By Life Positive July 2005 Deepa Kodikal, spiritual adept and author of teachings of the inner light, as well as journey within the self, dispels common myths about enlightenment 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. How so?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
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