This month let us take a Lapham’s Quarterly approach to Enlightenment as we look at five very different individuals’ approaches to it.
First up, Immanuel Kant.
This calls to mind that great directive from Step 271 in Steps to Knowledge, “I will accept responsibility today”: “[R]efrain from all motivations not born of Knowledge.” To me, this is making “use of one’s reason at every point,” irrespective of context—public or private. We are called to do this, to make the best contribution we can, wherever we can.
William Blake would agree it appears.
“[T]aking full responsibility for your life.” Fortunately we have the tools within us to do this, starting with the deep spiritual connection we are imbued with: Knowledge. It is our conscience, our intuition, our creativity—and a lot more than that. When we are completely responsible for our lives, we are free from all that prevents our “enlightenment.”
Kim Chestney corroborates this view:
It is natural that we are lost in this world as we didn’t originate here (cf. Step 295 excerpt: “You are a visitor within the world, and your participation here must exemplify your great life from beyond the world.”) I share Ms. Chestney’s view here, that enlightenment is that thing upon which we can anchor our best selves.
Now Mokokoma Mokhonoana takes us a little deeper:
Oh boy. This takes practice and a lot of unburdening to get to that place of neutrality, observation without judgment, disinterested discernment. Every situation simply is, and as stated in the second paragraph of chapter 17, Mastery, in Wisdom from the Greater Community, Vol. I : “The great gulf between you and God must be filled in with reality.” Being neutral here allows us to participate effectively without attachment to the outcome. We can do this because Knowledge is with us. “For there is no event or interaction which Knowledge cannot bless and harmonize.” (Step 237, “I am only beginning to comprehend the meaning of my life.”
Anne Lamott takes the practical view.
We are physical beings, after all. (Make sure they are good magazines and snacks, of course.)
We can always rely on the Angels for the pithy and cogent:
Being enlightened is being responsible—able to respond—effectively and with compassion to whatever the situation calls for.
This journey is long. Heed Ms. Lamott.