Being human: The missing piece of the New Age puzzle

I walk downtown where sunlit smiles swoop down like birds and land on the faces of people passing by. There's a kiosk with flyers of local events. "Free the Light within!" One bursts angelic light that parts the clouds. "Discover your Inner Goddess," reads another, a promise that if I chant to the divine feminine, I will transform into a goddess.

I don't know what it means to be "enlightened." The New Age wafts through towns of the world like ethereal deities caravanned on a cloud of attempted attainment. The subliminal message: There is something wrong with being human.

I circle the kiosk. Other flyers say to find my bliss, "Om" myself into awakening. My paraphrase.

Maybe there is something wrong with me.

A woman walks by and says, "namaste" to a friend. My third eye rolls. Like a rubber-headed hammer tapped against my knee causing my leg to involuntarily pop into the air.

I cringe at myself. And at the word "Namaste."

I want to shake the fluff from the New Age like it's a dusty carpet needing to be banged on the porch railing with a broom.

Maybe I need a chakra cleanse, or a seamstress to repair the hole in my aura. Maybe I'm jaded. Am I doomed to a life sentence of not living in a perpetual state of bliss?

I take a deep breath of inquiry into what my bliss is. This is what I come up with: Skyping with my son who lives half way around the world, his head thrown back in laughter from the bout of healthy cynicism we indulge in for comic relief.

I am human. Edgy with grace, fiery and surged by grave injustices. I'm told I'm "negative" if I bring up news like the young man who goes postal, kills six people, then turns the gun on himself, all because he was rejected by women.

I will not "Om" that away.

As a mother, I am floored by how, as a society, we failed these boys to a point of irreparable damage. Among certain crowds, I am "dark" because I take these matters to heart.

Is being impacted by the insanity of humanity pessimistic? I didn't incarnate to ascend to the light, glaze over with chants of mantra's that come from a country I was not born to, to mask the fact that I am as human as it gets. I grieve. I emote. I get enraged. Dare I say that?

Rage and enlightenment don't go together.

Maybe the definition of Enlightenment is to sit with ALL that is — the rippling, shadowy waters of darkness, the down on my knees gratitude for being alive, and connecting with something larger than myself when the weight of humanity eclipses me. I wouldn't trade being human for anything. I'm not interested in attaining Godliness. We're on this planet for a blink. "Transcendence" will come soon enough.

Weep for the travesties; be angry about the unbridgeable disparity between the hungry swollen-bellied and the pervasive obesity of overconsumption. It doesn't make you less spiritual. It makes you real. Being awake to all that is. No hiding behind veils of another dogma masquerading as Pure Consciousness.

Carl Jung says, "There is no coming into consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious."

I live, love and breathe inside the space that resides in the between. It's my abiding fate as a human. If I can attain that, I'll be as "enlightened" as I'll ever be here on the ground — on this pulsating, erupting, imploding, tenacious, rumbling, resilient ground that I love.

Deep inside the body of being human.

Leslie Caplan is a writing coach, editor and facilitator of Healing through Writing. Contact her at

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