An excerpt from the book "A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment" (Llewellyn) available in bookstores and online. Visit www.llewellyn.com.
Are you a commuter fed up with the daily grind? I was too until a light bulb went off in my head and I discovered a way to use meditation activity, practical traveling strategies and spiritual exercises to help turn my daily ride into something more. This book’s philosophy and point of view will appeal both to commuters and non-commuters, having something to offer everyone. Particularly, those of us faced with repetitive, mundane chores we have to do out of necessity, and, if given a choice, would choose not to.
The Sufis have a saying, "The apparent is the bridge to the real." In part, what is meant by this is that we need things of the world to help us experience, or see, the underlying unity. I wondered if it was possible to attain enlightenment traveling to work every day. Particularly if the highway was as crowded, dirty and in need of repair. Of course it was! A little unusual, perhaps, but anything was possible.
Somehow, as I drove to work, focusing on the movement of the cars, trucks, and buses, my soul learned to sing. Part of me was busy trying to avoid the other cars, yet, another part sang of its place in the cosmos. While my eyes focused on the road, and my hands guided the wheel and shifted gears, the higher consciousness awoke. It was like listening to public radio, it had its own agenda and helped me realize, anew, we are more than the guy who sweats and curses the building traffic.
You have been given enough for the Journey.
In some traditions, enlightenment is attained in one glorious moment of insight, which is transcendent and unifying. It is an experience which changes the course of the person’s life. Most seek to repeat this over and over – some travelers with success; others not as successful.
In other schools, enlightenment is reached through a gradual building of impacts. These are smaller visions, or tastes of the Divine. This is a slower process, but the goal is similar.
Mystic schools teach, each person is capable of learning to put aside the normal stream of consciousness to allow the higher self to emerge. In fact, this is the goal of the mystical process; stilling the world so the higher consciousness may operate. Once the student learns to do this, quiet everyday thoughts so something else might happen, the student is ready to travel alone.
Do not let me mislead you: often my commute is boring and repetitious. Many days, I do not want to drive in the rain and snow. I would prefer to stay in bed…. This is what life is like. Some days are better than others. Some commutes are easier; but you have to make do with what you are given. Often it is a matter of attitude.
The wise claim the impact of an event is never singular. When something happens the effects are multi-level. Let us take the example of a plane crash. Everyone would agree this is a terrible tragedy and scores of lives are changed forever. Yet the impact of this event does not end with the families involved. If you look closer you will see other impacts.
The hospitals where the injured are treated are affected; a cleanup/rescue effort is begun immediately; investigations are started to examine causes; manufacturers may be sued for faulty material; insurance companies pay or reject claims; families anxiously await news of loved ones; people are frightened and refuse to fly; and scores of lives are altered by injury and death.
As this multi-dimension exists with events, so it is with a person’s life. The impact or importance is never singular. We are unable to count the levels
If you have ever wondered at the interrelatedness of man, consider the effect of one stalled car on the highway at rush hour.