… the trick is getting in touch with this truth so that you feel it.
By Seamus Anthony
If you read a lot of Zen stuff, enlightenment stuff, you’ll come across the idea that we are all inherently enlightened, and I believe that this is true.
But also true is that most people don’t usually feel anything like they’re enlightened at all.
In fact most people either don’t even know what enlightenment is or they believe that it’s something “up there” that they cannot hope to achieve. Well, we’re not the first but we at Rebel Zen are here to tell you that it is true – you ARE enlightened but you just don’t know it yet.
Getting in Touch with Your Inherent Enlightenment
At the core of your being, underneath all of the emotions, moods, thoughts, opinions, and physical sensations is your True Self or your soul. Your True Self knows that it is one with all of creation, the Universe, God. It exists in a permanent state of peace that cannot be shaken even when you are in the midst of the worst possible crises imaginable. It is NOT the part of you that freaks out because somebody is pointing a gun at your head (or more likely, because the new guy in the office is using your favourite damn coffee mug). This part of you, much more readily accessible, is your ego.
So how can you get in touch with your True Self? Here’s some ideas:
- Forget All of Your Assumptions About What Enlightenment Actually Is
The reason I never turn to strangers at the pub and say “Hi, I’m Seamus and I’m enlightened” is because I don’t really want to be branded a complete tosser, such are most people’s assumptions about what it means to be enlightened.But the truth is I do consider myself to ‘be enlightened’ and so are you. The difference between me, and some really advanced spiritual practitioner, and your average crack-addict street thug is that I fall in the middle there somewhere in terms of being in touch with my True Self.
What this means in practical terms is that I spend most of my time being aware of the calm, expansive, connected-to-the-universe part of me and am able to tap into this to be a very calm, confident, disgustingly chirpy individual most of the time.
And then sometimes I lose touch with that and blow my stack, or become overcome with fear or get the blues. But increasingly less as my ability to walk in the light grows.
Sorry I know phrases like “walk in the light” are pretty lame but it is sometimes hard to describe such an intangible feeling without resorting to cliches. (And besides, it’s getting late and I wanna watch a DVD, ok?)
- Learn To Meditate:
This may not be groundbreaking news for every reader of this blog, but for newbies it is the logical place to start.When you meditate you quieten the loud voices of the ego, move out of ‘fight or flight response’ and learn to increase your awareness of a deeper calmer You underneath all that noise and emotion. This chilled-out version of you goes by many names, I prefer True Self. I go into more detail about this ‘most bodacious’ aspect of You later in this list.
It goes beyond the scope of this post to teach you how to meditate, but there’s plenty of instruction out there. If you don’t already meditate, make a note to investigate this further later because once you know how to meditate then you will be able to …
- Realise that Existence is Just An Onion …
Okay, I’m being funny, but what I mean here is twofold. The first meaning is that if you want to experience your inherent enlightenment (and believe me you can) then you’ll need to peel back the ‘onion layers’ of your mind to find the still, calm ‘space of good feeling’ that lies at the core of your being. This is where your True Self abides. Again, more on the True Self laterThe second level to the onion wisecrack is…
- Discover That Life Is Just A Zany Dream.
I know that people feel real pain and hunger and that on a practical level this sort of flippant New Age talk may not do the disadvantaged any immediate good*, but nevertheless, on a philosophical level, we all grow up to believe that we know What Life Is.We can see it, right? It’s right in front of us. We read about it. We are animals on a planet in a galaxy in the universe.
Hello! We DON’T know What Life Is and for all we know we could be little bugs living inside a gigantic onion. And hey! Maybe that enormous onion is about to be sliced up and sprinkled over some kind of unfathomable cosmic pizza and slid into a big, hot quantum oven!
Ok. Probably not. But still, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that we know what it’s all about. We don’t. And we never will. And enlightenment is about knowing that we don’t know, not suddenly knowing all the secrets to the meaning of life.
That’s all she wrote about that, dude, so don’t believe the hype. Gurus who tell you that they know all the answers need to read the next point…
- Keep A Leash On Your Ego:
Realise that your ego doesn’t need to freak out every time something happens. It is healthy and normal to get upset when you’re in the midst of a car crash, it is not healthy to lose it when somebody else steals the sweet car park nearest the supermarket doors. Your ego is an idiot (so is mine by the way) and needs to be kept on a leash like my big dumb dog does. Otherwise, like my dog, your ego will go and crap in the worst possible spot right when everybody is looking. It’ll go jumping up at strangers and stealing candy bars off children.But how to you control your ego?
- Become Aware That Your Ego Is Not All Of You:
It’s just a part of you, and a bit of a stupid part too. An evolutionary throwback that unfortunately most people in this world still let run the show. Really, on an emotional level, humans as a collective species are pretty much operating at the level of cavemen (albeit cavemen with really impressive toys).Become aware that you can observe your ego even when it is going about its usual business. If you practice you can even take a step back into True Self while your ego is throwing a hissy-fit and actually observe “yourself” having a tanty with a sense of wry, detached humour. Which part of you stops you from murdering your husband when you are having a row? Not your ego that’s for sure.
I put “yourself” in quotes because we often make the mistake of thinking that “I lost my temper”. The whole of you did not lose your temper, only the ego did, it’s just that most of us have been raised to fully identify with that little bit of our minds even though it actually makes no sense to do so.
Know that there’s a wide, expansive, calm, intelligent part of your mind quietly waiting for you to come home to it and hear what it has to say. Your True self.
The ego is loud and demanding. It’s impatient. The True Self is quiet and patient. It knows that it makes no difference if the ego gets what it wants or not because in the end your True self is eternal, only the ego faces certain death.
- Realise that Only the Ego dies, but your True Self is eternal.
The True Self is eternal because it is a seamless part of the whole and we all know that when ‘we’ die, the Whole goes on. Part of the reason the ego behaves the way it does is because it knows it is going to die and it HATES that idea. You may also feel a bit scared at times about dying, but know that your True Self goes on, just your ego dies when your physical body expires.Logic tell me that conscious awareness of myself as an individual therefore ceases then too, but of course my ego likes to believe that I will still ‘be me’ afterwards; that I will be like “Oh, I am still here, my True Self, just off on a nice fuzzy journey somewhere new.”
Hey – maybe. But then again, maybe not.
Hell, what do I know?
We’ll all find out soon enough I guess but meantime…
- Deliberately Notice How Magical Life Is Again
I think part of growing older can be that we forget to see this natural world that we live in as it really is: an incredible miracle full of mystery, magic and wonder.Just look at your hand! Look at your cat! Look at anything and see again, like you would have when you were a child, what an incredible, amazing, wondrous mystery Life is.
Part of finding true, deep and lasting happiness is learning to live in the moment as much as you can and when you are living in the present, you cannot fail but to see how incredible it all is. It’s like you develop a kind of mild super-power of the eyes. It actually reminds me of when I was younger and silly enough to drop the odd tab of acid, not that I am recommending that (it’s unhealthy for the body) but anyway, those who have been there will know that I am talking about a Way of Seeing that brings you acute awareness of the pure magic that surrounds us everyday.
If you are thinking “What is this freakin’ hippy on about? I am looking around me now and all I see is my Dad’s butt-crack as he bends over to get at the last beer in the fridge (and there’s nothing magical about that let me tell you)” then I advise you to learn to meditate and especially try meditating on nature. Just sit there and stare at a beautiful flower for half an hour or as long as it takes before you suddenly get what I mean. Then look around you. Even your Dad’s arse will look better from then on.
And whether life is feeling magical to you or not at all …
- Be Grateful for Your Chance At Life
And be grateful for all the things in your life. Even those things you would sooner live without.We’ve all got aspects of our lives that we would rather just disappeared and I don’t know how it works but I have found that if you consciously practice gratitude for everything in your life, even the ‘bad’ stuff, you will more easily and more often connect with your True Self and enjoy the fruits of your inherent enlightenment: peace of mind and deep happiness.
If you are having trouble with the idea of being grateful for your hemorrhoids then …
- Practice Non-Judgement
Every time you judge something as “bad” you disconnect yourself from the flow of the Universe, from your True Self. This can be a very, very hard skill to put into practice and I doubt you or I will ever manage to practice non-judgement 100% of the time. For instance I’d be happy to bet a dollar that if I were to poke you in the eye, you’d judge that as a pretty crap move on my behalf. And this inherent tendency is useful on a level. If you remained impartial about oncoming buses or falling pianos then you wouldn’t be around very long!But it is amazing how much angst we put ourselves through by taking such strong stands against minor things. Things like “what she said” or “what he did” or even truly small things like “I don’t like brussel sprouts” (guilty of that one myself).
Fuck it. Eat the sprouts. Forget what she said. Dismiss what he did. Don’t waste your energy and time getting all pent up over it when you could be experiencing the peace and joy of enlightenment, or, for that matter, a Mars Bar.
Judgment causes a disconnect between your consciousness and your True Self, who is at peace with all and judges nothing. So next time it rains, catch yourself hunching up and frowning. Truly, be still! What does it matter? Is rain a bad thing? No way! You know that. It’s awesome! It isn’t acid; it’s a life giving miracle! So stand up straight and revel in it until you get to the bus shelter, and you will have proven to yourself that you truly are a fully enlightened soul. Enjoy that feeling, and gratefully share it around 🙂
*BTW – Metaphysical discourse, or fluffy New Age talk, may not be much use when you’re starving or in the middle of a war, BUT if the majority of people realised their inherent enlightenment then such problems would disappear because all those overblown egos that cause all of these problems would lose their hold on the puppet strings of power. That’s why we must strive to help people get in touch with their True Selves, because if we eventually reach critical mass, then we finally WILL solve the problems of the world. And maybe the new Age of Connectivity is going to herald that change. Make it so.