Dangerous Compassions


enlightenment pesto lady

I enjoy enlightenment as a way to glimpse what’s behind the veil and enjoy another state of being, a break from personhood.  Enlightenment as something we can slip in and out of.

I did a Hindu sect for 20 years or so, which I enjoyed.  I was surrounded by people much older than I was who wanted enlightenment like crazy.  They believed in pulling their consciousness into their deep core, “as a tortoise draws in its limbs”–avoiding sense pleasures, asceticism, denying the body, abstinence of many kinds.

As a tortoise draws in its limbs

Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will. Aspirants abstain from sense pleasures, but they still crave for them. These cravings all disappear when they see the highest goal. Even of those who tread the path, the stormy senses can sweep off the mind. They live in wisdom who subdue their senses and keep their minds ever absorbed in me. –Bhagavad Gita 2:58-61

It was laughable–I knew I had no possibility of finding enlightenment with these people.  Yet I stuck with it, the ridiculous hedonist among the brave monastics.  I knew I had no chance, but the flowers were very pretty.  Somehow I fit, not fitting in.

Then, wow, I did have some experiences that defied scientific explanation there–seeing light where there was no light, during vespers service.  Surprises, during meditation.

Also, I learned how to sing in Bengali and Sanskrit, which is valuable beyond anything.  I know some good songs, if you ever need a singer for your next…Sanskrit party.

these days

Nowadays I seek enlightenment through drowning myself in pleasure.  The beauty of a forest, the smell of snow, the sounds of the ocean, loving conifers.  Or out in the desert I take off my shoes and stand on beautiful huge rocks, talk to Mother God, feel sunlight, kiss my own hands.

Seems like a good idea–ecstatic dance, sex, overwhelmingly delicious food.  Playing the music as loud as it goes, closing my eyes, and forgetting some constraints of personhood.  Being something else for a while.

I also like smiling at the moment.  I pray all day–to my food, plants, the moon, my own body.  Glad to have myself, to be alive for today.

how about you

How do you experience enlightenment?  Are there ways you find it?

Some crankypants people say it’s superstitious claptrap.  They don’t even believe in it.  But whatevs.  I think it’s fun.

Drugs are a possibility.  Some people might skydive or climb a mountain.  Roller derby is an option.  Making art.  Soccer?  Meditation, swimming, chi gong?

I guess what gets us out of everyday life of paying bills and cleaning the kitchen floor.  But cleaning the kitchen floor can be enlightening, for sure.  Inhabit any moment, and you could find it.

I heard a quote long ago:  When I’m a Buddhist, I drive my friends crazy.  But when I’m Buddha, I don’t bother anyone at all.

I’ve been driven crazy by friends who were trying so hard to find some ideal!  So I think I get it.

Maybe sometimes I’m Buddha.  A fun part of my mental health issues is trying out many different states.  I experience variety.


Not going into how much I loved the Tao Te Ching as a teenager, being married for more than ten years to a Zen Buddhist with all the adventure that led to, and the religious experiences I had as a child doing Christianity in an unauthorized way.  Hahahaha.

Yeah, I guess it makes sense I’m a non-Catholic Catholic Worker after all, religious anarchist.  I’m off the path in several ways.

Nowadays I’m interfaith-rogue, which I enjoy.  A witch for all seasons.  Thank you to Ming for supporting my faith and quests, always.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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