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Lesson 390 - When Will I be Enlightened?  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: 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 This Discussion?"

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.

A: The way 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 of functioning that sustains abiding inner silence far beyond all fluctuations of mind and body. This is a permanently 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 significant difference.

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 speculating about 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 out.

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 arrived."

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 120.

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 those 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.

For 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 stillness in 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.

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Note: 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.

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