by Ann Purcell
In my upbringing, there was never any discussion about enlightenment, period. I had never heard of enlightenment as a possibility in any church service, or any educational program. Even in India the concept of enlightenment is reserved for the rare few recluse who wish to live in a cave and give up all worldly possessions.
I have since been blessed with the spiritual fervor, and techniques to bring on the experience and understanding of what enlightenment actually is. Just as a flower’s natural tendency is to bloom and blossom, I now see enlightenment as the most natural state of the human nervous system. This state has immense practical value for day-to-day life. I realize that by not sharing the experience of enlightenment with our youth we are missing an essential element in the growth of society.
What Is Enlightenment?
Enlightenment is becoming the person you are meant to be. For me it means enjoying 24 hours of inner and outer peace and contentment. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s (the founder of the Transcendental Meditation Program) definition of enlightenment:
Enlightenment is the state of consciousness, which is always evolutionary, progressive—never negative and never defeated. Once one is in light, one doesn’t tumble as one does in darkness… That’s how we would define enlightenment—a lively state of all possibilities, a state of no failure, no weakness, no problems, no suffering—that kind of state of consciousness, that kind of state of life. [Oct 24, 1983]
This may sound like an out of reach fanciful idea, especially if you were taught like I was; it is necessary to struggle in life. The closest teaching to enlightenment I received was that if I lived a good moral life, I might make it to heaven afterwards.
Waiting until the afterlife for a promise of heaven with no proof that it could be fulfilled was not an option for me.
Discover the Field if Silence and Peace Within
Although, I would not change any of the important lessons learned during my teenage years, meditating earlier on in life could have saved me from a lot of stress. I know I would have been a more focused student. My restlessness and inability to focus makes me wonder if I had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD)? I always had a hard time focusing in school and in my summer jobs.
The day I learned Transcendental Meditation I was 18 years old. My life took a 360-degree turn. Inwardly, I discovered a field of silence, peace, and bliss inside. I had found heaven within. Outwardly, there was a deepening experience of contentment, energy, efficiency, and focus. I now had the ability to zone in on my schoolwork, and to choose more life-supporting behavior. There was an inner stability growing in me; I was less upset by outside circumstances.
Becoming more focused in any undertaking was one of the first benefits I received after learning to meditate.
Enlightenment: Our Birthright
A thought from Maharishi, which resonates very clearly with me is that enlightenment is our birthright; and the goal of all life is to develop the full potential of who we are.
I firmly believe that it is essential students start to meditate in school at about ten years of age. By meditating earlier on, children tend to be happier and more grounded. These students will be more likely to see how, on a deeper level, all of life is interconnected. They will have a vision of the whole range of life, from the depths of their silent being to the outer changing values of daily life. With this understanding, our children will create industries more beneficial to the environment and the well being of all people. They will also have a broadened awareness to help solve the urgently needed solutions our world is facing.
By introducing Transcendental Meditation into our school systems parents and educators have the opportunity to raise enlightened children. More than 380 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals. These studies document the many health benefits and the growth of consciousness of those who practice meditation regularly.
The tools we need to change the world exist right here, inside of everyone. How could we have missed this essential element? We have been looking outwardly in the wrong direction. It is time now to open our eyes (and by open I mean close) and embrace the light, which shines within each of us. This light is the silent transcendental level of our own Being, and is found by using the proper meditation techniques.
As Jackie DeShannon says in her song, “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love.” That love is inside us, waiting for its power to be unleashed to unify and bring peace to the world. Why would we want to miss this most essential element in a child’s upbringing?
Ann Purcell is an author and has been teaching meditation around the world since 1973. In addition, she has worked on curricula and course development for universities and continuing education programs. Her latest book, The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment was released on March 13, 2015.
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