"According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don't bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous."
I read these words by Deepak Chopra two years ago, shortly after I had just returned from a life-changing journey abroad. I wondered what it would actually feel like to live a life free of worry, completely unbothered, light-hearted and full of joy. I felt- embarking on a solitary, terrifying, but exciting new personal phase of my life, with eyes open and newly exposed to the idea of my own higher, more evolved self- like it was possible, though it was still beyond my imagination.
I had what at the time seemed to me like a ridiculous amount of faith in the possibility of my own redemption and rebirth- and what now seems like too little. Once you trust what is divine and miraculous for a long enough period (avoiding the inevitable discomfort, impatience, desire to give up, and opposition from the world, of course), and you begin to see, feel, and live in the redemptive and healing glory of God, faith that once seemed unbelievable becomes undeniable.
You always want more. Nothing fills your sense of longing like the higher ideals of love, peace, joy, light-heartedness, goodness, holiness, and possibility of purpose in your life about which you formerly never even thought.
I was just explaining to a friend today the sort of real, feel-able joy that happens when we totally re-conceptualize the way we look at the world- and ourselves within it- when we sign on with a new way of seeing things that frees us from the anxiety we seem to build up over every little thing: someone upsetting us, too little money, traffic on the way to work, our own predictions of failure; whatever other little things seem to rub us the wrong way, almost all within our own minds.
When we set our eyes (and our hearts and minds) on higher things, something that we don't foresee happens to us: we move toward those things- and the little things that used to bother us become way too small for our attention, compared to the bigger work for which we now realize we are made. We're headed in a higher direction; we're going somewhere. Our lives- not just our words or opinions- take on qualities of aliveness, passion, joy, love, and wisdom.
"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Her ways are ways of pleasantness- and all her paths are peace." -Proverbs 3:13-18
From our most personal relationships and inner-dialogues to our more social relationships and interactions with others, our existence becomes laced with the reflection of the love object we hold dearest. The fruit of this effort- if we're really doing it for God and not just for our own comfort, security, or gain- will inevitably be a completely changed life- and that change will bring ultimate peace. We don't have to do anything but drop ego and love Him more than we love us. That's not a solution we're culturally encouraged to think of- but when I really started to look at the workings of my own soul, that's the solution that made more sense than anything.
I've also realized that now, part of the reason I speak, write, create, and share openly is because there is only one dialogue happening internally that informs who I am, and thus what I do. Of course I can feel it is still a work in progress- changing, evolving, and becoming more seamless- but this is authenticity: that our most internal beliefs are actually what people see and know about us. And once we conceptualize a wholly loving God, it actually no longer matters what we think about ourselves: confidence and worth come from being loved and cherished, not, as the world suggests, trying to take on the task ourselves. That frees us. It was Dostoevsky who wrote, 'to love someone is to see him as God intended.' To love ourselves, in the truest sense of the word, is to do the same. Love is all that exists when we value the work, purpose, sovereignty, nature, and opinion of God above all things.
I could never live a creative, happy, joy-filled life if I listened to my opinions about myself, if I let my ego dictate who I was. That is the secret. (I think that is how it is possible to write everyday, to create art everyday, to accomplish anything any day.) There's too much past, too much pain, too much loss and brokenness to who I am- to who we all are- for me to really do anything about it. It's not that I ignore it (like many people I try to lead a well-examined life), but it is that I fully realize that no matter how spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically aware I am, unless I know the love of Something so much higher than myself I am eternally stuck in a mind that cannot ever fully make sense of itself. Something that has to put forth effort in governing itself cannot ever sufficiently or sustainably do so.
The condition to accepting this reality is the realization that ego never wants us to have- that we can't be both the accused and the judge. We need to cultivate comfort in vulnerability: being fully seen as a broken human being, and making our way back to being right with a just and loving Creator- not only with ourselves. When we do, our higher consciousness becomes our only consciousness. Ego is gone, God is there, and we are free.