The Concept Of Enlightenment

Exploring the idea of transcending the self and achieving a higher state of consciousness

If one were to ask people — what do you want in life? — only a handful would say — Enlightenment. Most people would want wealth, success and achievement. Some might say that they want happiness and peace. But hardly anybody would say — Enlightenment. Why?

The truth is that most people are unaware of what Enlightenment is. Some confuse it with ascetic living, an austere lifestyle, a life in isolation or wandering in the garb of a Yogi. Some have no time to even contemplate it. Some think that life is all about having fun and thus, don’t go beyond the material world and its pleasures. Therefore, it becomes important to understand what Enlightenment is and why we should seek it.

Enlightenment means to bring in the light. It is about being illuminated from the inside. It is to dispel the darkness of ignorance that we live with. It is about realizing who we are.  It is transcending the self.  It is self-realization. We are not the body. We were alive even before the body was formed in our mother’s womb. The body, eventually, dies. We say that the person has passed away. Who has passed away? Thus, we are definitely not the body. The mind doesn’t even exist. Has anyone ever seen the mind? It’s just a bundle of thoughts. The ego is a false identity. We are not what we appear to be — the body, mind and ego. Neti Neti. Tat Twam Asi. Not this, not this. We are that. We are the Atman, the Soul, SOUL — a Spark Of Unique Life. We are a part of the Supreme Immortal Power we call God, just like a wave is a part of the ocean. This is Enlightenment. This is the highest state of Consciousness. It is a state of uninterrupted, seamless happiness — a state of Eternal Peace, Divine Love and Everlasting Bliss.

However, we must understand that knowledge of our true self is not enough — we need Realization, which is an inner intuitive experience, Aparoksh Anubhuti. Nobody can make us enlightened. We can only be guided, mentored. As the Buddha said, Appo Deepo Bhava — you have to light your own light. 

To be enlightened, we have to go on a quest, a Talaash. We must ask questions, investigate our findings — only then will we realize the truth. Assimilation of knowledge is critical as is processing it. Needless to say, unless we are a Mumukshu — a true seeker of the Divine, of the truth, we cannot be enlightened. On our spiritual path to Enlightenment, we need a Spiritual Master who can guide us. It is easy to get distracted or misguided. Of course, it is imperative that we live with discipline, dispassion or detachment and discrimination. We must always strive to be in the state of Yoga — ever connected, in union, with the Divine. This is what true Yoga is. We can remain in Yoga through Dhyana Yoga or meditation, Bhakti Yoga or devotion, Gyana Yoga or education, Karma Yoga or action or Prema Yoga or the Yoga of Divine Love.

One of the biggest challenges will be our struggle with our own mind. The mind is a rascal. It bombards us with thoughts — upto 50,000 thoughts a day. We have to stop this bombardment of thoughts. We must still the mind, through silence, meditation. That is the way the mind stops its chatter. We will realize that the mind is only a bundle of thoughts. We must observe our thoughts. When we start watching our thoughts, the mind becomes conscious and stops its monkey business. When our mind is still, we experience peace. Our intellect is activated. This is the state of Consciousness. It is in this state of Consciousness, of stillness and discrimination that we can attain Enlightenment. 

We must realize that we are born as humans because of a reason and the reason is Enlightenment. That is the goal of human life. Enlightenment liberates us from all suffering on earth and the Karmic cycle of death and birth. We become one with the Supreme Immortal Power we call God.

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