Why bother getting enlightened anyway ~ a candid look through the other end of the telescope

The guilty weight of my imperfection used to weigh on me like a millstone.  A millstone is a mighty heavy heavy thing to carry around, I must say.  It seemed that only by stupendous effort over many lifetimes could any individual make the grade sufficiently to transcend the earth cycle of birth, suffering and death, followed by rebirth, more suffering and more death.

World religions are full of the weight of our mortality and our failings.  The Christian tradition goes further and describes original sin which it seems we are all born with.  Problems with sex, you know and all that carnal impurity!  Hmm...  It would seem that sex is a problem for all religions and many spiritual paths, thus all the rules about it.  Everywhere.  This is all rather dismal and depressing.

Then we get the other side of the equation: life in this astonishing world is also beautiful, breathtakingly miraculous.  In it we can experience joyful physicality and a roaring good time.  Occasionally.  Well, no, its majesty is there the whole time.  It's our awareness of it that comes and goes.  Rather like the sun which is for some of the time obscured by clouds.  It's there all the time, but we can't always see it.  But then when we do we rejoice once more.  Unless we're experiencing drought or sun stroke.  The exchange of cloudy skies for sunny ones as well as the night following the day adds to the richness of what we experience which we wouldn't otherwise have.

Often we wonder why we must suffer, and so pursue happiness, both routes taking us away from fully living out whatever is the present weather of our lives, good, bad or indifferent.  I think most people are simply bored.

And yet, in the midst of our very mixed lives as well as our endeavours to become more pure and more worthy (and therefore more acceptable?) we cling to our foibles, bad habits and (guilty) pleasures.  In the words of St Augustine: "Lord give me chastity, but not yet", which is understandable.

The escape from suffering, we are told, is to be found in living morally upright lives, and even if this doesn't exempt us from earthly suffering we can expect to find our reward in the after life.  Really?  I have no argument with living a morally upright life, but do think that attempting to earn brownie points for an unverifiable afterlife is a bit of a thin promise.

It seems to me that since suffering is an inescapable aspect of our physical existence then we would do better to embrace it, to live it fully, not try to run away.  I think that whatever it is that is going on in our lives we do better to embrace it, celebrate it, feel it, express it, try to work things out, don't give up, etc.  Most of us live such partial lives, and in our hearts we know it.  In our hearts there is the disappointment and self-reproach for not having explored more, of not having expressed more, of not having allowed ourselves to feel more fully.  It's all clamped down, damped down, and hushed up, lulled into a sort of half-life of just okay-ness.

Books I have read mention repeatedly the immense privilege of being born into life on Earth, of all the millions of souls that don't have that opportunity and wish they did.  I'm not saying that these are accurate statements, but these thoughts are worth considering.  If we are all so trapped and hard done by, why would they want that so badly?  The wars, mayhem, uncertainty, death and destruction, that pepper the existence of all of us to varying degrees at different times do not seem as if they would be all that desirable.  But wait.  Maybe that's the point.  Maybe there is meaning and value in all of that.  Maybe there is something vital in the whole mix that we are all doing our darndest to escape or at least partially evade.  Maybe we don't need to know what that is.  Maybe we can just let that whole troublesome equation hold its own mysteries and hidden glories.

Really I think that for most of us just to live relatively normal lives has got to be a big achievement.  If, when I die, some being greater than I am greets me in the after life with the words, "Well done, well lived, fully lived, well done" I'll be mighty pleased.  That's enough for me.  Enlightenment, ascension and all the rest of it can go hang.

In any case, I think it probably comes in its own season, just as autumn and winter follow spring and summer.  I expect we live out our allotted time, our soul garners it's sheaf of experiences that deem it fulfilled of earthly life, and then is ready to let go.  The earth has it's natural cycles and progressions, in millennia and epochs, just as it has day and night and the turning of the annual seasons.  All these things have their time.  So I think we can relax.  And just be who we are, get on with life and enjoy ourselves as much as all our little and large constraints allow.   

Looking back it seems astonishing that it's taken me over fifty years to arrive at that.  But I'm mighty glad I got there when I did.  The other business was such a strain and worry, and I'm happy to walk away from it a free woman.  Shout it out: hurrah!  Maybe this is enlightenment, but I didn't know it!  Okay, so have a good laugh.  I'm laughing with you.  

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Why bother working all this out ~ mostly alone 

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