Given New Year’s resolutions are most often affirmations of should do’s that we have no interest in really doing, this year I’m offering some reverse psychology. Instead of ten proactive enlightenment steps, here are ten compelling reasons to avoid enlightenment in 2012.
1) We get to be right. Even if we are wrong, we sure as hell want to be right. That’s because we have yet to step into that oft-quoted Rumi field beyond right and wrong doing. Instead we get to play a never-ending game of attack and blame, high moral ground and self-righteousness. Fun wow!
2) We get to be a know it all. All those books, seminars and workshops–not to mention university degrees–have made us knowledgeable. Our information-stuffed minds have worked hard to come up with pat theories of how life works and we get to rest on these ideas for as long as they are comfortable and reassuring to the ego. With this backlog of knowledge, nothing can change our mind, let alone liberate it.
3) We get to play the drama king/queen. Let’s face it, life is a soap opera most of the time. There’s nothing more fun than sitting with a friend and retelling the horror story of what another friend said or did. Each mortifying plot twist adds emotional fuel to the fire of the unfolding drama. By avoiding enlightenment, we get to keep our starring role in “Days of Our Lives.”
4) We get to remain a victim: This addictive stance, the “poor me” role, can be milked for an eternity. We get to keep rehashing the harmful past and reminding everyone how our misery is not our fault. In choosing to stay asleep to the joyful truth of our being, we can weep and gnash our teeth a while longer. Yippee!
5) We get to stay a worry wart: There’s nothing like getting a good fret on and imagining worst-case outcomes and spooky futures. A whole planet is in ecological jeopardy and the Mayans tell us the world will end this year. Even if we don’t buy into doom and gloom, we probably consternate about job prospects, dwindling savings accounts and dubious romance options. By avoiding enlightenment, we get to keep up this delightful preoccupation with the unbright future.
6) We get to stay in therapy. Our therapist is a lifeline and, what the heck, we’ve invested months or years sifting through mental and emotional junk. It’s like a content analysis of a book, teasing apart strands, motifs and themes that have run amok in our psyche. Darn it, if we got enlightened all that shadow work would go to waste. We’d have no mind left to fix, just a beautiful emptiness to rest in. At least on the therapist’s sofa we can rest assured we will have many more years wandering the labyrinth of our neuroses and psychoses.
7) We get keep our job as a seeker. This is perhaps the hardest one to give up, this dedication to the “path.” We’ve spent countless hours on a yoga mat, meditation cushion or mastering shamanic trance and tantric love-making. This seeking has become a job, an official identity that we wear like a badge. By avoiding enlightenment, we get to spend more time in that lotus posture, more hours at satsang, more air miles in service of spiritual retreat and seminars. We get to keep looking for what is here all along, right under oure noses.
8) We get to be special. Don’t get me wrong—each of us is as unique an expression of the divine as our fingerprints are one-of-a-kind artworks. Think of an infinite array of unique reed instruments through which the wind of awareness moves. But by avoiding enlightenment, we also get to hold on to the belief we are the best and most special instrument around. We get to be a solo star even if in truth we’re just one note in an eternal symphony. We also get to carry the weight of our special performance as if it actually matters.
9) We get to be afraid of dying: We probably don’t admit this fear but more or less every mortal shrinks at the inevitability of death. Yet there’s a morbid pleasure in this deep-rooted anxiety of kicking the bucket. For one, we get to make bucket lists of crazy death-defying adventures and hedonistic pleasures. By staying asleep to the truth that we are unborn, eternal and unchanging, we get to keep dreading the end of our physical life.
10) We get to be an “I”: Granted, there are perks to being an “I”. When identified as a self, we get to be self-determined, self-assured and self-possessed. We also get to keep a lot of the self-baggage too, like deeply held suspicions we are not good enough, smart enough, worthy or loveable. In all this self-ing there is little room to notice that no one is actually here (yes, there really is nobody home!) But that’s okay, because being self-centered is a whole lot more fun than being self-realized (except of course when we’re being self-pitying).
So there you have it, ten excuses to keep slumbering in ego-land for the next twelve months, a land where we get to do the pursuit of happiness. Unless of course you wake up to the truth that, as Osho says, “The ego only gives you goals, but whenever those goals arrive, it does not allow you to celebrate.”
In this way, every new years resolution is really just one more distraction from the fact that nothing out-there will ever truly make us happy — let’s face it, each goal achieved will be replaced by yet another dream to one day attain. You can forever run on this treadmill of betterment or jump off into the possibility of just stopping. Stopping and noticing that the happiness you are chasing is right here all along. Right here, because it is who you truly are.
Awareness is Here!
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