Thursday, July 14, 2016

Can You Make Yourself Enlightened?

Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?  As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.  Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?  To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise”.
-Anthony de Mello
I have always thought of spiritual practices as exercise for the soul the way physical activity is exercise is for the body.  A workout at the gym is not necessarily enjoyable any more than sitting in silence is always peaceful.  Occasionally physical exercise may be fun and sitting in silence may be calming.  Sometimes both of these things are just something we have to suffer through.  Spiritual practices, like physical exercise, are really mean for the long haul.  One trip to the gym does not qualify you for the Olympics any more than one meditation session makes you a spiritual guru.  People who do either or both of these things don’t usually feel an immediate effect when doing them.  They will, however, often feel the effect if they miss a session.  Over the long haul spiritual practices awaken your spiritual senses the way physical exercise keeps your body in good shape.  Nothing in life is a sure thing.  You can go to the gym every day and run five miles every evening and still drop dead of a heart attack on the side of the road.  You could also sit in silence twice a day for thirty years and never be enlightened.  Couch potatoes can outlive fitness freaks.  Agnostics can be knocked off their horses and receive total enlightenment with no effort on their part.  Like most of you, I do the best I can and I hope I am not asleep when the sun begins to rise.     

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