Enlightenment: Beyond Traditions
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However there is much more to understand and to attain for the human being here on Earth. It is important to understand the process to enlightenment, but is also important to understand that the human being, and that includes you, can achieve much more than that. It gives you a clearer understanding that as a human being we can transform ourselves as True Divine beings right here on Earth in our physical bodies. Few people attain enlightenment, and fewer are able to go beyond that state. However it is important that you start to learn about the possibilities that each of us have in ourselves, and that at one time we will achieve.
Enlightenment Beyond Traditions (The Complete Inner Map of Spiritual Awakening)
It might take many lifetimes, but the work starts right now. There have been sages who have described their own practices and attainments that went beyond the common state of enlightenment. Enlightenment is usually seen as a way 'upward', often neglecting the physical body. In some traditions the physical body is seen as a burden, as something vile, something to be left behind. But some sages have shown, by their own attainments, that even the physical body can be transformed and made immortal.
This is not an egocentric desire to avoid death, but rather a profound transformation into another state of being by the penetration of divine energy into every cell of the physical body. According to Sri Aurobindo , physical immortality might become a future stage in humanity's evolution. Sri Aurobindo began his mediation practice with emptying the mind of all thoughts. After he reached this profound state of silence, he started looking at the world as being composed of empty shadows, empty forms without true substance.
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The thoughtless state was experienced as the only reality, "an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom". It is a state rarely attained, and usually referred to as Nirvana, or liberation, and the final goal of many traditions. However Aurobindo discovered that this was only the beginning of a whole new path. He was living in that state of Nirvana day and night, when that state started to modify itself, and disappear into a what he calls a greater 'Super-consciousness' from above. From that perspective he saw that the so-called illusion of the world from his first mediation states was only a small surface phenomenon behind which was an immense Divine Reality that manifested itself in the heart of everything that had seemed at first just a shadow world.
The self disappears, the individual disappears, even the soul disappears—there is only reality. There is only nondual presence. However, if there were no individual consciousness, there would be no perception, no sensation, and no awareness of nondual truth manifesting its possibilities. So you, as an individual, are important for realization. Enlightenment needs you to recognize itself; it needs you as an individual.
In nondual truth, your sense of who you are is not as an individual. You are the Living Being that is the nature of everything and that is manifesting and creating everything. However, you as an individual who is practicing is how this nondual truth is recognizing its enlightenment. This points to the importance of the manifestation of the particular. Reality is not only a nondual truth in its oneness and indivisibility.
That is important, but the fact that there is individual consciousness is also important.
Enlightenment Beyond Traditions The Complete Inner Map of Spiritual Awakening
More than that, it is necessary. If there were no individual consciousness, this nondual truth would be manifesting the universe, but it would be an insentient and unconscious universe, not aware of its mystery and transparency. Many teachings, of course, recognize this truth.
You might notice that as I am discussing enlightenment, I am not limiting it to the realization of true nature. I am also including our experience of reality. The mountain is reality, and enlightenment includes the truth of everything we experience—how things appear, what they are, what they mean. When a mountain is a mountain without it being true nature or not, then enlightenment is a kind of simplicity that introduces the nonhierarchical view.
A mountain is light, a mountain is love, a mountain is emptiness, a mountain is awareness, a mountain is physical, a mountain is spiritual, and a mountain is neither spiritual nor physical.
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What is it then? All sorts of possibilities can emerge in this simplicity, freeing our experience from the hierarchical point of view.
Enlightenment and individuation: syncretism, synchronicity and beyond.
We can experience enlightenment as an enlightenment that has left no trace of enlightenment. Many teachings think of traceless enlightenment as enlightenment that has happened to the degree that there is no more thinking or recognition that something called enlightenment has happened, because it becomes an ordinary fact. This is the enlightenment of enlightenment, meaning that enlightenment enlightens itself to the point that it forgets itself.
And what remains is simply living in enlightenment, which is nothing but true nature itself living as true nature. Some traditions believe that when we arrive at a certain dimension of experience—whether it is pure consciousness or awareness or mystery—we have arrived at the primordial, unchanging ground, and that realization then becomes a matter of sustaining that condition. By understanding Total Being, we see that, although this might indeed happen, it does not exhaust the mystery of reality.
Total Being might still change or altogether eliminate ground and reveal that reality is much more indeterminate than that. So the perspective of Total Being will disrupt our orderly understanding. This might be disorienting but, at the same time, when we get the thrust of it, it is completely liberating. If we have to be something in particular to be enlightened, then we lose the freedom of Total Being.
Enlightenment too is only one of the ways that Total Being expresses itself. It also expresses itself by being completely depressed, by being a depressed individual that is Total Being. The freedom of the fourth turning includes the liberation of enlightenment itself. Because all experiences are seen as nonhierarchical, we can experience any kind of realization or no realization, essential experience or ego experience, without disrupting the sense of freedom.
Every realization at each juncture on the path of awakening changes our perception of reality and changes what reality means. The fourth juncture shows us that all of reality—Total Being—is true nature and is what we are. This is what makes all of this relevant for you and your life. This recognition brings an unimaginable freedom, a freedom to be exactly where you are without any concern or worry about your realization or lack thereof. Both enlightenment and delusion are manifestations of reality.
And because you recognize everything as a manifestation of reality, nothing can ruffle your feathers. True enlightenment recognizes that obscuration, ignorance, and delusion are always a part and a potential of reality. The dynamism of reality reveals further realizations by revealing ever-subtler delusions.
Runaway realization is the magic of reality beholding its own mysteries as possibilities of further realization. The view of totality engages everything and excludes nothing, not even delusion and ignorance. The emptiness, then, is the absence of all personality. Then it is possible for essence to be there in the most real way, in the only real way.
This can happen only through understanding, only through the truth, and through nothing else. Understanding means seeing exactly what is there. It is the action of selfless love. You can begin by understanding your rejection of what is there. As you see, this work is not a matter of being better or worse, more or less. All these are ultimately concepts. The real truth is there, existing as it is, without your mind saying what is good or bad. It is being present with what is there. Amid the turmoil of empire, however, a new concern arose for personal salvation , and the way was paved for the triumph of the Christian religion.
Christian thinkers gradually found uses for their Greco-Roman heritage. The system of thought known as Scholasticism , culminating in the work of Thomas Aquinas , resurrected reason as a tool of understanding but subordinated it to spiritual revelation and the revealed truths of Christianity. The intellectual and political edifice of Christianity, seemingly impregnable in the Middle Ages , fell in turn to the assaults made on it by humanism , the Renaissance , and the Protestant Reformation.
The Renaissance rediscovered much of Classical culture and revived the notion of humans as creative beings, and the Reformation, more directly but in the long run no less effectively, challenged the monolithic authority of the Roman Catholic Church. For Martin Luther as for Bacon or Descartes, the way to truth lay in the application of human reason. Received authority, whether of Ptolemy in the sciences or of the church in matters of the spirit, was to be subject to the probings of unfettered minds.
The successful application of reason to any question depended on its correct application—on the development of a methodology of reasoning that would serve as its own guarantee of validity. Such a methodology was most spectacularly achieved in the sciences and mathematics , where the logics of induction and deduction made possible the creation of a sweeping new cosmology. The success of Newton , in particular, in capturing in a few mathematical equations the laws that govern the motions of the planets , gave great impetus to a growing faith in the human capacity to attain knowledge.
At the same time, the idea of the universe as a mechanism governed by a few simple—and discoverable—laws had a subversive effect on the concepts of a personal God and individual salvation that were central to Christianity.
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Inevitably, the method of reason was applied to religion itself. The product of a search for a natural—rational—religion was Deism , which, although never an organized cult or movement, conflicted with Christianity for two centuries, especially in England and France.
For the Deist, a very few religious truths sufficed , and they were truths felt to be manifest to all rational beings: the existence of one God , often conceived of as architect or mechanician, the existence of a system of rewards and punishments administered by that God, and the obligation of humans to virtue and piety. Beyond the natural religion of the Deists lay the more radical products of the application of reason to religion: skepticism , atheism , and materialism.
The Enlightenment produced the first modern secularized theories of psychology and ethics. John Locke conceived of the human mind as being at birth a tabula rasa , a blank slate on which experience wrote freely and boldly, creating the individual character according to the individual experience of the world.
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Supposed innate qualities, such as goodness or original sin , had no reality.