From time to time someone asks me about what it is we do at EnlightenNext.
It’s a good question because, unlike many spiritual organisations, we offer more than a robust spiritual practice and meaningful answers to life’s most fundamental questions: who am I and why am I here? At EnlightenNext another big part of our mission is to promote an ongoing and vigorous inquiry into the pressing issues of our times. We don’t have all the answers but we want to find out!
The recent dialogue between British scientist Rupert Sheldrake and EnlightenNext founder and spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen that was held at our Islington centre is an excellent case in point. In many other contexts, a conversation between a scientist and a spiritual master would be a highly unlikely occurrence. But in this event, these two experts in their respective fields were united in their openness to each other and to new ideas, wherever they may lie. Sheldrake and Cohen not only enriched in each other’s perspective as their conversation unfolded but also forged new ground between them.
What made this possible?
Surely, the unique personal qualities of the two speakers had a lot to do with their synergy and capacity to engage freely and creatively with each other. Neither man is typical of his peers. Sheldrake is known as a rebel in the world of science and Cohen is known for his revolutionary teaching. But there is something else and I believe it has to do with the more intangible quality of the context in which their discussion took place: the context that EnlightenNext set for this and other similar types of events. It is a context that is first and foremost based on the certainty of liberation, of the potential to free ourselves from conditioned beliefs and orientations to life, of Enlightenment itself. The new gets released when there is the conviction that something new is possible and, even more importantly, is desirable.
A corollary to this belief is the absence of dogma.
So often–and regrettably this is true in spiritual contexts just as in many other areas of life–when a powerful truth about life has been discovered, fixed thinking sets in. We can become attached to our truth and develop blinders to other points of view. To be able to know something with conviction and, at the same time, remain open to other ideas, perceptions and truths, even those that may contradict one’s own truth, is rare. And it is precisely in this subtle orientation to life and to the art of inquiry that I believe EnlightenNext brings a valuable contribution. By providing a context free of dogma and grounded in the very real possibility of freedom, EnlightenNext is setting the stage for new solutions, new understandings and new truths to emerge.
-by Carol Raphael