THE MESSAGE IS ALWAYS THE SAME
There's an old Zen saying I always loved, "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." An oldie but a goodie, as the saying goes.
Because those of us who've been around the incarnation block a time or two recognize that whatever enlightenment or self-realization is, it must be grounded in everyday reality.
Awhile back, I had been having challenges with a fellow seeker who clearly knew just as much as me, and I know that he's studied the same material and practiced regularly for years. Yet I would observe him scolding others for not being compassionate enough or for their lack of self-awareness. He is clearly a kind and loving soul, and it was always obvious that his intent was to help - yet his practice was to chide people who 'should know better' (a bit of irony there).
I pointed out what I observed and he passionately told me that he'd been practicing compassion for years on a daily basis. When I once again pointed out that he had created/attracted encounters with people with whom he was clearly NOT being compassionate, instead insisting they weren't living up to standards, he couldn't see it.
And that's what happens with any path towards self-realization or enlightenment. We can get caught up in a bubble of self-righteousness, thoroughly convinced that we are TOTALLY aware or compassionate or whatever focus we believe is vital to our path, and then we (quite naturally) attract challenges based on that focus and Here is Where It Happens.
Here is where we make that choice.
We can either protest that we ARE doing the work but somehow others aren't living up to that, or, reality is letting us down. Or we say, "Wow, okay, so I created this encounter. What beliefs are in play here? What did I hope to show myself? What did I hope to learn?”
Because before or after, the process is the same. We bring it back to our Selves and back to our center, and we accept that we create it all for a reason, and it's our privilege and joy to discern that reason.
Happy Month of Thanksgiving, my friends!