In times of universal deceit, telling
the truth is a revolutionary act.
         - George Orwell

Napoleon once observed that "history" is a set of lies agreed upon. In an era of ubiquitous fake news and information warfare, this has never been more true. The very concept of objective truth in history is fading out of our world. Pure propaganda and outright lies are passing into our history textbooks as unquestioned truth, condemning future generations to false views about historical reality. But the task of sifting through the lies and propaganda is overwhelming, limited by the ambition and time constraints of most observors. Only those who have dedicated their lives to sorting reality from falsehood are qualified to rewrite "consensus" history as a duty to humanity. The contributors to this site endeavor to do just that.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

What Is Enlightenment?

      When I met my guru in India in January, 2016, I was far from being enlightened.  I was still indulging in alcohol, tobacco and cannabis products. I paid very little attention to my breathing. I barely stretched or did anything resembling yoga. I swore a lot. My attention span was limited.  And my mind was filled with a never-ending stream of thoughts.
      All of these characteristics are pretty common in people throughout the world. Few of us imagine that "being human" involves anything different or better. And while we may have heard about "enlightenment", fewer still are curious enough to actually pursue it.  After all, why should we long for something we have never experienced?
      Almost everyone has, in fact, experienced enlightenment, if only for a brief few seconds.  Those fleeting moments come as "peak experiences" in our lives after we have scored the winning goal, or climbed a tall mountain, or experienced the birth of a child, or seen the most glorious sunset.  It is during those moments that time stops, our thoughts stop, we are filled with deep joy, and are most aware. We experience pure BEING.

Such experiences never last long because of the inertia and habits of mundane living.  We are undisciplined. We have been conditioned our whole lives to respond to external stimuli.  We let our minds wander, and have been led to believe that an "empty" mind is a useless mind. Enlightenment is a rare occupation, we are told, available only to those who give up everything to live in a cave somewhere.  "How boring!", we think. "What a waste of a life." But is it? And is there any middle ground - a way to achieve enlightenment in our daily lives without having to "give up everything" and sever our lives from those we know and love?

The simple answer is yes. With discipline and daily practice, enlightenment is available to all of us.  But what IS enlightenment?  Let us consult some of the masters.

Swami Vivekananda, a late-nineteenth century guru, once said:

               Ye are children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities
               on earth "sinners"! It is a sin to call man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up,
               o lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are soul immortal, spirits free
               blest and eternal.

India's "pop-guru" - OSHO - had much to say about enlightenment. Here are a few of his famous quotes:

  • Enlightenment is a simple realization that everything is as it should be.
  • That is the definition of enlightenment: everything is as it should be, everything is utterly perfect as it is. That feeling...and you are suddenly at home. Nothing is being missed. You are part, an organic part of this tremendous, beautiful whole. You are relaxed in it, surrendered in it. You don´t exist separately – all separation has disappeared.
  • A great rejoicing happens, because with the ego disappearing there is no worry left, with the ego disappearing there is no anguish left, with the ego disappearing there is no possibility of death any more. This is what enlightenment is. It is the understanding that all is good, that all is beautiful – and it is beautiful as it is. Everything is in tremendous harmony, in accord.  (Osho, The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty, Talk #14)
  • Enlightenment simply means an experience of your consciousness unclouded by thoughts, emotions, sentiments. When the consciousness is totally empty, there is something like an explosion, an atomic explosion. Your whole insight becomes full of a light which has no source and no cause. And once it has happened, it remains. It never leaves you for a single moment; even when you are asleep, that light is inside. And after that moment you can see things in a totally different way. After that experience, there is no question in you.  (last 113)
  • Enlightenment means being fully conscious, aware. Ordinarily we are not conscious and not aware. We are doing things either out of habit or out of biological instincts… Just as Freud's conscious mind, unconscious mind, and Jung says collective unconscious mind, I say there is a superconscious mind and collective conscious mind. To reach to the collective conscious mind they are going to the roots and I am going to the flowers.
  • But they're all interconnected and all the devices and matters are to discover in you, something which is simply watchfulness.  For example, I can watch my body—certainly I'm not the body. I can watch my hand: it's hurting, but I'm not the hurt—I'm the watcher. I can watch my thoughts, then I'm not the thought. I'm the watcher and I can watch even the watcher. That is the moment beyond which you cannot go and enlightenment comes. Enlightenment is simply that you become so conscious, so full of light, that it starts overflowing your life, your being. You can impart it. (silent 02)
  • When one is enlightened one is conscious, but one is not conscious of consciousness. One is perfectly conscious, but there is no object in it. One is simply conscious, as if a light goes on enlightening the emptiness around it. There is no object, there is nothing the light can fall upon. It is pure consciousness. The object has disappeared; your subject has flowered into totality. Now there is no object—and hence, there can be no subject. The object and subject both have disappeared. You are simply conscious. Not conscious of anything, just conscious. You are consciousness…. He is not conscious about enlightenment; he is simply conscious. He lives in consciousness, he sleeps in consciousness, he moves in consciousness. He lives, he dies in consciousness. Consciousness becomes an eternal source in him, a nonflickering flame, a nonwavering state of being. It is not an attribute, it is not accidental; it cannot be taken away. His whole being is conscious. (yoga 804)
  • What is enlightenment? Coming to understand, coming to realize that you are not the body. You are the light within; not the lamp, but the flame. You are neither body nor mind. Mind belongs to the body; mind is not beyond body, it is part of the body—most subtle, most refined, but it is part of the body. Mind is also atomic, as body is atomic. You are neither the body nor the mind—then you come to know who you are. And to know who you are is enlightenment…. Enlightened means you have realized who you are. (no moon 05)
  • Enlightenment simply means becoming aware of yourself. Ordinarily, a man is awake to everything around him, but is not aware who is awake and aware of all the things around. So we remain on the periphery of life and the center remains in darkness. To bring light to that center, consciousness to that center is what enlightenment is.  It is just being absolutely centered in yourself, focusing all your consciousness upon yourself as if nothing else exists; only you are.  (last 202)

OSHO once said that his only true contemporary and spiritual equal was Krishnamurti.  Krishnamurti was selected in 1909 by Theosophists C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant to become the 'World Teacher' when he was just 14 years old.  He later rejected this role, stating that he could not promote any doctrines or dogmas.  In this, he was remaining true to his own discovery of enlightenment.  He once said:  "All ideologies are idiotic... If I were foolish enough to give you a system, and you were foolish enough to follow it, you would merely be copying, imitating, conforming, accepting... If you try to study yourself according to another you will always remain a secondhand human being..."

Echoing OSHO, Krishnamurti taught:  "Forget all you know about yourself: forget all you have ever thought about yourself: we are going to start as if we know nothing... [We must] begin to understand ourselves for the first time."  We must throw away our past like an old boot, forget about our autobiography.  Forget about trying to dissect our personal past like peeling away the layers of an onion.  This is no way to get to the centre of our being.  Neither is equating enlightenment with some kind of bliss or pleasure.  This too is a pursuit that leads us astray and will ensnare us with all the familiar trappings.

The biggest blockage to discovering our true selves, Krishnamurti teaches, is FEAR.  "Living in such a corrupt, stupid society as we do, with the competitive education we receive, which engenders fear, we are all burdened with fear of some kind, and fear is a dreadful thing which warps, twists and dulls our days."  Fear comes from our projection of past experiences onto the

future, from our knowledge of the disasters of others, and from what we imagine may be in store for us if we don't conform.  We must engender fearlessless in order to become enlightened.  We must be willing to face reality, and ourselves, as they truly are.  And to do this, you must embrace your ultimate aloneness in this world.  When you come to terms with how alone you really are - that no one or no thing is going to save you - then you lay the groundwork for finding love at the root of all being.

"Fear is not love, jealousy is not love, dependence is not love, possessiveness and domination is not love, responsibility and duty is not love, self-pity is not love, the agony of not being loved is not love, love is not the opposite of hate any more than humility is the opposite of vanity. So if you can eliminate all these, not by forcing them but by washing them away as the rain washes the dust of many days from a leaf, then perhaps you will come upon this strange flower which man always hungers after." (All above quotes from Aubrey Menen's The Mystics (Dial Press, 1974)

My own experiences with enlightenment come courtesy of Swami Ji Deviananda of Gokarna, Karnataka, India.  Swami Ji, now 55, was taught in the Babaji Siddhi tradition of Kriya yoga since he was a young man. He has been on his own as a wandering monk for 15 years. I have practiced with him, studied under him, and interviewed him on video on numerous occasions.  He is, for all intents and purposes, an "enlightened being".  Here are some of the things he has said about enlightenment and how it is achieved:

  • Enlightenment is a journey, not a destination.  It can only be achieved through rigorous discipline, training the mind to become "empty" through daily meditation.  It takes even the most avid disciples years to achieve any real ability to quell the mind's incessant activity.
  • This meditation is focused on breathing and "kundalini" energy travelling up and down the spine. The goal of the practice of meditation is to control this energy, and to direct it to the highest chakras, where one's being is focused in pure consciousness.
  • In this state, all the change and movement going on around one's self (the objects of sense perception) just "happen".  There is no "will" arising which wishes to interact with what is happening.  One loses the desire to want to impact/change things which are external. Things just "are" and one just "is".
  • One experiences the pure love which is at the root of all existence.  It is the grounding of all reality.  Being is love.
  • The "mind" dissolves into an infinite expansiveness which we might identify as "God." This infinite mind or God is the source of all being, and is therefore pure love.  It is experienced as "the light of a thousand suns".
  • One can still summon language to communicate to others when one is enlightened, but nothing is rehearsed.  Everything is spontaneous and pure.  There are no "ideologies" which frame or couch one's pure observations.
  • Joy is the ultimate result.  It is a deeply felt joy, as one participates fully with God in the experience of creation, which is perfect.  Evil and suffering is the result of one's removal and alienation from this natural state of being.  The price of this joy is immeasurable.  Only after one gets a taste of it does its value become apparent, and all other pursuits in life are feeble in comparison.
I have studied under Swami Ji on and off for sixteen months.  The experience, and his teachings, have changed my life irrevocably.  I have quit all forms of smoking and intoxication.  I am more aware and relaxed.  I feel more humble. My mind is much calmer. My ego has shrunk considerably. I feel more like myself when I am speaking with others, and speak from the heart.  I am a long way from "enlightenment", but am enjoying the journey of life a lot more.  I feel incredible gratitude towards Swami Ji for being my guide and inspiration.

So there you have it. Fear not. Believe in the "ultimate prize" which is enlightenment. Pursue it. Live it. Be it.

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