When we first entertain the idea of becoming enlightened, we may assume that the benefit of enlightenment is for ourselves alone. We want peace. We want equanimity. We want to escape a world that is full of difficulties and disappointments.
But becoming enlightened isn’t just about us and becoming a better person.
The real impact, when we start to become truly aware, is that our meditation and stillness practice starts to have a positive affect on others, far beyond just ourselves. So, what once looked like a solitary pursuit for personal gain gets transformed into a community effort of strength building and transformation.
It’s like the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Many people bought into Bitcoin to escape a banking system that they felt was dishonest and inherently unfair, especially after the global financial crisis of 2008 caused by fraud in housing mortgages.
What happened was that, fueled by outrage at a dishonest financial system, many people traded in their government issued currencies for Bitcoin. After just 4 years, the price of Bitcoin rose to over $1,000 USD! The early adopters of Bitcoin became very rich, almost without trying.
This phenomena of a growing group of people who share the same ideas or feelings and participate together in a network that grows exponentially in value has been expressed as Metcalfe’s law.
In simple terms, Metcalfe’s law states that when a network of people grows from 10 to 20, the value of that network has not just doubled – it’s value is much more than that. Growth occurs exponentially, not just proportionately.
This law is also expressed in the old maxim, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Or, 2 plus 2 is greater than 4. In science, this is known as “synergy” when two compounds work together and produce an outcome greater than their individual parts.
In terms of enlightenment, the same principle applies. We start down a path towards enlightenment, at the beginning, to improve ourselves. But over time, we come to understand the value of our participation in a network of like-minded people who share our values, our commitment to a higher cause and who operate according to semi-agreed upon protocols.
For Bitcoins users, the protocols are the Blockchain, hashing algorithms and users running full nodes. For those seeking enlightenment, the protocols are stillness, meditation and mindfulness, amongst others.
When 1,000 people use Bitcoin, it’s interesting. When 100,000 people use Bitcoin, it’s an amazing store of value that rivals gold. When 100,000,000 people use Bitcoin, it will de-centralize the world’s financial systems and bring greater fairness and transparency to banking.
Similarly, when 1,000 people practice a meditation program like Steps to Knowledge, it’s interesting. When 100,000 people practice stillness and meditation daily, it starts to displace and disrupt traditional religious organizations. When 100,000,000 people practice inner knowing throughout their lives, it starts to re-wire the consciousness of humanity into a united force that will literally create a new world.
Our lives are more important than we realize…We are on a journey from one state of being, a limited state of being, to a greater state of being. From living in Separation to becoming reconnected… – from Marshall Vian Summers on the first day of the 2017 Steps to Knowledge Vigil
To make that leap from a limited state of being, seeing ourselves as alone, we need to reconnect with others in networks of enlightenment and entrainment.
Alone you can do nothing. Your enlightenment isn’t for you alone.