By Remez Sasson
Tom was sitting on the floor, in front of an Indian guru, in an ashram in India. He was experiencing a sort of immense inner happiness, which he has never experienced before. His mind was calm and relaxed, and his thoughts were not as frantic as they used to be.
He was sure that what he was experiencing was going to change his life. Though it was a very hot day, he hardly felt the heat, and kept looking into the eyes of his guru, oblivious to his surroundings. Suddenly a feeling of great bliss began streaming throughout his entire body and mind, making him feel light and slightly giddy. He was experiencing a sense of vastness and endlessness, and was so content and happy that he wished this state would never end. It was difficult for him to think. His mind, as if stopped working, but his consciousness became vibrant and alive. This lasted for about half an hour, and then gradually, he started returning to his ordinary consciousness. Tom was now certain he became enlightened, and that he has realized his true Self. Some time later, a thought started rising in his mind, whispering to him that he could become a spiritual teacher, due to his spiritual experience. But can he become a teacher? Has he really attained this so called "Realization of the Self"?
Is there really such a thing called enlightenment? And if there is, what is it? Has Tom really realized his Self? For a short time, due to his earnest desire, and the sense of euphoria of being in the vicinity of the guru, Tom experienced a different kind of consciousness. It has not yet become permanent. The memory of the experience will persist, making him eager to repeat it. Yet, the habits of the mind cannot change overnight. He had a glimpse.
The veil over the vast ever-present Consciousness was lifted momentarily, because the mind has become silent for some time, letting him experience this inner state. What does Tom has to do now? Has he reached the final Spiritual Realization? Has he achieved spiritual awakening? No, the real work begins now. Concentration power, which is the power to hold the attention on one single object or subject, is required. If it is strong that is fine. If not, it can certainly be improved by appropriate exercises, some of which can be found at this web site. When the concentration ability is well developed, it is much more easier to silence the mind. When the mind is silent, thoughts do not distract, and worries do not trouble.
When there are no clouds, the bright beautiful sun is seen. When there are no thoughts, the ever-present sweetness of the Self is experienced. Throughout the ages mystics, yogis, saints and philosophers have been seeking the answer to the riddle of life. Many believe that enlightenment - spiritual awakening is the answer. Nowadays, it seems that there is a tendency to seek instant enlightenment, like instant coffee, and to interpret various inner experiences as enlightenment or spiritual awakening. The mind seeks and invents all kinds of theories. It works with concepts and words. It discusses and analyzes everything and is restricted to its own content. To every answer there is another question. Thoughts are endless, and any theory is only a mental invention, invented by the mind. What are called facts, are also in the realm of the mind. The mind can find reasons and excuses for everything and call them facts.
Whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not, the mind rules your life and is your master. You think, arrive to conclusions, interpret, and react to life through its filters, habits and tendencies. Techniques Think and meditate about the mind, and how it involves you in all kinds of schemes and desires. Try to watch how the mind works, and how thoughts arise. For a while become an observer of your mind and its thoughts. Follow the way they arise, move and make way to other thoughts. Pay attention how they entice you to think them. Now you have done something you may have never done before. You have thought about your thoughts, you have viewed the mind from the outside, as if you were watching someone else's mind. Without realizing it, you have watched the mind as if you were separate from it. Wow! Think about it! Now I ask you, who are you, the mind and its thoughts, or the one watching the mind? If you have followed the above advice, then you have made a great discovery: You are not the mind. You are the one who is watching it. It is possible to develop the habit of looking at the mind as if from the outside, as if it is not yours. Try not to be involved in the thoughts and desires that arise, and at least in theory, separate yourself from the mind.
Just convince yourself that it is not you. Do it often, until you really start to see that you are separate from the mind, which is some kind of a power you can use. Each day devote some time watching how thoughts enter your mind. Don't try to think, just follow their movement dispassionately. Watch how they come, try to claim your attention, grow, then wither, and new thoughts arise. By experience you will come to appreciate how great and useful is this way of treating the mind. If your concentration ability is strong enough, it will be easier and faster to reach the conclusion that you are not the mind. If you treat your thoughts with indifference, you will experience inner silence. In this silence there is happiness, power, content and the certainty that nothing can harm or disturb you anymore. By "you", I do not mean your body, I mean you, your consciousness that at this moment of inner silence you consider as yourself. You now know without the slightest doubt that you are not your thoughts or mind, but something bigger and vaster.
A different kind of Consciousness When there are no thoughts, there is no vacuum. There is a feeling of beginning-less and endless consciousness and awareness. Not awareness of something, but just awareness. You can get some idea of what I mean, if you remember how you felt in a completely dark and quiet room. You could see and hear nothing, yet you were conscious. It was some sort of lack of sensory perception, yet you had full consciousness. Not consciousness of something, but just awareness of yourself. It is the same here, but vaster. It is not the body that enters a peculiar and different state. It is neither the mind, because it is silent. At this moment there are no concepts or thoughts in the mind. As there are no thoughts, this consciousness cannot be an illusion, as it is the mind that creates illusion, and it is not present now. This consciousness is not something new. It is not something strange, peculiar, unnatural or supernatural. It the substratum of our life, but we never pay it attention. We let the mind rule and create our life. You may not accept it, but what we call life, is actually a dream, a sort of a movie weaved by the mind. We never stop to think and examine the mind and its thoughts. We have got accustomed to live in the mind, rely on it, and accept whatever it presents us. This Consciousness you are reading about is real, eternal, one and indivisible. Due to ignorance and the way the mind works, we consider ourselves as a separate organism with body and thoughts. From the standpoint of the Indian philosophy Advaita-Vedanta all is illusion-Maya. It is only the One great Universal Consciousness that exists. While sleeping and dreaming, we see a world. This life we call awakening is also a dream, but a longer one.
When we stop our thoughts and quieten the mind, we find out who we are and always were. When the coverings and sheets of the mind are removed, we see reality as it really is. Further Steps Now here is another strange suggestion. Try to watch the watcher of the mind, the witness. Try to find who is it that is looking at the mind. You are watching your thoughts. You see them pass by. Every now and then you find yourself immersed in your thoughts, and then you bring yourself back to watching the thoughts. Try to find out who this watcher is. Do not think or use words, just try in an intuitive way to find the watcher. The next step will be to transfer your awareness into the watcher of the witness of the mind. Experience and intuition will show you the way. These are not mere words, or a kind of mind acrobatics. If you go step by step you will surely realize what I mean. Stop even witnessing the mind. It is a step that may come naturally by itself, because of what you have been doing. You will feel in a natural way, that you are the silence that is experienced. Not you, as a definite, limited personality, but 'you', as an endless consciousness. You experience, or rather become, happiness, joy, power, calmness, and great inner silence. This experience can come suddenly or gradually, but to make it permanent, you have to train yourself each day, not only when alone in your room, but in all situations. The rewards are every great.
Peace of mind, happiness, great inner power, a taste of eternity and great real freedom. In this state you experience your "Inner Consciousness" constantly. Then you do not even need to watch the mind. It will then be naturally supervised by a higher awareness. Enlightenment - Spiritual Awakening So, is there such a thing as enlightenment? It is a word, a concept. The word is not important, the experience is important. Even the word "experience" is inappropriate. Experience is something that happens. It may come again or it may not. I am speaking about something permanent, not transitory. I am speaking about the realization that you are not the mind, but something vaster. In enlightenment, which is spiritual awakening, the mind, which loves to define and label everything, is not a part of this "experience", and therefore it cannot describe it properly.
Spiritual awakening, and the realization that you are not the mind dawns as you disentangle yourself from the mind. When you know first hand that you are not the mind, you realize who you are. You lift the veil of the mind and see Reality as it is. This is a state of real freedom, when events, circumstances, habits and thoughts do not disturb or affect you on the inner level, and you come to understand that your life, your true essence, is actually beyond the world of thoughts. You may continue your daily life as it is, living and acting in this world, but yet being out of this world. Read and reread this article until you truly understand the meaning. Give this subject some thought and time, and consider what it can do to your life if taken seriously. You can start walking on the spiritual path right from the point where you are now, because the Spirit has no particular place, it is everywhere. The subject of this article has been shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. This has happened because the mind that tries to describe a state it has never experienced. Each experience one has, is interpreted in accordance with previous experiences. There are always comparisons. But the mind has never experienced enlightenment, so all its theories about it are just mental concepts, which have nothing to do with the real meaning.
Enlightenment is not something to be reached, not something to be gained. It is just the removal of erroneous concepts, attitudes and thoughts. It is making the mind silent. That is all. The way is open to everyone who is willing to step on this path. You can engage in a spiritual quest, no matter whether you are living in an ashram in India, in a cave, in a monastery or in a small town or a big city. It does not matter whether you are rich or poor, single or married with children, working or retired. All you need is a strong desire, and finding some time to be alone for the inner work.
About the Author Remez Sasson is an author and blogger. He is the founder of SuccessConsciousness.com, a website and blog about self improvement and spiritual growth. Remez Sasson is the author of several life transforming books, with a wealth of information, advice and guidance.