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What is Enlightenment?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
January 30, 2012



Wayne Dyer offers us a simple yet profound definition of enlightenment – simple, but not easy.



"If I could define enlightenment briefly I would say it is the quiet acceptance of what is." - Dr. Wayne Dyer

As simple as this definition seems to be, how often do you quietly accept what is? Instead, what do you say or do?

  • I say things like “It’s not supposed to be this way.” “It should have been different.” “It should be this other way.”
     
  • Instead of accepting how people are, I try various ways of trying to control them to get them to change and be the way I want them to be, or the way I think they should be. I explain, defend, complain, argue, blame, get angry, threaten, pout, give myself up, be extra loving and so on, rather than accept how they are.
     
  • I tell myself lies regarding who someone is choosing to be. I say things like, “Underneath, he has a good heart,” rather than accept that the person is choosing to be abusive, or “I know she loves me,” rather than accept her lack of connection and attraction to me. I act as if my fantasy of someone is the reality, rather than accept the reality.
     
  • I tell myself it’s my fault when others are unloving, rather than accept their choice to be unloving. I blame and shame myself, rather than accept who someone is choosing to be. I convince myself that if only I do things ‘right,’ or say things ‘right,’ I can get someone to change.

You might want to take a moment to see what else you do instead of accepting what is.

Why is This so Hard?

If you fully accepted the reality of how things are or who a person is, then what? What would you have to face and what actions would you need to take if you fully accepted reality?

This is what makes acceptance so hard. When you accept reality 100%, and you don’t like it, then you have to decide what actions you need to take, and these actions may be challenging. For example:

  • Relationships: If you accept that your partner isn’t going to stop:
  • drinking
  • smoking pot
  • using drugs
  • raging
  • judging, criticizing, blaming
  • complaining, defending, explaining
  • being closed to learning
  • being sexually needy
  • withdrawing, being emotionally unavailable
  • having affairs
  • lying
  • gambling
  • spending beyond your means
  • working all the time
  • being a selfish lover
  • being generally selfish and inconsiderate
  • having a talking addiction
  • other________________

…then what?

What if these behaviors are going to continue no matter how much they hurt you or how angry you get; then what? If you accept that what your partner is doing that is painful to you is more important to him or her than you are, can you accept this, or will you need to leave the relationship? Is it easier to think you can get him or her to stop, rather than accepting your lack of control?

We often kid ourselves into thinking someone is going to change, rather than accept reality, because accepting reality might mean that we have to take an action that is difficult.

  • Work: If you accept that conditions at your work are not going to change, then what?
     
  • Life’s other challenges: If you accept that life is going to keep happening and that some of it is going to be very hard, then what?

When we fully accept what is, then we are free to make loving decisions and take loving action in our own behalf. Accepting what is releases us from trying to control the things we cannot control and opens the door to controlling what we can – ourselves.



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Every relationship in our lives offers us a gift of growth. Think about your most difficult relationships - family, friends, co-workers. Today, pick one to focus on. How is this person a mirror for you? How do you not take care of yourself around this person? What do you want from this person that you are not giving to yourself?

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