Observations on Enlightenment
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, Contributor
“Enlightenment must come little by little-otherwise it would overwhelm.” –Idries Shah
In spiritual literature, have you ever wondered why there are so few straight forward discussions concerning outcomes of enlightenment; or said another way, once you have traveled a spiritual path, and become more enlightened, for you personally, what will this spiritual ability look like. Here are a few reasons for this limited discussion and some personal observations.
- Increased Capacity. Typically enlightenment means increased light and increased spiritual understanding/experience. This way of being/experiencing is very difficult to put into words or physically describing. Additionally, few people are able to tell you exactly what your future spiritual skill set/experience package will be like. This is dependent upon different factors, including personal ability and the Grace of the Unseen Forces.
- Examples of Spiritual Experience. In the literature, some of spiritual experiences described include: visions, capacity to read minds, messages from the other side, sublime ecstatic states, hearing the inner voice, intuitive understanding, wisdom about certain situations, dreams that come true, and prescience/knowing. Because something is described doesn’t mean you will experience the same thing; these spiritual capacities are dependent upon the needs of the situation and the emerging design.
- Varying Approaches. Enlightenment is a phenomenon and process that is viewed, described and developed over a period of years; ever changing and maturing. In some schools it is taught that enlightenment occurs in an overwhelming blast of brilliance; in other schools, it is taught that the process is more gradual.
- Personal Capacity Varies. Depending upon our responsibilities and tasks in the world, our individual skill set, temperament, spiritual experience and capacity varies.
- Expectation Blocks Experience. Once you are provided with a snapshot of what enlightenment might be like; this snapshot often sets in motion our expectation response, influencing and even blocking further outcomes.
- Spiritual Capacity is Transitory. For the most part, during the course of daily life, spiritual experience is transitory: it comes and goes based upon the needs of the situation.
- Both Sets of Consciousness Operating. After a time, often it is possible to have both sets of consciousness operating at the same time: worldly and spiritual. This is one of the indicators of more mature development.
- Spiritual Capacity is Already Inside you. Enlightenment is characterized by awakening of certain capacity: by remembering who you are and that these capacities, for the most part, already are part of you.
- Spirituality Doesn’t Replace Daily Experience. Enlightenment/spiritual capacity does not replace living in the world or give you ‘a leg-up’ on having a pain/stress free existence. It is added capacity which helps integrate, balance, and put into perspective life’s up and downs.
- Emphasis on Different Outcomes. Spiritual paths have as outcome different experience and abilities. All paths are not the same and often focus on varied goals. Some focus on healing and others on knowing and service to the poor.
- Unity of Peak Experiences. It has been suggested, that peak experience of Oneness and Union with the Godhead is essentially the same experience; using different words to describe this sublime connection. The use of different terminology, due to cultural influence, confuses and helps create a situation where mystery is amplified. For example, Peace of God, Union, Nirvana, and Experience of Oneness, may all be attempts to describe a singular peak experience; which, as indicated earlier, in most spiritual travelers is transitory.
* * *
Learn to see those things
Which you must do
And those things
Which God / Light must do.
He / she who can recognize the difference
Is on their way to enlightenment.
Most travelers expect enlightenment
To arrive in a flash.
They imagine it is like turning on
A lamp in their home.
This is our desire for haste
And stems from greed.
This process is much slower
And knowledge comes in stages;
And once the Light is on
It cannot be turned off
As easily as hitting a switch.
“Remember, you have been Given enough for the journey.” -SB
About the Author
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, spiritual traveler, poet, is a student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment; he holds a doctorate in education and served on the faculties of multiple colleges and universities.
Stewart is also the author of Sufism for the Western Seeker, published in 2011, was nominated by ‘Foreword Magazine’ for Adult Non Fiction Religious Book of Year Book of the Year Award, placing 4th (honorable mention) and is a must read, as well as The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.
Register for an upcoming retreat weekend with Dr. Steward Bitkoff atop Bangor Mountain, in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Kirkridge Retreat Center on Sufism & Enlightenment, May 30- June I, 2014. For information is available here: http://kirkridge.org/programs/upcoming-programs/ – click on Detailed Information for full program highlights.
Read my new book: Beyond The River’s Gate. Book is available on Amazon.com in paperback, Kindle format or local bookstore.
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