“Do not be hooked on the word “enlightenment,” for it cannot be boxed. It can only be experienced for moments of time.”
A spirit guide who wants to be called Leon appears in meditation this morning in response to my throwing out the question if anyone would like to speak of enlightenment. I immediately notice equal amounts of happiness and sadness in him and have to wonder if he is appearing as a human life that he is actually living in the present moment.
When I ask if he will tackle the subject of enlightenment, he nods yes, but before he can say anything, I am propelled into a state of nothingness in which an epiphany literally explodes in me, prompting me to say, “Enlightenment is absence? Is that what it is all about? Enlightenment is about letting go, because in nothingness the spirit is revealed?” I find myself babbling these questions as quickly as they pop up and then laugh out loud as I turn the interview over to him.
He smiles and answers, “Yes, enlightenment is absence. Absence that doesn’t allow attachment because in absence is flow.”
“Okay, that I might understand, but why would something like joy or happiness come from absence, or would it? I ask this because I equate enlightenment with joy and happiness. The more vacant I become in meditation, the happier I get, but would that be my attachment to happiness that I automatically seek in meditation? Should I enter meditation with vacancy in mind, which is difficult to do because typically guides are waiting for me when I first enter?” Darn! Here come the multiple questions again, so quickly I cannot just dismiss them. Leon smiles patiently as he answers, “Yes, enlightenment can be described as absence with no background programming. There can be enlightenment for a moment, an hour, a week (although that is difficult to maintain), but rarely is there enlightenment for any great length of time because the human needs must be maintained. Therefore, the state of enlightenment will continually be interrupted for the majority of those seeking to attain it.”
He switches the subject by saying, “You noticed the dichotomy that presently exists in me. Yes, I carry sadness and heaviness while my foundation is happiness. Yes, I am alive as Leon the human in this moment that we speak, and yes, I do appear today as my human life.”
A vision appears in his eyes that shows his sadness stems from his childhood and his sensitivity. Yet, what shines through his sadness most brightly is his kindness. I am not sure what his work is in life, but I think it would have to incorporate compassion because he has it by the bucketful. My nurturer automatically reaches out to him because of his sadness, but I retract it and replace it with love and respect because nothing in him is stronger than his foundation of happiness. I love seeing how everything can attach to his strong foundation without upsetting its balance. He says he has achieved enough absence to support his unshakable foundation of happiness.
“Speak to me of enlightenment if you will?”
“Enlightenment is the deepest desire of every man who has ever walked the Earth, whether he is aware of it or not, because man always desires a return to spirit and that is what enlightenment offers. Quite often it is a frustrating goal because the human is housed in a body with costs that trump fleeting consciousness. Enlightenment may be achieved for periods of time when the body is vacated, as in astral travel, but upon arrival back into the body, the human demands must be met. Enlightenment may seem to offer a happier, easier life because attachments are few, but all humans are attached to their bodies, so non-attachment is often more of a dream than a reality, at least for the majority.”
He projects a vision in his eyes of a spark of light that ignited brightly for just a second and says enlightenment may be acquired for that period of time and it might be enough for the rest of the life. “An epiphany. Would you call that enlightenment? Yes, in the moment you might. Epiphanies have the power to change an entire life by steering it in a different direction.
“Your teachers who are highly revered? They have achieved periods of absence that sustain less attachment, but are they attached to their teachings, to their followers, to their keepers? What I will state again is that life in the human body requires attachments due to maintenance requirements of the human body and these costs detract from the continuity of enlightenment.
“Kindness could be enlightenment? What allows the kindness that asks for nothing in return? In my life, there is nothing I admire more than kindness, for it is a vital piece of the human fabric that helps keep hope alive. Kindness is what I desire more than anything. Yet, I never felt that I was gifted with it and never do I take it for granted. It is something I work at and find much solace in. My mother was a kind person who had a terribly difficult life, yet there was no one she would not help, for she saw and knew the good in everyone and refused to treat others as she was treated because she knew first hand the cost. My mother and I were very poor because my father would not claim me since my mother is black and he is white. This was a time when it was not readily accepted. While my mother was light skinned, she was still black, as am I.”
“I wondered if you are black, but could not really tell because you are so light skinned. You are in your 70s now?” He smiles and I wonder if he is in his 80s and just looks good for his age…doesn’t really matter except for placing him at an age when color of skin mattered even more than it does now.
“There is no true concrete definition of enlightenment, is there?”
He smiles a bit sadly as he says, “No,” but his foundation of happiness shines through brightly. It seems odd to me how these two aspects of his emotions are so clearly written upon him today, but I also understand that these are being shown to stress how a strong foundation can support all of our emotions without various ones creating havoc.
“Now I understand! Is enlightenment the building of a foundation from happiness that supports it no matter what else is going on in the body and life?” This awareness feels like a moment of enlightenment I say with a big smile.
He smiles in return and says, “Yes, the foundation that one lives their life upon is built by one’s thoughts and actions and if one can build it based on happiness and continually feed it happiness, that will lead to enlightenment.”
“Oh wow! For some reason his statement reminds me of the Sentinel, a Spirit Guide that I have worked with for years, who always asks “What do you stand for?” So, this makes me think how the question is not only what we stand for, but also what we stand upon because what I am standing upon is ultimately going to dictate what I stand for? Enlightenment could be the simple act of building a solid, good foundation from which I would then base my life?”
“Leon says, “Every man carries into life the tools required to carve his foundation. As you might imagine, the tools vary, depending on the requirements of the life to be lived. The majority of humans will not carry in the tools to carve total enlightenment, for it will not be a requirement of their life. Enlightenment cannot be forced upon another, nor should it be overly encouraged, for each life can only hear the sounds of their own search and never will enlightenment for one be the same as for another.
“Encouragement is a tool and it can even be a kindness, but it should not be forced. Rather it would be gifted. Kindness can be an unspoken encouragement, for kindness, both given and received, recognizes the moment and in turn responds.”
“I get the idea that kindness might be a better goal for the majority of us rather than enlightenment? Although, maybe we could term kindness as a form of enlightenment? Ah, I get it! Enlightenment offers thousands upon thousands of different paths and as you said each man can only hear the sounds of his own path and those sounds need to be embraced and honored?”
“Enlightenment is momentary at best,” he says. “I strive to support in myself and life the kindness that I saw my mother extend to others, reaching beyond her own truth that there was no guaranteed or easy place in this world for her. A black woman had no worth if she stepped outside of her lines. Because she was light skinned, she fought racism even in her own community. Yet through her pain, she taught me the patience that exists in kindness. Maybe it was her patience that first allowed the kindness for it takes patience to look inside another and acknowledge their equal path.
“I became angry throughout my twenties once I was no longer under my mother’s spell. Around thirty-four I realized the wear and tear on me from my anger and vowed to support it no more, but where was I to go? One cannot just release anger and walk off into a happy life. No, I needed to replace the anger, but with what? I turned to the Eastern studies, specifically Buddha. And I remembered my mother’s patience, for is that not what Buddha teaches?
“You see happiness as my foundation. I would call it patience, for patience doesn’t attach. It quite simply bides its time as life events flow through. Non-attachment is simply patience. Does it follow that we could equate enlightenment with patience? Could enlightenment be that simple? My mother’s life was hard, yet she walked in patience, for she knew early on not to waste time on hatred. Her grandmother had more kindness than should ever have been allowed in the life she was forced to live, but flourish her kindness did, for she knew that she was a living testament of God here on Earth. That knowing skipped my mother’s mother. She was celebrated for her great beauty and because of this she was vain, but never mean, just superficial and not concerned with God.
“We find happiness where it is given. But what of my mother’s? While she too had looks to turn heads, it was her grandmother’s kindness that once again took root and flourished inside of her. My mother lived a poor and simple life, but never did she sink into hatred because she knew her grandmother’s God and she believed in God with all her heart, the same heart that loved me. I was her only child and she often spoke of how she “saw” with clarity the different light that I possess. She knew I would make a difference in the world. Therefore, she set aside herself and raised me with kindness, the same kindness she freely gave to others.
“Her grandmother was not a free woman who could roam. Her life was bound, but no one could take away her God. Nor could they take away her will. She could accept her life, but not give in to it. My mother walked the steps she supposed her grandmother’s feet would have. That was my mother’s testament to me. I sit here before you a product of many women, but mostly my great-grandmother’s will.”
Wow, that was a lot of speaking on his part, and I stop to take a breath and gather myself as it takes a lot of focus to listen for any length of time.
“How would you describe your life that you are presently living?”
“It doesn’t matter. What you see as my foundation is what matters the most. You view my foundation as happiness and while I do have solid happiness inside of my foundation, I would call my foundation the will and patience of my great-grandmother who said of herself, “No one may steal who I am. No man may steal my happiness or my God. They may steal my body and my working arms, but never can they touch what is inside of me, unless I allow it.”
Leon takes a moment in honor of his great-grandmother and then continues, “Therefore, would I name my foundation will? Would I name it patience? Would I name it a refusal to allow anyone else the right to destroy my life? I suppose I would name it happiness derived from patience. I would also name it a testament to my great-grandmother and mother. I carry them inside of me. I carry all of my kin inside and they direct my walk to this day. Do you think I walk only for myself?”
“I don’t know,” I reply. “I haven’t thought about it.”
“Kindness, in my opinion, is the greatest achievement of any man, for it requires letting go of the self while tending to another. Is that not what many of our teachers teach? Letting go of the self? Could enlightenment be termed balance? Because truly, enlightenment cannot be achieved without balance. Do not be hooked on the word enlightenment, for it cannot be boxed. It can only be experienced for moments of time before the human body and its demands kick back in. These demands should be embraced with kindness. Practice kindness instead of searching for the unknown. This, my mother taught me as her grandmother taught her. Practiced kindness is where you will find true happiness. Kindness toward self is as valuable as kindness toward others, as kindness for self directs the energies into the Spirit that drives the life. My greatest happiness came from the discovery that kindness thrives in love and love in kindness. Yes, this interview is a testament to my mother.”
Leon then disappears.