Week 17 – We Find Enlightenment Through Gratitude
There are many perceptions of what enlightenment is or what the behavioral makeup is for a person who is “enlightened.” However, the meaning of enlightenment may seem elusive, puzzling or mysterious. Even if you look up the word enlightenment in the dictionary, the definition seems ambiguous. “[en-light-en-ment] noun – the action of enlightening or the state of being enlightened” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. So, what exactly does being enlightened mean in an easily understood connotation? A simple understanding of enlightenment is living every day with sustained awareness of authentic reality. If you’ve followed Align to Enlighten, you will recall how we’ve discussed the difference between authentic reality and those realities that are created by our perceptions, socializations and our egos. We’ve discussed the role of our ego as not being the ‘truth-teller’ but being the ‘storyteller.’ Or, better said, the teller of stories; stories that become truths in our minds. Enlightenment provides an awareness that allows us to ‘see’ the stories and ‘see’ the authentic truth at the same time.
I recently went to the eye doctor for a checkup. I hadn’t been to the eye doctor in about 5 years. I wasn’t having trouble seeing (at least I didn’t think I was having trouble) but I figured it had been a long time so I needed to go. When the doctor began putting various lenses in front of my eyes and compared my current vision against what 20/20 vision looked like, it became quite clear (no pun intended) that I had not been seeing to my full potential. It was like my eyes had been taking in the picture of the world from an old 1978, 13-inch, black & white television. When she showed me what I was missing, it was like watching a 2017, 100-inch screen, Super Hi-Definition, 4K Curved Screen television with retinal scan. I had been okay with the “black & white” picture because I was used to it. I didn’t see anything incorrect in my vision. It was the picture I was used to seeing. But she showed me clarity in what I’d been missing. Enlightenment can be considered in the same way. When we are aware or enlightened, we ‘see’ with a lens of better clarity.
To be clear, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with our current visions or expectations of life. We ‘see’ life the way we see it based on our experiences, socializations, perceptions, cultures, etc. But we often look to things from the outside of life to develop what and who we are on the inside as a person. We grow up in a certain environment, household, country, religion, socio-economic status, etc. and these things influence who we are. However, enlightenment suggests we take off those cloaks that make up our persona and operate from the true authentic self…the soul. It is from this space that we see clearly. This is the space where we see in hi-definition. When we can see clearly, it allows us to have a better understanding of what is truly real in life; what is authentic reality. Gratitude serves as a catalyst in helping us discover what is true and real. What is authentic…and what is fabricated. It is not others that create the fabrication…it is ourselves.
We create fabrication when we consider what is directly in front of us and label it as the only and ultimate truth. The real truth is, at any given moment, we have the ability to create our reality from what is true and resonating with our soul. A focus on gratitude helps keep us aware of what is authentically true. A simple example; my children will often open the refrigerator and say, “there’s nothing to eat in here!” but I know the refrigerator along with the pantry is stocked full of food. That becomes the fabricated truth but to them it is truly real. Their real truth is “I don’t want to eat what’s available.” If they stopped to appreciate the fact that we HAVE a refrigerator and a pantry full of food, they would see an opportunity to be grateful for the food that is available and would choose to change the “reality” their perceptions just created.
When we stop, look around, and find gratitude in the things, people, circumstances and situations around us, we immediately become more aware. More aware of what is truly real. Take a moment to focus on a situation or circumstance that is troubling you. Now take a moment to focus on a few things you are grateful for in the midst of that situation. The situation immediately becomes less daunting than when you first thought about it. Why? Because gratitude opens the doors to awareness. And awareness is enlightenment. You are now empowered to be enlightened. Empowered to create a new reality.
When we operate in enlightenment, our perspectives, visions and expectations open up to our authentic realities. And in this space, because we are open, we have the ability to tap into all other possibilities. When my children continue to focus on “having nothing to eat” in a refrigerator full of food, their only remaining possibility is to continue to be hungry. But when they say, “well, this wasn’t exactly what I was craving but I’m grateful we have food here,” doors open to the possibilities of no longer being hungry and even more choices become available. They start to ‘see’ with that 20/20 vision my doctor offered me. The same can be applied to any and all situations, circumstances and people we encounter through this life’s journey. Instead of having a stifled reality of perceived lack, unsuccessfulness and “not-good-enough,” change your focus to those things that you are appreciative for in the midst of the situation and watch things change to abundance, success and more than enough. You will begin to see the possibilities and the opportunities. You will begin to create a new reality from that space.
By focusing on gratitude, we begin to actually see what is real. When we see what is real, we become aware. When we become aware, we become enlightened. Find your enlightenment through your gratitude.