This is NOT a Test

Nov 17, 2011 by

My sister and I were talking this morning about the path of enlightenment.  Specifically, we were talking about the concept of “clinging” to something.  In Buddhism “clinging” to something, tangible or intangible, will bring suffering, because everything changes.  If you cling to something that will change, you will suffer.

I was sharing that I cling to time and money.  In other words, when I have money, I don’t want to spend it because then it will go away.  So, I energetically “cling” to it, knowing all the while that the money will eventually be gone.  The same with money.  I have two weeks right now of very few obligations, and I am clinging to each hour and each minute, for it will be gone.

Clinging brings suffering.

In the quote above, Pema Chodron explains that clinging to anything makes it evaporate that much faster.

So, my sister began explaining something she learned from one of her teachers about the path of letting go of this unskilled habit of clinging.  I don’t remember the details of each of the steps along the path, but it was a moment of pure revelation for me.

As she explained this path, I realized that it didn’t matter where I was on that path, there was no judgement.  A person on either end of the path was equally magnificent, equally loved, and equally valuable.

As one who left an organized religion that was rife with judgement (internal as well as external), the concept that no matter what, I was OK brought me to tears this morning.  After 30 years of being told that God would love me more if I was perfect, that blessings were only available to the worthy, and that I had to meet certain criteria to even be considered as a potential “saved” being, my epiphany was a breathtaking moment.  Enlightenment on the Buddha’s path didn’t make you better than another, it only assisted to relieve your own suffering.

For years I measured myself against impossible standards.  For years I believed that God would become angry at me for making a mistake and withhold blessings that I desperately needed.  I even had a church authority tell me at one point that God would only bless me if I “sacrificed more”.

But now, in that moment of enlightenment, I know that the God of this Universe doesn’t withhold, doesn’t punish, doesn’t blame… the God I love is there regardless.  Regardless of anything.  God is there.  Always.

I know that undoing the beliefs I carried around with me for thirty years is going to take a while.  But I am grateful for this morning’s brief moment of enlightenment for me.  This life is NOT a test.  You will not pass or fail.  This life is a journey, wherein you may choose to suffer, or practice living without suffering.


  1. that is beautiful Lianne

  2. Tony Applebaum

    Very beautiful. I immediately related to two concepts: “clinging to money” and “needing to be perfect”. Sigh. A work in progress.

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