Enlightenment, from what I have understood from reading and experience, is what lies at the end of this journey. It is the far off light that beckons through the dark forest of our past. It is the thing we want to reach more than anything, but which lies just beyond the things we fear the most. The forest we must cross is the forest of lies, deception, death, illusion, fear, judgement, curses, envy, attachment, debt and delusion. We will all turn back in fear and horror many times from the straight path because it is so hard to face the things we fear. We all get lost that way by giving more meaning to what happens to our bodies than we are meant to.
Recently, I remembered being murdered as a two and a half year old child. It is hard to recall being killed. It is even worse when the one who murdered you was your mother. I wept. I gasped, I felt pain in my throat until I forced myself to realize that I have another body now whose throat has not been cut. I am living another life. I was not murdered. I am still alive. Society demands vengeance for such an act. It demands retribution. The bible says, "A life for a life."
People think that karma is what others owe us, but even if you believe another owes you something, you will remain trapped on the endless wheel and cycle of owing and debt. Being attached to that idea only brings you back to those same negative people, that same negative situation. Trying to get revenge or compensation binds you to that person. . An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. A life for a life kills us all. If I kill the woman who was my mother then she may want revenge for her life. She then kills me and owes me a life and so on, forever. We will be stuck trying to get what we believe is owed us by the other life after life again and again, and I can only consider that hell.
So, I have let go of my attachment to my death, to my idea of reparation. I have walked away. I am owned nothing. I owe nothing. In that way, I begin to detach myself from the illusion of life and death of debt to others and their debt to me. We are all immortal. We are souls on a an endless journey. Our only suffering is when we become too attached to our bodies or our lives and believe we are flesh not soul. That would mean I would still be a helpless two-and -half year old child and one who wants to be that forever. I want to more. I want freedom and choice.
That brings me to the idea of how people raise their children as if they are keeping slaves. They believe these people belong to them instead of the idea that these are beings who have chosen and given their parents the honor of helping them when they are helpless. The Native American culture I was taught allowed children to make mistakes, to be free to decide what they must do with their lives. They taught independence and strength. I am glad that I was introduced to that idea so early by my father. It has allowed me to release my feelings of responsibility and the idea that I can save anyone.
I can only save myself and in that way show others that they can be saved. One must let go of the attachment to the egoistic idea that we are the only ones who can save someone or that others are powerless to save themselves. Others must grow in strength too. They have their own paths to follow and mistakes to make. Each of us is responsible to ourselves only. Each of us must find the strength to go through the forest and find the light. We each must desire to be enlightened. That is the first step while letting go is one of the last. When we emerge from the forest of our fears and hubris and find that there was someone beside us the whole time striving like us, then we are doubly blessed by the sacred knowledge that none of us is alone.
May your suffering soon bring you Enlightenment,
Candice Raquel Lee
Author of The Innocent: A Love Story
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