Enlightenment is Something You Give
CAROL TRAVIS: This poem was inspired by our Sunday service last week, and it is entitled “My Song.”
I am the song of the gilded dawn
gently heralding the day,
and the pristine azure sky, calling birds to flight….
Calling birds to take flight!
I am the smell of coffee happily
warming the morning,
and dappled streaks of sunshine across the breakfast table.
I sing as softly billowing clouds,
floating lightly overhead.
Roses are my melody and violets my refrain…
And violets my lilting refrain.
I croon as the sweet, pine-filled air that floats down from the ridge,
Cooling and soothing at eventide,
And starlight fills my lullabies…
STARLIGHT fills my lullabies,
as I slip into the soundless song of night.
DAVID KARCHERE: I’d like to consider a question that was, for a time, the name of a journal: What Is Enlightenment?
What is enlightenment? Most often enlightenment is thought of as something to be received. And while there is some receiving involved, enlightenment is not primarily something that can be received. It is something you give. A person knows enlightenment as it is given. In whatever way a person may seek enlightenment, on that basis it’s never found—never. You can’t seek enlightenment and find it.
The truth is that there is only one place from which enlightenment comes. It’s the same place from which it has always come. It is ever available. Apparently, it is cosmically available—the sun doesn’t seem to be striving over this one; neither are the other stars. It is constantly available for human beings to experience as well. However, there’s only one way a human being can experience it, and that is to be like the sun, and to give it. I think if I were God, and I were creating a just world, I might create it like that. I might make it so that for a person to experience the ultimate fulfillment of their life they would have to be generous in the giving of their light. I might make it so that they could not get it for themselves but so that they could only receive it if they would give it. That would strike me as a just and a fair way to make the world. The experience of enlightenment is the fulfillment of anyone’s life.
I brought with me some quotations I’d like to use. The first one is from Martin Cecil, from a talk he gave in 1974, which he entitled “Radiant Thinking and Feeling.” And he said this:
If there is to be true thinking and true feeling they must be born out of the heaven into the earth, not out of the earth to be reflected back into the earth. (TSS 6:71, November 24, 1974)
This relates to the topic of enlightenment. People try to enlighten themselves about all kinds of things, looking at the world, looking at circumstances, looking at other people, maybe even looking into their own heart. This approach is even taken around spiritual matters. There is a natural desire to try to find out what is going on and to try to make it work. I wouldn’t want to put down engineers, but that is the engineering mind at work. There is a place for engineers and the engineering mind, and the tendency to think that if we just put it all together in our mind things would all work. If we didn’t get it right this time, maybe we’ll get it right the next.
Martin Cecil himself was something of an engineer, not with vast training in that field, yet he had an ability to design things and put things together. But there was something else at work, which relates to the very root of the word enlightenment, which is light. We tend to think of light as something that is reflected by our world, to be received by us. But, as Martin was very aware, light is something to be given.
For any human being, the most significant light in their life is the light they give, not the light they receive. And the act of seeing itself isn’t just an act of receiving what is coming from our world. It is a giving act; it is a creative act. We paint the world with our spirit, and our spirit is carried on the current of our seeing. Have you ever noticed that? I think Carol’s poem was about that. We can wake up in the morning and feel the wonders of the day and therefore see them. But where there is something else going on in the heart, if there’s a disturbance of the heart there is not radiant feeling and thinking.
I’d like to read from something else Martin said, in a service he gave that he entitled “The Light of Illumination”:
The size of the world for each one is based in the extent of vision, one’s own vision; and the quality of one’s world is dependent upon the quality of one’s own living. The extent of vision will in turn depend upon the extent of the light that is shining, the intensity of that light. (TSS 6:72, October 14, 1979)
So what light do you think he was talking about? Not the light of the sun, not the light of another person. For you, your light; and for me, mine. We see according to our own light. The size of our world is determined by our light, by our givingness, by our generosity.
There’s another quote that came to me from a friend in a Transformation Group that we held this week. This one is from Leo Tolstoy. He said this: “All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God….”
Love is God. I don’t think he was talking about the God of religion. I think he was talking about God the creator. Love is God. The vibration of love through us is the creator. That vibration of love coming through us is creating our world every day. The nature of the world that’s created, the extent of it, what it’s filled with, depends entirely on the quality of vibration that is coming through us. We could call some range of that vibration love; we could call another range of it light. It’s all the creative vibration that comes through a person, to whatever degree. Where it comes through generously and fully and clearly, it lights up our world. We can see. Do you think that might be enlightenment?
So I’d like to turn to something that we as the resident core staff at Sunrise Ranch considered recently, first addressed by me in a letter. This brings this matter down to cases. While it was addressed to what we think of here as the resident core staff, it actually relates to anybody anyplace who wants to share the work that we’re about, which is the creative work of Emissaries of Divine Light. So whether you’re in this Dome for the first time today or have been coming here for fifty years, if you hear of this because you see a video later or read a transcript, however this comes to you, it applies to you if you would share the work that we’re about. I invite you to hear it that way.
I believe that we, as the resident core staff at Sunrise Ranch, have to be more interested in developing and offering our own individual and collective spiritual leadership than in gleaning understanding or nourishment from other spiritual paths.
I thought later I could have added “or from this spiritual path.” We generally don’t tell people that when they’re coming here. We don’t tell them that if they’re looking to glean understanding and nourishment from Emissaries of Divine Light, in the end they will be sorely disappointed. That’s not what Emissaries of Divine Light is about. That’s not what Sunrise Ranch is about.
If a person comes to this program, they have the opportunity to become generous in their own giving of understanding and nourishment, in their own bringing of their light. And if a person comes here and does that, we have succeeded. That is our simple task here: to inspire someone who touches into what we’re about, to be generous in their expression of the light. And because they are, to find that there are other people who share that attitude, who they can work with in that attitude of generosity. I love Chris Foster’s way of expressing this years ago, when he sent out a letter to the editors of newspapers around the world that began with the request: “Leaders Wanted.” I believe this is exactly what he was appealing to.
Where there is a deep and genuine desire to be nourished spiritually and to understand, the kindest thing to do for such a person is to show them, as quickly as one can, where the source of that lies. Jesus spoke of this, and in fact this was the core of his teaching. I’d like to quote from the Book of John, where he said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of, ” speaking to his disciples. (John 4:32) If there’s any doubt where the disciples were in their transformational process, here’s the next verse—it says this: “Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?” I don’t think they were getting the message!
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) “And to finish his work.” What does that mean? What does it mean to finish? It could mean a lot of things, I suppose, but I think it has a lot to do with the light that we have to bring into our world. The finishing is about letting it all the way out, so that it reaches the people around us and fills our world. That’s the finishing.
He pointed to this in various other ways. There’s a wonderful story about a well. He was being pretty cheeky, I thought as I read it, with the woman at the well, telling her that he had water to give her and that if she drank of the water that he gave she would never be thirsty again. I believe he was pointing to exactly the same reality.
Have you ever looked about in your world and noticed what people do, and wondered how people could be so ignorant? Most of us could probably admit to catching ourselves doing things and thinking afterwards, “How did I do that? How could I be so ignorant? How could I have accepted something about myself or about other people, or about my world, that was a lie? It wasn’t true, and I believed it.” Sometime later a person may find out what the truth is. They may in some way awaken to what the truth of the circumstance was, what the truth of the other person was or the truth of themselves, and just not been able to believe that they could be so ignorant.
Where we’re not generous in our giving of the light, when we’re in a needy place, trying to glean understanding and nourishment from the world around us, trying to engineer our world so that it works the way we want it to, without bringing our generous contribution of our light, we end up being very gullible. I notice that people grasp at anything, on that basis. They will swallow the most ignorant of beliefs. They will come to believe things about other people that are not true, come to believe things about themselves and about the way the world is and the way it works, all based on the idea that if we were just a little smarter and tried a little harder to nourish ourselves, that it would work—ignoring the imperative that Martin was bringing in that first quote that I read: “If there is to be true thinking and true feeling they must be born out of the heaven into the earth, not out of the earth to be reflected back into the earth.”
So what does that mean, and how would that happen for any of us? How are our thinking and our feeling born out of the heaven? There’s only one way that could happen: we would have to be living in that heaven out of which it is being born. It all has to do with the premise for who we are, the premise for our identity. Tolstoy says love is God. Well, who are we? For our world, are we not God the creator? Do we not have that to give? Do we not have our understanding to give, and nourishment? And I don’t mean to imply that every thought that enters our head is the greatest light that’s ever been brought into the world. But where we accept for ourselves that we have that to give, we become wise. We stop eating, as it was put biblically, of the forbidden fruit—otherwise known as the stupid pills. We become wise.
I have one more quote for you. This one’s from the Bhagavad-Gita. It is Krishna speaking to Arjuna, as is much of the Bhagavad-Gita, very much on the theme of enlightenment. So Krishna says this:
The mind of pure devotion—even here—
Casts equally aside good deeds and bad,
Passing above them. Unto pure devotion
Devote thyself: with perfect understanding
Comes perfect act, and the right-hearted rise—
More certainly because they seek no gain—
Forth from the bands of the outer, step by step,
To highest seats of bliss. When thy firm soul
Hath shaken off those tangled oracles
Which ignorantly guide, then shall it soar
To high neglect of what’s denied or said,
This way or that, in doctrinal writ.
Troubled no longer by the priestly lore,
Safe shall it live, and sure; steadfastly bent
On understanding service. This is Reality—and Peace.
“Steadfastly bent on understanding service….” Does this have something to do with generosity? Generosity of thinking, generosity of understanding that sheds light on a situation, isn’t trying to glean something from it, trying to make it all work out to serve one’s own purposes, but is bringing service into that circumstance. As Jesus said, “For this cause came I….” For this steadfast service in this circumstance came I—not to make the circumstance work out as I think it ought to. I came here to bring something, to offer a gift. And, lo and behold, there are other people with me offering that gift, and we find we have that gift to offer together—that in fact, while it’s unique to each one, it is one gift, a gift so sorely lacking in the world of humanity. This is enlightenment. It is ours to bring.
The size of the world for each one is based in the extent of vision, one’s own vision; and the quality of one’s world is dependent upon the quality of one’s own living. The extent of vision will in turn depend upon the extent of the light that is shining, the intensity of that light.
Where the light shines, we’re no longer subject to the “tangled oracles which ignorantly guide.” In my letter, the part that I read, I spoke about what’s offered through other spiritual paths. I want to say that there are some amazing things being offered in the world today. I read a book like The Power of Now and I think to myself, oh my god, is anybody really reading this and actually doing what’s said here? Because if they did, the world would be changed. I think it’s an amazing book. I think of The Four Agreements and the strength of that message. It’s a powerful book, and accurate in large measure.
Not all spiritual teachings are so accurate. There are some teachings that smack of ignorance, because they ignore the necessity of finding the true meat, the true enlightenment. From many people’s standpoint, they’d just as soon you were dependent on them and their teaching for the rest of your life, and they teach things that are not empowering, that don’t bring a person to the source of their own light. Those teachings are indeed “tangled oracles which ignorantly guide.” They are what is “said, this way or that, in doctrinal writ.” And you hear that all over the place too.
In my view, the highest and the finest teaching available anyplace is available through this program. And why? Because it is a teaching to find who you are in the heaven, and to bring your generous expression of the light. But even this teaching that is available here is ultimately not enough, and ultimately not the point. The real point is you and me—the understanding that we have to bring into the world and the nourishment that we have to bring. I believe and know, with every ounce of my being, that each of us has it to bring and that we have the opportunity to bring it together.
August 31st, 2009