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"Enlightenment is the experience of Truth; but without understanding, it confers no virtue; without no virtue, there is no wisdom; and without no wisdom, of what use is enlightenment to humanity?"
from Alan Chapman's Open Enlightenment blog (I discovered this blog on Guruphiliac: http://guruphiliac.blogspot.com/)
OE reader nic asked me to elaborate on my comments regarding the bad time I had after enlightenment. So here it is.
A person who has yet to experience enlightenment simply cannot imagine what it is really like. But that doesnt mean they cant have good or bad expectations.
Expectations you might have before the event of enlightenment
Here are some of the expectations I came across in books, from teachers and other seekers during my journey to enlightenment, from when I first heard of the idea at about 15, up to the event itself at 29. Some I took very seriously, others less so:
* Enlightenment is the transformation into a God, and it only happens to very special people.
* Enlightenment will confer specific knowledge of everything, ever. The enlightened person knows what happened at the beginning of the universe, everything that is happening now, and everything that will happen right up to the very end. The enlightened person can provide an answer to all the Big Questions, because he/she knows God personally. He/shes in on the plan.
* Enlightenment is the terrifying knowledge of Absolutely Nothing.
* Enlightenment is the death of the self while still alive.
* Enlightenment can only happen to men.
* Enlightenment is the complete destruction of the universe, right in front of your eyes.
* Enlightenment is a shocking, earth-shattering, cataclysmic, reality-tearing, mind-destroying, adrenalin-fueled mystical explosion.
* Enlightenment is the realisation that the world is an illusion, and so the enlightened person can walk through walls, fly, teleport, and perform all kinds of other miracles.
* Enlightenment is waking up from the dream of reality.
* Enlightenment is knowledge of heaven, hell, past lives, spiritual realms, Gods, Goddesses, dead people, angels, elves, pixies and ascended masters.
* Enlightenment is the end of suffering, pain, depression, despair, anger, hate, revulsion and disgust. It will heal my damaged self, and preserve who I am for ever in eternal bliss. I will never hurt again.
* Enlightenment is perpetual bliss.
* Enlightenment is an incomprehensible non-experience that promises nothing, and it is debatable if it actually has any benefit.
It didnt take much experience with magick and meditation to learn that most of the expectations of enlightenment I had come across were outright fantasy or delusion. I rejected all of the above, and for a couple of years leading up to enlightenment, I invested mostly in the following:
* Enlightenment is non-dual awareness that happens after going through a process with predictable stages and milestones, including states, mystical experiences and fruitions [peak experiences of the non-dual]. It is a result of the right kind of meditation or technique, it is achievable and the sooner I get enlightened the better!
* Enlightenment will radically alter my identity, and I will no longer suffer from fear of death, pain and the loss of my loved ones.
* Enlightenment will not provide answers to questions such as What happens after death? and Where do we go when we smoke DMT?, but will confirm my suspicion that everything is predestined, and that the meaning of life is to get enlightened.
* Describing myself as enlightened and talking about the fact that enlightenment actually exists is of benefit to humanity.
* If I could just figure out why Im not yet enlightened, I can become enlightened.
There was also a secret expectation that I didnt uncover until towards the end:
* Enlightenment an event so incredible it cannot even be imagined could be absolutely terrifying, and once it happens there is no stopping it. Will it feel like dying?
Leading up to enlightenment, sure enough I did experience a process made up of stages with certain milestones as a result of certain practices. I encountered visions, synchronicities, strange dreams, mystical states and experiences (light, vibration, bliss, energetic stuff), encounters with spirits and gods, and other assorted weirdness. So some of my expectations seemed to be grounded in reality, but most of them were not.
What to expect during the event of enlightenment
The unexpected. I dont mean bizarre things like a unicorn made of cheese riding a unicycle; I mean just dont have any at all. Its not worth it.
What to expect after the event of enlightenment
I can only tell you how it has been for me.
Nearly all of my expectations about enlightenment and what it meant were wrong in various different ways. Ive already explained why believing you can be enlightened is a problem, an Ill explore some others at a later date.
Heres what I didnt expect:
After enlightenment, I was Whole; no longer separate, no longer a subject. I had the ability to see the radical truth and conceit was apparent everywhere. But a good deal of my mental activity was based on the ignorance that I was separate and a subject; a lifetime of habitual emotional and mental patterns built on a what was now an obvious lie. Eventually old habits die and new ones emerge; but it takes time, and watching these desperate emotions and thoughts endlessly cycle with no foundation in reality is simply not pleasant. This means I was Whole at a fundamental level, but experiencing bad things at a personal level. Imagine that!
The expectation of getting enlightened was based on the same ignorance too; for three and a half years I had chased it, as if it was an object that I as a subject could own. So what happens when enlightenment occurs, but it is not an object? The ego continues to try and treat it as one and anxiety over losing enlightenment supported by the goal mentality becomes inescapable, because it is simply not there as an object. Cue alternating smug contentment with desperate recourse to meditative techniques to make sure it is still there. The goal mentality is a recipe for a vicious circle of imaginary gaining and losing; and all within the context of Wholeness. This is ludicrous behaviour, Im sure youll agree.
Do not think for one second that enlightenment marks a sudden change for every aspect of the self; you simply become aware of the truth, and eventually, over time and with a degree of conscious effort on your part, everything else might follow suit. Immediately after enlightenment, everything exists just as it did before: pain, hate, anger, frustration, fear, attachment, love, desire, want, need, stupidity, restlessness, discontent, and doubt; but again, all within the context of Wholeness.
You should be aware that it is still possible to re-enforce the old habits based on ignorance even after enlightenment, if you simply continue to indulge them. Imagine what the fact of the actual occurrence of enlightenment might do to an ego-maniac? (You dont have to imagine: check out Andrew Cohen or the Avataric Great Sage, Adi Da Samraj.)
It is also possible to inaccurately describe or understand enlightenment, much like the millions of humans who believed the sun went around the earth even though they could see the truth right in front of their eyes. Experiencing the truth is not a guarantee of understanding it (as the pseudo-Advaitists demonstrate).
But here is the good news: over time, and with a conscious effort made to understand what is now experienced and what it actually means, the fruits born of a self built on ignorance, such as fear, hate, frustration, attachment, desire and doubt, are less and less produced as the ignorant self dies; and the production of the fruits of a person who abides in Wholeness, such as peace, contentment, bliss, happiness and acceptance, become the norm.
It is very rarely mentioned, but it takes a while if at all in some cases to personally reap the full benefits of enlightenment, and to understand it to an accurate degree. There is a good reason Ramana Maharshi spent 20 years on his own after his enlightenment, and a good reason he was so firmly established in enlightenment when he began teaching.
Have you noticed how so many people who have experienced enlightenment have such different views on it? How some promote practice, others ban it? Some describe a process, others claim its instant? Some say we need to act on enlightenment, some that we can do anything we like? Thats because people who have experienced enlightenment or not are simply human. Some humans are stupid, some humans are illiterate, some humans are amateur philosophers, some humans are fantasists, some humans have an agenda (sex, money, power), some humans are confused, some humans are hopelessly indoctrinated, and enlightenment does not change this fact. It simply means that these people are what they have always been, except now it all occurs you guessed it in the context of Wholeness.
Enlightenment is the beginning of a new life, not the end of life itself; using the experience of enlightenment as an excuse to do nothing, on the grounds that the event confers absolute virtue, is like refusing to go to school, learn to read and write, make friends, get a job, find a lover, raise a family, use a hospital or see a shrink on the grounds that you were once born.
Enlightenment is the experience of Truth; but without understanding, it confers no virtue; without no virtue, there is no wisdom; and without no wisdom, of what use is enlightenment to humanity?
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