What is Spiritual Enlightenment?
Spiritual Enlightenment is nothing like what you expect it to be. It seems like there is a new book or a new interview coming out every day about somebodies version of their enlightenment experience. Many of these tails describe wild and spectacular awakening experiences that can only be described as very dramatic.
Unfortunately, today’s spiritual aspirants read these accounts and expect the same experience when they awaken. However, dramatic awakenings are not the norm. And while awakening is probably the single most important thing you can do in this lifetime and it will change everything about you, it is much more common for it to sneak up on you gradually.
I’m fond of what Adyashanti says about enlightenment; (paraphrasing) “Spirituality is nothing more than maturing beyond a healthy adult”. Others say “Enlightenment is just being totally and completely accepting of what is”. Waking up is more a matter of letting go and settling into your true nature, than it is the reaching of a goal. As a matter of fact, you can’t get ‘there’ by ‘reaching’.
Enlightenment is basically a wholesale change in how you identify yourself. You go from identifying with your ego, body, thoughts, emotions, and memories to KNOWING you are one with All That Is. Your ego, body, thoughts, emotions and memories don’t go away necessarily, they just begin to fade and take on less importance because you see them for what they are.
Once you’ve had that awakening experience, even a glimpse of it, you can never go back. It is so profound that it changes you from the inside out. However, sometimes after the initial awakening, one can become confused because the experience didn’t last. You go back to being your old self, except that something is different now. One way to tell if you’ve awakened is that you no longer identify yourself as a spiritual seeker.
I remember the moment when I first woke up (a short glimpse of Self-Realization). My first thoughts were ‘This is it? How could I have not known this before? How did I miss it?’ I felt a little ashamed for not seeing the most obvious thing in the world. (Hint: The ‘Truth’ hides right out in the open). Then the thought came; ‘I’ll never forget this, because it’s so obvious.’ (Of course I forgot it by the next morning). (By the way, this is a very common experience: The ‘I had it….I lost it’). I’ll talk more about how to deal with this in my integration posts.
There are as many ways of experiencing enlightenment as there are people on the planet. The majority of those who have experienced self-realization or even God realization were doing some kind of spiritual practice to prepare for it. Most spiritual seekers are practicing some form of meditation, yoga, or service to others, or they are under the guidance of an enlightened master. On the other hand, some people have very profound awakenings out of the blue. This can radically change your whole life in an instant.
Enlightenment can be broken down into roughly four stages although the last three are the real deal:
1. Spiritual Seeker (Prep)
2. Self-Realization (Initial Awakening)
3. Integration (Further Awakening, Letting Go)
3. God-Realization (Stillness, Knowing)
Like most words,these labels are easily misunderstood so I hesitate to use them. And there is a lot of overlap between them. For instance, some awakened souls never go through the seeking phase (at least not in this lifetime). And some very rare individuals go straight to God-Realization without passing through the self-realization or integration stages. And some are content to achieve self-realization and stay at that level for the rest of their lives.
Some people will tell you that unless you have reached the highest level of God-realization level, you’re not really enlightened. They say that once you’re ‘there’, you’re all done, nothing more to do. However, most realized teachers (including Adyashanti) will tell you that the Awakening process never really ends. Many people have a powerful self-realization experience followed by many months or years of ‘I got it, I lost it’ followed by a gradual integration. Some will experience this integration so gradually that one day you look around and realize that your mind has become quiet and things don’t bother you like they used to. It’s different for everyone.
Lots of people are waking up right now because the Earth’s vibrations are rising, and the veil between the higher dimensions is becoming thinner. Some say that many mature, experienced, brave souls volunteered to be born here at this time to help mankind with the changes that are coming. The third dimension is a very tough place to wake up from. Even for the experienced soul, the amnesia on this planet is very strong and it’s easy to forget why youwere born and what you came here to do. Unresolved negative emotions can be a contributor to that amnesia.
The more we let go of the unresolved negative emotions that block our natural internal light the higher our bodies vibrate with spiritual energy. This higher energy is contagious and can easily spread to others without their even knowing it. There is a kind of natural transference of energy that takes place with the other humans on this planet. Fortunately it only takes a small number of enlightened souls to effect a worldwide change in the overall levels of the consciousness of the planet. This is because as an individual soul’s vibrations rise, it does so exponentially. Author of many books on Awareness; Dr. Frank Kinslow suggests that it could take as few as 8,000 enlightened people to make a real difference in the consciousness of mankind.
So now seems to be the perfect time to wake up to your true nature. The planet is shifting its vibrations from the 3rd to the 4th to the 5th dimensions, thousands of higher beings are here to help, the Iron Age is coming to an end and cycles of darkness and light are beginning to lean towards the light. Now is the perfect time for your spiritual enlightenment.