The spiritual search is like color Blue thinking it’s best to be White.
We call White being ‘enlightened’ in the human world.
So Blue goes on retreat and fasts and reads self help books and goes to therapy, basically attempting to clean all of the blueness from itself in the belief that once all trace of blue is gone, what’s left underneath is the White that represents what it truly is, what it wants to spend all its time as.
From what we know about colors, this is absurd.
Now, while engaged on genuine spiritual inquiry, Blue will be invited to learn about itself from the thoughts it has about all of the other colors. Blue learns that it is like Red, sometimes, and that it is like Purple, sometimes. Blue may go deeper and learn that it was identifying with its manifestations more than with what originated them. It may learn that its truer nature is that of radiation, that different colors are simply radiation being emitted at different wavelengths (If you take radiation that appears blue and increase its wavelength it will now appear red, if you decrease it’s wavelength it will now appear purple, and so on).
Blue may learn that it was seeing itself literally in a very limited light and of the futility of trying to strip itself of all blueness. Better to own your own blueness, your own purpleness, your own redness, and so on. All colors have their uses.
Even as these realizations may take place for Blue, it never really ‘transmutates’ to ‘White: ‘White (Enlightenment) is a myth.’ The radiation that ‘Blue‘ is may lose it’s identification with ‘Blueness‘ and then be fully able to see itself as showing up as all wavelengths, and one can call that a ‘truer’ Enlightement, but what’s really important is to be in touch with the fact that one shows up as blue, sometimes, red, sometimes, and so on. And that’s the part that is really important: to be in touch with how one is showing up this moment and to have intimacy with that. And the reason why that is what matters is because, right now, that’s all one’s got. All the rest is a story.
This little model helps me explain people’s disillusionment with their spiritual teachers. In the same way we, as spiritual seekers, long to be White we want our teachers to be White, so that we have somebody in our life who we believe can show us the way. But n o b o d y is White.
‘White‘ is a story.
A spiritual master is somebody who is in touch with all her colors, AND who owns them when he or she shows up as that, and that equanimity with all colors is as White as it gets. When we don’t understand this and our teacher begins to show his or her blue and red and purple sides, we’re disillusioned. We attack them in our minds or write blog posts about them. We separate from them and I know that’s not wise because it all feels like pain. I know that because I’ve done it. It all stems from a basic confusion about what enlightenment is and is not, and about the deeper meaning of purity. The simple way to begin to clear up that confusion is to literally recognize that ‘Enlightenment is not what you think.’
This prompted me to write a little poem, which I dedicated to my friend Michelle Kassinger. We had a good time the other day talking about the matters that eventually became the ingredients for this post. Here it is.
Working on it
I am aware of the colors I wear today
I am aware that those colors are not all that I am.
Allowing those insights to percolate right through my actions
So that I may live a life of balance
That’s the enlightenment that I know.