In the classes I teach I always begin the class with setting an intention, in Sanskrit the word is “sankalpa” – will, purpose or determination. I also mention that the intention should be something positive, and it should be a process rather than a goal. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But looking deeper, we all need to realize that everything is a process. No one goes to bed as one person and wakes up as another. We need to try to make small changes every day, and find that things will shift or move in another direction over time.
As the legend goes, the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree (a type of fig tree, now renowned as sacred) and under that tree he reached the state of “enlightenment”. Of course he wandered and learned for many years before he had this moment of enlightenment.
There are two other interesting features of this tree. One is the heart-shaped leaves and the other is the process by which it grows – the branches reach into the soil and create new roots, which in turn creates a new tree. The Bodhi tree is constantly self-renewing and growing, always spreading outwards.
The leaves of course are symbolic for love – the strongest force we know. It is only through the love we share with those around us that we can grow. If you were alone, you would never need to change, adapt, grow. Only by interacting with our partners, family, friends, do we find ourselves challenged by others to examine ourselves, to learn from our mistakes, to treat others with more love and kindness. This in turn makes us grow, to evolve – to literally become more “enlightened”.
While we would all love to become as enlightened as Buddha was, it does not seem to be a realistic goal for most of us. But I try every day to share love, to be kind, to treat other people with respect and dignity, and to constantly strive to be a better person. For me, this is enlightenment.
- M. Sean Klady, Yoga Instructor at Healthletica