The focus of the month is The Reality of the Enlightened Mind. We say enlightenment to mean liberation, freedom from suffering, or to put it in the simplest way that we can all relate to-- happiness. We are born into equal opportunities for enlightenment, whatever our circumstances may be. Our hardships may be different, and yet they are all paths to enlightenment.
We may doubt ourselves and think, how can we teach ourselves when we are so "imperfect"? The mind that seeks enlightenment starts to understand that there is subjectivity in how we respond to these imperfections. We can either feel victimized and paralyzed by them or we can look at these same qualities or actions and use them to transcend into our higher Selves.
There is a story of an infamous murderer who was so proud of his conquests that he adorned himself with the teeth of those he killed. When he met the Buddha, the great teacher, he was able to see the compassionate parts of himself he didn't know he had. He was so changed by their encounter that he himself started teaching meditation. He became enlightened. The Buddha as his teacher only showed him the light, but it was himself who removed his own ignorance. He turned to himself as the guru. Guru-- or teacher-- literally means remover of ignorance.
We can start to invert the negative attachments we may have to our past actions and behaviors. Our mistakes, our ignorance, our imperfections are not barriers but opportunities for growth. If we were impatient with the people around us, instead of beating ourselves up for not having been more understanding at that time, can we acknowledge that just by seeing things for what they are, we can do better next time? If we were consuming in ways that are unethical, for example eating animal products like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, instead of thinking we have already done a lot of damage, can we start to act more ethically and be the champions of the same cause that we were once ignorant about? If we were judgmental of the actions and character of others, instead of being consumed by our negativity, can we instead see our similarities and through it gain more acceptance and understanding of the other?
If we want to be enlightened, then we use every opportunity we can to learn about how we can bring the most happiness in the world. If we want to be enlightened, we don't treat ourselves as our own critic or detractor or hater. We treat ourselves as our own teacher.