everyday enlightenment

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. ~Goethe

My name is Kozo Hattori, and I am enlightened.

Many of you might have felt uneasy with the previous declaration. “Who does this guy think he is?” you might have thought. Let me answer your question from the get-go. I not only think, but also know that WE are God, Universal Consciousness, Brahma, Buddha Nature, and Christ Consciousness. I’m not being sacrilegious here. I’m actually following scripture.

Every enlightened master that I have encountered claims that enlightenment is our natural state. They often have the look on their faces of someone standing in knee-deep water while another thrashes around screaming that they are drowning. If we just stand up or awaken to our present reality, then we realize that we were always safe and ok.

After the Buddha became enlightened, he spent the next 40 years traveling around Northern India instructing others how to become enlightened. One of the followers that became an arhat—a perfected person who has attained nirvana–was Angulimala. Earlier in his life Angulimala was on a quest to kill one thousand victims whose fingers he hung around his neck. 999 fingers hung around his neck on the day he met the Buddha. If Angulimala could obtain enlightenment, then why can’t we?

One of the biggest obstacles of enlightenment is our own belief that we cannot become enlightened. For some reason, enlightenment in our culture has become something that only a few select individuals can obtain, but in Buddha’s time, people were getting enlightened left and right. If you even mention that you are trying to get enlightened, people look at you with disbelief and disgust.

Let me be clear in what I mean by enlightenment. I see enlightenment as a spectrum. I’m not saying that I have escaped the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara) like the Buddha did. I’m not an arhat. I am enlightened in this moment, right here and right now. In the past, I was not enlightened; at times I was far from enlightenment. In the future, I might become unenlightened at any moment. But right here, right now, I am enlightened.

I like to think that we are all enlightened, yet we constantly unenlighten ourselves with our thoughts, our resentments, our delusions, our aversions, and our cravings.

In one of my conversations with Adyashanti, he emphasized not only awakening, but also “tending,” “cultivating,” and “living from” that spiritual awakening in our moment to moment daily lives. If you are reading this article, then you have probably had glimpses into a higher consciousness. You might have sensed a connection with all being during meditation or felt unconditional love while holding a child or had intimations of a higher power standing next to a huge redwood. Re-minding ourselves that we are enlightened keeps us in touch with that interconnectedness, love, and divinity.

Perhaps the best way to get to the truth of this statement is to do some inquiry. Byron Katie asks, “What is the thought that kicks you out of heaven?” I value Byron Katie’s inquiry that she calls The Work. It consists of four questions that you ask in regards to thoughts you have.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

Although The Work is meant to reveal the lack of truth in the thoughts that cause us to suffer, applying The Work to the statement “I am enlightened” reveals some valuable insight.

Is it true? Yes, it is true.

Can you absolutely know that it’s true? In my heart of hearts I know it to be true.

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I don’t react, actually. I act like a saint. I remain calm and try to serve others. I see everyone, everything as a part of me. When I think that I am enlightened, I act like an enlightened being. The question “what would Jesus do?” becomes a way of life.

Who would you be without the thought? I wouldn’t be as compassionate, loving, kind, or happy. I would probably do whatever I wanted regardless of how it affected others. I would try to get as much as I could while giving as little as possible. I would use as much of the world’s resources to make me happy regardless of how this affected the planet, other humans, animals, or children. I would rationalize this behavior with the defense of “I’m only human.”

Embracing our enlightenment helps us realize that we are more than human. We are both human and divine.

“We are not humans having a spiritual experience; we are spirits having a human experience.”

So yeah, I’m enlightened. Care to join me?

Doing the Best That I Can for Peace

In all truthfulness, my intention is to become fully enlightened in this lifetime. I know what some of you are thinking because I have heard it expressed to my face and behind my back. Who does this guy think he is? Get Real. Why don’t you try for something obtainable?

Why is it OK to have intentions to be a billionaire, but when someone has intentions to become self-actualized we scoff or judge them as delusional, self-indulgent, or presumptuous? I’ve even had people tell me, ‘Yes, that is a noble goal, Kozo, but how are you going to support yourself?”

Since its December, I keep thinking about George Bailey from It’s a Wonderful Life. I like to think that if you were a truly authentic, loving, compassionate person then the world would support you in times of need.  Moreover, you would change the world just by BEING more than a billionaire could DO with all their money. If we look at all the great gifts to humanity, very few of them come in the form of money–Christ on the Cross, Buddha’s teachings, Mandela’s unification of South Africa, MLK’s dream, Gandhi’s ahimsa, Mother Teresa’s service, Joan of Arc’s sacrifice, Emerson’s writings, Shakespeare’s plays, Chief Seattle’s warning, Bob Marley’s music. Note how many of these enlightened beings were living for a higher consciousness/power.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.”~Gandhi

I may not become fully enlightened in this lifetime, but I can already say that becoming more loving, compassionate, peaceful, and equanimous have already made changes in my life, my relationships, my community, and, yes, our world.

I was talking to a friend who said that she doesn’t want to be happy all the time. She believes that anger is necessary to cure the injustices of the world. I could feel her desire to make the world a better place, but I had to question her strategy. A few quotes come to mind.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”~MLK

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”~Gandhi

My intention is to bring peace just like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Buddha, and Jesus. Yes, I said it. I want to be a peacemaker like these great figures from our past. Call me egotistical (although part of becoming enlightened requires dissolution of the ego, so I guess that problem will fix itself) or delusional (all these peacemakers were called delusional at some point in their lives).

I know a lot of kids who want to be LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Bill Gates, Oprah, or Steve Jobs. Their parents smile and encourage these aspirations. I hope my two sons want to be the Buddha, Jesus (although being the parent of Jesus might be the toughest role in history), Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or the Dalai Lama. They may never be recognized as great spiritual leaders, but imagine the loving and compassionate men they will become if they become one-tenth as awakened as their role models.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

What are your intentions for your life? Please share.