chop wood and carry water.”

The truth is that searching for enlightenment is like fighting for peace; they’re mutually exclusive experiences. Especially since you are already a fully enlightened being that is trying to find something you never lost in the first place.

Enlightenment comes only after you can completely visualize and viscerally feel the experience and what you will do with it once you have it, then when you are convinced that it will never happen to you, to truly let go of the idea and find peace in the present moment; the here and now. That’s why when you have completely surrendered to the impossibility of the proposition, will you be in the right mindset and soul place for enlightenment to show itself from deep within you.

I am not claiming that I’m an enlightened being. I do however, believe that I had a truly spiritual experience that allowed me a glimpse of the universal truth. I know how beautiful existence is looking at it through enlightened eyes and I want that experience again and to never lose it. However, now I also know that as long as I hold that belief and longing, that it will just delay the reunion with that state of consciousness.

Who said that god/nature doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Here’s hoping you have an intestinally great and enlightening day.

Rich

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