With everything that happens to you
What would you do if an angel with glowing wings, or a guru in a cotton robe, or an owl in a tree, said to you, ‘Use everything that happens to you. Don’t waste a thing.’?
Of course, the natural question to ask before the messenger rose heavenwards, hurried off on sandalled feet, or flew away with a parting hoot, is, ‘Use it for what?’
The reply would be, ‘Use it to nurture the seed of enlightenment within you.’
Would you walk on and forget the advice, or would you take it to heart?
If you took it to heart it would change your life.
We tend to think of enlightenment as a ca-boom! moment. One minute we’re just our boring old selves hurtling along on a train, adding spice to the stir-fry, or standing in the garden. And then, lo and behold, a flash of light engulfs us. Our feet almost leave the ground. We feel a tingling thrill throughout our aging body, and our brain almost explodes with sudden comprehension about the universe, oneness, all-that-is, and our part in the great scheme of eternity. Suddenly we know everything. It all makes sense.
Perhaps for you, it happened that way. But for people like me, it’s a slow dawning. Every passing day dissolves little bits of my limiting human identity as I let go of the incessant chatter in my head, and instead, I dwell in a state of what Michael Singer calls witness consciousness in his book, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself.
Witness consciousness is taking a step back from being embroiled in everyday life. It is observing (witnessing) what is, whether it’s objects, happenings, other people, or emotions.
As the witness, I take note of what I am seeing. I notice my thoughts and emotions about what I am seeing and all the preprogrammed, habitual actions and reactions that I spill out into the world as a result.
I am not what I am witnessing.
I am the witness.
The “I” that is the witness is the seed of enlightenment.
When I don't get caught up in thoughts and emotions, when I am simply the witness, I am being present. And the little bit of presence I bring to the world changes everything.
The Seed of Enlightenment
Imagine you have a seed within you called Enlightenment and everything that happens to you can either feed your ego identity or nourish your seed of enlightenment. Either your ego identity gets bigger, clumsier, and more obtuse, or enlightenment grows.
Pema Chödrön wrote in When Things Fall Apart:
We can use everything that happens to us as the means for waking up. We can use everything that occurs – whether it’s our conflicting emotions and thoughts or our seemingly outer situation – to show us where we are asleep and how we can wake up completely, utterly, without reservations.
Waking up is another term for enlightenment.
You wake up a little bit more every day by being the witness, that part of you that is spacious consciousness.
Use everything that happens to you, and everything you feel, to feed your seed of enlightenment.
Don’t waste a thing.
With love, Marlane
Chödrön, Pema. (2017). When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. London. HarperCollins. [Quote from p.159]
Singer, Michael A. (2007) The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself. Oakland. New Harbinger Publications. [Quote from p.16]