|exploding_sun image by schnuffibossi1|
In my former worldview and system of thinking, I did not believe in Enlightenment, aside from the common, everyday use of the term. Gradually, I have begun to experience more and more what feels like capital e Enlightenment. This article by Barbara-Lynn Freed put a lot into words that I hadn’t actually verbalized.
She suggests that there are 5 ways to cultivate enlightenment:
1. Taking Personal Responsibility
2. Trusting Your Inner Authority
3. Being Authentically Vulnerable
4. Cultivating Unconditional Love and Forgiveness
5. Developing True Compassion
The first one of these that I understood was forgiveness. Way back when the big kids were little, I read something about the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and “I’m sorry, Will you please forgive me?” Asking for forgiveness allows us to be authentically vulnerable by humbling ourselves, and allows the one being asked to intentionally offer forgiveness.
Our culture is RIFE with “I’m sorry,” and yet it is often an empty formality. “[I’m] sorry you had to wait thirteen extra seconds for your fries.” “[I’m] sorry I forgot to call you back/rsvp/return your widget/answer your email.” Not every instance of “I’m sorry” must be followed up by “Will you please forgive me?” In relationships, many times an apology followed up by a request for forgiveness quadruples (at least) the power of the apology. As hard as it is for some to say “I’m sorry,” there are many more who have never uttered the words “Will you please forgive me?”
The next step for me was to begin to understand the value of listening to my own inner authority. In small group one evening, another young mother, Kristin, listened to me explaining how I had been listening to myself and acting based on what I sensed my inner wisdom telling me. Kristin longingly expressed how she wished she had such a thing, that she never seemed to know what to do.
Although my first exposure to the idea of taking personal responsibility was dear Viktor Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning, it was Tony Robbins who showed me the power of taking personal responsibility. Have you ever noticed how often in movies and television, a character will say, “I had no choice.”? Au contraire, tiny one, I always want to say. You did have a choice. Our most amazing choice available is that one which comes with every single experience. We get to choose how we are going to respond to it.
Last week in the court, the first defendant was a 19-yr-old developmentally delayed man. He was in jail on domestic violence charges against his aunt, who had been housing him. The only person he had as a possible replacement caregiver was a distant great-uncle. He has no other family, no friends. My heart broke for him. That may not be compassion, as much as it is sympathy, but I think it’s in the right direction — seeing him as a worthy and valued human who is capable and lovable, as well as someone who, like all of us, thrives when in an environment where we can express our capabilities and experience love.
Imagine a world, or a community, or a family, or even many individuals who take personal responsibility for their lives, who take the risk to trust their inner authority, believing that authentic vulnerability is actually a strength that benefits all of us, and who give and receive love and compassion and forgiveness. I can begin to imagine it, because I am seeing it in my own life. I want to be part of sharing and igniting this vision in other people. Won’t you join me?