Enlightenment. It still seems odd to me at times…the word, that is. It has been since February of 2017 that I stepped into an enlightened state of consciousness. That’s almost two years of being on an enlightened path, and still, I have residual dogma and sometimes embarrassment about using that word.

I mean, come on! I swear like a drunken sailor, I enjoy an amazing glass of red wine or three occasionally, and my children (I swear) would try the patience of Buddha or Jesus. I ain’t exactly the picture of a wise man on the side of a mountain, or a loving and endlessly patient monk in flowing robes.

Yet while all that remains true I’m still standing here, transformed in so many ways. Some of these ways have been subtle, some have been as subtle as a cannon shot. And a few of them are continuing to beautifully unfold before me, and I’m excited to see what’s waiting inside.

Prior to enlightenment, my life was objectively awesome. I had two beautiful kids and an amazing partner in my wife. I made a bunch of money. I had a business and a house. I was well respected in my industry and community.

Now raise your hand if you can identify with this: My subjective experience was plagued by an incessant, non-stop jabbering mind. Self doubt, nothing was ever good enough, I was never going to have enough security. I was a terrible father. How could I lose my temper? All my kids want is my time why don’t I give it to them? Then, when I’m with my kids, why am I thinking about other things? I’m a fraud and everyone knows it or they will find out. This sucks. They suck. None of this matters, what am I doing? There’s something else I should be doing, need to do. I’m just not good enough.

Can you relate?

Despite the exceptional results I created in my life and the mountain of evidence I had to prove contrary, the paragraph above was my constant companion. It was how I felt. And my only weapon was the small, afraid voice of reason to combat the tidal wave of shame, guilt and inadequacy in my life.

Prior to my enlightenment, my business was a burden I saddled myself with because it was what I had to do to be a provider for my family. It was shackles and chains preventing me from ever expressing myself creatively again, through music or otherwise.

Things have changed. On my enlightened journey, my business is an expression of my creativity, and there is immense joy in unwinding those parts of it which I built from guilt or obligation and replacing them with parts which are aligned with my inspiration and my soul. I’m consistently delighted and intrigued at what is coming next. I no longer dread Sunday evening for the Monday that follows.

Prior to my enlightenment my Spirituality was source of confusion and a list of dogmas I had outright rejected and knew I had no interest in. I was certainly superior in my position than the sheep which follow blindly with the flock. I was defined by what I hated.

Since engaging my enlightened journey, my spirituality is defined by that which I love and accept. I inherently see the innocence in all people and am a voracious cheerleader for an individual’s own path, regardless of their religion.

Maybe most personally, prior to my enlightenment, my family was a burden. My family was another thing I was responsible for. I was a prisoner and a victim, a martyr. And despite how ridiculous this sounds and how much I intellectually “knew” better, it was my pervasive, subjective, unconscious emotional experience. And I also know without question that for some of you reading, you can identify.

If I’m being honest the greatest gift my personal enlightenment has given me is an appreciation for my family.

Tom with Liam and Annabelle Father’s Day 2017

Now, my family is a source of joy and wonder for me. Even when my kids are doing their survival monkey kid thing, I’m in a state of awe and gratitude that I get to be their dad this time. I get to teach them “things”, show them “stuff”, find and nurture whatever their passions seem to be. And I’m eternally grateful that they came into my life and acted as an accelerant to allow me to self express in this way.

There are a thousand other contexts ranging from my physical body to social life which have similar stories.

The main thing here is that enlightenment literally shifts the experience from “knowing what should be” or how I “should feel’ based on all the rational and empirical evidence, to living in the actual reality you knew was there, hidden from experience on the other side of your survival mind. Enlightenment dissolves the stories of the mind like the ocean washing over words written in the sand. Your inner monolog ceases and you’re just left with peace and a beautiful ocean.

On enlightenment, the best definition I’ve ever come across is Matthew’s: Enlightenment is the recognition that the source of life within you is the source of life within everyone and everything. We are all one thing, expressing itself with infinite variety.

It’s a beautiful definition and one which, since it presupposes no authority or superiority, does make it easier for me to adopt the moniker. Now I’ve seen that definition probably one-hundred times. But it wasn’t until writing this and reflecting on my own enlightenment over the last almost two years that I realized there’s a difference between intellectually agreeing with or appreciating the definition, and living inside the definition.

“I’m consistently delighted and intrigued at what is coming next.”

For the past 8 months, I’ve been living inside this definition. It is the most beautiful, sublime state of being I could ever try to express. Words can’t do it justice the way no one can tell you what it feels like to be a parent, or be married to an extraordinary partner. To those who feel its pull, it simply must be experienced.

The profound peace, joy, and understanding that awaits transforms every aspect of your life. At least it transformed and continues to transform every aspect of my life. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for what it’s given me.

Enlightenment, as the Ferry’s say, is “Highly Recommended”.