So You Think You’re Enlightened. You’re Not.

In Beastly & Beautiful, Personal Development, Psychology by Louisa Leontiades

I got in a fight the other day. A couple was arguing and the man was shaking the woman as she was screaming and trying to run away. I inserted myself into the middle of them (literally and figuratively) and shouted at him to let her go. He could have hit me. It wasn’t my most enlightened move. But that’s because I’m not enlightened.

I know a lot of people who believe they are enlightened. They, like me, tend to work in self-help and personal development. Many of them call themselves goddesses and read tarot or angel cards. They also believe that their path is to enlighten other people. It is this which shows me quite plainly that they are not enlightened. Because the way these people use the word ‘enlightenment’ is just one more way to designate their superiority. And I admit, that when you are determined to do everything you can to develop personally, it’s difficult to see those around you who appear to be content with doing nothing to better themselves or to change the world. If you believe that the purpose of life is to grow spiritually, then you will also wonder at some point why other people aren’t doing it. I know, I’ve not only been there. I am still there.

It’s a struggle for me to see people playing their victim games when I am in that superior mood, right before I hop on board of another game myself and play the rescuer – she who is destined to save the world and powerless victim –  of those who just don’t care about it. Yes I still do it. I am still a game player. It means I am not enlightened nor do I want to be.

The ‘Polarities’ Game

The universal thing about minds is that they like to play games. I’ll call this one the ‘polarities’ game. These polarities are inventions of the mind for the purpose of being right (or better, or superior). To be right about something the mind picks an issue or a person or a group of people and defines the sides of the issue. It determines one side to be right (or better, or superior) and the other side to be wrong. Polarities are the stuff of which prejudice, opinion, position and judgement are made. The process of polarization could be considered the foundation of all wars, politics and division.

Any position your mind takes, calls into being its polar opposite. The wrong way exists simply because you have defined it as being wrong. Polarization prevents communication and closes compassion.  Whenever you seek to make someone or something wrong, you create the other side where people play to make you wrong. You become the victim of your own persecution.

To my mind, the only point of defining ‘unenlightened’ people then is to create a position for the mind to satisfy its need to be right. The point is to create division between you and them. To make them inferior and you superior.

It is a game that those who believe they are enlightened play from a position of denial and judgement. Often it’s the move from active judgement where your intrusions create severe drama in yours and others’ lives, and passive judgement where the consequences are exclusivity, loneliness and superiority. Or indeed an attempt to get in with the ‘in-group’. The enlightened ones. Passive judgement is often mistaken by those who practice it, as acceptance and enlightenment. Clearly it isn’t, it’s bullshit.

It takes huge and ongoing effort on my part to remember that this is bullshit. Because there is something you can do about polarization. It takes two to tango. You don’t create the people who play, but if you create a position, people will play. People will also make you part of their polarization process. They will seek to put you in the position of persecutor so that they can play the victim.

You can call bullshit on enlightenment. You can instead observe, and accept. Does that even work in real life?

After the fight I told my boyfriend about it and he said teasing me ~

‘So you automatically assumed that she was right and he was wrong.’

‘No.’ I replied. ‘I saw that she was about to be hit and tried to prevent it.’

But he had called me out. I denied what he had seen. I thought that what the man in the couple was doing, was wrong. In that instant where I saw his fist clenched and her arm turning pink from being pinched in his grip I thought it was wrong. And I chose to try and stop it. Then later I saw that it was my judgement of the situation which had prompted my act and consequence of it. And didn’t regret it. Afterwards I hoped that perhaps I had given them a bit more space to be able to communicate and stop playing their own divisive games.

I’m not trying to pretend that we don’t exist in a world where we haven’t created all these polarities. They exist because we have created them. The fact that they are artificial doesn’t mean that there are not acts and consequences. They had created the positions of victim and persecutor. But I don’t believe that ‘acceptance’ means doing fuck all about it. Acceptance is observation of life and suspension of judgement. Even of yourself. It’s not the same thing as sitting on your arse.

It’s not what I do or don’t do which reflects my acceptance. I accept that my mind makes judgements but that they don’t really mean anything. I accept that for that instant and without judgement, that I played in their game. If they were the victim and the persecutor, I played the rescuer. The roles exist as a matter of survival. Acceptance then is the observation of life without doing anything differently (at first). Notice your games. Notice that they are games. It will contribute compassion to your communication and effectiveness to your actions because you won’t have to take it personally.

A Lesson in Zen from Patrick Swayze…

Steve: Being called a cocksucker isn’t personal?
Dalton: No. It’s two nouns combined to elicit a prescribed response.
Steve: What if somebody calls my mama a whore?
Dalton: Is she?

Patrick Swayze ~ Road House

(Yes, real life in my mind is a bar full of fit blokes who do martial arts and listen to great music. They do not, by all accounts, sit around on their arses).

Because if you don’t carry negative moral judgement about the word whore, if you don’t designate it as bad, then what is intended as an insult, will not be an insult. It’s the meaning you give to the word which creates the insult. It’s the ‘wrong’ position you put the other person in which means you and your mind will fight to be ‘right’. You are ultimately and wholly responsible for your experience of life. When you’re fighting for your survival that’s no easy task…

I’m trying to notice that when I experience something as bad, it is my choice. I’m not trying to be enlightened, I’m trying to reframe my experience. Not to make it good because that makes my old self (and others who do the same stuff) bad,  just to see how I, and we, act and make my choices more conscious. I learn as much as I can about the possible consequences of my actions given the games we play. I observe and accept them so that I can consciously choose my acts, accept their consequences and my experience of them. Enlightenment is not my goal. And if you choose to make it so, then you will only succeed thinking a whole bunch of other people are inferior. Which is kind of against the whole point.