Top 3 Misconceptions People Have About Being Enlightened: On Anger, Multidimensional Living, and Money
Do you battle with your journey towards enlightenment? Do you think that in order to follow the enlightened path, you must divest yourself of all human trappings and emotions – i.e. give away all of your worldly goods, take a vow of poverty, detach yourself from “bad” human emotions? To a certain extent, some of that may be true for some people. But, what I often hear from my patients and colleagues is their self-judgment for not being/acting “enlightened” enough. What the heck does that even mean?
Firstly, we need to realize that things need to be put into context. What may be considered introspective or enlightened for one person, may not be the same definition for another.
That said, here are the top 3 misconceptions people have about being enlightened:
1.) People who are on their journey towards enlightenment are not supposed to feel anger.
In my early 20’s, I became in touch with my anger for the first time. I channeled my rage of injustice towards myself and loved ones, through my now archived zine, Bamboo Girl, spoken word performances, song, performance art, and creating dialogue through lectures at universities and colleges (on subjects ranging from verbal and physical self-defense, to creating your own voice through independent media.) To this day, I still enjoy spoken word, performing, creating dialogue (whether it be as a guest at universities/colleges, through social media, or simply chewing the fat with people who may/may not agree with my views), and writing.
As human beings operating on this earth to find our versions of happiness and peace, we seem to believe that, once we start on our healing journeys towards enlightenment, that being angry is not in alignment with our goal; and therefore, negate all emotions that may be deemed undesirable. Truth is, as enlightened as we may strive to be, we are still human, and we are on this earth because we are working on ourselves. So, although it is not encouraged to go postal in order to assuage our emotions when someone flips us the bird and cuts us off in traffic; or in the city, when a gaggle of tourists suddenly stop in the middle of a packed sidewalk to stick out their arms and point at sights of interest (there’s a reason I have developed quick reflexes over the years!), we do need to honor what we are feeling in that present moment.
One of my Buddhist friends describes this as “being Zen in city”. When the bus drives through a deep puddle that sprays your entire body with stagnant water teeming with enough organisms even the CDC would be repulsed by, you are not going to be a happy camper. To be truly in the moment, without illusion, you may choose to express anger. This does not mean that you have lost your Zen, but that you are, in fact, in it. Allow yourself your humanity to have emotions! To neither charge towards it, nor run away from it. Just observe it happening within you. Suppressing rage creates its own health issues on monumental levels. At the same time, however, it is ideal to experience the anger without harming yourself or others. For each of us, experiencing and expressing anger is a careful balance to strike and unique to our healing journey. And learning to actively find healthy channels to appropriately handle stress is important, too!
2.) Enlightened people are not allowed to be multidimensional.
A patient of mine spoke to me, recently, of her struggle of reconciling the fact that she’s a leader in the female spiritual community, who happens to love flowery dresses and high heels. She expressed great admiration for a woman, in a march she viewed from the sidelines, who wore stiletto heels the entire time. She secretly wished she could wear flowery dresses and heels at her spiritual community events, and female “power” events, but thought that the image would seem too worldly, weak, or incongruent for the spiritual female community.
But, the reality is that we are all multidimensional beings, and we all have our collective experiences of what’s made us who we are. They may seemingly not relate to each other, but this is where we need to remember that being in touch with our true power is knowing that no one else is like us. What makes us unique makes us most beautiful and seated in ourselves. At one time in my life, I wondered, “How do I reconcile the fact that I used to be such a warrior rabble-rouser back in the day, with my activist/performer/writer outlets, with my healer archetype that I have now owned?” The answer? Own it all. I embrace my Warrior-Healer archetype in its sometimes complicated, sometimes simple, but definitely colorful, glory.
No one is like you, and all of your dimensions and nuances are singular to you. Why would you want to fit into a mold, anyways? When I was a child, I would often express to my mother how dismayed I was that I was so different from my other friends growing up in my neighborhood – being multiracial within a societal context of blond hair and blue eyes as the beauty standard. Not to mention that it made me the target of unwanted attention! My mother would just smile and say, “They’re just jealous of you.” And when she and I would go shopping, I was often drawn to the things that other friends would probably find odd, gaudy, or unconventional. The euphemism often used by them was “artistic”. When I’d show it to my mother, she often shared in my delight, “It’s so different! How beautiful!” Her statement proved to be symbolic on many levels for me. I soon discovered that my being different was indeed nothing to be ashamed of, that different was beautiful.
So, moral of the story? Be different, be beautiful, be multidimensional. You are unique, so stop trying to be a cookie cutout of someone else!
3.) People who are on their journey towards enlightenment should not be concerned about, or should feel badly about, making money.
I know this point may be a sensitive or controversial one for many people. I know many healers who struggle to make ends meet, and to pay their bills, simply because they believe they shouldn’t charge money for the work that they do. In addition, there are people out there who believe that healers should not charge money for their services, since they feel their healing gifts have been bestowed upon them by a higher power, and it is, thus, unethical to expect financial compensation for offering it to the world.
To this belief, I’d like to ask – would you expect a Western Medical doctor to perform their services for free? Most likely, the answer would be “No.” Here is where we revisit the paradigm, then, of how conventional medicine is viewed and how “alternative” medicine is viewed. The word “alternative” is in quotes here, simply for the fact that many modalities that are considered alternative in contemporary society, such as Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Energy Healing, Ayurveda, etc. have been in use for thousands of years; whereas conventional medicine is rather young in comparison. As a daughter of a Western physician, I have great respect for the strengths of both conventional and complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM). Each has its place, and fabulous Western practitioners like Dr. Lissa Rankin are firm believers in CAM. The world is opening to assimilating ALL of our health options, so we can thus make more empowered choices, and we can write our own prescriptions for health!
Money is just another form of energy. When we are connected to all of our flow and abundance, we recognize that money is part of that flow. When we have perceptions that we are undeserving of abundance, or do not deserve to receive energy for the energy we put out into the world, we are signaling to ourselves, and the universe, that we are not ready to be in touch with the smooth flow of our personal, spiritual, professional, and financial Qi. And, frankly, putting out energy without getting anything in return, is for the birds! Abundance is for everyone. And there is enough for everybody.
What misconceptions about enlightenment do you struggle with?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments, below!
Honoring your glorious complexity,
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