I wonder who ever came up with the senseless idea that being "enlightened" means one "has it all together" and experiences no sense of desire or longing? To the contrary, I am firmly convinced that the true measure of spiritual growth consists in the degree to which we are able to learn from others - including the "otherness" of our own deep self. Here I mean not just a feigned "make-nice" attitude, but a GENUINE sense of wonder at the sacred wisdom every being has to offer. If "enlightenment" means anything - and I'm actually not too fond of the word in its usual usage - it points to the fact that we are able to discover the Divine Presence dwelling in an EVER-WIDER array of different types of people, cultures, religions, species and landscapes. After all, each of us is actually simply a unique window looking through to the stunning wisdom and divinity of each and every being. As Emerson so famously put it, each of us can truly say: "I am a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me." Here, "seeing all" includes "LEARNING from all." And this ability to marvel and learn from the wisdom of ever-greater numbers and different types of people is actually one of the best ways to LOVE them. For - to alter Rene Descartes' famous dictum, each of us can truly declare: "I am learned-from; therefore, I AM " :)
Photo: Mesa Arch at sunrise, Canyonlands National Park, UT, November 30, 2015
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.