Sacred Mountain Retreat

What is Enlightenment?

by Virochana Khalsa November, 2002

On asking those who come to us, “what is it that they spiritually want?” The most common answer is enlightenment. When asked, “Do you know what enlightenment is, is it something you have tasted or known?” Most are not sure. Some are inspired by something they have felt while reading, or a beautiful meditative experience, or a depth they sense within their soul. Some will connect it to an emotion they have experienced such as peace, unconditional love, being full of light, a concept of liberation, spiritual power, or an experience of oneness in the circle of life. Even if the understanding is outwardly vague, many know they want it, and will prioritize their life to discover what this vague notion of enlightenment is, for they want a greater experience of it.

WATER_5_s2All of us have had enlightened moments, yet few recognize them as spiritual enlightenment, or understand how to cultivate and remain in this non-grasping awareness which opens the doors to infinite possibilities of our existence.

Enlightenment is simple. We all experience it from time to time. In a serene moment, lovingly connected and in a detached expansiveness of the timeless moment, watching your kids play, a simple moment of clarity, or looking out over the ocean in a non-verbal ease. Special moments such as these may in our mental judgment pale at what we think the enlightenment of a spiritual master is. However, there is no difference, other than a spiritual master is able to explore and deepen within this state through simply remaining in it. A spiritual master watching you in one of these moments will experience you as resting in the same enlightened nature he or she is in.

Enlightenment starts with an awareness of the nature of space. The best way to do this is to start with the space inside your body, such as in your chest. As you rest in this feeling, expand into it as the nature of space itself.

This is initially independent of what is occurring within that space. Become aware of the three-dimensional space, in which your body exists, of your surroundings, and of other people near you. You may not know what these people are thinking or feeling, i.e., what is occurring in that space, yet there is an inherent awareness that the space you exist in is the same as the space the other person exists within; that is the nature of space itself is the same.

While in a previously special moment, you may not have given this quality any specific notice, by purposefully paying attention to it in a non-verbal, non-mental manner, you will learn to recognize it and be able to cultivate it. This is not something we can do with an analytical, dense mind. Therefore, you have to surrender that and just do it. It helps to first unify and elevate awareness through meditative techniques such as visualization and internally guiding the energy of your breath to become more awake and aware.

Heighten non-verbal awareness of the underlying nature in which we all exist into a sense of radiance and acceptance. There will come the feeling that there is no difference between seeing an internal vision and what you outwardly see, the nature of the space, internal and external is the same. It is very intimate and direct. As this awareness melds into an effortless ease of the heart, without the need to further re-qualify your perceptions through needless thoughts and business, this is the state of enlightenment. Remain awake, aware, and not sleepy in this process.

LAHIRI_3sEnlightenment is the clarity in which we recognize the unity of space, a simplicity of beingness. The mind in its outer manifestation is no longer central to the theme.

A practice that can help you recognize more of the nature of space is to go to a place in nature. Be silent, yet active – hike, enjoy, rest, get in some water. Then sit on a rock or soft patch of earth and look at a beautiful scene. Feel that you are photographing it inside the space of your chest. Photograph its spatial quality, the scent, the feeling of aliveness and perhaps a joy of spirits playing. Now, later, while sitting in meditation, recall that photograph within your heart.

On the spiritual path, we learn to recognize and value the simplicity of what enlightenment is. By valuing this simple clarity, we start to cultivate it, to become familiar with it. We get out of our own way, beyond the mind, and just relax into it as a radiant state within us.

While enlightenment is simple, remaining in it is profound.

The mind in quietude notices the underlying radiant support of spirit upon which thoughts, emotions, and everything of existence is the clothing upon it. This is non-dual awareness. You will no longer fight with your mind, or thoughts, rather you simply shift your focus within apparent duality into awareness of the underlying radiant nature. You remain fully active, unique in some ways, as an individual and yet more than an individual. It is the primal condition, and this awareness is enlightenment.

Through enlightened awareness, we are able to apply ourselves into the fullness of our spiritual potential. We can notice, cultivate, and be nourished by indescribably subtle nectar's. We can grow in this awareness into all sorts of specifics, such as miraculous experiences, bliss, service, and even liberation as an individual within the body of the one. The doors have been opened and the journey begins, one step at a time - and through enlightened awareness, each step is of the million, all reveling in the simple joy of enlightened existence.

In Service to Awakening

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