I wonder if anyone really knows what constitutes enlightenment, beyond their fantasy of what it must be like. Glowing rainbow chakras … floating in ecstatic bliss … free of challenges …

Every day I see various memes, giving me idealised versions of it. I certainly don’t measure up to any of them … and don’t want to. [I have actually been accused of it a few times 🙄 … I plead not guilty.]

It seems to me that “enlightenment” is another of those loaded terms that we’re encouraged to judge ourselves by. Another opportunity to admit to not being good enough.

There are so many of these in our social order. They create a dominant focus on what we’re not good at, so that we learn to ignore our gifts: the stuff we’re good at.

Our gifts and talents are generally what we find so easy that we assign them no value. We think something like: “Because I can do it, everyone must be able to do it. It’s just me.”

We don’t even notice that other people are looking at us and going through the same process.

School systems focus on scores. Where our scores are lower than the standard set by an anonymous authority, we face a barrage of disapproval and “must do betters”. We’re taught to put extra attention on what we’re not good at.

We’re indoctrinated with a belief that we’re just not good enough. Discovering and simply BEING ourselves, is not enough. We’re trained to put our effort into compensating for our weaknesses and failures.

Then there’s the shame of letting everyone down … family … parents … teachers. So much energy is wasted in trying to improve ourselves so we can get approval from others in authority … and approve of ourselves.

Not to mention the effort that goes into preventing anyone finding out just how “bad” we really are.

It took me ages to stop trying to be good at everything. It really came home to me when I noticed that I could work hard towards achieving a kind of “perfection” without any real satisfaction. Then as soon as I achieved a meagre degree of competence someone would turn up who was way better at it than me … and without any effort whatsoever.

This was particularly frustrating during my years in the commercial world, where monetary value was assigned to competences. There were many times when I found myself competing with others who would work cheaper than me, because they valued their abilities less.

There were also times when I found that I provided a unique service, but was seriously underpaid because I had not recognised my value.

Eventually I got the message. I learned the value of my talents and how to optimise my income from them. I remember I was once asked by a colleague what made me worth so much. My response to him was … “What makes you worth so little?”

There are plenty of people around who are very competent in areas, where I am not … and never will be. And it’s ok. It’s more than ok, because those people happily provide me with a resource whenever I need some help in their specialty.

So, what’s this all about? What is enlightenment?

Maybe it’s about recognising and valuing ourselves. Maybe it’s about abandoning those practices that reinforce a belief in not being good enough … and especially those practices that support a belief that just being is not good enough.

Maybe “enlightenment” is about engaging less with the heaviness of doing … lightening the load … and just being, without judging what that looks like. Finding ourselves in that place might be quite enlightening.