A brahmin once asked The Blessed One:"Are you a God?""No, brahmin" said The Blessed One."Are you a saint?""No, brahmin" said The Blessed One."Are you a magician?""No, brahmin" said The Blessed One."What are you then?""I am awake."
I think that in the west and here in the US in particular we have lost our appreciation for the word, and what it means to an individual, a group or a society. It seems that in many parts of the world it is still waiting to be discovered.
I am constantly amazed by the multitudinous ways people find to deny themselves true enlightenment, or a true awakening. To the point where encountering a person of this nature sends a shock through most people's nervous systems.
And what of cultural and societal Enlightenment? Are we witnessing the undoing of the Renaissance? Of the British Enlightenment of the 18th century? Of the industrial and scientific achievements of the 20th?
Is a great, billowing, black curtain being hung between the human race higher capacities and the 21st century?
In place of true spirituality and enlightenment we see intolerant and hateful bastardizations of Christianity, Islam ansd Judaism.
In place of a greater undertsanding of the fact that, as Albert Einstein said, "religion, science and the arts are all bracnhes of the same tree" we see people retreating into equally vicious secular and theological dogmas.
In place of a greater spirit of understanding we hear both President Bush and the leaders of Al-Qaeda preaching the same "you are with us or against us" rhetoric.
In place of society continuing the enlightenment experiment of the last 500 years, we see it regressing from it.
In place of individuals opening themselves up to the oneness of the universe and out place in it, we see them devolve into small, narrow-minded, tribal beings with little taste for the work it takes to build a truly enlightened self, group and society.
Where will these trends lead?