by Jim Hatton
As a very young man, I remember hearing about “Enlightenment”. The Buddhists talked about the Buddha being enlightened and that that was the ultimate goal in life. When you were enlightened you were wise, people wanted your advice, you were peaceful and did not have problems, you remembered past loves, and people wanted to be around you. Once you were enlightened, you made it, that was it and the work was done. Therefore, I prayed and prayed for God to enlighten me right now, all at once. After all, I was ready and deserved to be enlightened and not have to be a monk, wear an orange robe, and live in a far off place and eat only vegetables. Oh, and never take a lover when I grew up. Yes, God, do it to me right now I begged.
I prayed for this for a long time…and just knew that the light would hit me and all of a sudden, “boom” I was enlightened. I prayed some more…but It never happened. What did happen was every so often I would have a “Satori” or spiritual insight. I would realize or understand something that I never knew before. I loved the feeling of having a spiritual “ah-ha”.
Therefore, I started looking at my thoughts, my actions and re-actions, how I reacted to people and situations. When I reacted in a strange, rude, or hateful way to people and things, I would ask myself why I respond this way. Is this how an enlightened person, spiritual master, or Buddha would act? What was my fear? I then I would set my intention to act or do something different the next time a similar situation or event would present itself. After a while, I understood that the buttons that people pushed, previously installed by me, disappeared. All I had to do was to become conscious of them and then set my intention. I thought that after addressing quite a number of “buttons” that pretty soon I would finally be done. Would enlightenment then come?
What I did notice is that the buttons I found were getting smaller and smaller, less significant, and easier to dissolve. Things in my life started to change. Energy began to return, there were peaceful people in my life, the various challenges seem more easily solved and my prosperity increased. I became more and more unattached to situations and their outcome. Was this what the Buddhists talked about “non-attachment”? I used to think that would be boring and I would have the personality of cardboard. The discovery was not being attached did not mean that I did not care about people or situations; it meant that more unconditional love was entering my life. I love things, gave thanks for more in my life, and allowed people to be who they are. My love was not conditional on how they acted or what the outcome of a situation would turn out. Ah ha! Non-Attachment!
I still have “buttons” but now I call them thought structures. They may not be so blatantly obvious anymore; they hide in the corners of my consciousness. But as I seek them out discovering more and more about who I am, I find myself becoming more and at peace. Now, I am at Peace with the world, people in my life, and with myself. Is this the Path of Enlightenment?
Jim Hatton, Author: “A Spiritual Master’s Guide to Life” available on Amazon or at SpiritualMaster.co