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Modern-Day Enlightened BeingsNov 11, 2010

Modern-Day Enlightened Beings

Defaulting to the Ancients
During a yoga workshop, it occurred to me that whenever there's talk of enlightened people, we all default to Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, etc. I'm cool with that, but these are people who lived thousands of years ago.

Human Milestones
Given the leaps and bounds of humanity's progress through the ages, the expansion of our knowledge-base, given all the technical innovation we've accomplished, given what we've learned about our own anatomy, have we not learned enough to enlighten us about ourselves and the world we live in? Why do we keep defaulting to these ancients? Surely, our technological breakthroughs have fostered realization that there is a void within all these advances.

Spiritual Handbooks
Even in the realm of self-realization, what used to be enigmatic are now available for mass consumption. Take yoga for instance. It used to be the domain of India's ascetic wise men. Now, every gym in North America offers it as part of a fitness package. It's practised worldwide by people of all creed and color. Take meditation as another example. Again, it used to be an esoteric technique that was only handed down from teacher to student. Now, you search the internet and you'll get meditation sites ranging from technique development to merchandising from big-name gurus all the way down to self-styled wannabe messiahs. In short, the information and technique are out there.

The Big Question
So, with the foregoing, the question begs, "Is there not one enlightened being who walks amongst us?"

Richard Branson
Interestingly enough, I got a few names. One was Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic. Hmmm....he impressed me as a modern-day swashbuckling billionaire who likes breaking records on a hot air balloon, but enlightened? I had to dig up on that. Now I remain very curious about him.

Oprah Winfrey
Another name that popped-up was Oprah Winfrey. Now, I can readily relate to that. I watched her interviewed when she was just an upstart. She said something that resonates to this day - her ticket out of poverty and racial prejudice was to strive for excellence. Given her historical track record, she has pursued excellence almost with a single-minded focus. What's good about pursuing excellence is that it brings with it a lot of positive baggage - a hunger for knowledge, openness to learning new things, personal and professional development, etc. And these positive baggages bring their own positive baggage - compassion, tolerance, empathy, etc. In short, pursuing excellence creates a positive domino-effect that ripples through - from you to everyone within your orbit...and the orbit just keeps getting larger. Oprah? Yeah, for sure. Just watch her show and you get a sense of that aura.

Krishna Murti
Jesse Severino of Vipassana mentioned that Krishna Murti is as close to enlightenment as it gets. I haven't read Murti's book. A friend in high school wanted to commit suicide after reading the book. That got me scared. I again encountered Krishna Murti in the documentary film, Zeitgeist. He said it is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a dysfunctional society - true (probably why I chose to live within its fringes). I also learned he had numerous people who wanted to follow him around and be his disciples, but he walked away from it saying the individual is his own answer to self-realization. I admire that. It's intoxicating to be walking around with a bunch of people who revere you as God, throwing flower petals your way, nodding at your every pontification. Guys want to hear you talk, women wanna sleep with you (hey, it's happened too many times), and yes, no corny jokes (your followers will always laugh). But yes, he walked away from that.

Warren Buffet
He's an odd one - the only billionaire who prepares his own tax return and drives a modest car. He lives in an equally modest suburban home. To me, he's the perfect example of a man who plays the money game right by trading to make a good trade - not trading for money. If he's all in this for money, I don't think he'll donate billions to charity - which he has done by the way. In a sense, that's my new paradigm. My focus is now wealth[-building, but money only serves as a validation - not the end goal. Abstract? Let me put it this way. I'll be pursuing the wealth-building mandate exactly the same way whether I get real money or monopoly money at the end of the day. It's all about playing the game right (in fact, it's completely independent of money. Think of money as red herring). But wait, this is not about me - it's about Warren Buffet!

Ending Thoughts
One thing I appreciate about these modern-day enlightened beings is that they don't necessarily peddle religion as a gateway. And I agree. History is drenched in blood in the name of religion. What these people espouse, is a universal ethics that transcends religion or race. If you see a hungry person, should it matter if he's democrat or republican? black, yellow or white? Just give him food if you have some to spare. Interestingly enough, these magnificent lives span a broad horizon - from the entertainment world, high finance, big business, and yes, the traditional spiritual approach.

I'm sure the above is by no means comprehensive (or even accurate). If you can suggest a modern-day enlightened being, why not share? We'd all be better off with it. Use the comment form below.

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

TheLoneRiderTheLoneRider
"She is human. She cries. She can tell you when she could use a hug. " -- Michael Fazackerley
(Dec 11, 2010) You're fortunate to be with one Faz. I also appreciate the notion of an enlightened being whom we can interact with in our daily lives - not necessarily one who walks on water or turns water into wine.


Michael Fazackerley
(Dec 11, 2010) The thing about enlightened beings, people recognized for transcendent greatness, and geniuses; is that they usually aren't recognized while they are alive. Not by the populace en masse anyway. They may be recognized by a small corner of the globe, a few followers, or even many admirers but seldom widely know outside a few postal districts.

I see enlightened beings in my everyday experience. My friend Jennifer is enlightened as they come. A modern/african dancer. Well travelled. She brings increased harmony and beauty everywhere she goes. She is human. She cries. She can tell you when she could use a hug.

We get the idea that an enlightened being can calm a riot by walking into the middle of one. The reality is much subtler. When they're around, the riot never happens in the first place.

Tina dela Cruz
(Nov 12, 2010) ...nice write-up. Try Zen meditation, the approach is very personal and individual.

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