Dawn of Enlightenment

Jagged edges distort my view.
Thus I polish roughness with repetition.
As I shine, my source beams through.

A creator playing amongst his parts.
Trinity of author, actor, and audience.
Power surges from regular remembrance.

While in character, forgetfulness reigns.
Self-imposed fog blinds and binds.
Roots buried beneath a mirage.

Only when pausing, do I perceive.
I am no pawn to be played.
I am the programmer.

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Middle Path

What are we looking for when we begin an activity? We’re looking to get lost in the activity. We’re looking to become so captivated that we forget everything but the task at hand — and so focused that we block out everything except what’s in front of us. That’s pretty much true with existence too. Life ensnares our attention to keep us constantly engaged. And if we step back a bit we can recognize the artificial process powering the spectacle — we can see there’s an underlying narrative to life.

Ordinarily we don’t need to think about the mechanics of a game, we just play it. But what happens when we become too overwhelmed by the intensity of a game, when we take it too seriously? Typically, we’ll fail to enjoy ourselves. The game will become a burden, perhaps even a torturous experience. At that point we could rage-quit, or we could step back a bit, perhaps take some time to understand the fundamentals of the game better and most importantly take a more lighthearted approach.

This is where the path to enlightenment comes in. It’s not some beam that sucks us up into the heavens upon attainment, it’s simply the way in which we learn to better engage with existence. When we develop problems with life itself, it shows we’re taking things much too seriously — we’re spoiling our own gameplay. Enlightenment is what allows us to reset ourselves to the middle, where life is not too somber or too silly (a game played too frivolously is no fun either).

Enlightenment alters our perspective of the world, allowing us to understand the game-like nature of it all. Fears and frustrations melt away as we see the fiction before us. And we like games and stories of all sorts, so no fun is lost along the way — only enhanced. There’s no pressure to perform anymore, the past doesn’t matter, there’s nothing in the future to lose, and we realize that the point of every game is simply the enjoyment we receive from engaging.

Purposeful Path

I would say the purpose of pursing enlightenment is to improve our experience of existing.

For instance, very early this morning I had an unpleasant dream — it woke me up enough to become the beginning of my day. Upon waking though, I said “Aha! Caught you! Trying to captivate me by my dreams again I see! Well it won’t work! I know your tricks….” Then not long after breakfast I watched someone vomit right before my feet. I was briefly captivated once again, but it didn’t take long for me to say, “Aha! Again!? Really!? Well it didn’t work before and it’s not going to work now….”

In other words, I’m not perturbed by things that would have otherwise perturbed me. I see the fiction before me. My question though, is why does life regularly attempt to captivate me in the most unsettling ways? Why can’t it be fun stuff? Why can’t I be enticed to participate by the most fanciful adventures and wondrous delights? Instead, it’s nightmares and puke. I figure my character just isn’t stimulated enough by the cheery stuff.

But I think life is just being lazy though, going for the easy scares instead of the refined amusements. For earthly entertainment, I always select funny or fantasy and stay away from the sad or scary. Perhaps life just isn’t that funny or maybe life’s sense-of-humor is different than mine. I mean who am I to judge, I’m not exactly a ball of laughs to be around. Or maybe the stimuli I receive is simply fulfilling the expectations I harbor about this world.

And it’s true you know, I have pessimistic tendencies. I tend to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. But based on counter-examples, I know my outlook is not fact-based, it’s merely a gloomy perspective. Yet whether I entered existence with a negative attitude or developed one from early circumstances doesn’t matter, it’s time to change it either way. And it’s the pursuit of enlightenment that allows me to do so.

Staying Lit

If you want to be good at something, you do a lot of it, right? You practice. So if you wonder about the difference between enlightened and not-enlightened, just think of the time invested. Enlightenment is not about one-time epiphanies, it’s about constant realizations of who we really are. Enlightenment requires consistency. The path is carved by reframing the world in such a way that circumstances regularly remind us of life’s illusionary nature.

For instance, I spend time detached from daily life contemplating existence, oftentimes noticing the unreality of reality. I spend time fitting life’s dramas into the context of virtuality. I spend time setting traps, noticing when my automatic reactions set them off, reminding me to refocus into mindfulness. I spend time observing myself react to stimuli, purposefully readjusting my perspective when emotions intensify. I spend time connected to my higher self, transcribing words flowing from my thought-stream.

If you want to be enlightened, then you do it, it’s not something you wait for. While alive we’re in constant motion, so wind blows the flame out every time we light it. We must keep it lit. And we do that by constantly engaging with the boundaries of reality. It takes no great mystery-solving skills to perceive the dreamlike nature of existence, it just takes focus. Within the quiet of the mind, the answers tend to pour in — so the first step is to regularly meditate until thoughts are adequately stilled.

Then you listen. But listening isn’t enough as ideas flow in and out while moving throughout the day. Write the ideas down — re-reading them over and over, noticing the overlapping themes. Once they become well-known, apply them to the spectacle taking place before you — use these ethereal ideas to set a new perspective from which to define the world. And once this foundation is established, notice how the world before you brightens.

Short-term Solution

If you’re on the path, you might be wondering what to do in the short-term. The answer is to create a merry atmosphere for those in your immediate surroundings, including yourself. Think of it this way, how can you receive the grandness of life’s bounty if you’re not prepared to receive it? So begin the preparations — ready the room and hang the decorations.

There’s an ambiguity as to whether life proceeds as a pre-set narrative or you directly influence your progression. Yet at the very least you feel as though you have a tiny bit of local influence, so start there — realizing that eventually your sphere of influence might increase. If your own attitude is all you can adjust, do that.

Radiate outwards, spreading cheer and hopefulness. There will be plenty of practice as dark clouds and shadows attempt to supress this lightheartedness. Shine nonetheless. Again and again, drilling day and night, trading dour for delight. There is no mystery on this part of the path, simply keep your little light lit.

Whatever it is you do throughout the day, maintain the playfulness. Pick anything to do and do it, the activity doesn’t matter, it’s the mood that matters. Despite any surrounding storm, keep the beacon blazing. Should it ever dim or extinguish, look within to relight. In the still of the mind, an everlasting light burns bright.

Spirits from Beyond

I was just reading the first part of the 1843 story A Christmas Carol, and found the chain metaphor an interesting one. Scrooge’s deceased partner Jacob Marley was wrapped in chains he forged for himself through earthly endeavors. He toiled ceaselessly in his business and thus wore the fruits of his labor.

As Jesus said: No man can serve two masters: for either he shall hate the one, and love the other, or else he shall lean to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and riches.

And in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says: At the end of time, he, who having abandoned his mortal frame, departeth thinking only of me, without doubt goeth unto me; or else, whatever other nature he shall call upon, at the end of life, when he shall quit his mortal shape, he shall ever go unto it. Wherefore at all times think of me alone and fight. Let thy mind and understanding be placed in me alone, and thou shalt, without doubt, go unto me.

It’s interesting to think we’re creating the chains in this realm that we’ll carry into the next. It reminds us to heed the focus of our time and energy lest we carry a burden we wish not.

At the very least, if we’re to carry chains, we should forge them from the things we adore. Yet in spiritual lore, the goal is to remove the bonds entirely. And we do that by detaching from the fruits of our labor while we endeavor.

We perform action not as a wretched creature lost to life, but as a master actor fulfilling his role on stage, aware of an ever-present audience, and joyfully performing the part we were meant to play.

Dramatic Interpretation

Note the turbulent ties we often have to others. Even with those closest, even with those we’ve known our entire lives, tensions exist. Then there’s the neighbors, fellow students and co-workers, other segments of society — there’s interpersonal discord everywhere we turn.

Note the pangs within every body — ailments disrupting daily life. The highs and lows of our physical condition cause twists and turns within our life’s narrative. Sickness comes and goes, old illnesses fall away while new ones spring up. We’re like constant patients traversing a treadmill of disease.

And within our bodies emotions sway this way and that, directing a path of peace or destruction. Urges and hungers drive us to do things we wouldn’t rationally consent to do. Inspiration enters our head telling us to drastically divert our life for one reason or another.

Across the globe and throughout history certain segments of society progress while others regress. The most wholesome and humane methods of civil management do not always bubble to the top, nor remain in place once established. Instead of universal respect for the whole, humanity remains fractured, with group-worth forever shifting like fashion.

The weather affects our moods and plans. Flooding rain or gale-force wind can alter the course of many lives. Yet even a simple sprinkle can change the day. And through its mighty rumbling or fiery spit, the earth forces itself into the conversation. We cannot keep an even keel, for the elements never allow it.

From this evidence, we can determine that life is drama incarnate. Life is a fictional event designed to maximize dramatic scenes that dazzle our senses and captivate our thoughts. Yet, life is designed in such a way so as to purposefully obscure the obviousness of the fantasy — enhancing the suspense.

If we take time to consider the ongoings before us, the fiction begins to reveal itself. If we sit apart, stilling our mind through the quiet repetition of meditation, we start to notice the manufactured nature of the surrounding tumult. But this glimpse fades fast as circumstances continue crashing into us.

Fatigue also plays its part to obfuscate, as we eventually lose our ability to concentrate. Then in sleep, dreams add random scenes to thoughts, mucking up our understanding. When we awake we forget the significance of what we knew — we’re lost amidst life once again.

But for those too sensitive, those too affected by the intensity of the dramatically flashing lights, its possible to distance oneself from what the senses see long enough to adjust perspective. We must regularly reinforce in our thoughts the underlying goodness of this realm we exist within, appreciating the excitement it provides.

We must see ourselves not as mere creatures of meat hobbling around a rock, but as delighted viewers of a show put on for our behalf. We must do our best to savor the scenes, not retract, reserving judgement until the final curtain falls. We must never be frightened of such a gift given for our enjoyment.

And so life goes on, a theatrical tale filled with an endless array of twists and turns.