Attaining enlightenment, inner peace and sublime bliss ~ a how-to guide
Admit it: you clicked on this article because all three are things you crave from the bottom of your heart and soul. The hope that a single blog post might contain all you need to find these three intangibles was overwhelming. Normally, it’s at very least a book or a series of books or an expensive course that promises this.
Yesterday I experienced very briefly moments of all three.
I’ll give you a run down of the external events, so if you want a list of things that occurred, you can see what I did.
It was one of those autumn days that is so typical of my island. It started out wet, miserable and grey but by lunchtime the sun had come out and it became a perfect autumn day, blustery but not unduly so, mild but not unseasonable, sunny with a few white clouds scudding across the sky. I’ve been stuck at home a lot, lately, so I decided to go for a walk to the next village. The route took me through some lanes and footpaths and fields and the hedgerows were full of berries and birds, and all the glory of autumn colours surrounded me.
I got into Starston and entered the glebe meadow by the beck and sat for a few moments on one bench, watching the water before walking down to the footbridge and standing there for a while. I spotted a dipper working her way around the remnants of an old sluice gate so I moved closer and sat amid the rubble ruins of an old bridge-pier and watched the flow of the water. The wind made the branches of the trees toss and flounce and birdsong surrounded me, though it was hard to hear above the chuckle of water falling over the artificial waterfall made by the old sluice gate. As I sat, I felt an expanding sense of joy and oneness with the natural world; after ten minutes, a kingfisher flew past me silently, a flash of brilliant colour. I got up and headed home, and as I walked through a wooded lane, I felt I wanted to hug all of creation to me and hold it in love. Everything from the leaf litter and the worms to the birds flying around me filled me with love.
Idyllic, eh? I can imagine the list one might make: 1) spend time in nature 2) observe closely all that is around 3) be alone and quiet….and so on.
But the truth is, I do these things often. I meditate most days. I find good things to be thankful for. But the amount of times I have felt the way I did that day are very few and far between.
I’m not well. In addition to my long standing mental health struggles, this year I have been diagnosed with something that has impacted on my health significantly already and which can only be managed in the future. In recent weeks, a second condition has come to light that is being investigated and which is serious enough to shorten my life if not addressed. I’m in pain and discomfort daily, and I’ve felt as if things that defined me as me, are being steadily stripped from me, making me wonder who and what I am.
I did not chose or create any of this; it just is. Nor did I choose yesterday to change my thinking, recite mantras or affirmations or think positively or only focus on the beautiful etc. I was not responsible for being in that state yesterday; it just happened that way. You might see it as a gift of grace, a simple coming together of inner workings and external conditions. The truth is, it could have been raining cats and dogs, I could have fallen face first in the mud, could have seen nothing of unusual significance and I would have still felt the same (though in need of a hot bath). I could have stayed home on the sofa and read.
Today I don’t feel terribly good. I had a poor night of sleep, more pain and discomfort. I don’t feel the need to try and reproduce the events of yesterday to try and get back the delightful feelings. Knowing that they happened, even for one day is a good memory but I know I cannot recreate the experience by reproducing the circumstances. There is a deep and profound mystery here and I am glad. For to truly be able to tell you how to achieve enlightenment, inner peace and sublime bliss would be to rob you of the experience. No one can achieve these things. Sometimes the work that we do, the lives that we lead, the challenges we face, all bring us to a pinpoint moment where for a blindingly short time, these glorious things just HAPPEN.
There’s no short-cut, no route map, no tick-list, no exercise and diet programme.
Sometimes they just happen. And when they have done so for me, I am thankful and still.