MD: What Its Like to be Enlightened

From: Daniel Colonnese (
Date: Tue May 08 2001 - 14:18:14 BST

     Being enlightened is kind of like going downhill skiing. It’s fun, if
you are an expert downhill skier that is. When you are really good at
downhill skiing, it’s not the least bit scary. You have confidence. You
don’t hesitate. Without thinking about it, you constantly ask
yourself--when’s a good time to turn? Now. Now’s a good time to turn. And
you turn. No hesitation. If skiing is life, then turning (or carving) is
making changes in your life. You have to pay attention when your going down
the slope, you have to realize that no one is in control except you. You
have to constantly do stuff or you’ll end up with a mouth full of ice.

     Enlightenment isn’t an achievement. You can’t simply hang it on your
wall next to your college diploma. Enlightenment is a skill, like downhill
skiing is a skill. Skiing is the skill of sliding around, wearing some
plastic in the snow. Enlightenment is the skill of living life with an
optimistic outlook, daily happiness, and peace of mind. Some docile folk go
up and down the bunny slope all day and never look beyond the first hill
they see. Other people undertake increasing challenges, practice, and
improve their skills. Some lunatics just throw themselves off the tallest
hill they can find.
When you’re skiing (enlightened) you see the dynamic quality of life. You
see the world rushing by you, and you’re part of it. Your not just watching
someone else ski or driving up the mountain in your car—you are in the
scene. You feel like every second counts. You watch people fall down and
realize that falling is a real possibility. You too could wipe out if you
weren’t paying close attention. After you’ve been enlightened, I mean
skiing for a while it becomes kind of routine. You are humble, because you
have fallen down enough to honestly appraise the extent and limits of your
skills. You don’t look down upon beginning or intermediate skiers because
you had to learn too. In fact, you feel a certain kinship with everyone on
the slope.

     After you’ve been skiing for a while, you can begin to put your success
and failures in perspective. When an expert skier falls, he usually falls
hard. And when you’re going over difficult terrain, you realize how the
subtle balance of your form, the minute movements, and your attitude all
must stay in perfect harmony. You wake up happy every day looking forward
to finding that balance. Your blood flows quickly, your adrenaline is on,
everything is brighter and somehow more real. And you feel as though you’ve
earned it.

     When’s a good time to turn? Now’s a good time to turn. When’s a good
time to turn? Now. Now’s a good time to turn. You’ll find a rhythm, your
pace. Life or skiing, when done right, has a kind of musical quality. When
you are an expert skier, you can go down the same hill again and again, and
no two runs are the same. You recognize that every moment of your life is
unique—that it will never be quite like this again. And the subtleties of
the terrain and the precision of your skills have a kind of harmony. You
make the scene more beautiful, provide a model for others. Now being
enlightened is a lot more fun than downhill skiing, but both are worthy
pursuits. The point is to find something and get good at it. Find
something that interests you and give it your all. I suggest life.

For information on enlightened please read my essay, “How to Become

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