by Bernie Siegel, MD
Most people I know only find enlightenment through their emotional or physical difficulties. That is a sad statement. Wouldn’t it be far better to be educated about life and prepared for its difficulties by the wisdom of others, rather than to need your own break down in order to become strong at the broken places or expand through them. Many painful events become our blessings because of what they teach us and the voids they fill in our lives. I believe it is better to be blessed by wise parents, teachers and spiritual leaders than adversity.
Others learn the hard way that the darkness leads them to the light just as charcoal under pressure becomes a diamond. Again a painful journey through the tunnel of darkness seeking the enlightenment. .
My writing and today’s books have nothing new to say. We may have new stories but they are only repeating ancient wisdom. So read the wisdom of the sages and learn from those who have gone before us. Which path you take makes little difference. The themes of all the great spiritual leaders of the past have much in common So if you seek enlightenment get started by paying attention to what has been said and don’t wait for a personal disaster to bring you the gift of enlightenment. You may know the saying, “If you seek enlightenment, seek it as a man whose hair is on fire, seeks water.” It takes that kind of desire to truly face the light.
What has helped me most was my search for the answer to why we have a world filled with pain and difficulties. As a physician I saw much suffering that seemed to make no sense. Ultimately I realized it was to give our acts of compassion meaning and that what was evil was to not respond to the person with the affliction. We have free will and when we choose to love it is a choice which makes our love meaningful. The free will allows us the opportunity to become cocreators and, hopefully, some day we will create a family of man and our own Garden of Eden. As a surgeon I know we are one family, despite our actions, because we are all the same color inside.
A veterinarian friend of mine listed five points necessary to train animals properly. As I listened to her list I realize it is what the enlightened give to each other. They are Love, Trust, Respect, Consistency and Commitment. So the enlightened treat people as well as they do their pets.
The questions I would ask you to consider to help yourself awaken and see the light are:
- What is evil?
- Who can you hate?
- Who can you love?
- Who is the enemy?
- Who is the Lord you work for?
- What do you need to say that you haven’t said?
I won’t answer for you but as you seek enlightenment the correct answers will make themselves apparent.
The last point I will share with you is that when you are enlightened you will understand the power of love. So ask yourself why we say kill with kindness, torment with tenderness, love is blind, love thine enemies and love thy neighbor as thyself. Therein lies the answer to life and enlightenment.
Several years ago I fell from our roof, hit my head and developed amnesia, which improved my marriage and family life dramatically, I learned a great deal from the benefits of amnesia. When my memory came back I had a difficult time with my wife and children because now I remembered all their faults. A therapist friend said she could save me from years of therapy. I asked her how. She handed me something and said go home and read this and live what it says. What she handed me was Corinthians 1:13 which describes all the benefits of amnesia and more through love.
I tell you this so that until you are enlightened and capable of loving try amnesia in your relationships and daily life. It will help. Or if that doesn’t appeal to you the next time you don’t know what to do and seek to make the enlightened choice ask yourself, “What would Lassie do now?” If you prefer denominational or religious figures as choices there are a few I can recommend but choose wisely because animals are complete and man is not. Or so the Bible tells us.