Ahead by a century…
Shortly after my last blog post, someone I respect and admire asked me to explain the concept of enlightenment. I enthusiastically agreed, after all, I have had faith forever and practiced and taught yoga for years.
Oh, how my ego takes me down every time. I’ve mentioned before, I’m a competitive girl and I like to achieve. And really, this concept of enlightenment riled some things up. If I can’t even explain enlightened how can I be enlightened? And if I’m not enlightened, how can I teach yoga, a discipline that is all about the path of enlightenment? Seriously, a bit of panic set in. I’d like to say I unrolled my mat and practiced yoga, but actually, I just googled it. And there was a lot of information.
Apparently, I am not alone in my confusion of this concept. Scholars and philosophers have been debating the concept of enlightenment through yoga for centuries. Honestly, a lot of their concepts didn’t appeal to me, they seemed a bit intense citing notions of radical transformation and severe sacrifice. Then I came across the concept that we are born enlightened, but lose it over time and then have to try to get back to that state.
According to the philosophers, we lose the state of enlightenment as we grow. As our expectations and responsibilities and desires shape our actions, our actions shape our lives and our character. And we stop listening to our inner voice. Apparently, it’s like we have to constantly try to remember who we really are underneath all the pressures we put on ourselves. And honestly, we really do put a lot of undue pressures on ourselves. Trust me; I am the girl who panicked because she didn’t want to fail in explaining the concept of enlightenment, for a blog post.
So, after a bit of yoga, and perhaps even a touch of enlightenment, I realized that maybe the concept of enlightenment is so elusive, because it’s personal. Just like yoga, or any good journey, what it is for you might look really different than what it is to me. The Tragically Hip has been in the news a lot lately, and like many Canadian’s they are a big part of the soundtrack of my life. The entire time I’ve been mulling over this concept, their song Ahead by a Century has been floating through my brain. It captures my version of enlightenment, particularly Gord Downie’s opening verse “First thing we climb a tree, and maybe then we talk. Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts. Illusions of someday, casting a golden light. No dress rehearsal, this is our life”. After being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, the incomparable Mr. Downie has decided to do what he loves best, spend his summer playing with his friends. That seems pretty enlightened to me.
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