What is Enlightenment?

On this site, I originally avoided the term “enlightenment” as it is widely used to mean so many distinct things. The actual shift certainly didn’t meet my prior concepts of it either. More recently, I’ve been using “initial enlightenment” to mean Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness and “full enlightenment” to refer to embodied Brahman. However, even Brahman is not an end to the process.

Others use the term for everything from the recognition that I Am to exalted stages of development like that mentioned in the hilarious Robert Thurman interview. From my perspective, the first is a little premature while the second is setting too high a bar. While it is certainly valuable to recognize the most exalted of beings, we want to set reasonable goals for the rest of us. (laughs)

Another distinction I’ve touched on here is the difference between what we might call enlightenment in consciousness and enlightenment in divinity. This is the masculine and feminine or Shiva and Shakti orientations.

Enlightenment in consciousness is what I primarily discuss on this site. Self Realization, Unity, Brahman. It is the approach of the Vedic tradition I am most versed in and how it has unfolded here.

Enlightenment through divinity is something I’ve touched on but have not discussed as much as it was not my primary path. In fact it’s not a path that has been prominent for some time. It would seem that’s changing.

I have however spoken of the value of the sattva side of the equation. This second orientation is emphasizing clarity and the expressed side of the equation rather than consciousness.

To be clear, these are not separate. Rather they are orientations to the process and different ways of metering it. They lead to the same place and come together if there is nothing resisting that.

I first ran into this second style in an obvious way several years ago on Rose Rosetree’s web site. In particular was her Enlightenment Life List where people where listed who had read clear and connected. Their chakra databanks are working well, relatively balanced, and free of astral (emotional) debris. Their energy was also permeated with the divine along with a quality of joy. I wasn’t sure what to do with this approach. Some on the list where clearly awake in consciousness but others I was dubious about.

On the flip side, Rose does not read someone as “enlightened” who may be awake but still has baggage and lacks the clear divine connection. She was using different standards. Similarly, while someone can’t fall out of consciousness, they can fall back into shadow and Rose occasionally removes someone from her list who has “fallen”.

Recently, Rose approached me about doing an experiment. She wanted to do a read of a sequence of pictures at different stages in consciousness. As I’m a consciousness geek like her, I thought it would be fascinating. And it was.

There where some surprises for me – like a much bigger view of where I was earlier on. One’s subjective experience is of course more limited when there is energetic resistance. She also clearly saw changes in embodiment when there was changes in stage of consciousness.

Rose saw my pre-awake picture where I’d describe myself as “ripe” as enlightened. This makes it clear her starting point can be earlier than mine. And yet she would not rate someone who is awake in consciousness as enlightened if they still have a bunch of energetic debris and lacked clear divinity. In my own case, there happened to be lots of sattva development also, so the divine was already doing well before awakening.

To further the point, she didn’t confuse my early witnessing picture with enlightenment as there where still energetic subroutines and related junk that hadn’t yet cleared. Yet some do mistake witnessing for enlightenment in consciousness.

Obviously a divine connection view is distinct from a consciousness view. From a consciousness perspective, her approach measures readiness for awakening and then degree of embodiment later but not the shift in consciousness itself.

But unlike changes in consciousness, these changes are something most anyone can learn to read. The energy and divinity are teachable markers. Rose recommends this to make us much more sophisticated consumers in the spiritual marketplace. Just imagine a world where enough people know who’s real and who’s faking?

Liberation and the end of suffering come from a shift in our relationship with consciousness. But many of the practical quality of life factors arise directly from unloading our energetic baggage. That includes the onset of bliss. There are many solid advantages to cleaning house, enlightened or not.

This is why I emphasize both on this site – development of consciousness and purification of the vessel. But it’s fascinating to recognize a different take on the process that brings it’s own quite distinct insights.

PS – Rose has indicated she also plans an article on the experiment. And further such experiments in the new year.

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13 Responses to What is Enlightenment?

  1. Sarah says:


    I am SO excited to hear about these experiments! Since I first found you and Rose, I began wondering about/wishing for these same experiments. Delighted to hear that they are really happening! 🙂 fascinating so far; I’ll stay tuned for more.

  2. Davidya says:

    We have discussed this in various ways, then she came up with an approach.

    A lot more data is required before a stage could be easily identified by RES practitioners and those with stage 3 literacy. But that will come.

  3. Davidya, when we consciousness nerds get together, there is so much to explore.

    Thank you for this pioneering article. And thanks to all your readers (Sarah included) for sharing this sacred journey now, including:

    * The prospect of full energetic literacy for all who wish to learn the pretty-darned-simple skills. (At least, it’s simple to learn the system I use, Aura Reading Through All Your Senses.)

    * Beyond that, we’re being able to apply that energetic literacy skill to research what Enlightenment means in HUMAN terms (not just the traditional terms about esoteric nuances of consciousness).

    * Our historic invitation is to explore variations on Enlightenment, not only the traditional sacredness leading to Brahman Consciousness (and beyond)…

    * Living now, we can be first explorers and namers of the versions of Enlightenment that are specifically opening up now for humanity.

    * In such good company, aren’t we fortunate, sharing this delicious adventure together?

    So much remains to be written and discussed. For now, I think it’s pretty clear that we are all amazingly privileged to have incarnated NOW, in this new Age of Awakening.

    Millions are going to be able to move into Enlightenment now, and do it as householders. (That’s what my experience leads me to believe, anyway.)

  4. Davidya says:

    Thanks, Rose. And yes, remarkable times. Happy to be sharing this with some remarkable people.

  5. zen pig says:

    hmmmmmmm…. I am not sure how to respond to this….. for me, this journey is vey personal, yet, I see how my personal “experiences”, share a commonality with others. when I started down this path, I had tied to watch some of the YouTube videos from Adyashanti, and found that I did not care for him at all. then years later, after some so-called “glimpse’s”, I came back and watched Ady’ and found that he was great. he came from the same Soto Zen traditions, and we shared so many experiences that were the same, and we found the same challenges on this path. I call him my “brother from another mother” LOL. what I am trying to say, is that I don’t see how one can find another teacher from someone else’s recommendation. I only have a data set of One, but for me, I found, (or rather there was a finding, that I had little to nothing to do with), a teacher who resonated with my direct experience. so while I cannot say, “this is what everyone should do”, it seems that this is what works for me. lastly, I really do not care “where I am at” on some scale. as Popeye would say, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am”…..not criticizing in anyway what Rose has done, and this might help others, I have no idea. as the Zen folks like to say, “this is not good and not bad”. cheers.

  6. Davidya says:

    Hi ZP
    This article is not a recommendation – it is a shared exploration. Another way of seeing the process.

    And I agree. You find a teacher by experience. Adya is a good teacher. I found I didn’t personally resonate with him but have loved his writing. I do mutually resonate with Gangaji but her teaching is too minimalist for my experience. Lorne is the one that landed here.

    The article also isn’t about rating a teacher but rather mentions being able to discriminate if a teacher is qualified or is still leading with their baggage.

    Understanding the energetic markers also isn’t about rating, it’s about expanding the understanding of the process. This is very early in the process.

    Finally, my closing is about technique. Emphasizing consciousness alone will not tend to bring the fullness of our potential.

  7. Jim says:

    “On the flip side, Rose does not read someone as “enlightened” who may be awake but still has baggage and lacks the clear divine connection. She was using different standards. Similarly, while someone can’t fall out of consciousness, they can fall back into shadow and Rose occasionally removes someone from her list who has “fallen”.”

    Hi David, thank you for addressing this subject. What a vast and potentially confusing topic! I do question this ability to fall back into shadow, once one is ‘clearly enlightened’. If one is clear, the driver for further action is always supportive of oneself and those around us; ahimsa.

    The view is comprehensive; past, present and future. It may be that one has reached a point of clarity, but if old frameworks exist in the mind that continue to make one prone, for example to exploit others, then I would not consider this a clear enlightenment.

    It is not the past that judges our clarity, but our present. Once we are established deeply in the river of life, we always act in accord with it. It is not that the potential to act poorly goes away, but it holds little interest, possibly because of the increase in bliss, as we continually surrender to life’s flow.

  8. Davidya says:

    Hi Jim
    Yes, I have too. However, I’ve also since seen a few I’ve known get caught again. You don’t get to Brahman without clarity.

    2 things I’ve seen. One is a karmic mechanism. Some of the bigger stuff can come with a shadowing effect. While it doesn’t completely overshadow the awakening, it does shadow clarity enough that we get caught in circumstance.

    Rose similarly describes how we have to be clear of Stuff (stress) to be awake but has found that things like Frozen Blocks can become prominent and re-shadow us.

    This isn’t permanent but can lead to poor behaviour over an extended period.

    The other mechanism revolves around ego. If there is minor entanglements remaining, these can be reamplified by astral enticements, power and control sorts of things. This is usually more of an issue with people who begin teaching or taking an authority role.

    In both cases, the people involved don’t have the insight to see it, even when called on it by multiple people.

    For myself, I’ve noticed that along with the awakeness, there is still a human here. Not all the laws of nature active I would consider optimal. But that takes nothing from the awakeness.

    At a certain point, we may reach a point of maturity where those things can no longer entangle. But that would typically take some years.

    As the Sophia panel discussed, one of the keys is recognizing there is still a human here. If we fall into denying there is still a person and ego, we can set ourselves up to being caught by them.

  9. Jim says:

    Hi, All good points, but I would not consider such people, ‘clearly enlightened’. For one thing, as we surrender to that which we wake up to, the laws that run our lives change.

    There is very much a mathematical relationship between the initiatives of the ego, and the results. We may get back what we put in, or perhaps double, maybe even ten times if we are extraordinarily skilled. However, living divine life, the ratio of what we put in and what we get back starts at around a thousand times and goes up from there. So anyone who is truly actualized as ‘clearly enlightened’ will not be confused when choosing how to act for themselves and towards others. On the other hand, someone poorly integrated, living in their head a lot, will suffer confusion, or worse, invent a justification for themselves when they are off track.

    This bar that has been set for someone ‘clearly enlightened’ is way too low, imo. I would not like to think that many of these so-called teachers are working out their personal issues, on the backs of their students.

  10. Davidya says:

    Hi Jim

    To be clear, what i mean by clear enlightenment is a clear shift into CC. What you’re describing is a more embodied form of it. Divine life often comes online later, even post-Unity.

    Someone can be clearly awake but still have major karmic issues at play. Some do have very clear, clean shifts but many do not. Human development is a messy thing.

    You might enjoy a related article – on Natural Pulsation. The author observes that even the prominence of the ego can be cyclic.

  11. Jim says:

    Ooooooooooh, got it. lol that clears up a lot!
    Yes, CC. Fraught with many challenges! It should come with a massive shovel.:-) I enjoyed the natural pulsation article. Yes, there is no point self-referencing too much, as it does destroy innocence. There is also nothing whatsoever *wrong* with the ego, as it is key for our survival. It makes an excellent manager, but the tricky bit comes in when we allow it a commanding leadership position. Thanks again for the subject matter. I, too, am very much a ‘consciousness geek’.

  12. Gayanee says:

    Wow! So fascinating and enlightening! :p. Very grateful to be in the vicinity of these conversations.

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