November 3
The characteristic of the ignorant person
is that he or she strives to be other than
what he or she is. . . . To the enlightened
one, there is none who are ignorant.

Yoga Vasistha


Today's Meditation:

In our culture, of course, we tend to use the word "ignorant" as an insult, though the word has negative connotations only if we perceive it to have them.  An ignorant person is simply someone who doesn't know something--for example, I'm completely ignorant when it comes to calculus, and I would have no problems being called ignorant about calculus.  That said, Vasistha's words here make sense--he's simply talking about "the characteristic of the person who is not enlightened."  But then he turns the idea on its head by saying that the enlightened person sees that no one is actually ignorant. 

To some extent, we go through life trying on different clothes in order to find out what fits.  I'm not a football player, but I played football in high school, and it was fun.  So even though it seemed that I was trying to be something I wasn't, that wasn't really the case--I was simply a non-football player who was playing football for a while.  Likewise, I once was in a community play, and I was a non-actor who for a short time was acting.  Was I ignorant to try to be something I wasn't?  Or was I just trying on a different shirt for a while to find out what it felt like to wear it?

The enlightened person realizes that there really is no room for judgment.  Even if this person is trying to be someone or something else, then that person is going through something that he or she needs to experience in life.  Perhaps the person needs to learn about authenticity or dissatisfaction, and the best way for that person to learn is through such an experience.  While it's easy for us to say, "You should be yourself," if the other person hasn't yet discovered his or her self, then how are they supposed to do that?

One thing I've learned about life holds true:  people do some weird stuff.  And trying to be other than what we are is weird, but it also can be very valuable (as most weird stuff can).  And if we claim any sort of level of enlightenment at all, we must realize that it isn't for us to judge what others are doing, for we have no idea what their path calls them to do.

Questions to consider:

Why does it seem that so many people are trying to be something other than what they really are?

What does it mean to be enlightened?

How can trying to be something that we're not actually help us in life?

For further thought:

If I could define enlightenment briefly I would say
it is "the quiet acceptance of what is."

Wayne Dyer

More on enlightenment.


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