Enlightenment - The Sun of the Soul
by Life Positive
What is enlightenment?
Enlightenment is experientially gaining profound knowledge of the ultimate by becoming one with it. Through a gradual process of purification and evolution, and learning to go beyond the senses, the individual mind is made pure and sublime. Then it is transformed into pure consciousness, almost as pure and pristine as the Lord's cosmic consciousness. It thus merges in the cosmic consciousness and becomes one with the Lord. In this incandescent merger, it experiences different facets of the Lord, the working of the universe and of life. It learns through intimate experiencing that the individual pure consciousness, the Lord's consciousness, the cosmos, in fact everything in the universe, is one continuous unbroken whole. Everything is one, in different forms; everything is the Lord.
How does this knowledge come?
Illumination comes in a flash, demolishing the darkness of age-old ignorance, of isolation, and fragmentation of the self from the cosmos and the Lord. One experiences the Lord's bliss, His knowledge, and His almighty power. The purified mind becomes cosmic and experiences eternity and infinity in itself. Not only that, it also finds the entire cosmos within itself and may even find itself transcending the manifest and the unmanifest. All fears, doubts and questions are banished from the mind and the individual leads a meaningful life in bliss, knowledge and compassion, and in universal brotherhood. This is the natural, the original state of the human mind: at peace and in harmony and in love and understanding with all. This is as intended by nature and the Lord for man. This state is not for a chosen few, but for all those who aspire for it and undertake a sustained effort to attain it.
However, there are certain misconceptions about enlightenment. For instance, does enlightenment mean there is no more spiritual growth?
There is no end to spiritual growth. The Lord is infinite. His potential is infinite. Enlightenment initially gives only a glimpse of this potential. One has to make this vast potential one's own. For this to happen, one has to keep deepening and consolidating the spiritual gains in their many aspects.
Does this mean there is an acceleration of spiritual growth after enlightenment?
The spiritual growth continues, but there is no undue acceleration in it. The Lord and His attributes are infinite. To know Him in His fullness is like a drop in the ocean wanting to assimilate an entire ocean within itself.
Does enlightenment mean one gets godlike powers?
Not at all. Enlightened state is the natural, true state of man, which he has covered with his superficial mind composed of ego, attachments, emotions and desires. As purity deepens and one learns to abide in the enlightened state more and more completely and unwaveringly, one may acquire a few of the Lord's powers, but these never equal the range, the magnitude, or the diversity of the Lord's power.
Conversely, a person exhibiting some powers or sidhdhis need not necessarily be an enlightened person. Enlightenment does not automatically bestow sidhdhis on one. These are various powers of the mind which, when activated, can be used for healing, predicting, mind-reading, bringing about a desired event or exerting undue influence over people. These can be acquired through various techniques even though the person may not be spiritual or interested in spiritual growth. At times, they get activated on their own when one is on the spiritual path, even though the aspirant might not have sought them. Sidhdhis, however, are often a hindrance to one on the spiritual path.
The individual on the spiritual path has the goal of seeking out God, or of attaining self-realization. When one gets a sidhdhi, say of healing, or of seeing and predicting the future, people flock to him, desperate to get cured or to know their future. This gives him a feeling of power and self-importance. This generates ego. Ego in turn strengthens other impurities of the mind like greed, desire to accumulate money by unfair means, temptation to mislead and control people by advocating ritualistic remedial recourses. Worse, through over-use or misuse, when such powers diminish or are lost altogether, the aspirant might be tempted to resort to trickery, lies, and even fraud by pretending he still possesses powers and continues to guide people. This is abuse of the faculty and a distraction or total deviation from the original sublime goal of self-realization. One then gets sucked into a vortex of negative karmas.
Further, it must be understood that using these powers or even hankering after them, especially when one is still an aspirant, leads to a drain on the still vulnerable pool of spiritual energy one is accumulating within oneself.
If, however, one uses sidhdhis to genuinely help others without being seduced by the sweet taste of self-glorification and egotism, and considers such use as a humble service to the Lord, one can still progress on the path. But such true innocence backed with self-control is rare. Therefore, it is best to avoid sidhdhis and shun their use even if they are bestowed upon one.
Does enlightenment mean you can make miracles happen?
Enlightenment does not automatically give one such powers. As I said, enlightenment ensures peace, harmony, bliss, inner stability, inner silence, and knowledge. One sees beauty and plenitude everywhere, in everything, and in every happening. Such a person is one with nature. In this state of oneness, the person's sanctity itself might act as a catalyst in precipitating a turn of events that might be termed as a miracle. He might not have consciously willed it or even have been aware of it.
Does enlightenment mean always being in unity-consciousness?
The state of unity-consciousness generally comes and goes. The frequency and duration of course differ in each case. As purity and maturity increases, this state may become permanent in some rare personalities. However, even a flash of enlightenment suffices to spiritually revolutionize a person's entire life.
How do you maintain a state of love, harmony and compassion with others whilst not being in unity-consciousness?
By the time one has opened up to the unity-consciousness state, the mind has been made pure and sublime. Purity has become one's nature and one is firmly grounded in purity. Love, harmony and compassion are a natural state of such a pure mind and one does not have to specifically induce them or exert to maintain them. Thus, they are there in the state of unity-consciousness, as also when one is not.
Does it mean that you never feel negative emotions?
Enlightenment is the natural development of a crystal-clear mind when the negative emotions have been eradicated. If however, some lurking, residual, negative emotions do surface occasionally from some deep recesses of the mind, these will be superficial, fleeting, innocuous and alterable. The enlightened being will not base his thinking, behavior and action on them. If, however, he at all indulges them, he would be re-introducing impurity in a mind that had acquired almost divine purity.
Does enlightenment mean one becomes perfect?
Enlightenment takes place only in a rare moment of perfection, when one is so pure and perfect that the merger with the Lord is possible. One cannot, however, self-assess this purity, or will it. This very desire, or any other motive, or any conscious self-involvement at all, will kill the purity of mind. Perfection has to be so complete that there is no residual mind or individuality left.If, subsequent to enlightenment, one does not abide in this state, impurities of mind can set in. So, yes, to reach this extraordinary state, purity and perfection of mind is a definite prerequisite. However, the outward behavior of this person could appear less than perfect to others.
Can bad things still happen to the enlightened?
One has to undergo the consequences of one's karma. There is no escaping the lash of karma. Even enlightened persons undergo hardships and tragedy. However, stark purity and calmness of mind generate enough inner strength to face adversity stoically, with full faith in the Lord and unshakeable belief in oneself. Also, there is enough deep spiritual wisdom about the transience of life as also hardship. Hardships and even tragedy then do not put one in turmoil.
Does it mean you do not die?
The physical body of course dies. What does not die is the individual pure consciousness that has by now become fully aware, is ever awake, and ever witnessing through every birth, having merged in the cosmic consciousness that never sleeps and is ever witnessing. This is called immortality. Such a heightened awareness will witness the death of the body it was occupying, and subsequently its new birth, and the state in between. This is possible only if the person has maintained the purity of mind.
Some people maintain that women cannot attain enlightenment.
Enlightenment has to do with consciousness, with perception, with purity of mind, with going beyond individual consciousness and becoming one with the infinite consciousness. It does not operate at the body level where gender comes in. Gender should make no difference. We have examples of great souls like Lalla Degh, Anandamayee Ma, Muktabai, and others who have been enlightened.
Can a householder not get enlightenment? Why is so much importance given to sanyas?
Sanyas is only one of the many paths. Many enlightened persons, in ancient days and modern, were householders, such as Vasishtha, Lahiri Mahasaya, Kabir; so were housewives, for example, Lopamudra, Gargeyi, and others. Renunciation has to be of the mind, of one's ego, negative emotions, desires and attachments. It has to do with acceptance of life, going with the flow of life, of nature. Purity of mind is the quintessence of enlightenment. Then the powerful spiritual energies within oneself take over and assist in further progress towards enlightenment. All this is achievable even whilst being a householder or a housewife. One has to follow the path that comes naturally to one.
Surely the enlightened one has the power to change the destiny of his devotees?
The enlightened one will normally not interfere consciously with the law of karma, which is justice incarnate, even if he had any such power. He might in a rare case do so if he is sure he is not upsetting the larger scheme of nature.
Is it true that if omeone says he is enlightened, he cannot be truly enlightened?
Not true. However, there is no urge to brag about one's enlightened state, or to cash in on it or seek fame through it. As this state is intended to be a true and normal state for human beings, one feels so normal and natural that one forgets its special status.
To experience something, there has to be the duality of the one experiencing and the experience, whereas in enlightenment, there is oneness. Is it possible that a truly enlightened person does not know that he is enlightened?
Then, in this state of oneness of the individual with the Lord, when there is no other, who experiences the enlightenment?
It is the individual pure consciousness that experiences the merger and knows it too.
The all-pervading cosmic consciousness is dynamic and is ever alert and ever awake. It witnesses everything and stores this knowledge within itself. It witnesses the individual consciousness going into samadhi, and merging in the cosmic consciousness. In this merger, the two consciousnesses are one. Whatever is experienced and known by one is experienced and known by the other. Thus, the individual pure consciousness too witnesses and stores the experience of this merger in its memory. It is this experience and its knowledge that is called enlightenment, or self-realization, the experiential knowledge of the grand oneness.
From your own example, can you tell us what you can achieve now as opposed to what you could not earlier?
My entire knowledge recorded in my latest book, Teachings of the Inner Light, has welled up from within. It has not been compiled from outside sources. In fact, before my experience of oneness, I was totally ignorant of these states or the knowledge that came with them. This is divine knowledge that has come to me in my Nirvikalpa samadhi states. Nirvikalpa samadhi is the deepest state of samadhi where consciousness is vibrant, awareness is at its fullness, and the cosmic identity is endless.
Earlier, I could not have brought out such a book without referring to umpteen books. Enlightenment fundamentally involves a dramatic shift in consciousness. Now, there certainly is a flowering of knowledge, creativity, enhanced perception and clarity of expression.
Is there any indication by which one knows one is enlightened? These spiritual experiences could be just hallucinations?
One knows one is awake and not sleeping, alive and not dead. There is basic intelligence and enough knowledge within us to confirm this. When one has gone beyond the senses, the gross mind, the ego and one's self-identity, one enters a different dimension, an altogether different realm of cosmic oneness where reside the Lord's intelligence and knowledge, which are powerful and mighty enough to raise and govern life and universes upon universes. And one becomes party to this intelligence and knowledge. There is no scope here for distorted vision or misguided conceptions. True and pure knowledge comes clearly, of one's self as also of everything else. There is total awareness. It is, in short, a totally awakened state, as opposed to the non-enlightened, non-self-realized state which might be likened to mere sleep-walking.
Could you explain the phenomenon of going "beyond one's senses"?
The senses are outward-facing, they receive their inputs from outside. In samadhi, they stop reacting to the outside sources, become subtle, become focussed inward, and become sensitive and receptive to the knowledge from within.
What I have written about enlightenment is from personal experience. The received perceptions might differ slightly with each individual due to differences in culture, upbringing or religion. However, the experience of throbbing cosmic unity is a common factor in each case. Another hallmark of this state is the awakening of divine knowledge that is already within oneself. Then on, one simply knows. Knowledge about God, the cosmos and life itself, keeps pouring out. In this I do not refer to astrology or any other specific subject, but knowledge through the gateway of cosmic identity, cosmic energy and consciousness.
What do you mean by "throbbing cosmic unity"?
The experience of throbbing cosmic unity one goes through, demonstrates vividly, leaving no doubt whatsoever, the absolute oneness of the cosmos, the Lord, and oneself; the essentially indivisible unity of everything that exists. It shows experientially that all things in their totality together form one single unit: the Lord, one continuous whole. This is Advaita. This is cosmic unity. This is what one is enlightened about, knowledge of one's self, one's true nature, one's oneness with the Lord.
Is this cosmic unity the only aspect in experiencing the persona of the Lord?
Cosmic unity is only one aspect. One also experiences, among other things, the existence, sat aspect of the Lord. Existence is the throbbing cause, the support, and the sole principle of the material world. Sat lends existence to everything. It is an all-pervading force forming the life breath, the soul of the changing cosmos. It is a throbbing reality, a pulsating dynamo of life because of which the universe is, man is, the existence of every thing is. The throb of existence comes unasked for in the experiencing of cosmic unity. One feels this continuous, rhythmic, mighty throb as though the largest, the most brilliant sun has turned into a throbbing dynamo within oneself. This is known as the atma-surya, the pulsating sun of the soul.
In my experience of different facets of the Lord narrated in my published diary A Journey within the Self, the experience of existence is chronicled in detail. One feels the force, the fire, and the raw heat of this irradiating sun within. Most amazingly though, even through this heat, the sun is so soothing, so relaxing and so ambrosial. It is accompanied by a strange, luminous coolness, and brings in its wake bliss and an upsurge of worship from within.
There are many other aspects of the Lord one experiences, but this is in short the experience of the throbbing cosmic unity. This state comes and goes, but the state of love, compassion and harmony, which has become one's very nature continues unless some impurities of the mind are gathered afresh.
The two states co-exist: The throbbing reality one experiences within oneself, is meant for oneself, but the concomitant bedrock of love, compassion and harmony is in relation to the world outside. Even in this cosmic unity, there is an intelligent duality where everything and every one has a distinct place and status.
What else marks the enlightened state?
Paramananda is another very prominent feature of this state. Love, ecstasy, compassion, joy, a feeling of brotherhood, of well-being, burst forth and there is an irresistible urge to share it all with others. Of course, this cannot be passed on to others, they have to earn it themselves, but the urge is there, nevertheless. Each cell of the body, including the depths of one's bones, vibrates in ecstasy, gyrating with energy and throbbing with nascent life. This is the pinnacle of fulfillment, the ultimate point in seeking the deeper meaning of life. There is also a tremendous feeling of freedom and liberation, as if one is not bound by anything.
There are so many other wondrous aspects of this state, which cannot all be put down here. But I can ascertain that it is so beautiful a state, the experience of merger with the Lord is so extraordinarily fulfilling and ambrosial that every one should strive to reach it. Compared to this, all other pleasures and achievements of life pale into utter insignificance. God can be reached through any path. Colour, creed, gender, faith, nationality, rituals of an individual, are irrelevant. What is required is an intense aspiration and willingness to make the sustained effort.
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