Driving my car the other day, I watched a boy jump his bike from road to sidewalk, or perhaps it was just a curb. Aside from the slightest twinge of lust and nostalgia, I wondered what muscles he had used to impel his bike airborne in order to get to the next level. None, it seemed; it was pure intention that moved him and his bike, they being one.
In fact, I could only marvel at the neural and mental process that immediately preceeded the jump. Consider: cycling boy sees an obstacle in his path . . . does not want to fall off his bike or wreck his front tire . . . his brain wastes no words telling his will, which in turn tells his body to cause his bike to become airborne for the length of time it takes to land from street to sidewalk or over the curb.
And boy does all this in less time than it took me to write two letters of any word in this sentence. Boy continues, unharmed, down the street on his bicycle, adding to my day the intellectual charm of adolescence as well as awe at the proportion and mystery of his bike-riding skill. And of the human brain that allows us to perform feats of derring-do on automatic pilot, as if by instinct, where to take thought would be to wipe out.
I had what Richard called an epiphany today, driving along Sunrise out to his and Linda’s apartment for a gathering of the Not Dead Yet Poet’s Collective. It occurred to me—I dont remember what prompted the insight other than spontaneous sensation that landed on me like a bird—that enlightenment is very unexciting, phenomenally unsexy. It appears to be utterly insignificant, in fact not to matter at all.
It further occurred to me (but just as a footnote to the so-called epiphany) that most people who consider themselves spiritual or seekers would probably not want to be enlightened if they knew this is what it is. Of course, now I can look back at it and ask myself, who is there to not matter, to be insignificant? A valid question, far more than rhetorical.
But at the time the sensory insight gripped me—which lasted only a few seconds as I drove—that question did not occur, nor did the thought that not mattering one bit is tantamount to being nothing, which in turn is the equivalent of being, or let’s say dissolving, into everything—being not just theoretically but actually one with all that exists so that there are no boundaries, no individuality, certainly no ego.
If this sounds like death, it’s not my fault. It’s been said you have to die in order truly to live. Maybe this is what they meant (whether they were mystics or moralists). Or maybe I just had a slight out-of-body experience that I mistook for an insight into the nature of enlightenment. It didnt matter; I had to stay focused on the road in order to avoid an accident.
But I had a chance to share the experience with my friends when I got to Linda’s and Richard’s. I was grateful to Richard for calling it what it was. You dont have epiphanies every day (at least I dont), though I dont see why not since life is at bottom a miracle, a concatenation of epiphanies, if you will. Breathing is an epiphany, as is all we perceive with our senses and all we think when you realize that the very process of thinking is a miracle and each thought, however mundane, bears within it an insight that is potentially life-altering.
And perhaps the most life-altering insight is the one that convinces you beyond a shadow of doubt of your absolute and universal insignificance, which instantaneously frees you from having or even wanting to figure out what the heck enlightenment is.