Is Enlightenment Possible?
Wes Annac, Contributor
There are plenty of ways we can find enlightenment, and they all require dedication to the spiritual path. Even though it’ll be worth our effort, enlightenment is probably the hardest thing we’ll ever experience because it requires us to seriously discern what about our life is keeping us from achieving our goal.
Some seekers think enlightenment will just happen without any real effort or focus, and unfortunately, this isn’t true. We have to strive for it in a sense, but the only real ‘striving’ we need to do is in detaching our focus from the external and looking to our internal reality for the love and wholeness we seek.
This world can be heavenly if we let it, and I don’t think we need to all-out renounce it like some spiritual teachers have told us. People feed heavenly and hellish qualities here, and we have a choice as to which qualities we want to feed each day.
Those of us who are spiritually aware obviously want to feed the heavenly qualities, but as we’ve learned, it isn’t as easy as we initially expect. We’ll want to turn ourselves over to these qualities in a sense, but we don’t want to lose our uniqueness or individuality in the process.
We’ve been told we’ll eventually transcend our sense of individuality as we merge with our creator and experience life as one consciousness, but that won’t happen for a long time and we still have our individuality while we’re on earth. We might as well embrace it (even though it’s technically an illusion), because we all have something unique to offer the planet’s restoration.
Here, we’ll explore some of the things we can do to find enlightenment. The things we’ll explore here are only suggestions, and we should each find what works for us along the spiritual path; what helps us enlighten ourselves or at least reach a temporarily blissful state of consciousness.
Beyond anything we read on the internet or in spiritual books, we have to find the way ourselves. We have to show ourselves the way back into a blissful state of consciousness, and the advice we’re given here is meant to help us along the path.
We can all use assistance sometimes, and that’s exactly what our spiritual teachers intend to offer.
The Upanishads tell us that simply learning about spirit isn’t enough – we have to find some kind of spiritual practice to assist us.
“By learning, a man cannot know him, if he desist not from evil, if he control not his senses, if he quiet not his mind, and practice not meditation.” (1)
Meditation is obviously important, but I don’t think it has to be a requirement. It’s an extremely helpful practice that we might want to embrace, but everyone reaches enlightenment in their own ways and as crazy as it sounds, some people don’t require meditation to enlighten themselves.
I enjoy meditation and I’ll continue to practice it as often as I can, but we want to be careful with any external guidance we’re given because it’s based off of the knowledge and experience of the person who gives it. We’re each traversing our own paths, and some of us could very well find enlightenment without meditating even once.
I’m sure it’d be hard, but it’s doable nonetheless.
The Upanishads mention the importance of meditation again in another passage.
“This Effulgent Self is to be realized within the lotus of the heart by continence, by steadfastness in truth, by meditation, and by superconscious vision.” (2)
We’re also told about the difficulty of knowing Source, which, admittedly, is eased when we practice meditation.
“The ancient, effulgent being, in-dwelling Spirit, subtle, deep-hidden in the lotus of the heart, is hard to know. But the wise man, following the path of meditation, knows himself and is freed alike from pleasure and from pain. … When a man is free from desire, his mind and senses purified, he beholds the glory of the Self and is without sorrow.” (3)
Letting the intellect rest is one of the best ways to connect with Source.
“When [your intellect] can rest, steady and undistracted, in contemplation of the Atman, then you will reach union with the Atman.” (4)
Speaking as Source, Sri Krishna tells us that love is the best and most effective way to connect with our creator.
“To love is to know me, My innermost nature, The truth that I am: Through this knowledge he enters At once to my Being.” (5)
We’re learning that love is the way back into a higher state of consciousness, but most of us have yet to really put this knowledge into play. It’s liberating to realize that love really is all we need, and it puts us on the path to embodying as much love, bliss and wholeness as we can.
This is what’s great about enlightenment: It requires some difficult disciplines, but they’re all centered on becoming the loving beings we’ve always been. It’s a very simple goal, and the only hard part about it is actually achieving it.
Constantly embodying love sounds easy at the surface, but as we quickly realize, it requires the renunciation of things that keep us from shining our light. This is the hardest part of the enlightenment path for most seekers, because giving up habits or attitudes that used to work for us can be an uncomfortable and painful process.
It’s required to consistently embody love without any mind-driven hindrances, however, and even though it can be hard, it’ll be very worth it when we can flowingly express our love to everyone we meet.
Dattatreya outlines some more qualities of the common enlightened person.
“He whose intellect is not agitated by desires, and whose sense organs are controlled; he who is gentle, pure, without possessions, not covetous, not greedy for food, serene, and steadfast; he who has taken refuge in the Self — he alone is a sage. …
“The sage is vigilant, profound, and steady, and has conquered the mind and the senses. He is humble and gives honour to all. He is well mannered, friendly, compassionate, and farsighted.” (6)
We’ll all embody these qualities eventually, but some of us still have some inner work to do before we can really embody them. We might embody them for a short time before something happens that makes us want to scrap them for anger or other negative, self-serving emotions, but we’ll eventually be able to express them consistently.
We’ll eventually get to a point where we can constantly radiate our love without worrying about ourselves or how the things other people do affect us, but some of us still have some diligent inner work to do before we’re there. As long as we stay dedicated to the whole process, radiating our inner love will become a breeze.
We’ll be glad we made the effort that’s necessary to heal ourselves and the world, and our positive influence will spread to everyone who’s had trouble enlightening themselves or embodying love for an extended period of time. We all want love, but most of the world has a long way to go before they can constantly enjoy or express it.
We’ll get there in due time, and for now, those of us who are becoming aware might want to take the advice so many spiritual teachers have given while remembering to be our own teachers. We’re here to help each other learn and grow, and this is why so many spiritual teachers have strived to help awaken others.
We’re meant to find the way and help others find it too, and empowering ourselves (and each other) is one of the best ways to do it. With self-empowerment comes the realization that we really are infinite, and with this realization usually comes the desire to serve humanity’s evolution in any way we can.
Once we realize we’re infinite and make a lasting effort to embody our inner love, everything starts flowing smoothly. It’s hard at first, but things get easier with every genuine effort we make; everything we do to spread the light we’ve just started to discover.
- Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester, trans., The Upanishads. Breath of the Eternal. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1957; c1948, 19.
- Ibid., 47.
- Ibid., 17-8.
- Ibid., 41.
- Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God.New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 128.
- Swami Chetanananda, Avadhuta Gita. The Song of the Ever-Free. Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1988, 125.
About the Author
Wes Annac is the author of The Culture of Awareness. The Culture of Awareness features daily spiritual and alternative news, as well as articles I’ve written and more. Its purpose is to awaken and uplift by providing material that’s spiritually inspired and/or related to the fall of the planetary elite and our entrance into a positive future.
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