Waking Up

Spiral Galaxy
Spiral Galaxy

On You Tube last night I watched an interview with a man who claimed to be enlightened. I didn’t hear anything that would make me misbelieve that but during the conversation an entirely new possibility on the subject of realization of consciousness arose in my mind.

The man was saying how the One Consciousness was present in ALL things (people, rocks, chairs, plants, animals, minerals, atoms, etc.) and this Ground of Being, on occasion, ‘woke up’ to the awareness of the Self.

He continued that he did not quite understand why one person would become enlightened and not another but believed it was perhaps a matter of grace or God’s will. So far so good. I understood what he was saying and had heard similar statements by others before.

That’s when the new (to me) thought arose. If All That Is periodically awakens in a human – sometimes in a serendipitous manner – could/does All That Is occasionally awake in a non-person, that is, can All That Is realize it true nature in an atom, a rock, a dog, a star?

In other words, is humanness a necessary precondition to enlightenment? Can a galaxy ‘wake up?’ Is there an avatar among the dog kingdom, among the ants?

We all have heard the Buddhist question, “Does a dog have a Buddha nature?” and know the answer is in the affirmative because Buddha nature means (as I understand it) a soul, a Divine source. Everything is equal in that it has all been created by God. But this question is a little different than that.

Can a dog or a dandelion wake up to its own divinity? My initial reaction was to say ‘no’ because other than mankind, these other ‘things’ do not have the capacity for self-reflection, for thought. But wait a minute, I said to myself. Is not self-identification with thought and the attendant ego, one of the common blockages to enlightenment among humans?

Who said self-reflection was a necessary pre-requisite or part of the definition? Was our type of intelligence necessary for self-realization? Are not all things possible for God? Maybe it is our own narrow perceptions and ego-centered thinking that mistakenly takes enlightenment as an entitlement only for mankind.

Then I pondered the possibilities. What did an enlightened dog look like? How did he act? If a star system was self-realized, how could we recognize it? Is there a Christ figure among the mineral kingdom? Who are the great teachers of the plant world?

I wondered if the gems were not the enlightened beings of the mineral kingdom; if healing plants not the top of the plant world; etc. I have no answers to these questions and perhaps answers are irrelevant but the opening of possibilities reveals a much vaster state of Being than before. Perhaps all those beautiful stars we see at night, all those billions and billions of burning suns that stud the heavens, are blissed out devotees singing in angel choirs.

Perhaps the dog who saves a child’s life is a Master teacher. Maybe transmigration of souls has been misinterpreted. Maybe man does not pass from kingdom to kingdom or species to species; but perhaps God in His evolution of awakening does.


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Class of ’63

Earlier this year I received an invitation to attend my 50th class reunion back in my little Pennsylvania home town. There was one part of me that wanted to go – call it nostalgia or curiosity – but mobility has become an issue and I didn’t want to travel alone.  Anyway, that was what I told the reunion planner when I talked to her.

Another reason lurked beneath this reasonable surface. There was a part of me that didn’t want to go back, that didn’t want to see former classmates, that didn’t want to be looked at and judged. Judged? By who? By myself, of course.

Several times over the spring the topic of the reunion reentered my mind and gave me lots of fuel to examine motives and psychology. I looked back over my life and considered what I might answer if asked by one of these classmates what I had been doing for the last fifty years.

Had I made a success of my life? Had I been happy? Had I fulfilled my potential? I wondered if they would think I sort of looked the same, or had I been radically changed by life? What had I to show for this half-century of living?

In school I was not seen as the pretty one or the popular one or the smartest one, but I was the leader, the responsible one. I had been chosen class president in our junior and senior years, I had ‘gone steady’ with one of my classmates, and started college at summer school just one week after high school graduation.


I was 18, I was ready, my engine was revving. I wanted to live large and escape from this small town life. But life never turns out how you want it, or even think it might be.

I completed college in three years, married the high school sweetheart, had two children and at 27 my husband danced out of our life with a 19-year old art student from a local college. There was not only the panic that comes from having to raise two children on my own, there was the humiliation of being left behind. And everybody in the whole town knew about it.

Five years later I moved to Southern California and left those unhappy memories behind – sort of. I did return for the 25th class reunion – I was in my 40’s by then – and did some life reviewing. Was I successful – sort of. Was I happy – sometimes. Had I fulfilled my potential – not really.  But there was still time, I thought to myself. I could still make it – whatever that meant.

So now it is twenty-five years later and I imagine meeting those classmates from my past who are now strangers to me. I realize that in a way I have always been measuring myself against the benchmarks set up in high school – standards that could never be met.

Then yesterday a classmate sent me via email an ‘album’ of photos taken at the recent reunion and I saw some faces I knew and others I could no longer recognize. Nearly everyone looked old – how could that be? In my mind and in my dreams we are all 18.

There was a photo of a memorial table with the pictures of the classmates who had already died. Out of a class of 125, 20 had passed. I was relieved to see I was not among them although my childhood husband was. Had they been successful? Had they been happy? Had they fulfilled their potential?

I am still not the pretty one or the popular one or the smart one – nor am I the leader. I have already lived most of the years I have been allotted and I cannot say that my life has been successful or happy or filled with achievements. In the end I will pass from this life and barely a ripple will be felt.

But … it has been a rich life. I have changed from the person I was when I was young. I have developed some level of compassion and am more aware. I took many risks and lived with the mistakes I made. I meant well even though I did not always do well.

If I was given the chance to do some things over, I would do them differently. I would spend more time playing with my children and less time worrying about my job. I would travel more and buy less. I would say “I’m sorry. Forgive me.” to others and to myself. I would be kinder to my mother.

I have learned the importance of gratitude; I am still learning faith. I have learned that no matter what our age we are still students eagerly awaiting and yet fearing graduation.


picnicMidday temperatures stretching towards triple digits
encourage visitors to dress lightly and arrive early
at the local park where the Watcher,
sitting silently and scanning for details
that will reveal the nature of the day, sees …

A thin man with hairy arms leads
fourteen short children higgledy piggledy
down the path that leads to the pond
where the ducks are waiting to be fed
on a warm Monday morning
that will later be remembered by six year-old minds
as an end-of-school lunch eaten at splintered wood tables
with paper bag sandwiches while brightly colored straws
bend at crooked angles from waxy milk cartons as …

A young man, baseball hat pulled low, tokes on a smoke
under a bright orange canopy and drives the giant lawnmower
whose whirling blades are layered in a thick carpet of green clippings
across the field where a yellow lab sits in stubborn determination
until the most insistent pulling on his leash and the most cajoling tones
in his ears cause him to reluctantly rise like the dragonfly
as big as a hummingbird  that hovers low,
its green and purple body glistening in the sun’s rays,
its eyes reflecting the image of …

An old man with bowed shoulders who carries a tackle box in his left hand,
a rod in his right, leaves behind the small stream that has delivered his lunch
and is passed by two men strolling arm and arm, heads back and ears forward,
one waving a white cane in small circles, the other following the subtle lead
of the large German Shepherd that walking confidently in step while …

A stroller with two bonnets bobbing is pushed to the playground
by a young woman with stringy brown hair
who lifts out twin toddlers, then heavily sits at the picnic table,
head on hand, watching them climb the monkey bars
as a sleek Doberman silently keeps cadence beside a young man
who with detachment strides past the fallen child
who cries to be picked up but who is instead bundled,
with his brother, arms flailing, back into the stroller
that the young man sullenly pushes to …

The playing field where yesterday two local teams swung at small white balls
still holds the faintest echoes of the cheering crowds
that were captured and held by the large wire clam shell
behind the diamond that is today covered by paper wrappers and empty cans
but will soon be filled by disabled adults from the local center
who one by one will tumble out of a long white van
with happy cries of anticipation and head towards the dugout
where volunteers will be blowing up bright balloons
and setting out plates for a picnic lunch on this warm June day.


Visit other blogs at http://MarieTaylorArt.wordpress.com and http://SacredGate.wordpress.com.