Advanced Yoga Practices
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When Will I be Enlightened? (Audio)
March 16, 2010
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: You probably hear this question regularly: When will I be enlightened? I
ask because I feel I am there sometimes. But then my mind wavers and I am
down in the mud, and seeking a way back. What is the way back to that
eternal peace? Some have said that there is no such thing as backsliding,
because we are "there" already. I find this advice frustrating,
condescending even. But do they have a point? Is enlightenment a state of
mind that can simply be proclaimed? Is it an attitude? Can I talk myself out
of enlightenment, or is there something else going on? In any case, a
timeline would be helpful. Am I on the five year plan, or the twenty-five
year plan? I'd really like to know.
back is to keep practicing. The perceptual ups and downs will become less
over time, because your awareness will become less identified with the
body/mind, even while becoming a much more effective operator in this world.
Some claim that enlightenment is an attitude, but such an
attitude is dependent on an underlying neurobiological condition. We are
talking about very deep in the neurobiology, in a mode
functioning that sustains abiding inner silence far beyond all
fluctuations of mind and body. This is a
cultivated condition, primarily through deep meditation, or its
equivalent in approaches that may be different from AYP. They may differ in
style, but, in substance, all effective approaches to human spiritual
transformation contain the same elements. This is because there is only one
human nervous system design, and every one of them (us) has the same
capabilities and internal principles of evolution present.
As for when you will be enlightened, it will depend on your
consistency in practices over time, and the internal matrix of obstructions
being dissolved in your nervous system. That "karmic" element creates
variations in all of us, including the flickering in and out that you have
mentioned. For some it may be a few years before it is clear a substantial
permanent shift in perception has occurred. For others, a few decades. For
everyone it is incremental, meaning progress will be noticed quite soon
after committing to effective daily practices, and continue over time. Our
consistency and ability to expand and self-pace our practices will make a
While we are all going through essentially
the same process of purification and opening, the application of practices,
experiences, and rate of manifestation of results will vary. So, who can say
when you will be enlightened? No one can. But you can see signs and
milestones emerging along the way. These were first discussed back in
Lesson 35, and we have revisited them regularly from
different points of view ever since.
We have the enlightenment
milestones mainly so we can find motivation in our practice. We do not have
them for creating labels for
what we or
any particular person has attained.
What a person is experiencing in their everyday life is far more important
than how they or anyone
may regard their spiritual
condition. Spiritual growth is a practical thing that we can enjoy right now,
wherever we happen to be with it via our practices. What it may
become later, who can say? We will do best to keep going, and we will find
The statement "I am enlightened" is an obstruction on the path.
It was covered as one of the half dozen pitfalls of the mind in
Lesson 329 "the illusion of attainment, or of having
It is much better to regard
experiences of enlightenment as milestones, epiphanies, or stepping stones
along the path. This will always be the case, because there will always be
more expansion occurring until the whole cosmos is awakened. Enlightenment
is not something that can be possessed personally. It is only occurring when
it is being given away freely, as we discussed in Lesson
Enlightenment of the one is
enlightenment of the whole, and vise versa. The two cannot be separated.
Therefore, whether any of us can be labeled as "enlightened" or not is
rather meaningless, because we are on a continuum of ever-expanding
consciousness. The label is irrelevant, and usually misleading. Improvement
in the quality of our life, and
the lives of
around us, is relevant. Conduct is relevant. Our true condition is known by
our deeds, not by our label, and especially not by what we think we are. Any
sort of label (high or low), held on to,
is going to be an obstruction to spiritual progress for everyone concerned.
anyone cruising near enlightenment, it is
more of an oddity. It isn't a proclamation. It is the unending question,
"Who is doing all this?" It is becoming the mystery in an unending
surrender, because there is no answer to the question. Becoming that
unknowing is as close as we can get. Then we just do in a divine flow toward
helping others. It is not about us anymore. It is about
everyone else. This is why the enlightenment milestones are not
destinations. Any milestone will be passed by, unless we hang onto it. If we
hang on, we are stuck. Better to keep going, even in the experience of unity
(Oneness). There is no telling what comes next with
action. It is a complete surrender to what is. Whatever the mind is
tempted to proclaim will not be it.
The main thing to know about
your progress is that there is movement occurring in the desired direction,
right? And, therefore, with the continuation of daily practices, the
movement will continue. Each of our journeys is unique, with underlying
principles, methods and experiences that we share in common. One thing is
for sure. With prudent management of our daily practices, we will be moving
ahead with steady progress at our own optimal speed, with fewer detours
along the way.
We will continue to discuss causes and effects in
practices, and the characteristics of the journey as we travel beyond the
dual condition of identified awareness, into the paradoxical realm of
unidentified awareness in non-duality. This is the place where nothing need
be proclaimed, and where the most joyful participation in life is found. It
is our natural condition.
The guru is in you.
Related Lessons Topic Path
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For additional discussion on enlightenment milestones and instructions on building a
self-directed daily routine of practices, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga Book,
and AYP Plus.