Myths of Enlightenment

While there are many reasons to seek enlightenment, there are also a boatload of myths about it. Some are even perpetuated by teachers.

I will become enlightened
Nope. It is not the me that gets enlightened. It is the Self that wakes up to itself through this apparent form. The me is let go of.

Enlightenment is the end of my personal identity
Nope. There is still a person there with preferences and quirks. But it is no longer the centre. Now it’s just an aspect of this expression. More of it falls away over time but you still need a point to function.

I will become a Buddha or Christ or other World Teacher
Unlikely. That’s setting an awfully high standard for the shift. A rare few become world teachers but all of us can become world servers in own unique way.

I will become a Teacher
Also unlikely. Teaching is a skill set most people don’t have. Many of the awake don’t even talk about it very well. They just live it.

Awakening is a Peak Experience
No. Awakening is a change in being. It may cause experiences but that is an effect. That is not the awakening itself. Awakening should not be confused with descriptions of effects like experiences or purification.

All of my problems will be gone
Nope. Again, what wakes up is the Self. The person continues to have their life and karma. However, your relationship with life circumstances can change quite a bit. And that changes how they are experienced.

Enlightenment is exceptional and unusual
One of the first things to strike most people after the shift is how ordinary and normal it is. How did I not get this before? (the me never gets it – see above) It is also part of normal human development so we’ll all get there at some point.

I will Cognize Reality
Maybe. As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi put it, everyone can realize but not everyone will cognize. Cognize in this case is a form of experience where we gain total knowledge of some aspect of creation. ie: become a Seer.

I will become enlightened just like my teacher described it. That is the one true way.
Maybe but quite often not. If you practice similar techniques, you may tend to experience the process the same kind of way. But we all have a unique unfoldment. In any case, it will never match your conception of it because it is beyond concepts.

Awakening is it. Once you know the Self and the world is seen as illusion, you’re enlightened.
We’re Humans. This is like saying once you’re born, you’re an adult. It takes time to get established, clear out the baggage, and mature into it. Awakening is like Kindergarten. It is wonderful but it is the beginning of a new, richer unfoldment of being. This comes in typical stages.

Inner Realization of the Self = Non-duality or Vedanta
Nope. Recognition of the Self within is the first step. As there is still a separate illusion, this is dvaita, duality. Recognizing Self in the world comes later. Non-duality or advaita is when all is recognized as the Self – within, the world, and the divine are all recognized as one. Even on the level of the senses. I am That, Thou art That, all this is That, That alone is to quote the Upanishads. And that’s not the end of it either.

Enlightenment is hard
As enlightenment is not something you do, how can it be hard? It cannot be grasped though. The Yoga Sutras tell us:
1:2 Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind.
1:12 Through regular practise and non-attachment, these activities (of the mind) are stilled.
We just have to prepare the ground. Then it will happen when it does.

Witnessing sleep is the acid test for Cosmic Consciousness or Self Realization
If there is awake consciousness during deep sleep, it is the acid test for witnessing. But if it comes and goes, it is not yet established. Once it stays and there is an ongoing continuity of awareness through all the states of consciousness, the witness is established. The Self is awake. Sometimes,  Self then wakes up to Itself and awakening happens. However, sometimes this doesn’t happen until more preparation is done. The real acid test is the permanent change in being.

A spiritual practice encourages a sense of person so should be avoided
Eesh. A good spiritual practice transcends itself into samadhi. Thus it does not encourage a sense of person. Even Inquiry is a practice. See Yoga Sutras above.

It will take me many lifetimes to reach enlightenment
If you follow the prior statement, sure. But maybe this is the one. For many it is. And any practice you do is cumulative, carrying forward from lifetime to lifetime.

You have to be celibate or a monk to become enlightened
The majority of histories great sages were married. They included men and women. The monks path is for a small minority.

Concepts of stages are barriers to living it and should be avoided
Our concepts of enlightenment can indeed be the last barrier to fall with awakening. However, to give no map to the traveller is to cause unnecessary struggle. We need to point out that the map is not the territory. The concepts are not the awakening. Nor are old good experiences. Each of us has our attachments to let go of to discover who we are beneath the stories.

And no, people don’t usually start dressing funny (although Buckminster Fuller did for a time), making predictions, or flying through the air.

I’m sure there others that didn’t come to mind. But this is enough for now.
Davidya

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One Response to Myths of Enlightenment

  1. Davidya says:

    Here’s a similar article from a different background saying some of the same things:

    http://jessicadavidson.co.uk/2014/06/26/myths-about-enlightenment/
    I recently posted…The Stages of WitnessingMy Profile

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