This month we have followed the February tradition of exploring the topic of love, not romantic love as Valentine's Day suggests, but rather the Love of God - the Love of the Divine - the love that is always here for us. And, we've pulled apart the word L.O.V.E to explore:
L - Living in Light and Laughter
O - The Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Omniscience of God's Love
V - Vibrating with Vision and Vitality
And today E - Enlightened Enthusiasm
According to David Hawkins in Power vs. Force, love is a high vibration, but joy is an even higher vibration.a Well, Enlightened Enthusiasm allows us to embrace and express that joy. So, today we will explore the keys to creating a life of enlightened enthusiasm according to a spiritually enlightened master and a yogi.
And here are some words from a very powerful yogi. He said: "Love is the most important thing in the world. ..... But, baseball is pretty good too!"b
OK, you might have guessed it. That was from Yogi Berra. Oh, it's going to be that kind of a talk! Yes, humor and enthusiasm go together quite well. We'll be hearing more from that Yogi later. But right now, I want you to help me get the vibration going.
Left half of the room to say, "enlightened."
Right half of the room to say, "enthusiasm."
Left half of the room to say, "enlightened."
Right half of the room to say, "enthusiasm.
Ah, now we can feel Charles Fillmore's words: "I fairly sizzle with joy and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me."c
I always enjoy looking at the meaning of words, and enthusiasm, according to Webster, means: "Ardent zeal or interest; fervor. Divine inspiration or possession."
And according to Fillmore in The Revealing Word - A Dictionary of Metaphysical Terms, enthusiasm is: "A powerful expression of a living interest; it is active and vital. Enthusiasm is another word for zeal, and zeal is a great stimulator. You cannot think of or repeat the word zeal without evoking a certain mental thrill that spurs you to action in some direction."d
Now I also love looking at the etymology, or origins, of words, and enthusiasm comes from "en" and "theos" meaning God within or God inspired. And let's expand that a bit for our purposes this morning: Inspired by God's Love within!
According to Webster, to enlighten is to: "give spiritual insight to"
The Revealing Word doesn't reveal the meaning of enlightenment, but in Power vs. Force Hawkins shares that enlightenment is the highest level of vibration, the highest level of consciousness. It's higher than love, higher than joy and higher than peace.e
Spiritually, enlightenment means to "fully awaken" and for our purposes (again!) this morning, let us say it is to fully awaken to God's Love.
And, of course, there is no greater story of one who is fully awake than the story of Siddhartha Gautama. A child born into the royal family of a small kingdom on the Indian-Nepalese border more than 2,500 years ago.
His father held a naming ceremony on the fifth day after his birth and invited eight Brahmin scholars to read the future. All gave a dual prediction that the baby would either become a great king or a great holy man. According to the traditional story, his father chose to bring him up completely cloistered so he would not see all the suffering in the world outside the walls of their palace and have compassion stir in his heart, which might lead him to the destiny of being a holy man. His father wanted him to be a great king.
One day, however, curiosity got the best of the young Siddhartha. He wanted to see the world beyond the palace walls, so he snuck out. There he saw the harsh facts of life -- old age, poverty, sickness, and death.
Shortly after that experience, he left home to follow the traditional Indian path of the wandering holy man, a seeker after Truth. He practiced meditation under various teachers and then took to asceticism. Eventually he practiced austerities so severe that he was on the point of death - but true understanding seemed as far away as ever.
He decided to abandon this path and to look into his own heart and mind. He sat down beneath a Bodhi tree and vowed that "flesh may wither, blood may dry up, but I shall not rise from this spot until Enlightenment has been won." And we all know what happens, right?
After forty days, Siddhartha Gautama finally attained Enlightenment. He awakened and from that moment on he was called The Buddha, the one who is awake.
Think for a moment about the power of the words Enlightened Enthusiasm -to be inspired by and awakened to God's Love within. Wow. When we are that, we "surely will spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by us," wouldn't you say?!
Taking a page from The Buddha's playbook, here are three ways to boost up our Enlightened Enthusiasm. The first one will come as no surprise!
Take 15 minutes each day to quiet your mind and touch in with the essence of who you are. This is what the Buddha did; this will help you become enlightened - awake to who you really are. Scientific studies have shown that meditation is of practical and measurable benefit to your mind and body.
There was a study that appeared in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science some time ago in which researchers compared the brain activity of eight long-time Buddhist monks and 10 healthy students.
The average age of the monks was 49, and each had undergone mental training in meditation for 10,000 to 50,000 hours over the course of 15 to 40 years.
The students' average age was 21. They had no prior experience in meditation and received one week of meditative training before the start of the study.
Both groups were asked to practice compassionate meditation, which does not require concentration on specific things. Instead, the participants were instructed to generate a feeling of love and compassion without drawing attention to a particular object.
Researchers measured brain activity before, during and after meditation using electroencephalograms. They found striking differences between the two groups in a type of brain activity called "gamma wave activity," which is involved in mental processes including attention, working memory, learning and conscious perception.
The Buddhist monks had a higher level of this sort of gamma wave activity before they began meditation, and this difference increased dramatically during meditation. In fact, researchers say the extremely high levels of gamma wave activity were the highest ever reported. The monks also had more activity in areas associated with positive emotions, such as happiness.
Researchers say the fact that the monks had higher levels of this type of brain activity before meditation began suggests that long-term practice of Buddhist or other forms of meditation may alter the brain.
Although age differences may also account for some of the differences found by this study, researchers say that the hours of meditation practice, rather than age, significantly predicted gamma wave activity.f I find that quite significant!
2. GIVE UP YOUR RESISTANCE
Second, give up your resistance to that which you do not want. It is our resistance to that which we say we don't want that causes our suffering (to use a word from Buddhism). So a beautiful Buddhist practice is to give up the resistance. Ah - easier said than done, you say, but oh so powerful when we do!
I love these words from Diane Harmony in her book 5 Gifts for an Abundant Life: "When we let go and let God, we are in the midst of a spiritual practice so powerful that the core beliefs that have held us captive and small can be dismantled, resistance to our good can melt away, fear of the unknown can be shattered, a sense of oneness with God and all life can be embodied, and a whole new world of infinite possibilities can open up for us."g
Giving up resistance to what we don't want can occur on a moment by moment basis, when we choose to look for the good always and in all ways and focus on it because, as the Buddha (and many others) have said: "You become what you think."
Make peace with where you are right here and now. Say with me: "I accept the here and now . . . here and now."
OK, let's take it a step further. "I am excited about the here and now . . . here and now."
"In fact, I am enthusiastic about the here and now . . . here and now."
"I bring my enlightened enthusiasm into the here and now . . . here and now."
And then open your eyes to all that is good and glorious and wonderful in your life right now. That moves you energetically (remember enlightenment is the highest vibration there is!) to the place you want to go!
Giving up resistance to that which you do not want by bringing enlightened enthusiasm to the here and now is a way to open you up for delightful universal surprises!
Once, Yogi Berra 's wife Carmen asked, "Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?" Yogi replied, "Surprise me."
Well maybe not surprises quite like that, but you know what I mean!
3. REALIZE THAT THE UNIVERSE IS THERE FOR YOU - 24/7!
Finally, realize that the Universe is 100% there for you, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Simply state: "The Universe has your back!" It's not poetic or flowery, but it's the truth. When you open yourself up to the Love of God, you are unlimited in who you are and what you can do.
The Buddha touched the ground and proclaimed that the earth was defending and supporting him. You can do this too! Simply turn your heart and mind to the idea that the Love of God is everywhere and available always.
So, my friends, love yourself enough to do these three simple things and not only I but the Universe will guarantee that you will be filled with enlightened enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson from the book Emerson's Essays, in the essay entitled "Circles," wrote: "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."h
Life is short. If there was ever a moment to achieve great things by doing something that matters to you, that moment is now.
So, we're going to chant three more times. The left is "enlightened" and the right is "enthusiasm." (chant)
And, as Yogi Berra said, "I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary." And, so it is!
aDavid Hawkins Power vs. Force
dCharles Fillmore The Revealing Word
eDavid Hawkins Power vs. Force
fLutz, A., Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, online early edition, Nov. 8, 2004; study used NTST
gDiane Harmony 5 Gifts for an Abundant Life p. 126
hRalph Waldo Emerson, Emerson's Essays, "Circles," p. 227