Enlightenment $2 ?

Can we buy enlightenment? I suppose it depends who you ask. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines that to enlighten it is to instruct,  inform, to give spiritual insight to;

It is the spiritual insight that I am interested in.

I have wondered about this for a number of years. There are many opportunities, books, retreats, mantras,and meditations that one can use as a tool to acquire peace.  No longer is  seeking inner tranquillity just for hippies, new agers and beatniks. Spiritual guidance is available at most community centres, and strip malls in the form of  yoga and martial arts classes, at the library, online, on T.V. and in the movies.

So it shouldn’t have surprised me last week when I walked past a newspaper box that donned a picture of the Dalai Lama with the caption “Enlightenment $2″

The Dalai Lama was in Vancouver at the end of September for a global peace summit.
An impressive list of Nobel Laureates, world leaders and philanthropists joined together at The Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education, to explore the idea of world peace.
With topics like World Peace through Personal Peace, compassion and community, illuminating dialogue was the intention.This opportunity for Vancouver to host such an important event is not only relevant, but desperately needed. In a city where a large number of residents are mainly concerned with paying the rent and the violence on the streets, taking time to reflect and acquire tools to a happier life is vital.

Does it have a cost? What would someone be willing to pay?  The lucky few who were able to attend this event in person will, no doubt, have had an experience to remember. Hundreds of school children were there as well. The whole series of talks were recored and are available to watch here. For the price of an Internet connection, or for free at the local library we can also participate, if only as a spectator of this event.

Now that his holiness has left the city, life goes on. There is no doubt that the work and good intentions of the many people involved in this undertaking will satisfy a need. But what about the rest of us? Should we be forced to pay for our spiritual expansion to the guy with a coloured belt at the local strip mall? Or buy books online or in a incense infused crystal strewn  emporium of  trinkets and extracted relics? I don’t think so.

Can you buy enlightenment? The simple answer is no. Having studied martial arts, yoga, Qi Gong and other  practices for more then a decade, I have come to realize this first hand.

There are books, and classes that will inspire you, spiritual practices, prayer and meditation can all uplift and expand your compassion for others, but true enlightenment is a personal journey that can not be taught or bought.There are many great teachers that can guide and acquaint you with parts of yourself you have forgotten or never knew.

You can learn to find it for free. It is in the smallest parts of your everyday life. In your morning coffee, in your children’s laughter, in  your own back yard. A sunny day, a song that takes you away to another place in time. Remembering to breath deeply before reacting to the kids latest squabble, or the burnt dinner. Reflecting on the time spent with people you love. listening to the birds outside your window before getting out of bed in the morning, and being grateful that you can hear them.

We can find peace within ourselves, the secret is that it’s already there, one only needs to take the time to look and it will be revealed.

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