Dear Integral Meditators,
Its possible you might think of enlightenment as a process of sitting down, going within and finding your inner peace. But what if it were a chase where you had to run, jump, be alert, be fast, be awake? The article below explores this possibility!
In the spirit of the chase,
If you look at the different ideas of spiritual enlightenment you may have, and those that are presented in mainstream spiritualties and religions, you might think of it as a process of sitting down, going within and finding your inner peace. What I want to do in this article is tell an originally Welsh story from the Druid tradition that presents the process of enlightenment as a dynamic chase. The story is that of Taliesin, the poet-saint of the Celts.
In the beginning, before he becomes Taliesin, our hero is a nine-year-old boy called Gwion-Bach. Gwion-Bach is given a task (along with his grandfather). It is given by the Goddess Ceridwen; to tend to a Cauldron containing the ingredients for an ‘elixir of enlightenment’. This elixir is for her ugly son Aggfaddu. Because he is ugly, Ceridwen wants to give her son the gift of enlightenment, hence the cauldron. The cauldron needs to bubble for a year and a day. Young Gwion-Bach has to tend to the fire underneath, and keep it burning. The elixir will work on the first person who tastes it, so Gwion is told under no circumstances to taste it!
On the last day of the year-and-a-day-cycle, Gwion is sitting next to the cauldron as usual. Suddenly, a boiling drop from the cauldron spits out and lands on his thumb. Because it scalds, Gwion instinctively puts his thumb in his mouth and sucks! Accidentally he has tasted the elixir and thus becomes instantly enlightened. He realizes he has made the elixir useless to Ceridwens son! The next moment he realizes he is in big trouble with the goddess, and runs out of the hut….
As soon as Ceridwen realizes what has happened, she chases after Gwoin in a vengeful rage. There then proceeds a chase through the four elements, earth, water, air and fire. Seeing Ceridwen is on his tail, Gwion back transforms into a hare. Ceridwen transforms into a greyhound. She is just about to catch him when Gwion leaps into a river and swims off as a salmon. Ceridwen transforms into an otter and the chase continues. Again, just as the goddess is about to catch him, he leaps out of the water and transforms into a wren (a bird smaller than a sparrow), and flies off! The goddess transforms into a hawk, and pursues him through the air. She is on the verge of grabbing him out of the air when he again transforms, this time into a grain of wheat, falling into a barn full of wheat grains amongst which he hides. The goddess then transforms into a hen, picks him out and eats him!
But the story does not end there. Gwion then transforms into a baby in Ceridwens womb. After 9months he is re-born, emerging from her as an enlightened baby, declaring his name to be Taliesin! She then puts him in a sealed bag and throws him in a river (what a Mum!), where he is later discovered amongst the reads by a queen, who adopts him as her child.
A few points from this story:
- Here the hero/ine is pursued by the forces of enlightenment (here the goddess), who are relentless and dynamic in their pursuit.
- S/he is placed under maximum duress by the pressure from the enlightened forces. S/he is forced to develop and evolve herself to the limits of her ability. The hero must use all of her resources and cunning to survive!
- Once achieved, enlightenment is a beginning, and not an end, the work begins here!
Your life challenges as a path to enlightenment
One possible way of using this tale is to then start to think of the obstacles and challenges in your life that are putting you under pressure as ‘the forces of enlightenment’. Their pressure is an invitation to you to evolve and develop. You must grow your inner and outer abilities, to move step by step, day by day toward the next level of enlightenment in your life.
If you choose to play this game, then be alert, be ready, the path to enlightenment begins right here, in this next moment….
© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com
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