by Leslie Caplan

I walk downtown where sunlit smiles soar down like birds and land on the faces of people walking by. I go over to a kiosk that post flyers of events. “Free the Light within!” I read one of them, designed in an image bursting with angelic light parting from the center of pastel clouds. “Discover your Inner Goddess”, reads another, evoking a subtle promise that if I chant the sacred hymns of the divine feminine under the full moon, I will transform into the Goddess that I am meant to be.

I don’t have a clue what it means to be ‘enlightened’. The New Age wafts through towns all over the world like flowy clothed deities caravanned on a cloud of attempted attainment. The underlying message seems to be that there is something wrong with being human.

I circle the kiosk, look at the myriad of other flyers telling me to experience Divine Bliss with the songs and sounds of the Universe, Heal my Chakras, and Om myself into a state of Godliness. My paraphrase.

I begin to wonder if there might be something wrong with me.

A woman walks by, puts her hands in a gesture of prayer and says, “Namaste” to a friend. My third eye rolls. Like a rubber-headed hammer tapped against my knee causing my leg to involuntarily pop out into the air. Auto reflex.

I cringe at myself. And at the word “Namaste.”

I want to shake the fluff out of the New Age like it’s a dusty old carpet needing to be banged out on the porch railing with a broom.

Maybe I do need a chakra cleanse, or a seamstress to repair the hole in my aura. Maybe I’m jaded.

If I am not blissed out on the love, light and beauty of the Universe, manifesting my soul’s purpose, then there is something in my energy field blocking me from obtaining the shiny trinkets of my heart’s desires.

Am I blocked? Do I have a set of old belief systems that doom me to a life-long sentence of She Who does not Live in a Perpetual State of Bliss?

I take a long, deep breath of inquiry into what my bliss is. This is what I come up with: Skyping with my son who lives half way around the world, watching him throw his head back in full-bellied laughter from a bout of healthy cynicism we indulge in for comic relief.

I am human. Edgy with grace and blown away by the grave injustices in the world. Poverty, violence, blatant greed, environmental hazards, rampant mental illness, the list goes on. I’m told I’m ‘negative’ if I bring up news like that of the young man, with all the potential in the world, who goes on a shooting spree, kills six people, then turns the gun on himself. All because he was rejected by women.

I am not going to ‘Om’ that away.

As a Mama to a young man finding his way in the world, I am floored by how, as a society, we have failed these boys to a point of irreparable damage. Not to mention glorifying war so as to lure them into combat to serve and protect our country at their own mental, emotional, spiritual expense. Amongst certain crowds of New Agers, I am considered ‘dark’ because I take these matters to heart.

I am a rip in the fabric of a silky veil.

Why does being impacted by the human condition become deemed as pessimistic ? I did not incarnate into this human body to ascend into the light, glaze myself over with chants of mantras that come from a country I was not born to, just to mask the fact that I am as human as it gets. I grieve, I bleed, I emote. I even get enraged. Dare I say that?

Rage and enlightenment do not go together.

Maybe the ‘Spiritual Awakening’ we seem to be so desperately seeking is just to sit at the table with ALL that is. The good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful; the rippling, shadowy waters of darkness, the down-on-my-knees gratitude for being alive in this body, and connecting with something larger than myself when the weight of humanity eclipses me.

I would not trade being human for anything. I am not interested in attaining a state of Godliness while I am here. We are on this planet for a blink. ‘Ascending to the light’ will come soon enough.

Weep your heart out for the travesties, be affected by the cavernous, unbridgeable disparity between the hungry swollen-bellied and the pervasive obesity of over-consumption. It doesn’t make you any less spiritual. It makes you real.

Being awake to all that is. No fluff, no mask, no hiding behind the veils of yet another dogma masquerading itself as Pure Consciousness.

Carl Gustav Jung says, “There is no coming into consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” I am making the darkness conscious.

I live, dance, breathe, write and love inside the space that resides in the between. It is my abiding fate as a human being. If I can attain that, I’ll be as ‘enlightened’ as I will ever be here on the ground – on this pulsating, erupting, imploding, tenacious, rumbling, resilient ground that I love. Deep inside the body of being human.

IMG_3211Leslie Caplan is a published writer, writing coach and editor. She can be reached at