The Woman on the Train and What is Wrong with Enlightenment
Last year I travelled to Toronto by train every day for three days. The first morning I chatted with a woman, not the one in the title, but a very nice gal who was a teacher doing some work for the Ministry of Education. She was fascinating and we clicked. Going home that evening I saw her again at the train station and we picked up our conversation from the morning. This went on each of the three days.
When I got to the station at the end of the third day I did not see my friend right away so chatted with a pleasant woman while we waited for the boarding call. The woman said she had been to a hospital in the city for an appointment. I didn’t pry into her health issues and she talked a bit about her life. There was something very strange about her, an aura, a radiating peace. She appeared to be smiling even when she wasn’t, speaking softly but with great power and at the same time seeming amazingly humble. I was in awe just looking at her and could not understand why. I felt for some reason I was in the presence of greatness but could not give it definition.
I spotted my friend further down the queue and knew she would be looking for me so I excused myself even though I did not want to move. Shaking my head in puzzlement I went to join my friend.
On the train this strange woman was sitting by herself in one of those sets of seats where four face each other. I asked if we could join her. We three chatted about nothing in particular. Then this strange woman looked at me -into me-and told me her story quietly. And all else ceased to exist.
She said her appointment had been to assess her status. She said that her mother and two sisters had died of cardiomyopathy (a deadly heart condition). It was genetic. I whispered to her, “And you have it too?”
She nodded. The only cure was a heart transplant but it could not be done until a certain point had been reached in her condition. I knew from experience that often when patients reached that point their condition often worsened and they died before a heart came available. And still she radiated joy and incredible peace.
My friend and I got off the train before that woman’s stop. As we walked away, my friend asked if this condition was serious. I told her that the woman is walking with death.
I think of her often and feel I was blessed to have been in her company.
Enlightenment – and finding it has been on my mind for a long time. I have read some things that made sense but I also read a book on enlightenment that just didn’t feel right. It calls for us to wake up in the the morning and start jumping and yelling YES! YES! It says that to be financially rich have friends gather around and shower us with money, literally. It said a few things that perplexed me. It might come to your mind that I am frequently perplexed.
But then the thought came to me recently………the woman on the train was true enlightenment. She was one with God, the universe or whatever our centre is. No yelling. No jumping. Just incredible peace and joy and love and gentleness and humility.
I don’t know if I will ever see that kind of thing again. I just know that for a short time I was closer to purity than I have ever been. And I am humbled.