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Enlightenment in the Context of Material Life
The Cycle of Material Life
Our life and our habits determine the direction of our life. We are driven by motives, inspiration and desires which we try to fulfill as human beings. There are three levels of human affairs that drive the way they operate within the world. They are Acquisition of Knowledge, Developing Intent and lastly, Action. When man is born, depending on the load of his actions, intentions and desires of past lives he attains a body and takes birth into a particular family. As soon as he is born the inner faculty starts acquiring knowledge and manipulating information depending on his surroundings and inner alignment. This also sets his inner biases as he proceeds with his life. As Knowledge acquisition builds up, there is desire to acquire and grow. The mental faculties such as intellect and memory are applied towards grasping all that is necessary for getting hold of things, people and circumstances worked towards one’s advantage, towards fulfilling one’s desires driven by acquired knowledge. Thus action is initiated. When action is taken up, it triggers another knowledge acquisition cycle thereby the same cycle of Knowledge Acquisition- Desire to possess- Action towards fulfillment of Desire is repeated endlessly creating a vortex of energy that consumes the individual. Intentions and Actions refuel each other thereby proliferating material life over many lifetimes.
Initiation of Enlightenment
Only when there is a dent created, due to realization that material life is going nowhere can the living entity break away from this endless cycle of Knowledge- Desire-Effort. When consciousness has developed enough momentum to break free from the compulsive cycle which has been strengthened through practice of Material life through endless lifetimes, shall one be encouraged to escape habitual patterns of birth and death. It is interesting to note that a living entity can get inspired or motivated towards spiritual life only after this fundamental realization that material life is taking one nowhere, that material life has not been able to provide everlasting peace, harmony and bliss that the soul has been pining for, through endless lifetimes. The journey towards enlightenment can begin only after man realizes this truth from the core of his being. Enlightenment is not attainment of any sort, it is the consummation of the process of release from the three compulsions of Knowledge acquisition, Desire cultivation and Action towards desire fulfillment. When this cycle is broken by means of an intense desire to break free, the mind starts seeking inspiration towards elimination of the seeds of materialistic desires accumulated over many lifetimes. This is when true seeking begins. The culmination of this seeking is what is known as Enlightenment.
Goal of Spirituality
When the mind becomes saturated by materialistic thoughts, actions and emotions, one starts aspiring for Enlightenment. The desire for enlightenment is the deepest aspect of one’s core. The wish for release from material bondage is closest to the purity of Awareness. As one starts following seers, sages and starts reversing one’s materialistic goals, it can be said that the pursuit towards Enlightenment has truly begun. The wish for Enlightenment cannot be artificially created or induced. No amount of convincing or selling of the concept of enlightenment can bring results if the desire for the world has not be forsaken as one’s voluntary choice. Association of saints or other Enlightened Masters may help in realization of the true goal of spirituality, which is Enlightenment, however this can never guarantee the change of heart of anyone who continues to be enamored or ensnared by the material powers of Nature. The presence of Seers and Sages are important for seekers who are ready for Enlightenment but it is almost impossible to influence people who are driven by materialistic goals stoked by ambition and desire.
What is not Enlightenment
Trying to escape the pressures of the material world or finding an escape mechanism from the material world cannot be considered as a thirst for enlightenment. Spiritual study or being able to meditate for hours cannot qualify for enlightenment. Enlightenment is not an external demeanor or talk about spirituality. Spiritual discipline may not be directly responsible for initiating Enlightenment. There are people who eagerly pursue Enlightenment and may talk with absolutely command on the subject of Enlightenment. They may be able to state awakening symptoms and may even have undergone certain symptoms that may allude towards enlightenment and yet it cannot be definitely gauged that the process of enlightenment has even begun. Some people may undergo kundalini awakening or may reflect certain spiritual experiences. Enlightenment as a state of being is very difficult to ascertain. A man who is truly enlightened does not feel the need to be enlightened or even endeavor in any particular direction, and at the same time holds no specific interest or intention towards material life. The state of equanimity is a hall mark of a truly enlightened sage. Factors such as mindfulness, awakened inner intelligence etc becomes a natural way of life for the enlightened one and yet there is no specific mental grasping on any object of the world. The mind of the enlightened master is released from all tendencies to own and grasp.
Factors indicating that a person is Enlightened
The following can be considered as indications of Enlightenment and yet there may be certain exceptions to the following which cannot be ascertained about certain enlightened beings.
An enlightened being has no personality.
The enlightened being has a very malleable persona and can assume a persona that is suited to a situation. The inner aspect of equanimity shall exist unhampered even if the enlightened being takes up a temporary persona to suit the situation. Entire life of an enlightened being is role-playing so that it is worked for the betterment of others or society. Yet the Enlightened being does not feel obligated to serve anyone. His actions simply reflect his being. There is no taking of positions for selfish needs. The mood of an enlightened being is spontaneous and indicative of purity of intention driven by the core of the being. There are no frills attached.
Enlightened beings are motiveless
Although enlightened beings are seen as highly involved and active people, Karma Yoga is the natural state of existence of such beings. They work and toil to satisfy the higher purpose of existence and are devoted to causes which are greater than themselves. Having said that, they do not work for petty ego-satisfaction and do not direct their intentions and work towards self-centered goals. They work only because life-energy flows within them. Their work and actions are pure reflections of life-energy and intense awareness. Welfare of all is the natural state of enlightened beings.
Enlightened beings have no hard coded conceptions
They are driven by the power of the soul. It is not possible to exist like a cloud in a world that is driven by matter and materialistic population. Hence enlightened beings may sometimes appear to be motivated by a cause. However they are causeless in their approach and do not carry hard coded conceptions about people, situations or time. They are not worried if their work does not yield any result. They are also not overtly pleased if their work yields rich dividends. They are free of all conceptions and ideologies. They are internally aligned to Truth and hence they do not show signs of bias or preferences of any special kind. They take life as it comes without being too concerned about the past and are not too curious about future.
Enlightened Beings have a Developed Insight
The striking characteristic of an enlightened being is their uncanny ability to see through things and grapple the Truth behind a phenomenon. Enlightened beings are not driven by personal opinions but are blessed with a highly developed insight through which they are able to unravel several mysteries enshrouding realistic situations or conceptions. Their assessment of situations is nearly perfect and are not prone to confusion that normally clouds clarity of the common folks. Since they are not opinionated, they are able to predict future or are able to read any person like a book. They are blessed with the divine distinction of seeing through hidden motives and agenda of other beings.
Enlightened beings can be highly unpredictable
Given that enlightened beings have no hard coded personality, their ability to mold into different personas based on time, place and circumstances make them highly unpredictable. One of the other reasons for being very unpredictable is that they are not motivated towards any worldly attainments. They may change their short time goals dramatically because they are not attached to any activity they may be currently engaged with. Someone may be fooled to believe that enlightened beings have strong likes and dislikes. People fail here, to interpret the actions and intentions of a perfectly enlightened being. An enlightened being is never anybody’s friend nor anybody’s enemy.
Enlightenment is a Matter of Supreme Grace.
All said, Enlightenment cannot be pursued as a goal. One can only be ready for it. When someone is eager to free oneself from material bondage and wishes to enter the pure spiritual domain, one may engage with spiritual practices or follow an enlightened master. Association with scriptures, sages and seers are eye-openers on the spiritual path. However Grace and the Will of the Supreme is the final authority towards transmitting enlightenment into a practitioner’s life. Spiritual Practice and rigor is preparation. During the course of preparation, Nature poses many tests, trials and tribulations on the path of the seeker. The final crown of Enlightenment is placed on the head of a true aspirant only by the Supreme Being. This Grace cannot be bought, procured or demanded. It shall come when it is right time, when it is apt, the way the Supreme Being decides. Having said that, Spiritual Practice is non-negotiable and has to be taken up by people who are on the spiritual path. Yet Spiritual Practice cannot decide when Enlightenment can come. It is like this. If one wishes to have the vision of the most breath-taking sunrise that is visible from the edge of a certain cliff that is miles away from your place of stay, it becomes mandatory that you start preparing for the hike towards the cliff hours before the actual sunrise happens. You have to be present at the cliff very early but the sunrise shall happen only when it has to happen. You, starting from home much before the sunrise is the preparation for that breath-taking sight. You are at the cliff, no doubt; but now, you have to patiently wait, for the sun to rise.