Between birth and death,
Three in ten are followers of life,
Three in ten are followers of death,
And men just passing from birth to death
also number three in ten.
Why is this so?
Because they live their lives on the gross level.
Tao Te Ching
For those who understand the mysteries - no explanation is necessary.
For those who do not - none is possible.
Webster defines enlighten in the following ways: to give light to; to give clearer views to; to illuminate; to instruct; to enable to see or comprehend truth; to free from ignorance, prejudice, or superstition, give clarification to.
Enlightenment is what we achieve in our search to understand the mysteries of life. This process is also sometimes called awakening. It is the process of becoming more aware of the part we play in the Universe. This awakening, this enlightenment comes only through personal experience. It can not be taught. Mystery schools exist to provide students with opportunities to experience those things which can lead to enlightenment. There are no guarantees.
Enlightenment is an on-going process, not an ultimate goal. Enlightenment can come gradually or in great leaps of, Ah hah! It can come during a deliberate meditation session, while half asleep, or while waxing a car. (What do you think of that scene in the movie, Karate Kid?)
If we are the least bit aware, we are constantly becoming enlightened about one thing or another. We may go through a short period of time as teenagers when we believe we know everything, but fortunately most of us out grow that notion. When we believe he have learned all we need to know on any topic then we have stepped off of the path of enlightenment.
The strength of the hunger for more knowledge and wisdom varies greatly from person to person. It can depend on so many factors. Sometimes our personal circumstances (i.e. health, financial status, work and/or family obligations) dictate that we put every ounce of our energy into just surviving.
Those of us who have a few spare moments a day to spend in meditation and contemplation of life's deeper questions can count ourselves very fortunate. Those questions include, but are not limited to:
No one can decide the answers to these questions for another person. If we want to understand these questions we must work to gain understanding. No one can find the answers to these questions through conscious thought and analysis. To achieve enlightenment takes a lot of self discipline and includes a regular regimen of meditation. Discussing your findings with other open-minded people can help. Having others question your findings should serve to help you toward further understanding.
Many find reading the Tao Te Ching, The Tao of Pooh (seriously!), Zen koans, Aesop's's fables, and their own journals gives them much food for thought, meditation and personal growth.
No matter what our job, hobby or avocation we know that, Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Enlightenment is the route by which we learn to do whatever we do in the best way possible.
That's ok. Many people have long periods of their lives when all their waking hours are taken up with just working to survive. This is not conducive to enlightenment. A person must have some time when the conscious mind can be free for the process of enlightenment to begin. But even the busiest person will eventually attempt to take a few moments in their day for meditation when they realize that it may lead to great time and energy savings in the future.
With enlightenment, comes the knowledge to do whatever it is you, do most efficiently. When the time is right, wild horses won't be able to hold you back from the quest. It may be next week, next year, or ten years from now. You will know when the time is right.
If you think you've found the answer to any of the above questions its a pretty good indication that you need to keep looking. Eventually we may arrive at an answer that feels exactly right, but the wise one always keeps an open mind to further elaboration on all of the mysteries.
Does it really matter whether we do or not? If we do find all of the answers does that mean we get to be gods? Do we really want all of the answers? Do the gods have all of the answers?
When we understand how the Universe works we can take the path of least resistance in all that we do. The working of magic is not supernatural - it is being super-aware of all that is natural.
One of the first things we have to understand when working magic is, From where do we get the power to do magic? For the beginner it can be enough just to know that it works, but the ability to work with the energy grows proportionately as a better rapport is built with the sources of that energy.
And where does that power come from? That's one of those questions each individual has to learn for himself.
How do we, as individuals, come to have the ability to work with energy? Do we just decide we want to and go ahead and do it? Do the gods (or other entities) decide we are good candidates and open our eyes to that ability? What part do the elementals play in magic? If we believe that the ability to do magic is a gift from the gods, what do the gods and/or elementals expect from us in exchange for this gift?
Most importantly, can we ever be sure that we have achieved the greatest ability possible if we have not made the greatest effort possible to understand our role in the workings of the Universe?
In ancient times those seeking enlightenment sometimes attended Mystery Schools. In these schools students would be led through a series of discoveries and revelations through viewing and participating in dramas and re-enactments of the lives and deaths of various gods and other and myths. Groups and organizations which attempt to emulate the great mystery schools may still be found by the persistent seeker. Many traditional Wiccan covens operate as mystery schools.
Some pagans may feel comfortable attending meditation sessions
in a Buddhist Temple, many of which welcome non-Buddhists for
weekend or longer stays.
Get to know the elements on a personal basis. Some traditions require a year's study on each one, where the student spends part of each day communicating and working with that element and getting to know every possible way it affects his or her life and what the element expects from the student.
Do volunteer work which puts you in touch with people you wouldn't normally encounter in your day to day life. The more points of view to which we are exposed, the more people through whose eyes we try to see the world, the better our understanding of that world can be.
Do not forget that waxing cars, cutting the lawn, washing dishes, folding laundry, shelling peas, polishing silver, and a myriad of other repetitive tasks are golden opportunities to have enlightenment catch you by surprise. However, do try to avoid deep meditation while driving!