Before my Dark Night I equated Enlightenment to Godhood, much in the same way a child equates their parents to a hero. Rather than being an attainable goal, it moved further and further a way, until it was just a twinkling of hope. Like Heaven in the Christian tradition, it became something I suspected was found only after death.
Since then I have begun to redefine this. To rewrite the cultural perceptions I was ingrained with. It is my intention to show that Enlightenment is only as far away as we hold it from ourselves.
Do we need to retreat to a tall mountain to gain wisdom, or can we gain it anywhere? It doesn’t seem very useful to the lay person if you can only see through the illusions by giving up everything- how can you expect everyone in society to abandon everything? So if we want a mass consciousness shift there has to be another way, a rode to Awakening that can be accomplished in this life. One must be willing and curious, but it is not something only a far off God or one of the ancients can achieve.
When I was laying in the hospital the police took me to my mind was still in dream state, in the midst of the spiritual journey I so craved. I hadn’t slept more than a handful of hours over the past week. I’d been listening to so many binaural beats and trying to induce lucid dreams and astral projection. I needed solid rest but, even with the lights dim, my hard hospital mattress and the sterile scent made it impossible to sleep. ‘Was this a vision of my death, my birth- or both?’ I wondered. Maybe both.
I announced to my parents that I was Enlightened, I had Arrived! It was the only explanation. As my consciousness was shifting I kept trying to put other names on it- first I was the next Dali Lama, then I was pregnant with the next Dali Lama, then I was inheriting all of the knowledge of the lineages. I watched YouTube videos of Thich Naht Han, and even though they were in the past I felt he was channeling me, my knowledge, my wisdom. When Masuru Emoto died October 15, 2014, I understood that he was being reborn in me, that he had been an Enlightened being protecting the Earth through prayer, and I was now inheriting his task to heal Earth’s waters. I also accepted Hitler to be reborn within me. I wanted to take all of the forgotten ones, everyone that no one else would accept. I wanted to heal the darkness with unconditional love.
I thought I was pregnant a few times, and in the midst of it told my friend ‘Become Enlightened after you’ve given birth, it makes it way easier.’ Because the changes happening within me were so new and strange I could only see two explanations: I was either pregnant or Enlightened.
My parents wouldn’t believe my Enlightenment. They just kept saying, ‘If you were Enlightened you wouldn’t be acting like this!’ Wouldn’t I though? There were days that I could feel a heart beat hard against my stomach, the feel of the rhythm so visceral I thought certainly this is a child inside of me. I wasn’t pregnant for the record. Someone suggested that maybe I was feeling the heartbeat of the earth. I like that thought.
What I understand of Enlightenment now is that there isn’t just one moment where everything flows in and suddenly you’re there, another plane of existence. Rather, it’s more like being born- you need to be nourished, to grow and learn before you can do much of anything.
During my dark night I lived in the child mind. I felt the craving for the womb. Separations faded so that everything was about me, my growth, my life, my well being. I had many misunderstandings, often stemming from not having any boxes of classifications to put things in. The way a child sees a cartoon and asks if it’s real, that’s how I saw the world. I was a baby Buddha.
I’m still learning, I’m still growing. I’ll be a 3 year old Buddha this year. And as for redefining my understanding of Enlightenment: I am becoming.