By Jo Mooy
It was Easter week, and the restaurant was more crowded than normal. Patrons were frenetically vying for free tables, and a family of six made its way to a large booth. The mother seated a four-year old child at the end of the table. The food and drinks were carefully set out, including a tall glass of milk in front of this little boy. As he reached for the too-large glass, it tipped over. A river of milk flowed across the table, and the boy looked up in terror, expecting a tongue lashing from one of the adults. Instead of drama and chaos, the father reached for a stack of napkins, gave the boy a gentle smile and said, “Oh oh, let’s clean that up!” The little boy’s shoulders relaxed, relief visible on his face. The other adults continued eating as though nothing had happened.
I thought of that incident when I decided to write this article about enlightenment,” which can be a grandiose topic. Indeed, Google has 37 million entries on the subject. It frightens some people, while it motivates others. To many, it feels like a “destination” on the path. So, what is enlightenment? Who has it? How did they get it? How do I become enlightened?
Paths to enlightenment vary. Some teach that the way to enlightenment is to go to the mountains, find a cave, and meditate for 12 hours a day. Others present practices guaranteed to result in enlightenment, as though it is a goal to reach. Some travel all over the world in search of it. They think that other cultures will offer a magical elixir to bring enlightenment to them. It’s even a business model for many New Age seminars and workshops.
The subject isn’t far from the hearts or minds of conscious thinkers. But before bottoming out on the countless potholes on the road to enlightenment, stop a moment and reflect. Enlightenment is a character trait. It is how one behaves during an altercation. Enlightenment is inner wisdom. It is how one perceives an event, looking at the whole rather than the pieces. Enlightenment is spiritual maturity. It’s how one interprets teachings and uses the wisdom gained for the benefit of all. Enlightenment is the daily living of life with consciousness and integrity. It is holding a compassionate, peaceful demeanor, no matter what the circumstances present.
The path to get there? Not so easy! It requires discipline. It requires desire. It requires a commitment. How to get there? It’s a very personal journey. Only the individual can determine what path to take amid the hundreds presented over the course of a lifetime. It’s not a one-size-fits-all path. And it’s not an actual destination. It’s simply the path.
Thousands of years ago a master teacher was asked, “How do I become enlightened?” He answered, “Chop wood and carry water.” A subtle, holy consciousness exists in the chopping of wood and the carrying of water. Whether the path takes you to a mountain cave of silence or to the active life of a householder, consciousness is ever present. Recognizing that consciousness and being mindful of it as often as you can is the Path to Enlightenment.
The father who simply cleaned up the river of milk spilled by his son was the mirror of enlightenment. In the midst of potential chaos, he remained calm and peaceful. His behavior displayed sweet compassion towards his son. And his actions allowed the rest of his dining companions to enjoy the meal without incident. His peacefulness affected not just his table but all the other tables around him. He may not have been conscious of his own enlightened behavior, but to this observer he personified it. He was chopping wood and carrying water, and on the Path to Enlightenment.
Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to www.starsoundings.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.