Gaining Enlightenment

Gaining Enlightenment

Gaines Mill by Mobilus in Mobili
Gaines Mill by Mobilus in Mobili

This title is misleading. We don’t “gain” enlightenment. Rather, the cosmic Self or presence wakes up to itself and we shed the personal me.

Losing our sense of who we are may seem a major loss. But we gain the infinite values of Self, so it can be experienced as a gain. And yet, we’re only gaining what we’ve always been. Now it’s directly known and ever present.

Our ability to sustain an opening to Self is based on how we’ve prepared the energy physiology with spiritual practices. This is both in Atman (consciousness or presence) and Sattva (purity or clarity).

Certainly there are a few who wake spontaneously with no actual practice, likely because of prior life development. But such people rarely go further into higher stages because the preparation isn’t there. The physiology can’t support it.

Also, they lack the knowledge needed to take the attention deeper.

This is the curious thing about the path. On the one hand, ideas can create concepts we identify with. Their rigidity can make them a barrier to progress. And yet, as Vasishtha observed in the 7th mandala of the Rig Veda, we have to desire Unity. This, so the attention goes there and helps openings to happen. For us to desire Unity, we also have to know it’s there. Self Realization itself can feel complete, as with other stages. If we feel complete, we may reject progress. I’ve seen examples of this many times.

We have to engage in the process and be willing to surrender deeper and deeper into source for the full enchilada to unfold.

There is an apparent doing. And yet it’s a doing to dissolve itself, a surrender of doing to just being. An apparent loss and an apparent gain into what has always been here.

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  1. Jeff

    I had refined experiences when I was a small child. I had the realization that I was aware of the Self in 7th grade. I started TM at the age of 21, because I was having very strong witnessing experiences, and I wanted to close the gap between the deep deep silence and activity. Now I experience silence in activity and activity in silence. Even the slightest motion thrills the silence. I am in pure bliss 24/7 and my world is different flavors of consciousness. My own profession had its own distinctive flavor. These flavors radiate Divine beauty. As a result, I have had very strong support of nature though out my life.

  2. George Robinson

    Spiritual commitment / practice / desire as an *ablative* process…that’s an interesting and comfortable take! Ablation is all around us, thanks to science, and now we can think of our own “individual” (small) selves as ablative in nature; i.e., the use of a thing, material or process the very purpose of which is to be “used up” to provide for something else to happen. A pencil eraser can be said to be ablative. The protective coating on spacecraft re-entry vehicles is ablative. Now, the small self sacrifices itself, knowingly and willingly, in pursuit of its own demise in order to open the door to larger, better things — that is its true purpose. Well, “ain’t that a kick in the head?”, as Dean Martin might have put it. Nice twist. Thanks, D.

    1. (laughs) Well, George, I’m not sure I’d frame it quite that way. But yes, there is an ablation of all our localizations that resist the smooth flow of life. The big one of course is identification, particularly with being a personal me. There are also lots of other self-concepts that are barriers to fullness, like the classics “not good enough” or “better than”. Identification with how we feel is another big one for some.

      It can be said we empty out our boundaries yet the fundamentals remain so we can live a life and have the experiences unfold. It’s surprising what falls away and what doesn’t, depending on our laws of nature. A lot of complexity falls away, allowing us to become infinite.

  3. Tyler

    “as Vasishtha observed in the 7th mandala of the Rig Veda, we have to desire Unity”

    Beautiful! I am coming to realize the importance of this statement. In my case it has required years of Fine tuning for optimal unfoldment. But I’ve always been a slow learner ha ha.

    Wishing you all the best David!

    1. Hi Tyler
      Right – we see this a lot in how specific unfoldings happen. For example, we have an inclination to energy healing. Thus our attention is on energy dynamics and resolving contractions. Those details unfold much more. I’ve had a fascination with the mechanics of consciousness, so those details have unfolded. Creation is so incredibly vast that we can’t possibly explore everything. But together, with all the variants, everything will become enlivened in the collective.

      And yes, it’s very normal for the process to take years. There is a lot to process and our blind spots do make us slow learners. 🙂 Even those who fly through the stage changes still need years to catch up and integrate all the opening.

  4. Eira

    Perhaps in some circles it’s desirable to quickly progress to the higher stages after wakening? (I dunno, its guesswork on my part, if it’s perceived as somehow “better”) But for me it seems unnecessary to be so inclined. Because wouldn’t every ones version of waking and progression manifest a unique version, thus contributing to the whole, even though the template or principal mechanics are the same? I find it useful to be present in the current stage, whether the Silent Presence is very clear or a bit in the background, (or I’m just too foggy) or getting a sudden surprise of a unity glimpse while doing dishes, of all things.

    It was a bit baffling at first to be aware of the person’s habitual doings but from such a different perspective. But then realising I don’t need to be hung up in the speed of the winding down process, just stay with it when it’s going on. Using the children’s walking technique when too frazzled by meds to do normal TM. And one can still be enjoying the view along the way 🙂

    1. Hi Eira
      There are certainly people with a desire to rapidly progress but there are only a few circles where that’s happening in any numbers. But yes, our speed isn’t something we control and it does vary widely.

      Those with a long history of samadhi are more likely to have a smoother and fuller unfolding as the ground has been prepared. But that doesn’t affect the speed.

      There are pros and cons to speed. Those who move rapidly still need the time to integrate all the shifts. And they may be less able to support certain stages in others that they spent little time in.

      And yes, the basics are the same for all but the variety of expression is dramatic. I’ve seen everything from 3 days to 3 decades between stages. And there’s the sattva variation – when does the heart open and refined perception unfold?

      It’s good to have a sense of where you’re going. But 99% of the attention should be on where you are now. That’s what integrates and develops, not concepts, not the future.

      Yes, each stage is like that. Awareness of the usual person’s doings but from a new perspective. I’ve likened it to being back in kindergarten again each time as you adjust to the new reality.

      I saw a talk by a famous jyotishi today who said that all you have to do is understand to step off the wheel of karma. But understanding alone doesn’t resolve your history nor shift you out of creating new karma.

      Right – it’s about the journey, not the destination. You got it.

      The point of this blog is not to get people obsessing about where they are, although I know this happens. It’s the unfortunate side effect of sharing like this. Some teachers avoid the topic altogether until its unfolding for a student. But some don’t have a teacher who can support them so I’ve been called to share.

      I’m also working to dispel some errors in understanding that can be an impediment. Like thinking the me is going to wake up. Or that waking means life is perfect bliss. It’s certainly an upgrade but we remain human as you point to.

      It’s a wonderful and remarkable journey. Yet it remains helpful to have a map.

  5. Jon

    I struggle with the contradictionary nature that liberation happens beyond the person yet the person still needs to develop their physiology for forward progress. As a result I have found myself back and forth in my practices of doing TM and then thinking well isn’t this just reinforcing the notion I am a seperate person trying to get something? Is this just the paradoxical nature of it all like you mention with desiring unity but not making it something to attain? Is there more you can say on this topic? Thanks.

    1. Hi Jon
      Well – it’s not really a contradiction. We can wake up without any practices. There are certainly examples of that. However, such shifts are less likely to “stick”, less likely to go further, tend to be rougher, and are unlikely to unfold much refinement. The vehicle of experience wasn’t prepared.

      Practices prepare the ground to make it more likely to be clear, sustained, and to continue.

      Of course, there is all sorts of variations due to past life development. But the people I’ve seen do the best typically have a long, regular practice.

      Yes, there are teachers who suggest you drop all practices because its a person practising. But what are they practising? Many are trying to manipulate their experience. Something like TM that brings regular samadhi is the means recommended by the Vedic tests like Patanajali’s Yoga Sutra.

      And there’s nothing wrong with desiring. Desire is needed in life. Attachment to desire is what falls away. That’s unlikely to happen by doing nothing or avoiding.

      To quote the Rig Veda “united are their minds while full of desires. ”

      Remember that the notion of being a person trying to get something is the same as the notion of being a person not trying to get something. Too much of modern spirituality is mind games. It’s not the person that wakes up but it’s fine, for now, if the person is motivated on the path by that goal. It’s like we may take the bus to Arkansas, but when we arrive, we get off and leave it behind (as in personal goals).

  6. Lew

    What is the role of Kundalini in enlightenment? Maybe you could give a clear definition of what it is exacly…. is it pure cosmic energy that arises through the chakras? Is the moving up of the Kundalini a sign of enlightenment and the opening to higher states of consciousness? I’ve always heard about it but never experienced the Kundalini “rush” as far as I can tell unless it’s more subtle than what I’ve heard it’s supposed to be.

    1. Hi Lew
      That’s a big topic I’ve written a number of articles on. The chakra system operates on several of the levels or koshas. Kundalini itself means coiled and is a form of shakti or energy coiled in the root chakra until the physiology is prepared (purified) and the energy builds enough for it to pop the first cap and begin to uncoil. At first, the energy rises and drops. It only stabilizes later at makara, just above the 6th chakra.

      For a %, the process is obvious but for most of us, the process happens largely in the background We’re more aware of the occasional big release which can be in any number of other nadis (channels).

      It’s important to note that kundalini isn’t causal. It doesn’t create enlightenment. But the process has to develop enough for it to be embodied in the physiology. In other words, if the energy physiology can’t support the higher energies of awake consciousness, we may have experiences but can’t yet have an abiding awakening.

      As such, seeking kundalini experiences or trying to force kundalini is a mistake that can damage the energy physiology and create a lot of roughness. It’s best to let the process unfold naturally via samadhi, as Yoga recommends.

      Self Realization is supported by Shakti rising to the crown and merging with Shiva, observer consciousness. Then they descend together through the higher stages. However, there is sometimes a lag between a stage opening and it being fully embodied.

      Here’s a couple of related articles:

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