(OK, since I was compelled to write, I am guessing my blog break is over.)
When I talk to spiritual seekers about enlightenment, which does not happen very often and only occasionally, I find that people have no idea what “it” is. When I first started on the path to awakening, I didn’t know what it was either. I am guessing this is normal.
One thing is certain: enlightenment is a process that is pretty well mapped out and is not different for everyone. There are distinct stages throughout one’s evolution that are common for all who go through them. There are different levels, so to speak. However, what we do with our state of enlightenment is unique because each of us is unique.
I vaguely recall that feeling of not having a clue of what I was searching for. However, I did have an intense yearning, which I felt fullbodily. In my early teens, I decided that life – as presented by the majority – made no sense to me at all. If I were to live, my life would be dedicated to finding whatever “it” was.
The feeling of yearning throughout my entire body was essential for me. It was a kind of driving force that drowned any doubt and fear. An intellectual idea of wanting to be enlightened, and without any connection to the body, has little power and even less use when the process gets challenging.
There are many myths about enlightenment. I see people forming different pictures of what “it” is in their heads that are simply incorrect. I went through the process and am still evolving. I also compared my milestones to the writings of sages and rishis and Westerners who have clearly gone through an awakening. The milestones along the way appear to be the same.
Let me first say what enlightenment isn’t:
- It is not a psychodelic experience that comes occasionally, and then goes away. Unless the state is permanent, what occurred was simply a “peak” experience.
- It is not an immediate cure-all for all physical ailments and emotional debris accumulated over the years. Although healing is dramatically accelerated.
- It is not a detachment from life, where you become an un-feeling robot, observing everything from a distance. Instead, you go even deeper into life because you realize you are all of this.
- All your uncomfortable everyday situations do not just go away overnight. However, you do have an intuition about how to move through these situations and ultimately rebalance. You live your life, but you do not define yourself by its ups and downs.
- It is not dependent on religion, ethnicity, or culture. Anyone, when prepared and ready, can embark on the journey.
- It does not require special ritual, incantations, mantras, or protections. Rather, one realizes permanently what one is and lives a life from that space of being – naturally.
- It does not make one “perfect,” whatever that means to any individual. Perfection is a social, cultural, and individual construct that has no absolute reality. However, any imbalances and things requiring realignment are seen through with ease and can be addressed. It can take decades, perhaps, to fully clear out one’s life of clutter after the breakthrough has occurred.
- It does not make one superhuman or a God, although some abilities may emerge naturally and depending on the person. Nevertheless, an enlightened person is not quite like most human beings and may wonder what it truly means to be human.
- It has nothing to do with the Mind and runs on a completely different circuit. One cannot “think” and “analyze” one’s way to transformation – if we could, we would all be “there” already. Our Minds are mere tools compared to what “it” is.
- It has nothing to do with never getting tired. Because of the honed desire to help others, an enlightened being may need more rest and solitude to be. Life in a physical body on this dense plane of existence is not “easy.” But after regenerating, it is much easier to continue giving back to life and to be engaged in one’s unique service.
It is “not” so many things, which people imagine without having actually gone through the process. Of course – we all construct answers that make sense to us at the time. And how would we know without walking the actual path?
What is “it”, then? Enlightenment is a permanent transformation, where the separation from what lives all of us (God, the Divine, whatever you call it) is gone.
The initial breakthrough is the most difficult because it feels like you have to give up all of your preconception and fears about life and reality, but we hold on to these dearly and resist the required surrender. Further breakthroughs do follow for some people. In actuality, the process of awakening to our intrinsic being does not appear to be something that ends.
Enlightenment makes living easier. Challenging situations “make sense” in an intuitive way. Thoughts become quiet. Being alone is never lonely. The desire to directly relate to life becomes much stronger than the tendency to analyze and dissect phenomena and experiences. One sees through the pedantic tendencies of vivisecting life into pieces and is not drawn to them at all because relationship and making connections is much more interesting. Living life directly and without any pretense becomes primary.
The role of the teacher is key to avoiding getting stuck at various points along the way. Before the breathrough, people get easily bogged down in useless patterns of relating to life and can’t move through them. I get a visual of people repeatedly and unconsciously banging their heads against a wall and expecting it to not hurt. The teacher would step in during such times and help the person see and shift the way they use their energy. The teacher serves as a living blueprint for the way energy can run through human form. Often, the student gets a “boost” and feels more open and creative after meeting a teacher (who may not call themselves that). Sometimes a person is “shaken up” after such an encounter without realizing that they are shaken up because of getting in touch with what lies within themselves. It is common to reject the enlightened being, which is a sure sign that one is more comfortable with where they currently are.
People typically tell an enlightened being everything. Although this doesn’t pose any real threat, revealing may still be scary because we are attached to our identities and feel that vulnerability is a weakness. The enlightened being is a powerful mirror that sheds light on one’s insecurities, doubts, and fears, as well as their creative potential. There is never judgement in the sense of how people tend to label and conclude their dispositions toward another. In other words, an enlightened soul has no need for quick finality about anyone.
Fundamentally, enlightenment is about living as happiness amidst whatever comes up. One acquires a fundamental joy that grows and grows as one develops the expression of one’s state. This expression must be actively cultivated and engaged to bring one closer to the “full” state.