Is the question of enlightenment important to you? Have you been reading books or attending seminars that could help you along the path to enlightenment? Have you entertained the thought that you are already enlightened? Is it possible that we can find enlightenment anywhere, at any time and even in the shopping mall? Is it possible that the last person you would think of as your teacher - a person serving coffee or mending shoes or cleaning the office - could be the one who brings you the message of enlightenment? Could it be that we don't have to go to expensive seminars but that we can find enlightenment in our everyday life? Could it be that everyday events occur that we just brush off but which if properly understood could help to remove the veil covering our eyes? This book is all about how we experience day-to-day events in our ordinary environment and that enlightenment is right there waiting for us if only we take the time to step back and be open to seeing events for what they really are. Let me touch on a few items in Lessons 1 and 2 so that you can determine for yourself whether this book might be of help to you.
Surprisingly, Twyman tells us that the mall can be a very spiritual place if you look at it in the right way. With the wrong attitude all you see is commercial crap and people walking around as if asleep. Change the intent and everything changes; it is like being at a retreat at a monastery. "They're all angels in here teaching me about God, and truth, and enlightenment." "When most people need a break or a spiritual retreat, they go to the mountains, or the desert, or to a monastery, to pray for a week. I've decided to spend a week at the mall and see what spiritual insights come to me."
Twyman was raised a Christian, once studied to be a priest and focussed on how he was different from everyone else. He had different beliefs from a Buddhist and focussed on differences to separate rather than bring together. Now he chooses to focus on things in which we are the same - peace for example. We all want to live lives of peace - whether we are Christian, Jew or Hindu. Focusing on that, the differences melt away. Being a Christian he focuses on what Jesus taught and not His personality. Jesus taught peace and compassion, just like Buddha or any other enlightened individual. At the shoe repair shop, the old Oriental man told him that he thinks of his work as being very much like life. People bring their worn, dull shoes and expect him to bring them back to life like a healer. Shoes are vastly underrated; if they hurt your feet they are worthless, no matter how well shined. If they are comfortable you go through the day happy and with a smile. Feet determine the direction not only of your step but also of your mood. Shoes are a metaphor for life. We are all healers. But nothing can happen until we are ready. Till then life just passes us by. Attention and love go so far. This man who had repaired shoes all his life following the tradition of his father and grandfather, saved soles and souls.
Twyman started his journey in the mall by buying a wedding ring, representing commitment, stability and responsibility after a life time of uncompromised freedom and after all the uncertainties regarding his readiness for his new life. But he realized that he had always been ready not only for commitment in marriage but for the deeper realities of life. Marriage is a symbol of the commitment to the Divine. Being ready to give ourselves to each other is the same as giving ourselves to God. They cannot be separated. You can't realize that there is nothing to be afraid of till you are afraid. Only then are you ready to take the first steps away from fear and into the light. That is the only thing we are here to do. Realizing we are ready is just the first step. One victory leads to another till they all string together like pearls creating a whole necklace. Twyman had found his first pearl.
People have a tendency to measure their worth, as well as the worth of others, according to what they do rather than who they are. Thus, a lawyer deserves more respect than a dishwasher, or so the world says. The emphasis can change depending upon the desired goal. Inside people are all the same because we all want the same things.... peace, love, family. On the outside we are very different, the way we look and the way we talk. But are we so really different? Maybe God doesn't think so either. Maybe God looks past the outer and sees only the inner. Sometimes people don't realize what they want, and this causes confusion. They think they want pain or conflict, but that is only because they're used to these things. Ultimately we are all the same, with the same desires and hopes. Look past the confusion and you see the truth.
This book is not an easy read because it makes you think and reflect. He is telling us that we have the answers not only in everyday, common things but also within ourselves. The clues are there but they will pass us by unless we make the effort to find the deeper meaning. But isn't that what life is all about? How many times have I failed to learn from the simple and the obvious? For me this book was a warning - look for the hidden meaning in every event. Every moment of every day can be a lesson if we so wish.