Beware of labels. They exist to classify and separate. Sometimes, of course, this is necessary. If you want vanilla ice cream, you don’t want to be served chocolate. But if you are talking about people, it can get tricky. People believe and live up to labels. This is why when I was a dance teacher, I never told my students that something was hard. If I made it look easy, and they believed it was easy, they’d just do it. If I said, “This is an advanced move,” they’d struggle.
What does this have to do with spirituality? Well, when we talk about being awakened or enlightened, we are generally saying that we have something special and other people do not. To that I said, “How do you know?”
What is enlightenment? What does it mean to be awakened? How do you know you are there? Can you see into other people’s hearts? Can you see into your own? How much darkness, regret, pain, or shame can a person have and still be enlightened? How much is within you?
To a whole lot of people, Jesus looked like a complete lunatic. How do you decide which ideas are worthy of listening to and which ones are pure quackery?
What behaviors does an enlightened person engage in? Do you have to pray a lot? Be a vegetarian? Live is isolation on a mountain top? Be a student of a master for a certain number of years? Have some paranormal abilities? Or maybe paranormal experiences? Do you have to be affiliated with people who have abilities or experiences?
Whenever I get around “spiritual” people, I always hear all kinds of judgments about what it looks like to be enlightened. Talk about labels is a big turn off. I just want to love everybody as they are. I don’t care about who is enlightened and who is awakened. If we were all in the same place, there would be no shades of grey. One thing I deeply appreciated about the last tour to Scotland was to savor the shades of grey.
I like grey. I like darkness. It’s interesting, scary, and also really comfortable. I don’t want to be separated from people because someone else thinks they aren’t enlightened enough to pay attention to. If this sounds like you, come find me. There is lots of fun to be had while waiting for others to see our light.
If you’re going to talk about people, give them kind, sweet labels. Talk about how lovely their eyes are or how nice it was when they did you that favor. Make your speech about spirituality inclusive so that those you want to influence will listen and not be turned off by what you have to say. Put yourself on level ground so that you’re relatable. Beware of labels – unless those labels uplift and spread love.