Seasons Change

As the Seasons change, so do the days of our lives.

Geez that kind of sounds like a soap opera intro that my mother used to watch. 🙂

Here in the Austin area, the seasons change differently than they did when I was in upstate New York.

And just as the seasons have changed differently and at a different time, so has my view of life and some of the people in it. I came to Austin with a Pollyanna attitude and wished good and peace on all those I encountered here. I tend to project upon people trustworthiness as a default.

It turns out I can be wrong. And I’ve recently been bitten by reality as it comes from the the dark side. That will certainly kill the Pollyanna attitude quick.

Recently I was watching a video of a neuroscientist and he made a comment that floored me… in a very helpful, positive way. It was a missing piece of information I had been looking for for years, a piece of information that I didn’t even know I needed until I heard it.

Spirit (or unconscious mind if that works better for you) is funny like that sometimes. When the arrival of the perspective does come however, you know that you were secretly asking for an answer. You just may have not been asking in the right way.

But something up there — or out there — or in here — knows.

The statement was: “Just because a person is enlightened or awakened, it doesn’t mean they are ethical or moral.” He said while the two may go hand-in-hand, they are not conjoined. Morality, ethics, awakening and enlightenment do not have to go together.

This man was a neuroscientist studying “enlightenment” and God in the brain and mind. He said he had firsthand knowledge of this in addition to his research. His firsthand Knowledge involved Bagwan Rajneesh, also known as Osho.

While I cannot remember exactly what he said, I do remember it made a big enough impact on him to name him publicly. It made enough of an impact to say he was sure morals and ethics did not follow enlightenment. He was sure Rajneesh was enlightened, but he lacked ethics.

Now, whatever happened to this man I do not know. But I know the importance of this statement; I have experienced this exact same thing more than once. It left me very confused and disturbed, but his statement freed my mind. It exploded open with the truth of that statement. And it made sense of my experiences.

What had I done to cause my distress? What had I not seen? Or more importantly, what had I believed to cause this confusion?

As I went inside to contemplate, the answer came quickly: I believed that an enlightened person would also have ethics and morals. I figured the two had to be inexorably linked. I had never considered they were mutually exclusive and deserved their own unique consideration.

My brain continued to expand with a joy as this knowledge was linking parts of my brain and unlocking others rapidly.

The next big question that was quickly answered was, “What other erroneous assumptions had I made in life?”

Did I do the same thing with money? Appearances? Intelligence? Power? Did I put good and morals and ethics in one big pile of beliefs for these things as well?

Sadly, and at the same time quite freeingly, I knew that the answer was “yes.” It was a bittersweet realization, quickly moving towards sweet. I was seeing how I was captured in a kind of slavery of my own making, and yet a slavery known and abused by so many marketers, con (or confidence) men, sociopaths, politicians, sales people, etc. over time.

Here it was in a nutshell.

It reminded me of what a hunter does. I have nothing against hunters, but this is a perfect example. A hunter will go out and put a feed stand and feed the animals he wants to trap. He’ll leave the feed stand for months ahead of time to do three primary things: first, he is fattening the animal; second, he is observing the animal’s patterns; third, he is making the animal feel safe with the area while he feeds. As soon as hunting season opens, however, the hunter knows exactly how to harvest the animal.

From this neuroscientist, I learned that these people are smart. They have a knowledge of how to trap the human animal psychologically, and they learn how to manipulate the patterns they observe in others for their own gain.

The opposite type of person is the spiritual sage we all revere. These people can identify our patterns, point them out to us, and by doing so, they choose instead to help us set ourselves free. They choose to let us in on the game, and they give a doorway to something better.

I realized that I found myself in situations in which I was taken advantage of, and with some help from some brilliant people, I started to see how I let myself be set up. As smart as I think I am, I was as vulnerable and trusting as many of us are.

This is a very humbling experience. I once asked a person here in Austin what he thought was happening because I was starting to feel taken by someone. He told me, “Mark, why would someone go to a store to buy milk when he has the cow in the front yard giving it for free?”

When I look back on that statement with the new knowledge I learned for the neuroscientist, I understand what this smart man was trying to tell me. It wasn’t just about getting paid for the hard work I was doing. It was to look even deeper into the character of those that seek to do this.

Why did I not see it then? Because of my belief that ethics and morals went hand-in-hand with spirituality, awakening, and enlightenment. Another reason, to some extent to most of those who were rich and powerful, but I cannot say I went for politicians here. 🙂

When I started to separate these elements, I understand completely how we are all vulnerable to manipulation, con-men, and sociopaths. We truly want to believe that others have our best interest at heart.

“Well look, he is rich, he teaches spiritual principles, he talks about love often, he must be ethical and moral. Right?”

Well maybe. I remember the Jimmy Swaggarts and the Tammy Fayes and Rajneeshes etc. And while I leave it to a higher judge whether their spirituality is authentic, I question if their old morals came with them now.

Yes, I can give all the marketers out there credit for writing such great sales letters and making it all sound right, but still, I end up getting it wrong by buying their product. It’s wrong because I got taken.

The good fisherman knows the exact right time to go fishing with what bait for what fish. Most of the time, the fish gets fat by eating and never getting hooked. But it just takes one time to be lured by a juicy too-good-to-be-true bait, not seeing the hook because it has been expertly hidden behind the bait by the fisherman. And because that fish has no past experience with a hook, he ends up making a nice dinner for the fisherman.

What elements must we look for inside ourselves, as inherently vulnerable humans, and watch for in others so as not to be hooked?

Good question. I’m still researching, but I am putting my findings and thoughts together into something that I think can help many people. I will be starting a new FREE series called “The Red Pill Seminar.” My goal is to use my experiences to help us wake up to the scoundrels and make more informed decisions when we’re open to trusting another person.

I’ll talk about their techniques, their motives, how to identify them, and how to protect yourself.

This is important to know. This web site estimates that approximately 1-4% of average people are sociopaths. That is anywhere from 1 in every 100 people to 1 out of every 25 people. Think about it the next time you’re walking through the grocery store. There are at least 25-100 people there with you depending on where and when you go. There is an extremely high probability that you are walking through the grocery store with a sociopath. Perhaps you’re meeting with a new client, a business partner, maybe you’re going out on a date with a new person you just met. Will that person put your interests as important as his or her own? Or will they wisely watch you, learn your patterns, and use those things to their own advantage in your relationship?

This is important information.

And as you learn how to protect yourself from those who wish to keep you in a position of subservient slavery, you also wake up to your own success, your own power, and your own abilities. Your self worth is primary to all else. You cannot have success, power, or happiness if you are allowing others to take advantage of you in any way.

But for now ask yourself these questions — and assume nothing. Make sure you get the evidence first.

Do I know this person? How well?

Do you have data on them? Does someone I implicitly trust know their character? (Ignore the testimonials of their friends.)

Are they ethical or moral? Do they have the ethics and morals they claim to have, or are there cracks you have been noticing?

What does your gut say? Is there a feeling in your body that is telling you to be careful, even though your mind is telling you something else? What does your gut tell you about them?

Check them out. Have you heard of others being ripped off? Check the internet. Yes, you may find some people mad at them. Even the best have their detractors. Look for a pattern of deceit and deception.

Make them prove and earn you ethical and moral respect. This is one of the biggest gifts you can give. Please do not give it away for free. Make them ALL earn it.

As for me, I invite you to check me out on the web and talk to those who know me best. Some of you might not like me or what I have done, and I am cool with that. My point is not to judge people, it is to report and educate as best as I can, no matter what I am talking about. It is about being honest and letting you see who I am beyond the veneer of marketing.

If someone has the ethics and morals I adhere to now, I don’t care a whole lot about who they were. And I am not so Pollyanna anymore. I will remain vigilant. 🙂

Thanks for reading. We will talk soon!

And something from a movie I just watched…

the downward spiral is essentially a chain reaction
one thing begets the next
a man has a weakness… he is flawed
the flaw leads him to guilt
guilt leads him to shame
the shame he compensates with pride and vanity
and when pride fails, it leads to despair
despair takes over and they all lead to his destruction
woe becomes his fate

Something has got to stop his flow

-ink (The incubus)

Addendum: If, after reading this, you think I am sitting in victim mode and that I am blaming others for my predicament, you’re missing the point. The point is, I gave away my power. I made decisions from a place where I didn’t claim my power for a variety of reasons, reasons that I can’t get into otherwise I divulge much more than what is appropriate. I know where I need to grow, and I am growing and learning.

Life is not about shutting your eyes as tightly as possible and repeating affirmations until the bad things go away and you live in a world filled with joy all the time. Your propensity to feel joy is in direct correlation in your ability to experience it’s opposite.

35 thoughts on “Seasons Change”

  1. Mark, I have to disagree with the notion that an enlightened person can also be an unethical one. In my opinion and experience, a truly evolved and enlightened human would simply not act unethically. It’s not a matter of their beliefs applying some form of constraint upon some desired behavior, but rather that they lack any motivation to do something unethical. It simply does not occur to such a person to engage in behavior that is hurtful. I’ve met very few people for whom this description fit, but those few, I would trust with my very soul, knowing that my trust would never be betrayed.

    There are moments when I glimpse a shimmer of that light within myself, and in those moments, I am simply incapable of doing anyone harm in any way. Not because my better self wins some struggle with the more carnal and base part of me, but because in those moments, I can look objectively at the pettiness that drives my negative behavior. Once observed with dispassionate objectivity, the pettiness loses its power to direct my behaviors. In those rare moments when I am enlightened, my right thinking guides right actions. In the more frequent moments when I am not in touch with those right thoughts, emotions, and spirit itself, I can be hurtful and cruel, not to mention unethical.

    I think that if you look clearly at the relationships in which you were ultimately betrayed, you will realize that the real “betrayal” was not by another, but by your own illusion. You wanted to believe the other person was “enlightened” so badly that you allowed yourself to ignore their lapses in ethics (or, for that matter, “enlightenment”). It was only when you finally found yourself confronted with behaviors that you were unable to overlook, rationalize, or excuse that the illusion was shattered and you felt betrayed.

    I have been fortunate enough to have studied under and become dear friends with a true master. While it has been many years since I was under his tutelage, the most powerful lessons he gave were not spoken, but shown, through his steadfast goodness in the face of any kind of adversity.

    I would suggest that an individual who presents themselves as being “enlightened,” yet does not behave in a manner beneficial to all parties involved is not an enlightened person, but rather an actor, playing the role of an evolved soul. Enjoy their performances, but always remember that it is, indeed, a performance, and you’ll never feel betrayed. And you won’t feel bad about making an honest assessment of the difference between the person and the role they play for their audience. To be really blunt, I have found that the actors who portray sages – especially those who attempt to blur the line between themselves and the role they play – can be the biggest a**holes around. And being able to recognize the a**holes (even in my rare “enlightened” moments) is incredibly freeing.

    1. RevRon, Thanks very much for your comment. I guess we’d have to agree with the same definition of enlightenment that this neuroscientist used in order to really understand what he was getting at. I’ll need to find those videos again and post them. It’s been a while since I saw them, but they have stuck with me.

      I agree that I was betrayed by my own illusion, my own wanting to believe, my own too-trusting self. I wanted to believe, I wanted to trust. And honestly, I had a relationship that felt better than any friendship I had ever had before. How could that have been the same relationship that was taking advantage of me. It’s a huge issue, and it will be one of the defining experiences of my life. Though, look at all I am learning, developing, and the direction I am growing. It’s all good, and wherever that knowledge follows me, I will be able to do good with it.

  2. Mark,

    What a great post. It hits soooo close to home, as you mentioned Rajneesh. I am currently dealing with HUGE dissilusionment with someone who I greatly respected!

    I have also come to realize that just because a person is Enlightened it does not mean they are ethical, or anything else for that matter.

    I think I am alot like you, very trusting, always looking for the good in people, but Ive simply come to the accept that there will always people who are simply PREDATORS..They simply make up part of the whole… ( Good / bad – Yin/ Yang) whatever you want to call it.

    I am still learning how to take responsibility, asking Divinity to help me release the inner beliefs that attract those people into my life and to give me the wisdom to know the difference and to walk away from those Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Thank you for your insight!

    Love and Blessings
    Aymee

    1. Aymee, I’m sorry you have to go through this, too. But it’s happening for a reason. You’re a very gifted person with insight and healing abilities. Sometimes we need a few wounds of our own in order to help other people heal, grow, and protect themselves, too. Love and blessings to you, too.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Great article. Thank you for keeping it real.

    Here’s a quick distinction that I’ve found useful when it comes to enlightenment.

    Enlightenment is growing personally to the point where you no longer rely on “the mind”.

    That doesn’t mean that developing the mind, along with morals, integrity and intelligence isn’t necessary, though.

    Developing the mind for someone focused on enlightenment is like developing the body, neither is necessary, but both sure are useful – for the “enlightened one” and those around him.

    Be well my friend,

    Mr Twenty Twenty
    http://www.nlplive.com

    1. 20! Real is all I’ve got! Thanks for sharing your distinction. I like it. Coupled with what Ron said, great things to think about.

  4. Interesting post… what comes to my mind are some things I have learned from many ups and downs, tragedies and more in life:

    WHat re morals and ethics? Yours or mine? They are just an opinion, they are not absolute. SO if you make assumptions , or even are ‘vigilant’ in trying to judge and decipher someone, what is it you are looking for? Validation of your own point of view? Someone to agree with you that you are right? It all comes down to, there is no one way, right or wrong and we all have our own version of truth, morals, and ethics.

    Next I learned when we are ‘disappointed’ in someone we put on a pedestal, or had certain expectations of… when things do not go as we had hoped, it does not mean they are bad or wrong, because we CREATE OUR OWN REALITY. SO what we see and experience is a reflection of what we think, feel, see and expect, and actually has nothing to do with anyone else.

    One of the most freeing things in life is to let go of controlling and judging others and that includes expecting others to be perfect and in alignment with what we are all the time. NO one else is going to make our best interests theirs… that makes no sense. We have to be in our own power, and then choose what we think, say, feel and believe, and no one else has power over us, our lives or what happens to us.
    There are no victims.

    Letting go of the victim vibe opens up the Universe to you.. blaming and judging and deciphering others beliefs and actions makes your world smaller, and limited and painful.

    I bless all and let them live life in their own way, not judging I know what is best for them any more than they know what is best for me. Then I decide what I feel and think and who I am with and move on to create, reveal and uncover the riches of the Universe right here waiting for me!

    Best of everything to you all!
    Nan 🙂

    1. Nan, Thanks for your comment. We have some distinct differences of opinion, apparently. In my opinion, it is a very limited worldview to think that there are no sociopaths, no con-men, and no manipulative people in the world. There are. Period. I am not saying they are bad or wrong, I am saying that they adhere to a certain set of standards driven by certain psychological patterns that violate our shared societal morals.

      As for morality and ethics being “opinions,” I heartily disagree. Some of those societal morals and ethics are our laws. You can’t go into a court and say that those ethics and morals are opinions. Is it just my opinion that people shouldn’t chop up other people and eat them for dinner? That people shouldn’t lie, steal, or act negligently? No, those aren’t opinions. We have shared laws, morals and ethical standards for a reason.

      I am judging no one, and I don’t consider myself a victim. Those that are sociopathic in nature have their reasons for operating as they do, and I had mine for wanting to believe them and continuing to believe them in spite of the evidence to the contrary. I know that I *chose to participate* in these dramas for reasons that are my own highest good, and I’ve got people to help me work through those patterns and move past it. But to think that I *created* people who are manipulative is the same Pollyanna attitude I had when I came to Austin. It’s not that clear cut. And if I created them, I’m certainly not alone in creating similar situations because many others have experienced these things, too.

      I am not thinking I know what is best for others; I often don’t even know what’s best for me, apparently! I leave all of that to a higher power. If anything, I feel compassion for the psychological patterns and pain that cause others to act in ways that violate societal standards. They don’t do it from love; they do it from hurt, pain, and fear. Doesn’t mean any of us have to lie ourselves down and take it or pretend it doesn’t exist, though.

      Best to you.

  5. Thank you for this. Your blog has validated some feelings or questions I have about some of the so-called ‘gurus’ of the Abundance and Self Help Movement as well as people in my personal life. I recently have had conversations with friends where I’ve expressed reservations about some spiritual leaders out there but I too always expected to see the good in people and I went on blind faith that they must be ethical and moral because they were spirtually enlightened. I loved your reminders for all of us to not just give away our respect and trust. Before I buy any program now I do an internet search on the person to see if there is a pattern of unethical behaviour. I know that not everyone will like or love what someone does 100%. That’s not the deciding factor for me; but I do look for a pattern of questionable behaviour. I believe that it was Maya Angelou that once wrote something to the effect of, ‘when people show you who they really are, believe them’. That is a thought I embrace. Thanks Mark for your honesty.

    1. Dorothy – Thanks for your comment. And that Maya Angelou quote is great. Someone else, I can’t remember who, said that people will show you everything you need to know about them within the first 20 minutes of interacting with them. That fits nicely with what I have been learning.

  6. If we look at what you are writing about through the chakra model, just because someone is enlightened, and consequently highly functioning through the upper chakras including crown, this does not necessarily mean they have healthy (underline healthy!) functioning in the “lower” three (base, sacral, solar plexus). When I consider some previous problematic incidents with spiritual teachers through this concept I get a whole lot of aha! understanding, and capacity to let go, around these past painful situations.

  7. A good phrase for those type of people are “wickedly wise”. They have “right” appearing as “wrong” and vice versa. The movie “The Wizard of Oz” was a primer on how they operate. Everyone was looking for the wizard to give them something real but the wizard was a fake. The wizard was hiding behind the curtain of deception. It was interesting that it took a dog to reveal the true nature of the wizard.The word dog spelled backwards is God (our inner compass). And this inner compass has its’ on way of letting us know when the “wickedly wise” is attempting to get the best of us.

    In my situation I will either have a dream about a dog or snake if someone who I trust does not mean me any good. I got burned a lot of times before I started connecting the dots.

    1. William – Thanks for bringing up the Wizard of Oz reference… I hadn’t thought about that in that way, but that is a wonderful teaching tool for all of us to not look for truth outside of ourselves. Dogs are wonderful creatures, both honest and innocent, our best friends. That is very cool.

  8. Nan – You said “It all comes down to, there is no one way, right or wrong and we all have our own version of truth, morals, and ethics.”

    Certainly, there are many areas wherein we are each free to make judgment calls, but where ethics are concerned, we too often create a “gray area” where none should exist. Knowingly misleading others for personal gain is (or should be) inconsistent with anyone’s code of ethics. Being open need not require that we abandon reason and a commitment to good.

  9. Mark-
    Thanks for your post. I resonate with your experiences and have had a few interactions with “enlightened charlatans” myself. I’m personally getting pretty tired of “enlightened” beings who send me daily emails pitching all their products. Part of the issue is the definition of what we call enlightment. In my opinion this term is thrown about in a casual way in Western Society. Many people have experienced conscious awakenings where they have acquired a taste of being enlightened, but they aren’t totally
    enlightened. The few fully enlightened beings that I have met come from such a loving heart space– they understand that in the unity of being, hurting another hurts oneself.

    It is interesting, though, how many “gurus” seem to fall victim to their sexuality or to money– does this mean that they are not truly enlightened or are they just working through the last bits of karmic challenge? How can you define the level of anyone else’s enlightenment anyway?

    I must also agree with Nan, though. She is correct in saying that how we interpret these events is usually a reflection of our own emotional patterns and belief systems. If you are always feeling slighted or ripped-off what does that say about you? Why are you continuing to attract people who rip you off? For that matter, why are some people attracted to Gurus like Rajneesh and others always find the purehearted?Also, social and cultural mores vary considerably on our planet and what might be considered socially acceptable in one culture might be considered offensive or even criminal in another. Could say more, but gotta go
    Carol

  10. Carol – You’re entitled to your opinions, too, but you’ve missed my point entirely. I don’t consider myself a victim or ripped off, and I am not continuing to attract people who rip me off.

    But you bring up an important point about the law of attraction. If this is the case, and you interpret my post to say that I have been ripped off, then *you* have attracted *that* situation, and our experience of being ripped off. Thus, YOU are responsible for us being ripped off because THAT is in your reality.

    Gets kind of convoluted, doesn’t it.

    Thanks for your comment, it was perfect for illustrating something important.

    Mark

  11. Hi Mark,
    Great post. I will keep it short, remember the japanese movie classic The Seventh Samuri ?
    The enlightened one was the alcoholic. Enlightented consiousness dosen’t mean that the enlightened person has their ego under control whether they think so or not. This comes from the failure of the maie teacher energy not honoring and aknowledging the Goddess.

    Ralph

    1. Ralph – Thanks for this reference and the reminder. I’ll have to watch that movie again soon. 🙂

  12. Nan,

    With all due respect I SOOO DISAGREE that Mark is taking the position of victim.. But I do agree that we project our stuff onto others, hence each one of our posts…

    It’s very convinient to say that NOTHING that somebody else does has to do with them. It’s so easy to say that, but when someone KNOWINGLY engages in the act of deceiving another for financial gain,Sure, we are responsible for attracting that HOWEVERthat has everything to do with them.

    Are the Bernie Madoff’s of the world evil because I say so? Do you think ANYONE on this planet thinks he is not a con artist ? Is it my interpretation, do you think he is a blessing because he ripped off so many people.. come on!

    I certainly AM responsible 100% for everything that I experience, YES something attracted that charlatan into my experience however, sometimes you just have to call people on their crap PERIOD.

    We who are in this business of helping others SHOULD be held to a higher standard than others.

    ANYBODY who is in a position of power has a moral obligation ( And sure we can go around in circles about the “grey” area about the moral obligation but you KNOW what I mean) to follow certain a code of ethics.

    I don’t think that Mark calling someone out on their crap makes him a victim. It is empowering to shed light on the simple FACT that there ARE people in this business that DO study others in a very Machiavellian way and take advantage PERIOD.

    That is our problem in this community all the “grey” area of what’s right or whats wrong. Gimme a break.. A preist molests a child… Is that WRONG? or is it my interpretation? Is that right? or is that Wrong? Come on.. REally!

    I will say it again… YES we are responsible for everything WE attract. YES WE are responsible for taking care of ourselves, HOWEVER that does not absolve people take advantage of others who respect them and follow their teachings PERIOD….

  13. Eunice Krecek, CH

    Hi Mark,
    I enjoyed your post. I was married to the type of person you are picturing. When, I left after he tried to kill me, I set out to find out why some people are controllers and other people fall victim to them. You opened my eyes to new thoughts on this. I did not marry a person I did not know, we grew up together. But, I did not see the dark side because of stars in my eyes. That meant 28 yrs of hell. But, we experience these things for our growth. Looking forward to your new seminar. Keep us posted.
    Eunice

  14. Hello All,

    I find it interesting that many people have diagreed with Nan on this post as I found her post to resonate with me. I think she is speaking from a place of truth. I too have semi-recently had my life devasted by an “enlightened charlatan” as others have called such predators. I too believed them for my own reasons and I too do not consider myself to be a victim. I can see the good and growth opportunities that ultimately came from the experience and I too have learned not to be so trusting from a practical point of view for living here in the world of form.

    However, I do not believe it is productive at all to label such people as unethical or immoral. Judgement of any kind is not enlightened thinking. As others have mentioned, an enlightened person approaches all things from the perspective of unity and wholeness. From a higher perspective it is impossible to have right or wrong. How can you call one aspect of universal consciouseness wrong and another right when in reality they are the same being. It is separation that is truly the illusion. As the Hindu teacher Swami Vivekananda says “He who stumbles a little less, we call good, and he who stumbles a little move, we call bad. It is not that there are two different people or presences, but the same PRESENCE (GOD) manifesting in different degrees.” I suggest taking a step back and trying to look at all situations from an Absolute perspective. If you can give up a belief that you were so sure of like “An elightened person always acts in an ethical fashion”, how do you know your other beliefs are any more accurate? Such as: Are you absolutely positively sure that the person who seemingly hurt you is actually separate from you? Are you sure that you can be hurt? Is is possible for spirit to be hurt? Is is possible that from an absolute perspective all is always good and what appears to be bad temporarly is just that an appearance? I encourage everyone to read the parabel “The Little Soul and the Sun” by Neale Donald Walsch, which is availalbe for free on the internet. It is really a mind opener. I thank you all for sharing your thoughts and giving me the opportunity to refine my own thinking. This simply is what my soul wanted to share at this moment.

    Nameste.

    1. Kyen – Thanks for your comment. I am not labeling people; I do take issue with their ACTIONS. Therein lies the difference. The person who hurt me most is someone that I continue to love, but I feel that this person lost their way on a path we chose to take together. I believe that their actions, and my actions, and the beliefs and emotions that precipitated all of this is ALL for our highest good. After all, you can wander away from the light all you want, but eventually we all end up part of the One. Your thoughts have been helpful to me, too, so thank you for sharing them.

  15. Wonderful debate going on here, and some very thought provoking comments, but I do think that perhaps we are missing one GREAT fact – to be truly enlightened means fully understanding the concept of Oneness; if you have reached that stage (put aside all inherited and limiting beliefs about Godhead, your relation to He/She/It etc) you will simply not be able to carry through with a thought, word or deed that in any way harms another sentient being! A truly enlightened being is Pure Love, and anyone not coming from that perspective is not yet truly enlightened; on the journey perhaps, and maybe with strong intent but not quite there. This is a good way to test your own spiritual advancement, in each and every moment and each and every thought, word and deed. Anyone who dishonours another in whatever way, is acting – I call them pseudo-spiritualists. And always we should remember that the way to be absolutely sure is to FEEL – our inner intuition is never wrong about a persons character, so if you have been had (and we have all been had at some point!) it was because you weren’t totally in the Eternal Now, and not paying attention ie good lesson! The comment regarding chakra activity is also not quite accurate – yes, it is possible for a person to have strong activity in the higher three chakras, and be weak in the lower ones; that person is not Enlightened! All seven chakras need to be in perfect harmony for true enlightenment – I don’t mean to sound disagreeable here but I have been working in the field of Chakras (physical, emotional and psychological healing) for almost thirty years. It is also possible for a person to alter the energy in a particualr chakra through thought, but it may not be an accurate representation of their normal state – for instance a person joining a group of meditators can raise the level of activity in the sixth chakrs purely by having a fantasy about being psychic, and thinking it would be cool to be like that – in their normal day-to-day lives the sixth xhakra can be virtually dormant, but someone who is practiced at reaading chakra energy will not be fooled by any temporary or sudden shifts.
    Bottom line – as Mark has said, there are no victims, only moments of forgetting Who We Truly Are! Namaste

  16. Thank you for this fascinating and thought provoking post and comments. I must admit upfront that I have not read all the comments due to my time constraints so what I have to say may have been said already.

    It seems to me that the connection between enlightenment and morality is not direct because the simply operate on different levels of existence. I have no personal experience with an enlightened person so this is purely theoretical, but to my thinking enlightenment relates to connection and insight into the larger patterns/purpose of the universe/divine/God or whatever name you choose. I think that this conversation is confusing the ideas of “immoral” and “amoral”.

    One cannot apply the human/cultural/societal definitions of morality to the universal/divine. If we do this then it is immediately apparent (from our limited perspective) that God is immoral. We need only look at the fact that bad/immoral things happen in a world created by this universal divine power.

    If OSHO or Tammy Faye or the Buddha is actually enlightened then their choice of behaviors may be driven by a higher purpose than we are capable of understanding. Hitler’s actions can be considered immoral by almost any standard and yet it is plausible that from a divine perspective his existence served a larger and ultimately good function. Even as a limited human I can see that the very conversation we are engaged in here has been made possible by the evolution in consciousness lead (in part at least) by our collective experience of the immorality around us.

    Several contributors have explained to the rest of us what it means to be “enlightened” which strikes me a very human and somewhat misguided. I strongly suspect that true enlightenment goes well beyond any explanations we have heard or could even understand. On a simple personal level, I was incapable of truly understanding what it meant to be a “parent” until I had children of my own despite all the reading, talking, thinking and meditating about it I did before hand.

    Despite all the esoteric discussion of enlightenment, I return to one of Mark’s key points (as I understand it). Despite knowing or not knowing who is or isn’t enlightened, we as individuals are ultimately responsible for our own choices, actions and the experience of our lives and must, therefore, endeavor to make conscious and conscientious choices. I believe we are each capable of reaching enlightenment on our own both because of and despite everyone else in our lives.

    Thank you again for this discussion and for reading this far.

  17. One additional thought about the humanness of “enlightened” teachers. I have heard it said by one of my teachers that enlightenment is not a one-time event after which you are forever at one with the universe. Enlightenment happens in short moments that can lengthen and grow with practice, but no matter how enlightened one becomes, “as long as you exist in a body, you continue to operate from a human framework with human personality, experience, culture etc.”. From this perspective we can learn about “enlightenment” from those who have experienced it with out assuming perfection. I think this provides more hope for the rest of on our journey. As another teacher once said to me, “Phil, let go of striving for enlightenment and try striving for “lightenment”. Let enlightenment happen on its own. What would your life be like if each day you were a little lighter than yesterday?”

    Thanks again.

    1. Phil – both of your comments are great and expand the conversation in exactly the way I love to see. Thank you so much for sharing. Fantastic insights.

  18. Really interesting discussion taking place. I did want to respond to a point that many people seemed to make in their responses; something along the lines of

    “Judgement of any kind is not enlightened thinking”

    I disagree. I beleve judgement can be an ally in emotional and spiritual growth. I think there is a big difference between being judgemental and having judgement or discernment. Judgement with wisdom and compassion or having discernment about who we choose to associate with or align ourselves with is necessary to mental, emotional health. Just because you are trying to evolve as a spiritual being I don’t think that means you should check your brain at the door. I’ve often heard people say “we are spiritual beings having a human experience”. True – but let’s value our human experiences as much as our spiritual ones.

  19. Hi Mark thanks for the info, may I ask in your opinion how this fit’s with self identity Ho’oponopono?
    I think this could be a by product of modern media and the availability of “awakening material” anyone can get it and wake up but most media also fast tracks the process. Most media focuses on the awakening part and brushes over the core values and ethics.
    I am a self awareness coach and I take responsibility that if the client has not got the correct foundation of peace and really coming from a place of love then I don’t start the coaching program. I have meet people that where enlightened and at the same time just plane nasty. When I met them I took the lesson of why I attracted these people in and installed personal boundaries for selecting my clients. My clients must fall into set criteria before the coaching starts. The training starts with core values, once I am assured they have the correct vale system in place then and only then do they get the tools for awakening.
    If they haven’t got or are refusing to live by good values then I give them their money back and say good bye. This isn’t easy but as yet it is the only system I have to ensure that there are more people out there with peace and love in their hearts.

  20. Ayanda said, “Anyone who dishonours another in whatever way, is acting – I call them pseudo-spiritualists.”

    My point exactly. If one’s actions are not so pure that his or her ethics are virtually above question (much less, reproach), they are still bound to their carnal nature (ego). To be awakened is to perceive the ego, but not be driven by it. Nothing wrong with loving the “actors,” so long as you don’t confuse the real person with the part they’re playing.

    I know of one self-proclaimed “teacher” who promises his followers the secret to awakening and enlightenment (always for a price, even when promised for free), yet rages whenever his own desires are denied or when anything he says is challenged. He will even go so far as to silence challenges whenever possible. He professes to love his challengers, but I have seen how he will strike out at even those who challenge from a place of love. To claim that such a person is “awakened” or “enlightened” is a futile attempt to lower the bar of spiritual evolvement. Perhaps some feel this is necessary, believing that true awakening is beyond their grasp, and desperately trying to make it more attainable by diminishing its demands (and thus its promise).

    Too many people seem to think that “awakening” is to spirituality as an orgasm is to casual sex. In truth, it isn’t a “goal” that must be rushed toward, but rather the natural occurrence, experienced by those who have learned to love the journey, and to grasp and savor each moment, unconcerned about and virtually oblivious to the journey’s end.

    From this perspective, beware anyone who tries to sell a map of “shortcuts” to that ultimate destination. That they are selling rather than giving is proof that their motivation is to satisfy their own unawakened desires. And following their “maps,” could well distract seekers from encountering the experiences they need as they make their journey.

  21. Mark – I just keep coming back to this question. “Don’t the universal laws, principles work the same for each and everyone regardless?

    Bill

  22. Okay so we need to be cautious about dictating “how” one “finds enlightenment” – the how will be provided by the Universe/All There Is etc. Our job is to seek, and to seek sincerely – and the only way we can, as individuals, do that, is in whatever way resonates with our personal truth at any given moment. We will probably never be able to look within and find not a trace of “humanity” because humanity is the realm in which we are operating in the Now. But we can become aware of those aspects of humanity, and decide whether they serve our desire for and towards enlightenment – not all aspects of humanity are “bad”! And be brutally honest, and discerning (I do prefer not to use the word judgement simply because of the connotations so often attached to it)and make conscious choices based on how seriously we seek inner peace.

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