Intellectual Spirituality vs Enlightenment
I was watching Oprah looking for an answer or perhaps it was inspiration, either way, Oprah is normally a good bet. She was talking about Spirituality, something I am quite excited about since learning about SQ or Spiritual Intelligence. For those of you who have not yet heard, SQ is a third way that our minds think (and yes, it has been scientifically proven to exist, so I am not talkign about something esoteric here, but something physical and real).
[IQ (intellectual intelligence) allows us to think serially, answering known problems using known answers. EQ (emotional intelligence) allows us to think associatively and is linked to our ability to respond to emotions and people. SQ allows us to create new solutions. ]
As I listened I started to get frustrated. I was hearing more of the same vague stuff – How Spirituality is about being connected to all living things, to a higher force, it is about a new way of living with more love…. blah, blah, blah. My frustration was not that what they were saying was not true, but rather that I could not connect to what they were saying. The experts were repeating the same vague statements that I had been reading and hearing for over a decade. The same vague instructions and promises that seemed some days to be nothing more than a pipe dream, an illusion of hope.
I started to get the sneaky suspicion that universally enlightenment (for want of a better word) was deemed to be an elite sport that could only understood once you were there. For those of us at the base of the mountain it sounded like a good idea (in principle) but not one with any real benefit. I mean it would be nice to live connected to something bigger…or would it ? And how exactly would being love and light make my day better when I am stuck in traffic or in one of ‘those’ meetings at work ?
Perhaps it is my thing to attach spirituality to enlightenement, but they do seem to go hand in hand. The concept of enlightenment has fascinated me for almost a decade. From all my reading I know one thing for sure – there is no definite, guaranteed path to achieve it. Everyone seems to have a different approach and each approach seems to be pretty much hit and miss. You take the rest of your life off, go live in a monastery and meditate until enlightenment mysteriously arrives. Seems rather like sitting at a closed door and wishing it open to me. And the few who do appear to have reached it seem to then immediately loose their ability to connect to the rest of us and so, when they talk, concepts that are blindingly obvious to them are incomprehensible to us – as if they are trying to explain the colour blue to blind people.
As I listened, I was struck at how similar all the ‘experts’ sounded. No-one was saying anything new. No-one had any new insights, yet these were the experts, people who had dedicated their lives to spirituality and enlightenment. So why did it still sound like Greek ? I found myself questioning if they actually ‘got it’. Because surely if they ‘got it’, they would be able to explain it. Instead it was if they got it intellectually but not where it counted, in their hearts and being. Yes each path to enlightenment is unique, so I guess it is kinda hard to explain and give the key to someone else which is where I started to seriously question. Is it ?
Is enlightenment so complicated that it can only be obtained by a select few ? I was hearing once again that the path to spirituality was courses and of course lots of meditation, yoga and retreats are required. Seriously ? I live in the real world and no amount of yoga is going to get me to enlightenment. Nor do I have the time or finances to monk myself for 5 years to get there, wherever there may be. So what if these so called experts had not actually reached an physical understanding of enlightenment, only an intellectual one ? What if they were intellectual enlightened and not spiritually enlightened ?
The concept fascinated me. Because if I was spiritually enlightened, then being enlightened would not be hard work. I would have a level of awareness and compassion for myself that would make each day a joy to live, no matter what happened in that day. As I listened to the story of how our souls are released through pain and sorrow something sounded off. I felt that what I was hearing was another trap, another story. I was hearing something intellectual, something not understood. In that moment I got the edges of a knowing. What if pain and sorrow, good and bad, joy and delight are just labels we give situations ? We attach the pain, we attach the joy, we attach the judgement and we create the limits and prison that confine us.
But surely it could not be that simple ? Surely enlightenment was an exclusive thing, not something you could grasp the edges of whilst listening to Oprah ? But what if it was that easy ? What if when we were borne the only thing we had was our soul. It laughed, it played. It did not wallow in sorrow. As a child we could be one moment happy, the next sad. We did not attach ourselves to our emotions. They just were.
What if what we got taught was all wrong ? What if instead of being taught how to be grown up and free what we really got taught was how to be trapped, just like all the adults before us ? Think about it. We get taught the rules of the world and with each rule we lock away a part of our joy, our freedom, our soul. We create this thing called an ego which is less than what we were. It knows only what it has been taught, only the limits and rules of how to exist in the world. It is a thing full of fear, fear of getting it wrong, fear of making mistakes, of not fitting in. When we finally enter adulthood we have lost our essence, our joy, our creativity, our soul. We are trapped by our emotions, some of which we label as good, some of which we label as bad. We then spend the rest of our lives avoiding the bad emotions, suppressing and denying them and dwelling in and chasing the good one’s.
We react each day based on our ego’s emotional pattern with little awareness and no ability to choose a different way. So, what if enlightenment was not something that you got from meditation and separation and religion ? What if enlightenment and spirituality was nothing more than shrugging off the limits of our ego ? What if all we needed to do to be enlightened was not be controlled by our emotions and instead to be able to consciously and actively choose every day who we want to be ? What if enlightenment was true empowerment and something we were all borne with and so can all reconnect to ? To change your habit of being is not easy, but it is do’able. This I know thanks to my own coaching journey. And when you have a vision of who it is you want to be and how you want to react every day, it is not work or something that you need yoga and a retreat to create, it is a choice and because you have a vision, a direction, the journey is easier.
What if the way you are living your life today is not the only way ? What if there is a more peaceful, more joyful, more successful way ?