by Robert Daniel Ennis
Most of the terms that have been used here in the West for the idea of Awakening, or enlightenment, while quite acceptable, do not have some of the depth of meaning which one might hope for. And some can be misleading to the Western mind. For example, the term Awakening, while it indicates that most of humanity is asleep to its real possibilities, does not give any indication of what a genuine waking up might entail. And this term is confusing to many in this literal-minded culture who have a difficult time even conceiving how someone apparently awake in the ordinary sense can be actually asleep. A third, and perhaps most significant problem is the impression given that the spiritual process, like the physical one, is essentially all or nothing, such that one is either basically asleep or basically awake. In fact, here in the West the process of Awakening tends to be quite a gradual process, in contradistinction to much of the Eastern experience. Gurdjieff describes this as involving at least seven stages.
The term enlightenment is somewhat more comprehensive. It does indicate the idea of a casting off of the constraints of attachment and identification, with the resultant lightening of our being. And it also contains the idea of having light shed, or of shedding light on, the nature of existence. However, once again, it does not give any hint to the nature of what is seen in this new light. Further, the term has been somewhat muddied by the Western purely historical concept of enlightenment as applied to a period in the Eighteenth Century. The term illumination is even more limited.
I therefore propose a new term for this process - that of attaining Lucidity. The dictionary definition of this word has four distinct connotations or meanings, all of which are applicable to the state we are attempting to describe here. The first meaning, to shine, represents the self-luminous quality of the awakened state. It also evokes the luminous quality of the nature of existence itself. Gurdjieff refers to this as the Holy Sun Absolute.
The second connotation of Lucidity is that of transparency. This idea gives us an important clue as to the nature of the direction in which one goes in the process of Awakening. As one begins to surrender one’s sufferings, which arise from attachment to and identification with one’s ideas about the world and oneself, one begins to take down the buffers which hide one from the world, and hide the world from oneself. In this process, one becomes less and less apparent as a personality. In effect, one become more and more transparent. One allows people to see one as one is, not as one has wished to be seen.
The third meaning of Lucidity is that of reason, or sanity. Gurdjieff refers to the process of Awakening as involving the attaining of Objective Reason. In essence, this means to see, understand, and accept the Creation as it is. This is another important aspect of the nature of the process of spiritual growth often misunderstood. Many people have taken the Fourth Way idea of doing as implying some kind of meddling with or improving of the Creation, when in fact it is perfect as created. Does one really propose to improve on the efforts of Our Endless Endlessness?.
The fourth meaning of Lucidity is that of clarity. It is all very well to understand aspects of the Creation. But can one demonstrate and ultimately help to transmit this understanding to others? Gurdjieff talks about those who attain understanding but do not know what to do with this understanding. Only one who can demonstrate the clarity of the Teaching can hope to assist others in their work.