It’s a ridiculous idea that I, or anyone, could possibly convey the meaning of enlightenment, what is enlightenment and what is beyond enlightenment?. I’ll just try to provide a doorway to a better understanding of the matter. Even so, this “door” can only be discovered personally, by connecting the dots and also try to look beyond the words to grasp what’s really meant.
Enlightenment is a term used to indicate a direct-consciousness of the Absolute truth, whatever is absolutely true regarding what “is.” In the case of you, which is the primary subject for spiritual enlightenment, it is your true nature, what you really are, the absolute reality of your existence.
Misconceptions about enlightenment
In this age of enlightenment, many misconceptions and myths have been built up over time and we need to shake these off of the word “enlightenment.” People are often misled to believe that becoming enlightened means transforming from an ordinary “caterpillar” of a human into the “butterfly” of a transcendent soul, or some such.
Whatever methods may purport to achieve such an end—whether it’s to be highly disciplined and monk-like, sit endlessly in contemplation, or learn to surrender to a higher power—at some point we’re supposed to be rewarded with a dramatic change in state, experiencing something blissfully “transcendent.” A change in state is irrelevant to the truth.
When considering what enlightenment really is, it’s important to get beyond the word and hearsay, and to realize that this Consciousness is prior to any idea or belief. Even after someone had already become deeply and directly conscious, there was no “enlightenment” In other words, no one was seeking spiritual enlightenment; they were seeking the Truth. If the legend of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment is to be trusted, even he wasn’t searching for something called “enlightenment.” He was trying to become free, to completely understand and transcend life and death.
You can’t transcend anything without becoming fully conscious of what it is. Ultimately, enlightenment—knowing what is absolutely true about self and reality, life and death—must occur in order to achieve such freedom.
Although defining or explaining spiritual enlightenment isn’t possible with any kind of accuracy, that doesn’t mean that it is ambiguous or that it is something open for debate, about which each individual should draw their own conclusions—like what kind of diet is best for them, or whether or not to believe in god.
Being conscious of what’s absolutely true is not something to decide about within one’s world of opinions. Even though all this may be challenging to sort out, spiritual enlightenment is exactly and only what it is.
How to attain enlightenment ?
Our minds like to think in terms of objects. This “objective” domain isn’t restricted to physical objects, however, but includes process and all relational distinctions such as speed, distance, condition, location, time, images, and so on. Our whole mind is framed upon object relations.
This “objectified” framework for thinking is the foundation for our entire perceived world. Because of this natural limitation of mind, we are challenged when tackling thought outside this framework, and further, are incapable of grasping what can’t be grasped by the mind. Direct-consciousness or spiritual enlightenment is of that kind. It cannot be understood short of having it, because it does not fit into any framework whatsoever.
Because the Absolute can’t be grasped by the mind, it’s impossible to imagine what spiritual enlightenment is. Trying to conceive of something inconceivable is doomed to failure. Since the mind functions by making distinctions—basically “knowing” everything as if separate objects—and relating these distinctions to each other, this creates what we call “experience” and so what we perceive as reality. That being the case, the mind is ill-equipped for the job of being conscious of absolutes.
An absolute lacks objective or even subjective distinctions. The Absolute truth isn’t separate from anything. It is everything, but not anything, nor is it several things or even all things. The absolute nature of being is the source of reality and reality itself.
Enlightenment is not a change of state, an experience, a conclusion, or a philosophy. It’s not even an insight or realization. It is not a function of the mind or perception, which is all we have access to. It is only you. It is the thing itself. That is why we call it “direct.” But as I’ve said, even “direct” is too far.
Enlightenment is NOW. It is the thing itself. That is why we call it “direct.” There is no enlightenment period. Using the word “direct” implies “immediate and without buffer,” but even that implies a separation, as though some action needs to be taken to be direct. This is not the case with spiritual enlightenment because you are already there, so to speak.
There is no action, there is no perception, there is no separation—no matter how infinitely small or close. There is NO separation, NO process. It IS you. It IS reality. It IS the nature of existence. It is NOT a perception of these. It is NOT an experience of any kind, subjective or objective. We must consciously “be” in the very same place and reality that is the “thing-itself.”
Being Trapped within Experience
Let’s try to clear up what I mean by “experience”. Your experience, in this moment is all that you know and perceive. It is everything you are aware of in any way—your internal state, mental activities, what you perceive as your environment, everything you feel or sense, intuit, imagine, remember, think and believe. It is the whole world for you; it is what you experience as you and reality, and everything else.
Spiritual enlightenment requires a direct-consciousness of the truth, not an indirect perception or experience. Our “consciousness” is stuck within this indirect perceptive-experience. It’s as if we are “looking out from” rather than “being conscious of” the very place we exist.
Accompanying a spiritual enlightenment is often a temporary euphoria, the length of which depends on the depth of the consciousness. This doesn’t mean that having an insight or realization and being euphoric about it constitutes an enlightenment. The only essential aspect of spiritual enlightenment is an increase in consciousness, and specifically becoming directly conscious of the true nature of some aspect of existence.
Why Becoming Conscious Doesn’t Always Create Change
Becoming conscious of your true nature doesn’t necessarily change the mind. Consciousness, mind, and brain aren’t all references to the same thing. For clarification, we could hold the brain as a tool, and mind as using the tool. Sort of like a piano is the tool and music is what arises from playing it. Music isn’t the piano, and the piano isn’t music, but they are related. Consciousness, in this analogy, is like the player-listener, which is neither music nor piano, but the creator of both. Any personal changes that occur must be done consciously and deliberately, or else little about the self is changed.
Enlightenment and the Human Condition
Becoming conscious of what’s true isn’t about changing anything. Most of the attachments and identifications that comprise the self-experience usually remain intact. The consciousness of your true nature doesn’t necessarily provide any depth of consciousness about the workings of the self-mind. With such direct-consciousness, however, experience, self, and mind will be viewed from a different perspective—sort of like seeing them from the outside for the first time, and with the understanding of not being any of them, thus providing the possibility of not identifying with them. This creates a new relationship to all that, but it doesn’t change all that.
When you have a genuine spiritual enlightenment, you become conscious that your nature is nothing. You have no quality, no aspect, and you exist in no location, so there is no objective aspect for the mind to grasp. The true nature is absolute and this is like reaching beyond the enlightenment. Spiritual enlightenment is a consciousness of the true nature of you, not an experience of any kind.
Enlightenment simply “reveals” to your consciousness that there is absolutely nothing here, and it is you and it is reality, and it is everything. Since the mind can’t hold such an absolute consciousness, this will degrade into a form of “knowing” that can be related to; and even those who’ve had such consciousness often take this “knowing” for the consciousness itself. They are mistaken.