Feeling good is enlightenment

I used to think enlightenment was something magical, mysterious, and transformative. Something conferred or earned through practice or through the wisdom of sudden realisation.

But I’m finally accepting that enlightenment is just deliberately feeling good, feeling better for the sake of feeling better.

What I missed

It’s not that I misunderstood per se, but I too quickly seized on enlightenment as the solution to my problems, something that would fulfil what I lacked.

So my understanding of enlightenment was an extrapolation from my focus on “lack”. It was like a vague and mysterious shadow, a promise of relief from, freedom from unwanted conditions.

But that meant my idea of enlightenment was just another action pathway: “I’ll feel better if I get this”.

Actual enlightenment

Actual enlightenment is just recognising that we can deliberately focus and feel better, and our circumstances follow from this focus, not the other way around.

There’s no transformation to undergo. Enlightenment and delusion exist on a continuum, just like joy and sorrow.

Some people say that once enlightened you can never be deluded again, and I don’t know for sure what they mean. It’s not as though we would want to be deluded again, so perhaps what they mean is that once you are practiced enough at deliberately feeling good, you won’t suddenly forget and begin unconsciously feeling terrible.

For where I’m at, it’s enough – more than enough – to see that I was chasing the promise of fulfilment while reinforcing a sense of lack. That’s why feeling better was hitherto still not enough for me, and why I sabotaged my own happiness for the sake of something “more”.

Why does letting go feel so good?

Why does letting go feel so good?

Because I’m holding on to falsehoods and untruths.

The more relief I feel, the better this world looks to me. I could even end up liking this place.

I took the holy men seriously when they said a pilgrimage to some sacred space will do you no good if you cannot find holiness at home.

But home itself is more about the story you tell than any physical locale.

Everything around you can be seen from infinite different angles and endless new contexts. “Here” is all in how you choose to see it.

Why do we love holidays if not for the break we take from our own story? We see someone else’s home with a stranger’s vantage. We give it the benefit of the doubt.

My relief at letting go is so palpable, can I not bring this home? Be the same person with a new mind; pause the story and put it on hiatus til the new chapters come to me.

If I were a character this part of my arc would be a mysterious journey in the mountains with some monkish mentor, resulting in transformative self-discovery.

I’ll make do sitting under a tree while a gardener meanders by, leaf-blower buzzing, filling the air with two-stroke fumes.

You can hear a sutra in it, the guttural drone of Tibetan lamas. It’s the right pitch and harmonics abound within it.

My next book, smoked pork, fan-mail and all-consuming inner turmoil

I haven’t posted in a while, sorry about that.

But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.

My diet book is almost complete. I’m looking forward to publishing it very soon.

Yesterday I perfected my cold-smoker, and spent half the day smoking some cured pork.

Earlier in the week I had my first ever fan-mail for my novel, from a family in Canada!!!

But the bulk of my attention has been caught up in what I can only describe as deep inner turmoil.

I’d been posting recently about my eyesight – nearsightedness – and how I was exploring the causes and the limitations of it in the same way that I had previously overcome my autoimmune disease.

Well, I probably should have mentioned that taking on such a long-standing physical problem and looking for the corresponding beliefs, emotions, and stresses in one’s psyche is bound to have a big impact on your life.

How big?

I developed myopia in primary school. I’ve been wearing glasses for more than twenty years. Whatever associations, fears, or maladaptive mechanisms go with my nearsightedness are well-established and deeply ingrained.

You can’t start tearing up your deepest foundational beliefs and worldview after twenty years and expect it not to shake your whole experience of life in unanticipated ways.

So that’s what’s been going on. It turned out that the spiritual significance of how one literally sees the world has profound implications, and I’m nowhere near the end of them.

How do you see the world? Is it a good place or a bad place? Is it ruled by love or by fear? Do bad things always happen to you? Do you always expect disappointment? Is your entire experience overshadowed by the inevitability of suffering?

Are you a victim? What laws of life do you take as indomitable?

Delving into these questions with a serious intent to change your life, with the sincere faith that something like nearsightedness has a significance and a purpose and is not set in stone…That process will throw your whole world into turmoil.

That’s why you need faith and perseverance, because the rewards on the other side are truly immeasurable. When things you’ve taken for granted all your life can change in a moment – that’s miraculous.

When the fears you’ve harboured in the back of your mind are completely uprooted, your entire experience is transformed and liberated.

The past week or so has contained some of the worst moments I can remember. But by persevering in faith and honesty and a determination to arrive at the truth no matter what, those dark and painful moments have given way to an experience of love and connection in my relationships and in own self that I would never have thought possible.

I realise that’s a bit scant on details, but it’s too personal to share. My actual vision is still a work-in-progress. I’m wearing my glasses only for brief periods when driving and occasionally for TV or the computer, but I notice now that my eyes hurt from wearing them.

Without glasses, my vision actually fluctuates constantly. Sometimes it seems quite clear, but at other times it seems blurrier than ever. Like the pain from my old autoimmune problem, what seems static is actually in a constant flux.

But examining my eyesight has taken me to the very heart of my relationship with external reality, my foundational sense of being a self in and against the world. That’s why challenging this foundation has had such far-reaching consequences.