Enlightenment is a process, not a destination.
It’s taken me a long time to realise this. Seven years ago, whilst on a fasting retreat in Devon, I had a homeopathy consultation with the wonderful Kate Maryon, who has since gone on to be a successful and brilliant children’s author. Before I tell you what she said, I need to give a little background.
I was only on this retreat because a good friend of mine had been through a radical health transformation (for the better). He solved his 25 year battle with IBS and lost all his excess weight. You can see more on Matt’s inspirational journey here.
I was, by this time, a “heart attack waiting to happen” – a direct quote from my wife. I was eating the wrong foods, I was eating too much, I was drinking too much, I was smoking, I was not exercising and I was not coping well with the pressures of running a business.
The idea of a fast seemed radical, and it was. So I went.
I remember pulling in to “Ham Farm”, the inappropriately named venue for the experience, and having an almost-overwhelming desire to drive immediately back to Manchester. How could I, a self-proclaimed food lover, possibly not eat for a whole week?
But my higher self guided me against the wishes of my ego and, thankfully, I stayed.
The week itself was an extraordinary and, thanks mainly to the work of Dao Earl, changed my views on food forever.
But, this post is about enlightenment. A word, at that point in my life, I had a vague acquaintance with as being something associated with sitting under a tree silently for twenty years.
I found it interesting to see how wikipedia describes the word whilst thinking about this post:
As someone who grew up in a predominately Christian environment, it’s little surprise my knowledge of the word was scant.
So anyway, Kate took me through some weird touching of different foods to see what the inner-me had to say about them. It was not easy because everything I touched I wanted to eat, but after she told me I crave cream and should avoid it, she asked me something about the way I view life. I can’t remember exactly what I said but she responded with something like “you need to see yourself like a leaf on a tree, going with the flow of the wind” to which I reacted “But that’s no good! How will I get things done? How will I achieve things?”
Seven years later I have learned much, but know even less.
What is clear is that, to me, enlightenment is not some wham-bam event, full of fireworks and champagne corks popping, but a process of revealing the fundamental truth of life and your part in it.
This involves communicating with your inner-self, or higher-self, or the Universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, to remember who you really are, rather than discover who you are. This incredible process means challenging every belief you have, every opinion. They were all put there by other people anyway 🙂
As Confucius, or Shrek, or Donkey (I can’t remember which) says, it’s all about peeling back the layers of the onion.
When we are born, we are perfect. We are pure love. The layers that go on every day after that event effectively hide who we really are. We become so attached to those layers that we believe them to actually be us. They are not.
Some people go to their graves having never peeled even one away.
Enlightenment is the process of starting to peel these away.
As with the onion, there will be some tears, but every one that falls is a step closer to getting back to the infinite being you really are.