Self-Realization & Enlightenment
Recently, the subject of enlightenment has come up several times by students and friends.
First a little background: I stumbled upon the idea of enlightenment in my teens through my grandmother, Rowena. She was a direct student of Paramahansa Yogananda, the gentleman from India who introduced the concept of Self-Realization to the States. His book, Autobiography Of A Yogi, opened the minds of a great many people and his teachings through his Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) centers has help to sustain his presence here in this dimension.
Being a Psych major/art minor in California’s Bay Area during the late 60s put me on a collision course with all things wildly different. After consuming the required under-grad and then grad course materials, I started to explore the concepts of self-realization (as propagated by Yogananda) and other firsthand accounts of classic enlightenment scenarios. Reading the various accounts of awakening being penned by masters from the traditional Hindi linages, Sufi paths, esoteric Christians and native shamanic peoples made my mind ache for its own release. So, I set out to find my teacher. This was an aspect of my journey that I enjoyed―physically tracking down gurus, and otherwise proclaimed members of the spiritually elite club of awakened individuals, the Enlightened Ones. Hearing their lectures and watching how their etheric energy played with each word, I came to know how the universal presence flowed into this dimension through each of us. Reading about the personal accounts of awakenings, and then being able to talk with those individuals, allowed me a glimpse into their quandary―to be relatable, or not to be relatable to other humans.
My life’s goal became being awake, no longer dreaming of what it must be like to be unencumbered by expectation driven senses, and the intellect’s need to be right, that is so much an aspect of our species consciousness. This became my no-matter-what goal. After years of admiring the many amazing descriptions of awakening, I realized those stories belonged to the individuals offering the recounting of their unburdening from their self-imposed slumber. I realized that enlightenment is a static state congealed within the individual by the integration of their eternally constant soul with their evolving human spirit as it relates to all life through its instinctually intelligent body. This state is witnessed from the outside by others as an unlimited knowing of the nature of life itself and our humanly place within the all of nature.
Phases of Awakening. Through my discoveries, what I have come to know about the concept of human enlightenment is that there are apparent steps to this grand awakening. First is Self-Knowledge, then Self-Actualization – these two phases are basic to all humans. Most humans stay fixated on the two first steps. It’s difficult to move beyond these first two levels of understanding our human predicament because we are pushed into seeking inclusion with others as a means of determining our worth, our value. We are not taught to observe ourselves as unique individual beings.
Self-Knowledge. To have self-knowledge, we must be able to take a full inventory of our experience as it relates to our condition and circumstances.
Look around you. Look at your relationships, look at the things you have purchased to satisfy a perceived need or an emotional desire.
Are you easily aware of the intersection of your thoughts and corresponding feelings?
Do you take full responsibility for your thoughts and feelings?
Self-Actualization. Do you wish for changes in your life?
Are you able to achieve your imagined future?
Do you have what you want within a determined timing?
Are you basically satisfied with your condition and circumstances?
Are you contented with how your life is unfolding?
Do you feel that you command the mental, emotional and physical details of your life?
Unfortunately, our childhood training engenders a deep sense of self-pity more than an understanding of the potential contributions that reside within our unique being. To keep us ‘safe,’ our parents overly protect us from the harsh realities of life, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” “Do this, do that.” As a result, we are rewarded and punished within the boundaries of those determinations. We learn to please others to fulfill our desires – to personalize life. Yes, it is important to learn the right actions to keep our bodies safe. But the determinations used to protect us usually go beyond physical safety issues. In the process, we forfeit our higher eternal nature. We do this to survive our human experience. By the time we can step out into the world, in the West, this is usually after graduating from high school, we are adept at personalizing every moment―each event and subsequent reaction/response. We do this with the lack of knowing our deeper nature as a collaboration of soul with spirit within a human body.
What really guides the choices in our life? Are the grand concepts of love and harmony, or inner peace the ideals that guide us forward along time’s line? No. Without self-knowledge and self-actualization, our life is directed through the energy of our inner conflicts. Those inner conflicts generate a NEED to be right. We can safely observe that the average person is guided solely by their inner conflicts. We are trained through knowing what is right versus what is wrong. Good versus bad. God versus the devil. To make it more real, examples of modern inner conflict might be: “I love the feeling of work, you know, accomplishing. But I hate my job and the ‘higher-ups’ that hold me back.” “I love my family, but I don’t like the way they make me feel about myself, so I only visit during holidays.” “I love the idea of an almighty god looking over me, protecting me from myself and I hate the hypocrisy of religions.”
As conflict releases us we are guided by our core values – those inner strengths that make us unique. That group of inner values that are inspired by others to radiate through us out into our relationships. We either manifest or attract to our purposeful needs – a purposeful need is outside the confines of a human desire or wishful pattern of thoughts. When we are clear of inner conflicts, our pure intentions drive the process of our unfolding nature. Purposeful needs are born in the energy of our core values. Connecting thoughts, words and actions allows us to live each moment through the clear emotional energy of our humanity. We can clearly feel and know ourselves when we release inner conflicts. We stop doing the same things repeatedly wishing for different outcomes.
Self-Realization is the third step: When we step back from being the center of the universe (you know – when everything is about us), we begin to realize our truer nature as body, mind and spirit.
As we give up our NEED to be right, we become balanced. Our minds begin to expand as consciousness and awareness act as one expression.
We are now free of judgment, for the most part. We still observe our condition and circumstances as they directly relate to our past and future, and we are finished with the overall effect that past encounters shape the future.
Life is takes on a greater dimensional reality as we recognize discernment as a projection of our core values.
What is factual is immediately known.
The primary sense of smell becomes dominant and our sight and hearing are freed from expectations.
Self-Integration is the fourth step: The clarity that allowed us to examine our life lead us from self-knowledge to self-actualization to self-realization. With integration of those first three levels we have basically dropped petty judgments and have very little inner conflict that colors our perceptions/expectations of life.
With integration, we are free to be our unique selves.
Our emotional energy is now being used to power the dimensional reality of our life.
We stop taking life personally and we know our mind as the command that attracts and manifests the details of our experience. As a result, our inquiry is multi-dimensional and parallel probable, yet we are still bound by the obligations we created in our earlier efforts to be accepted.
All personal probable realities integrate into one expression of knowing.
Our intuitive perception is now beginning to see beyond linear constraints as our consciousness expands.
The ancients suggest that everything is mind. EVERYTHING. Your mind has nothing to do with your intellect. Your mind is not your brain. Your mind is an amalgamation of three forms of being: consciousness (eternal soul), awareness (evolving spirit) and instinctually intelligent body (genetic and epigenetic code). Ah, the number three in play: Biblically, the father, son and holy ghost. To truly know this is to experience every thought, word and action as a singular willful intention that collaborate as your ‘manifest destiny.’ You command this destiny.
Sovereignty is THE turning point of mind.
All of our relationships are experienced in THE now moment―not of the past reflecting into the future.
Our thoughts/emotions express true empathy and compassion.
Our senses and intellect blend with the instinctual awareness of our physical body.
We draw knowing from the collective human mind across time.
We know the connection between our mind and universal mind.
Prior to sovereignty, all states of mind are in constant movement. In sovereignty, there is the still mind―a mind without what-ifs and if-onlys―expressing itself as constant renewal in each now moment. Each thought, word and action are of one intention that can only be described in human terms as the pure joy of gratitude. Now you are a real human. Before sovereignty your identity, your self-image, was borrowed from the ill-conceived opinions of others. You are no longer culturally bound. The collective consciousness of your ancestry is released. You are free to be yourself.
Enlightenment is a true static state-once enlightened, always enlightened. Most people mistake the state of personal sovereignty as the state of enlightenment. They look/feel very much the same to the uninitiated.
Enlightenment comes when we no longer pretend we are unenlightened.
At the moment of enlightenment, all the human lifetimes of an eternal soul integrate as one timeline. (The Akashic Records shows an average of 350 incarnations for each eternal soul.)
Every moment from every lifetime is known to the enlightened individual. Relevant moments from all previous incarnations become active within this incarnations mind.
Enlightenment is quick. It seeks out the sincere student and then acts quickly to ensure a full awakening. The student becomes the master in the blink of an eye. The only exception: if a student is unfortunate enough to be a devotee to an enlightened teacher they might defer their own enlightenment to repay the teacher. This is because they have decided that their enlightenment is a gift from the honored teacher. Then when the teacher passes this realm, the student is free to claim their own state of enlightenment.
No enlightened individual so declares themselves enlightened – they are discovered to be enlightened by those who attend their offerings. Once exposed, the teacher might share their knowledge of what it means to be self-realized, sovereign and then enlightened.
The human journey is far from being over at this point. Enlightenment leads us to Illumination, which in turn offers us Liberation. Those two succeeding states finalize our human journey. Every religion, or life philosophy, has the same core: Know Thyself. Our path as humans is to begin with self-knowledge which leads us to full liberation. Enlightenment is a wonderful state through which to observe life. It is not the end of one’s journey by any accounting. Many believe it is just the beginning of being a ‘real human’―a zin compliment if there ever was one.
Often the rhythms of a poem or the lyrics of a song can best stoke the inner fire that defines our humanity and frees us from self-pity. The words to the following song, when heard with an expanded consciousness, beautifully describes the integration of our eternally constant soul with our evolving human spirit. Listen to the melody of Rolf Løvland and the lyrics by Brendan Graham as sung by Josh Groban as you too read the lyrics:
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary When troubles come and my heart burdened be Then, I am still and wait here in the silence Until you come and sit awhile with me You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas I am strong, when I am on your shoulders You raise me up... To more than I can be REPEAT There is no life - no life without its hunger Each restless heart beats so imperfectly But when you come and I am filled with wonder Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas I am strong, when I am on your shoulders You raise me up... To more than I can be REPEAT You raise me up... To more than I can be
Over the years I have chosen a different song each year to be the score of that year of living. I do have other mantras and rituals to aid me in my journey toward completion - and I find music to be the very best catalyst for my mind. Music is harmonic. In creation there is only consciousness and energy, which, by its nature, is harmonics.