The Enlightened Among Us

There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also, and believe that you are like them, as you were before. (W-155)

Sometimes students say they wonder if there are any enlightened ones walking among us. Of course there are. But they don’t stand out. Their presence is peaceful but they look like you and me and their lives look like ordinary lives. They do not say, “Hey, look at me, I’m enlightened!” They do not brag about not having an ego. They do not seek to go on Larry King or Oprah. They are not looking for fame or recognition or fortune or the world’s versions of success. They do not start movements or go into politics. They are not interested in saving the world. They do not walk on water or go around healing the sick to “prove” their power or God’s power. They are serene because they do not judge illusions and make them real to themselves. They know that only God is real. They have fulfilled their one responsibility and accepted the Atonement for themselves, which means they have let go of ego and learned to follow only the Holy Spirit in their mind. They are quiet amidst the cacophony of the world. Their lives are simple and peaceful and joyous. Sometimes they teach formally, but always they teach by example.

The world’s version of spirituality is to become more rather than less involved with the world. In the world, the line is often blurred between spiritual leaders and political leaders (Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, the Pope, etc.). The truly spiritual walk an inward path, away from the world. They do not teach “Follow me”, but “Follow the Holy Spirit within you”. They are not popular because they do not glorify the ego or validate the world.

In the quote above the last line can be read in two ways: Those who have not yet let go of ego will not see the enlightened because they are projecting their own ego; or, those who have not yet let go of ego will see in the enlightened someone who was once like them and whose example they can follow to learn the way to peace. You will recognize the enlightened among us when you are open to seeing them.

The enlightened ones from the past that we know of were not the rock stars of their day. They have only been made idols since. They were quiet teachers whose ideas were eternal and so the ideas endured. The ego has made them into idols as a means to distract you from their message. By worshiping the messenger you lose the message: God is within you.

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Comments said…
Thanks, Liz, for posting this. One person who came to mind as I read this post was Peace Pilgrim. I believe that Peace was awakened; that she had moved beyond ego. Perhaps she now is, in Course terminology, a Teacher of Teachers. The website for Friends of Peace Pilgrim is worth checking out. They even offer a free booklet which presents the many observations, both oral and written, that Peace made in her lifetime. I highly recommend it.

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