Despite the fact that the question of how to achieve enlightenment has been considered in various spiritual traditions for hundreds of years, it is quite difficult to define the concept of spiritual enlightenment or spiritual awakening. This, in particular, is due to the fact that both of these concepts were used in many ways to describe a large number of things. And it is thanks to spiritual enlightenment and spiritual awakening that there are such rich and complex experiences that are difficult to determine.
Some definitions are very specific and narrow in meaning. One such definition of spiritual enlightenment is the complete dissolution of personality.
The opposite approach is to say that everyone is enlightened, that there is only waking consciousness. In this respect, it is only a matter of whether this natural “awakening” is recognized or not, which makes us look at the problem differently, how to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Of course, when a concept generalizes everything in itself, it loses part of its usefulness.
Versatility of the concept
Perhaps there is a definition that includes both perceptions, which will recognize that consciousness is always awake and enlightened, but the level of awakening, or awareness, can vary at one time or another. This definition recognizes that there is a difference in the level of awakening or enlightened consciousness that different people experience, or that one person may experience at different times. If each apparent individual consciousness is infinite in its potential, then each one can also be infinite in his ability to expand or awaken, contract, or identify with narrow or limited experience, striving to become a person who has attained spiritual enlightenment.
If the whole consciousness consists of the same essential awareness and light, and if everyone has the same potential for enlightenment, then all expressions of consciousness are equally important and valuable. Each person is truly a Buddha or an enlightened being, at least in potential.
You can use the word "enlightenment" to denote the state of self-realization beyond the ego, the innate potential that provides such an implementation for every person.
Enlightenment and Awakening
As for the difference between the words of enlightenment and awakening, “enlightenment” means a more complete and constant state of realization, while “awakening” is a more active quality of action. Awakening can be defined as a sudden increase in the total amount of consciousness. There may be small awakenings and large awakenings. It not only has unlimited potential for the number of awakenings, but also has unlimited potential in any case at any time. However, there are some differences in how to achieve enlightenment or awakening.
Spiritual awakening is a sudden expansion or change in consciousness. Enlightenment, on the other hand, can be used to indicate a certain level of realization or awakening, even if the exact definition depends on who uses the word.
Spiritual awakening is a kind of flowering of consciousness. When consciousness expands and opens in a new expression, this is called spiritual awakening.
Enlightenment and Spiritual Practices
Spiritual enlightenment is the main goal of most spiritual practices. Despite their long history, enlightenment can be achieved in modern conditions. Enlightenment means the culmination of practice, when a person is the unity of the soul with everything, all mental and physical obligations remain on the sidelines. Spiritual enlightenment is the possession of highly developed souls. Spiritual masters from around the world experience spiritual enlightenment and help others along their path.
Role of elements
According to Buddhism, thanks to one of the elements in its structure, any creature can achieve enlightenment. Existing openings of the body and its cavity are elements of space. The element, or sphere, of the earth corresponds to the solid component of the human body. The element of water is body fluids. The element of fire is the heat of the body. The element of air is breathing. Also, all living beings have an element of wisdom, which is an integral part of the nature of Buddha, which is also characteristic of all living beings. However, wisdom overshadows rational thinking, which is an element of consciousness. It is this factor that prevents people from achieving enlightenment.
Spiritual enlightenment is often divided into levels for the convenience of achieving practical goals. The highest level of spiritual enlightenment means the achievement of oneness with God or oneness with everything.
But nevertheless, certain levels may exist, passing through which the personality must develop. Just as man evolved from more primitive animals, human consciousness, or soul, also develops.
At the very first level of enlightenment, a person begins to perceive reality as it is. This means that his mind ceases to intervene in what he perceives. People constantly talk, gossip, analyze the world around them, plan the future or worry about the past. When a person is in a state of spiritual enlightenment, he is completely in the present moment. He stops judging the world and sticking labels. His mind is calm, content and quiet. Such a person is aware only of this moment in time, here and now.
At this stage of enlightenment, a person feels outside his own boundaries, in everything around. He feels a connection with all objects and people in the world. The boundaries between him and the world around him are scattered. His soul begins to merge with the Supreme Soul. He feels that he is no longer a separate person, and is not separated from anything. He is accompanied by sensations that he is in everything, and all this is just a part of the Supreme Soul, from where he also appeared. Many people describe this as a feeling of fullness and love.
At this stage, a person no longer feels connected with everything, but realizes that he is everything. He experiences oneness with the Creator and is not separated from anything in the Universe. This stage of enlightenment is a direct experience of unity.
Spiritual enlightenment is a result that liberates a person, because he loses all desires and aspirations to receive the fruits of his actions. A person feels the bliss of a comprehensive and true love. At first it gives him a sense of the need for Light. At the next stage, there is a feeling of merging with the Light. And at the final stage, a person becomes one with the Light.
It is important to remember that when it comes to spiritual enlightenment, a person cannot enlighten anyone else, because he must walk this path on his own. There is always the opportunity to help others along the way, to show direction, but the only thing that a person can achieve is enlightenment only for himself.
Gautama Siddhartha Buddha
He is one of the most famous people who have achieved enlightenment. Born by the prince, for the sake of comprehension of wisdom, he abandoned his lifestyle. Overwhelmed by the suffering of other people, he left his family. After going through many trials, he became a Buddha and attained enlightenment.
Siddhartha's travels showed him the many sufferings of the world. At first he sought a way to avoid death, old age, and pain by talking with religious people. This did not help him find the answer. Siddhartha then encountered an Indian ascetic who urged him to follow the path of excessive self-denial and discipline. Buddha also practiced meditation, but came to the conclusion that the highest meditative states alone were inadequate.
Siddhartha followed this image of extreme asceticism for six years, but this also did not satisfy him; he still has not escaped from the world of suffering.
He refused a strict life, full of self-denial and asceticism, but did not return to the usual luxuries of his former life. Instead, he went the middle way, living in neither luxury nor poverty.
In India, next to the Mahabodhi Temple, there is a Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening), the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment. Once, sitting beneath him, Siddhartha fell deeply into meditation and reflected on his life experience, trying to understand the truth. Finally he attained enlightenment and became a Buddha.
Six steps to enlightenment
There are several stages that explain how to achieve enlightenment on your own.
- It should be accepted that there is no salvation from oneself. A person cannot escape from himself: drugs, sex, alcohol or junk food will not help here. While a person may feel that he has managed to escape, the effect of such an escape is likely to disappear soon. And then he will again be waiting. As the Buddha said: "Our life is the creation of our mind."
- Find your true identity. It is amazing what changes will happen when a person changes. Social conditioning distorts the true essence of man. Too much in our lives has been based on things that are not true. You should constantly ask yourself the same question: who am I?
- Consciously reduce your attachment to material comfort. It should be borne in mind that attachment to things around will not lead to happiness - it is just an escape from oneself. In modern society, people have become susceptible to the imposition of an image of external comfort, while not attachment does not require the pursuit of all these luxury goods. If affection for such objects is discovered, it will be useful to repeat the following phrases: I have needs, I do not have these needs; I have desires, I do not have these desires.
- Show love to yourself. A person cannot love someone more than himself. Self-love allows you to make the right choice not only in relation to yourself, but also to others. You must strive to know yourself. Self-love is the only source of knowledge about what a person is, what he is. This is the beginning of a conscious awakening of one's true Self. In the process, a person becomes his own healer. Positive self-esteem is the foundation that should be established as an internal program from a very young age. Without this foundation, people will always look for external verification methods. But self-love can always give the right answer.
- Stop the resistance. Since the human body consists of more than 70% water, it is useful to meditate and bring water quality into your consciousness. It should be open to new beliefs and ideas. It is useful to take the qualities of water in order to change your condition, stop resisting and strive to consciously and unconsciously live without effort. You must indulge in the flow, create your own flow. Water is limitless, effortless, elegant, spontaneous, fluid and always changing. Using these qualities in your life helps to remove restrictions and blur boundaries. To live without resisting life is to be like water.
- Create your own life on your own. If a person dreams consciously, he has the opportunity to choose what he dreams about. You can create your own story, invest your impressions and desires in it, create your own image. Man’s life is what he invests in it.
There are two main approaches that explain how to achieve enlightenment.
Firstly, the gradual method (for example: Theravada Buddhism, Raja Yoga, etc.). Advantages:
- provides a more systematic approach to spiritual growth;
- the results are more noticeable, including in other areas of life;
- the method provides additional tools and practice;
- easier to visualize your progress.
- can cause a feeling of incompleteness, aspiration and self-criticism;
- can increase the sense of spiritual ego.
Secondly, the fast method (Zen, Dzogchen, etc.). Strengths:
- allows you to be more relaxed at the moment;
- provides simplified instructions and methods;
- easier to integrate into everyday life.
- lack of goals can lead to "spiritual lethargy" and a decrease in motivation to practice;
- it can be used as an excuse not to turn negative mental and behavioral models;
- he may be confused when the question arises whether the person is making progress or not, whether he is doing the practice right or not;
- can lead to a false sense of satisfaction and enlightenment.
These approaches are traditional, true and proven. Usually people are looking for, moving from one to another at different stages of their practice.
A combination of methods seems more desirable. Or, at least, you need to know about the shortcomings of each particular approach. A phased seeker can also develop the feeling that everything is perfect here and now, and that true nature is always available. Conversely, a seeker on the second path explaining how to quickly achieve enlightenment can cultivate the practice and mental qualities of a “slow approach” and reflect on the truth of sudden enlightenment and gradual improvement.
Enlightenment or awakening is a deep secret, and a better definition can be found in the actual experience of one's own shifts in consciousness. Perhaps a better definition of enlightenment is not a definition. Then there is only that which is in its own direct experience of awareness of people who have achieved enlightenment.