Enlightenment at Paneras
It was Easter week. The restaurant was more crowded than normal. Patrons werefrenetically vying for free tables. A family of six made its way to a large booth. The mother seated a four-year old child at the end of the booth. The food and drinks were carefully set on the table with a tall glass of milk in front of the child. As the boy reached for the too-large glass, it tipped over. A river of milk flowed across the table. The boy looked up in terror, expecting a tongue lashing from one of the adults. Instead of drama and chaos, the father reached for a stack of napkins, gave the boy a gentle smile and said, "Oh oh, let's clean that up!" The little boy's shoulders relaxed, relief visible on his face. The other adults continued eating as though nothing had happened.
I thought of that incident when Spirit of Maatasked me to write an article for the "Path to Enlightenment." It can be a grandiose topic. Google has 37 million entries on the subject. It frightens some people while it motivates others. To many, it feels like a "destination" on the path. So, what is enlightenment? Who has it? How did they get it? How do I become enlightened?
Enlightenment paths are varied. Some teach the way to enlightenment is to go to the mountains, find a cave, and meditate twelve hours a day. Others presentpractices guaranteed to cause enlightenment as though the act of enlightenment is the goal. Some travel all over the world in search of it. They think that through other cultures a magical elixir will bring it to them. It's even a business model for many New Age seminars and workshops.
The subject isn't far from the hearts or minds of conscious thinkers. But before bottoming out on the countless potholes on the road to enlightenment, stop a moment and reflect. Enlightenment is a character trait. It's how one behaves during an altercation. Enlightenment is inner wisdom. It's how one perceives an event, looking at the whole effect rather than the pieces. Enlightenment is spiritual maturity. It's how one interprets teachings and uses the teachings for the benefit of all. Enlightenment is the daily living of life with consciousness and integrity. Enlightenment is holding a compassionate, peaceful demeanor, no matter the circumstances.
The path to getting there? Not so easy! It requires discipline. It requires desire. It requires a commitment. How to get there? It's a very personal journey. Only the individual can determine what path to take amid the hundreds presented over the course of a lifetime. It's not a one-size-fits-all path. And it's not an actual destination. It's simply the path.
Thousands of years ago a master teacher, was asked "How do I become enlightened?" He answered, "Chop wood and carry water." A subtle, holy consciousness exists in the chopping of wood and the carrying of water. Whether the path takes you to a mountain cave of silence or to the active life of a house-holder, consciousness is ever present. Recognizing that consciousness and being mindful of it as often as you can, is the path to enlightenment.
The father who simply cleaned up the river of milk spilled by his son, was the mirror of enlightenment. In the midst of potential chaos he maintained calm and peacefulness. His behavior displayed sweet compassion towards his son. And his behavior allowed the rest of his dining companions, to eat without incident. His peacefulness affected not just his table but all those tables around him. He may not have been conscious of his own enlightened behavior, but to this observer he personified it. He was chopping wood and carrying water, and on the very path of enlightenment.
Jo Mooy - June 2015