The True Power of Insight (#966)

I was wandering around the beautiful town of Claremont, California last weekend, when I stumbled across The Claremont Forum, a part of the nationwide Prison Library project and one of those locally run places that clearly exists because the people who run it love books almost as much as they love people.

After browsing for awhile, I bought myself a copy of the book “Living Enlightenment” by Andrew Cohen and sat out in the square to read. Cohen is an enlightened teacher (of the H.W.L. Poonja lineage if you’re keeping score at home), and the book unfolds as so many of them do in the form of a series of dialogues between student and teacher.

At one point, a student asks him if there are levels or “degrees” of enlightenment, to which he responds not really, but that there are degrees of “unenlightenment”.

The metaphor he then shares is quite brilliant:

Imagine the radiant sun, forever burning brightly, always casting its immaculate light that is never touched by anything. Then imagine a mirror, the surface of which is completely covered with dry mud. This mirror cannot reflect the light of the sun because its surface is completely obscured. When you look at its surface, all you will see is mud.Then something miraculous happens. A bolt of lightning hits the surface of the mirror and a small piece of the dry mud falls away. Now that mirror suddenly is casting a blazing reflection of the light of the radiant sun. Upon seeing this light, you instantly recognize it to be the light of your own Self.

Then you see another mirror covered with mud but this one has been hit by two bolts of lightning and, as a result, a third of the surface of the mirror has been revealed. Now you say, “Oh my goodness! This light is so much brighter.”

And then you stumble upon a third mirror and this one has been struck by three bolts of lightning, revealing two-thirds of its surface, which is casting such a bright reflection of the light of the sun that your eyes can barely withstand its intensity.

Eventually, you find a mirror that has been struck by so many lightning bolts that all of the mud has fallen away from its surface except for a few specks of dust. The reflection in this mirror is much, much brighter and clearer than all the others but those specks of dust still cast a small shadow.

Then, finally, you find a mirror on which there is not even one speck of dust left. In this one there only is a perfectly pure and unobscured reflection of the radiant light of the sun.

While the teacher is using this metaphor to exhort his students to go beyond mere spiritual enlightenment to the purification of the human personality, what struck me was the lightning bolts.

One of the most beautiful gifts of the inside-out understanding is that we slide ever more easily into a more reflective, insightful quality of mind. Many of the insights that come into this quiet, thoughtless place inside us are like a gentle mist washing away at the mud of our habitual attitudes and points of view. Almost without our noticing, certain things just become obvious to us. What once looked like poison is now clear drinking water; what once looked like harmless water is now revealed to be poison.

Yet every now and again, we get struck by lightning – a fresh new thought from within that leaves us forever changed. A portion of the mirror of our mind has been cleansed, and we are more able to reflect the light of the inner Self.

So while I love insights into changing the world, running my business, and having ever more loving relationships with family and friends, the true power of insight is in its capacity to instantly clean away years of personal thinking in one dynamic strike and reveal the impersonal, radiant love, light, and clarity that is always bubbling away just beneath the surface. We catch a glimpse of our true nature and while nothing in the world of form has changed, everything is different. We are not just seeing new things, but as Proust said, “seeing with new eyes”.

This ever present capacity for insight is almost miraculous. The fact that in any moment, we are only ever one thought away from a whole new experience of being alive means that no matter how bad things may seem, there is always hope – and no matter how wonderful things may seem, there is always more to see.

What are some insights that have changed your life? What has today’s tip prompted in you?

Please share your thoughts and, well, insights on the Inside-Out community page!

With all my love,

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