By Prem Nirmal
Understanding the meaning of enlightenment and the need of a guru to guide you is as important as preparing yourself to receive enlightenment
Enlightenment is an experiential understanding from deep within, an irrevocable understanding that the ego exists not. The ego, the ‘I’ is fictitious, a pseudo entity. Only consciousness exists. When this realisation occurs deep within you, at the bottom of your heart, at the core of your being, in an experiential manner, you have entered the state of enlightenment. You have a firsthand experience of divinity, where you ‘are not’, only Divinity ‘is’. Enlightenment is for the courageous few who are willing to die completely. It happens in the total death of the ego. When enlightenment happens ‘I’ am not. If ‘I’ am there, enlightenment is not. Nobody can state ‘I am enlightened’, because ‘I’ can never be enlightened. Enlightenment and the ego are like sun and darkness. They cannot exist together. Ego is the darkness that does not have an independent existence. It exists only in the absence of light. Therefore one should not struggle with the darkness; one simply has to bring in the light.
How does one do that? Merely by lighting one lamp with the help of another. Set the unlit lamp by the side of the lit lamp, and in time the unlit lamp will get lit! That is why spiritual tradition lays so much importance on the presence of a living enlightened master, and emanates so much respect and gratitude for gurus. In order to catch the light, the lamp must be ready in terms of having ingredients like oil, wick and so on. Similarly, in order to attract enlightenment from an enlightened being, the seeker must cultivate the following qualities:
• Simplicity: Simplicity is the first virtue on the path to enlightenment. Those who are overly educated, logical, learned, or intellectual will miss the point.
• Humility: One should be willing to receive the grace of divinity. When it is raining, one should hold the vessel straight to receive water. If it is upside down, will you get the water? No! So, be humble.
• Attitude of learning: Upanishad means sitting at the feet of the master ready to receive grace. Electrical energy flows from high-voltage to low-voltage. Similarly, spiritual energy flows from the master to the disciple. It is an important quality for the disciple to be able to sit at the feet of the master. An egoist cannot do that! Only the right disciple, who is willing to sit at the feet of the master, who is humble, simple, and receptive, will be capable of receiving that grace!
• Gratitude: If you have gratitude in your heart towards that enlightened consciousness, if you have a sense of appreciation for the profundity of the phenomenon, that very gratitude and appreciation will enable you to catch fire any moment.
Courage: The fifth and the most important quality of the right disciple is the courage to die, a willingness to let go. To use the metaphor of the lamp, the lamp should be ready to destroy its darkness. It should be ready to go near the fire to catch the fire. Most people are not willing to go near live fire, the living enlightened master, for it will burn you. Therefore, intellectual pundits will talk about the fire, will have study circles, will read books, but never approach the fire because they are not ready for it.
If we have these five qualities within us, then our lamp too will be ready to be lit. When the unlit lamp catches the flame from the lit one, the latter has nothing to lose; its flame continues to burn bright. Moreover, after catching the flame, who can tell which lamp was lit first and which was next?
Thirdly, the flame of the lamp is more important than its shape, size, or appearance. Whether that lamp is made of mud or gold does not matter. If there is respect, appreciation, gratitude for the enlightened consciousness, your lamp will be lit, otherwise not. Let us now discuss the breakthrough technology of enlightenment. First we need to understand clearly the difference between brain and mind, and the inter-relation between the two. The brain is hardware. It is a highly evolved module in the skull, and its functioning is a great wonder. It is connected to and in touch with all the parts of the body through the stimuli it gets in the form of neural signals. Hence, even though it is placed in the skull, its reach is over the entire body.
Mind is software. It is the thought-emotions bundle, which is loaded with our likes and dislikes, our associations and attachments, fears and phobias, and other matters.
It is the combination of the brain as the hardware and the mind as the software that is responsible for the miraculous functioning, and the joy and miseries, of the human race. The combination is miraculous because it has the great capacity to compare, calculate, evaluate, memorise, fantasise, imagine, react, respond, intellectualise and sense. It is because of these capabilities that humans are different, and far superior in their functioning than any other living organism on this planet.
The combination has also created the misery for the human race because the human mind is caught in its own web. Its capacity to memorise, calculate and compare has gone to very high levels of cunning. This calculating mind is totally unaware of other abilities such as responsiveness, intuition or silence. It is this unbalanced growth of mind which is responsible for human misery in the midst of plenty. Material affluence has not helped in resolving human problems, which are mostly psychological. On the contrary, statistics prove that the more affluent the society, the more the heart attacks, divorces and relationship problems.
It is now imperative to overcome the mind’s tendency to create suffering for oneself and others. The simplest way is to begin from where we are right now, by simply being aware! Right now, are you aware of your breathing, the heart that is beating all the time, the sound of the fan or the air-conditioners, the sound of traffic from far away? Now can you look at this software called mind, which is running all the time like an undercurrent or background music in the form of unstoppable self-dialogue? Is it possible to create some space so that we can see and observe with detached attention the thoughts that are wandering in the inner sky? If you can create some space within, detach your self from the thoughts, and instead witness them, you will notice how numerous they are, each one moving in its own direction! They have no coherence. One thought says you have to attend a marriage in the evening. The other thought says you need not have breakfast. The third thought says you must concentrate on what is being said because it is important. This is the condition of our thought-mind right now!
As you continue observing thoughts with aloof attention, you become a witness. Eventually, thoughts start reducing and fall in line. As the intensity of observation goes on increasing, the flow of thought goes on reducing. It becomes thinner and thinner. Now it becomes possible to see the beginning of a thought, the middle of the thought, and the end of the thought as you trace the whole trajectory of thought with great intensity and detached attention. As the intensity of detached attention continues to increase, it becomes multi-point. You begin to see the gap at the end of the first thought, and before the second thought starts. At this stage, change the gestalt. Instead of watching the thoughts, shift your focus to watching the gaps. This has a miraculous effect. As you shift the focus from thoughts to the gaps, the gap increases.
As you remain vigilant in multi-point awareness and continue practising detached attention, you will come to a ‘no-thought zone’. This is a ‘thoughtless’ state, without thoughts, only the gap.
As the intensity of witnessing is heightened by additional energy, now available as there are no thoughts to dissipate it, the energy reservoir keeps increasing. This results in a high intensity field of observation – where there are no thoughts – resulting in the ‘non-thought zone’. This state is so vibrant and dynamic that thought has no capacity to linger in this zone. This is the state in which one should be rooted with multi-point awareness. Staying longer and longer in this state is an invitation to the Divine. It makes it possible to touch upon that divine quality that brings about total transformation, from the very core of your being, through the explosion of the psychological instrument in the inner domain. As you remain alert, aware and vigilant throughout, there is no chance at all for the thought-mind to play tricks in the form of visualisation, hallucination and imagery. In fact, this state, being beyond the frontiers of thoughts, is free from the influence of thoughts.
Once you experience that, awareness falls back upon itself, becoming aware of its own self! It results in the total annihilation of the ego-mind-personality, as the huge fire of that dynamic energy engulfs the entire garbage called mind, with all its emotional entanglements. For the first time you feel healthy as you are healed completely with that celestial shower which washes away all the hurt and humiliations faced in the past. This is the process of rebirth. The old goes out, the new comes in. The process continues and it takes its own time to settle, which varies from a few months to a few years, depending upon the past habits and temperament of the person. This is breakthrough into a new dimension, which is beyond the frontiers of thought-mind. The eternal journey continues.Please practise the abovementioned technique. Intellectual understanding will not liberate you. Only enlightenment will!
Prem Nirmal is a spiritual teacher who had dedicated his life to the awakening of human consciousness.
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