Enlightenment through Gratitude of Being - Michael Oakes
Enlightenment is the experience that being is not only enough, but that it’s such a profound, overflowing gift, that everything else fails to measure.
How could it be otherwise? Everything that you love, everything that you are, and every experience you ever have, rides upon the backbone of your being.
Do you believe your existence was certain? Do you believe it was inevitable that your parents would meet – that a single sperm from trillions would find that one egg from your mother? Do you believe it destiny that exact, improbable sequence happened again and again, generation after generation, backward through time since sexual reproduction first emerged – all to create you? You must either admit the universe was planned around you from the beginning, or face the fact that your existence was astronomically improbable. It’s difficult to determine which scenario is more profound.
Yet here you are, experiencing these words.
Both our existences are facts that sit just left of impossibility – statistical miracles of the highest order.
Yet here we sit.
It only gets more amazing from here. Your universe, everything you’ll ever experience – your first step, the smell of coffee, the color orange, ice cream – they all require the miracle of your exitance as a predecessor. None of it can be without you.
And being is good.
Each moment you agree to that proposition by choosing to continue. Yes, we suffer. Yes, we struggle, and we cry. But it’s all worth it. Strangely, even if we feel our lives are filled with more suffering than pleasure, we still choose being.
We are left with two fundamental truths: That you exist is a miracle, and your existence is good.
Yet, knowing this is only the beginning. The next step is experiencing it.
How hard can it be? You’ve already admitted it’s true. Just allow yourself to feel it’s truth.
Start by inventorying the trove of gifts laid at your feet. Freewill. Conscious experience. True love. Compassion so deep it breaks your heart. A cool breeze on a sunny, autumn day. The fact there’s even such a thing as a breeze, and that you even exist to experience it.
It’s a miracle.
You are a miracle.
Speak it as a mantra: “I am.” “I am.” “I am.”
Feel the truth of it with each repetition. Let it flow into your bones, until your whole being hums with the knowledge of what the universe is giving you at this very moment – your own existence.
Then allow yourself to realize that’s all you need – being is all you’ll ever need. Its amazingness is so large that nothing else can add. There can be no icing on a cake made of icing.
When you feel it, fully, a deep peace will wash over you – for you will know that whatever happens, whatever tragedy or minor problem, it cannot scratch the life of someone given so much.
The gratitude for your own being is a fathomless well. You can drink of it as often and deeply as you desire. You can take sips now and again – ladle a little over your head, and bask in the sudden, cold shock of your own existence. Or take the whole bucket, tip it back, and drink gulp after rapturous gulp, until every cell in your body is burning with divine light.
How ever you chose, how ever you partake,
the well is always
Michael Oakes currently lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and ten-year-old son. It’s impossible to watch his son grow and experience the world without seeing it anew himself. If someone had told him 42 would be his age of self-discovery, well, he would’ve found that quite funny. 42 is, after all, the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Last year Michael published his first four poems, but he now finds himself trying to carve out time for something bigger and more spiritual, something that mirrors the newfound seeking of his soul. Perhaps this is a fragment of that, and maybe that fragment will fit your blog.