If you meet an enlightened person, you may notice they have a powerful presence. Perhaps charisma too, but not always. You will also notice they clearly still have a distinct character or personality. Whatever else they may be, they obviously retain something of what life brought them.
This is something that catches a lot of people. Enlightenment implies some high perfection – we place the awake on a pedestal. When they behave in a human way or are somehow seen to make a mistake or get sick, they are thought false. Or for the devout, some excuse. But what if we meet the awake on the street? Or as Joan Osbourne sings, “What if God was One of us, just a stranger on a bus”? Would you recognize the awake out of context? What of all the awake who don’t teach? They simply sell shoes or drive a bus.
When you think of perfection, you place enlightenment at a distance. You make it super-normal. But it’s not. Just look at those who awake that are very normal, full of problems and challenges. (for now) That’s one of the big surprises for many of the newly awake also. How normal and ordinary it is. That which you are is not somewhere else. It is always with you. Certainly, we are moving into peace, freedom, and happiness of a richness and continuity that ego experience cannot even comprehend. But it is entirely normal.
As I’ve spoken of elsewhere here, the person or individual is a multi-layered beast. Under the ego concept of me is the emotional drivers. Under that, the grip of the core identity. One can be awake and still have the identity dividing the inner and outer worlds. With the dawning of Unity comes the joining of everything in Oneness. Just as the ego may have many associated concepts or beliefs to fall away after first or cosmic waking, so too unity may take some time for integration and the falling away of the core drivers, the needs that have pushed the dynamic of ‘person’.
With time, the fullness of Oneness and Totality flowers. But even the most renowned saints of our age clearly had a distinct body and character. It’s not like they turned into light or grew into the sky. Not physically anyway. 😉
The key point is that the changes we’re talking about are inner changes, changes in our perception and relationship with source, changes in who we perceive ourselves to be. These are indeed powerful changes, but they have little to do with outward appearances and general behavior. It is only in developing Unity where Self moves out into the world and begins to make outer changes. Where the environment is found to be part of the ‘body’ and that too is cleansed.
But these changes are on the level of source. If you don’t see the flow of attention behind all things, in what way could you see the changes taking place in the awake? They may be obvious. But they may just be ordinary. Depends on the person. (laughs)
Another value to understand is the deeper reality of who this “person” is and who acts. In ego awareness, we take claim of our actions and attempt vainly to control consequences. With the growth of the witness or after awakening, it becomes apparent that the small self was never the doer. Like everything in nature, we are animated by the expressive power behind all things. The person never had anything to do with it. It was just a story. We have to relinquish the illusion of control, one of the hardest parts for some people as it’s so ingrained.
We progress our awareness until we see the full mechanics of expression, then transcend all that and become that which creates in Unity. We become the cosmic person, unbound by any notion of limits. Yet, the body and personality remain what they always were, the vehicle for our expression. They are seen as cosmic but only by the cosmic. And now without the old drivers that lead us astray. Soon they too are purified, bathed in the constant light of pure awareness.
There is also another layer to this. A Sanskrit term known as Lesha Avidya. It means the faint remains of ignorance. Teachers sometimes describe this in terms of keeping a small value of duality to maintain a distance between student and teacher or with God, for the flow of love and devotion. Otherwise, everything else falls into the One. Simply the presence of the body can be a value of ignorance until Unity is fully developed.
Neither God nor the awake are ever anything more than you are. How can it be otherwise? If God is everything, there is not but God. If the awake are One, they are not but you. Anything else is simply an incomplete perception.