Posted on June 10, 2016
Obstacle to Enlightenment
“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” – Anne Lamott
I made the decision a few years ago to step onto the path to enlightenment. I knew the journey would be long and arduous but I have to admit I was hoping to have covered a little more ground by now. Of course, it’s hard to know exactly where you are at any given time because there isn’t a map; no little arrow saying ‘you are here’ to enable you to see how far you’ve travelled.
And which direction do you take? The books tell you there are signposts everywhere but they appear to be very well hidden. I should have realised many years ago when I emerged crying after two hours in the Hampton Court Maze (age 35!) that my sense of direction in terms of ‘paths’ wasn’t sound and my husband will confirm that my map reading skills leave a lot to be desired. So what led me to believe I had any chance in finding my way to enlightenment?
If I’m honest, I didn’t really expect to reach such heady heights. I was more hoping that I would be able to get through the day without shouting at somebody or sticking up my middle finger to everyone who beeps me for crawling fifteen miles per hour up a gentle slope (with a 2003 clapped out Citroen C3 I really have no choice). I was hoping that meditating would leave me calm and in control, unflappable in stressful situations. It has worked to a degree – I’m extremely calm when I’m asleep!
What I have discovered though is that everything comes down to ego. Everything is about how we respond to everyday situations. If we are to remain calm and reap all the benefits which a calm disposition brings a new approach to life is needed; a new way of looking at those daily problems that cause anxiety. We have to stop making everything about ‘us’. The person who bumped into you in the supermarket and did not apologise did not aim their rudeness directly at you because they don’t know you – so what is the point of getting upset?
It’s so easy to see the ego reacting in others, how they’ll try to blame someone else for their mistakes or lie to protect their integrity, how offended they come if criticised. We all behave in this way but somehow we’re unable to see it in ourselves because the ego will do anything to justify its actions and behaviour in an effort of self-preservation. The ego is supposed to be the major obstacle to attaining enlightenment and if that’s the case I’d better stock up on snacks and magazines because it’s going to be a very long journey.