IIH (Initiation Into Hermetics) New Releases Self-Development

Enlightened Living Excerpt – Chapter 5 – The Greatest Barrier to Enlightenment

Please enjoy this excerpt from Enlightened Living by Martin Faulks where he talks the main sticking points that can hinder us in our development.
The Greatest Barrier to Enlightenment


It is a shared goal across many cultures to strive for a higher state of being, either through spiritual achievement or enlightenment. I believe the greatest barrier to this goal is, in fact, the idea that this state is separate and distant, beyond the
reach of most practitioners. Usually, it is thought that by practicing a particular technique, gaining secret knowledge, enacting a special initiation, or following a set of lessons, you or I could be promoted and transformed into a completely different person. A person beyond shortcomings, who doesn’t make mistakes, only has the purest thoughts and is able to answer any question. To me, this is unrealistic and, by being so, places it firmly in the future and allows us to excuse ourselves from exercising our full potential in the present. On a lower level, we find this kind of thinking reflected in those who procrastinate when making the changes they want in their lives. It is always going to be tomorrow or next week, rather than now.

Enlightenment is in the now, and if you undertake an action with good intentions, thus meaning you are looking for the best outcome for everyone and in everything, with pure awareness, then in that moment you are enlightened. You will find when these two qualities are combined that it bring with it all the other attributes that we would associate with enlightenment such as being in harmony, always learning, and with a clear idea of what you are doing.

So the idea is to make this state of consciousness our normal functioning state of consciousness. To do this, it is very important to learn to fully engage in what is happening right now. To always remember that the enlightened person is not going to be beyond troubles, but is rather someone who skilfully deals to the best of his or her ability, with the goal to bring about the best possible outcome. So when a negative thought enters the mind, it is corrected and then transformed into something positive. Rather than assuming failure at the presence of a negative thought, it is important to correct the mind. It is unrealistic to expect to never have those kinds of thoughts. Indeed to me, this very act of transforming a negative action or thought into something that has positive intentions and outcomes embodies the highest expression of enlightenment.

There are techniques that can help you with this goal. Meditation is a wonderful one because you actually practice the very state of mind that we are discussing here. When you meditate you are practicing being enlightened, you are practicing that state of higher consciousness. This makes it easier to bring this mind state into your everyday life. There are other techniques to wake you up and remind you to be doing what you are meant to be doing. So some traditions use prayers at regular intervals, some use affirmations. For me, I like using inspiring statements, for example, the
Zen saying:

I will respectfully advise those who wish to be
enlightened, do not waste a moment of your life.

Many people hear this and think it means to work really hard, but in reality it means to fully engage with whatever activity you are doing. So if you are having fun, then really have fun. If you want to go to sleep, really go to sleep. If you are working, really work. Do not waste your time and effort by not being fully awake or engaged. In this way I find I am able to be far more efficient than many people and fit more into my day, since energy is not wasted through split focus.

Every moment is an opportunity to be

This quote is often interpreted in one of two ways. The first interpretation is that of a sudden breakthrough, some form of great epiphany or realisation that will bring around accession to a new, enlightened state. The second interpretation is one more based on expressing our own inherent enlightenment. Every moment is an opportunity to be enlightened, therefore to embody our highest potential in each action. The next quote is also from the Zen tradition and encapsulates the simplicity of their teachings. Often the previous statement is difficult to apply across all areas of life, and it may be that you find
yourself willing to accept second best for some aspects, putting the responsibility of accepting your full potential into the future. Whenever I catch myself doing this I ask myself:

If not now, when?

This quote is a poignant reminder and allows us to fully engage and create perfection in the present, rather than a distant goal. It makes us reevaluate what we find important and prevents procrastination, allowing us to fully engage with all aspects of life now. A useful exercise is to imagine how what we are doing could be done perfectly now, not how we could improve on it in
the future but rather in this very moment. A western quote, which I believe is adapted from a sentence in the Hermetic literature and perfectly describes this is as follows:

Life is too short not to be exactly who you want to
be. Therefore make sure each action embodies
who you really are in this life.

Following on in the same vein, a personal motto of

Make every word and action reflect your true

This statement is a wonderful reminder to stay on target, as it helps us to be aware of our own behaviour and focus on good intentions. Affirmations like these are aids, but, like many techniques, unless they are tested and applied in daily life, they are but mere trinkets and their value never realised. The same can be viewed regarding the analogy of an athlete who is a sprinter, but whose focus is on training rather than practicing his sport.

The importance of applying these skills in our waking day cannot be emphasised enough. In spiritual traditions this is endemic. As people continually search for new techniques upon new techniques but never realising that these techniques are only the training, it is the embodiment of the skills, insights and abilities that aid us in daily life.

To review:

  1.  Do not put this off.
  2. It will not suddenly happen.
  3.  Spiritual exercises are training, the true test is applying the lessons to life.
  4.  Embody the state you wish to happen.
  5. Own every single action.

By applying these principles, balance will be found within ourselves because by practicing things that are difficult we become stronger in those areas we are weakest. This acts as a sunlamp on the soul. Skills are transferable, so as we become accomplished in one particular skill, our ability improves in other areas also. For me, this is the true way of enlightenment.

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