“Enlightenment is, in the end, nothing more than the natural state of being”. Adyashanti
This quote from American spiritual teacher and author Adyashanti highlights that enlightenment is an attainable state for us all. It is not something we have to seek for. In my experience though, we do need to train our mental muscles to embrace the qualities that enlightened people embody. And that means practice!
Below I have put together a list of the mental traits of enlightened masters: individuals such as Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and living masters such as Eckhart Tolle, Mother Amma and Gangaji. In this short summary, I have given a series of suggestions on how we can do our best to work towards these hallmakrs if we want to evolve and grow towards Enlightenment through our lifetime.Here are my ideas:
- The ability to live in the present moment
These people are able to remain in mindful awareness of each moment, each now, without resistance to it. They do not judge their experience of each moment as good or bad. It just is. And when a thought comes about the past or the future, they let it go. Does this mean they don’t plan for the future? No. It means they plan or think from a place that is centred in the present.
To practice this state of mindful awareness, recognise that each now is a paradox: infinitely short and yet containing the fullness of the moment. Each present moment includes causes from the past that have created it, as well as causes that are influencing the future. There is a totality to it.
Imagine too, bringing your mindfulness into a slower motion: Sense the moment arrive, be, and then pass away. Be aware of letting each moment go, not wanting to hold onto it. It is one continuous now.
And one lovely benefit: The more we dwell in the present moment, neurologically the easier it is to feel a sense of Oneness with all things. Another hallmark of Enlightened people.
- The personality is integrated
Our personalities, or egos, are made up of many different parts, often called sub-personalities. Each part has its own goals and agendas. Often these differing internal agendas are in conflict. Each part tussling with other parts, wanting different outcomes. Enlightened people rest in awareness. As the observer, the witness. They remain objective, above the tussling parts, sensing their mind as a whole. They are unaffected by both inner and outer conflict. Letting a Higher Wisdom dictate their choices.
Practice being in this place of awareness, above the differing parts of your personality. Bring awareness to being with your mind as a whole which simply ‘is’. This helps you get an inner knowing of its True nature. When working with the breath, sense breathing as a whole body rather than focusing on separate areas that are influenced by the breath. Imagine every part of your being involved with the breath.
Also, see all the sights around you as part of the whole picture of your vision. Let go of a focus on specific things. See the completeness of the picture. And, listen to the sounds you hear as the synergy of an orchestra of sound rather than individual noises that you demarcate mentally. Lastly, rest in open awareness of your mind. Notice your thoughts, your feelings and the slight gap between them, all as part of the bigger landscape of your whole, unified mind.
- A sense of oneness with all of life
Our personalities view each person, animal, bird or plant as separate from us. There is an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality that produces blame and the feeling of good guys and bad guys in our world. Enlightened people view all sentient beings as connected through the greater web of life. There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’, just ‘we’. They see the material universe as a complete, unified energy.
To work with this aspect of evolution, be in nature without an inner dialogue about what you are seeing. Feel the energy within the plants, the trees and the animals that is causing them to pass through the complete cycle of their life span. Look up at the sky and imagine the vaster dimensions of the Universe to which you are inextricably connected. Also remember that things change, but their nature does not. Try to regard reality impersonally. See its bigger picture. Its illusory nature. Do your best to reduce your sense of I and open to an understanding of we, connectedness.
4. A sense of Oneness with the Creator or a Transcendent Reality
We often think of a transcendent reality as being above us. Up in the heavens, outside our reach. We perceive God as a being in the sky looking down on us, either bringing us good fortune or retribution for our wrong doings. Enlightened people believe the transcendent, or God, is within them. Deep within the mind. And they have a sense of connection to that energy at all times in the knowledge that it is their Truth.
All religious and spiritual traditions are ultimately guiding us to a sense of Oneness with the Creator. Whether the route you take to that Oneness is through prayer, meditation or ritual, it is important to accept that the Transcendent reality is within us all. Secure, deep within our minds. So in meditation practice imagine gradually dropping down within the mind, below the turbulence of thought, to that still, quiet place within.
An image I often use in meditation workshops is an image of a beautiful lake. Imagine you are on the surface of the lake, and then gradually, slowly, sink down into the water/your mind like a diver would descend to the bottom of the lake. Allow yourself to go down to that place, deep within that is peace, contentment and love. Here is the place of Oneness with the Creator and your True Self. If your mind tries to bring you back up to the surface of the lake, affirm, ‘I rest in stillness’ or ‘I rest in love’ and gently sink back down again. Even if you only sense descending a little bit, it still takes you out of the realm of conscious thought and towards the quietude that is your True nature.
- Omission of a calm, loving and radiant energy
Enlightened people look no different from you and I. Whereas we omit a vibration that reflects our ‘smallness’, they omit an energy that reflects their magnificence, grandeur and ‘light-filled-ness’. This energy does not come from a sense of superiority but, instead, from a recognition of their True nature. A nature we all share. And it is this that makes them magnetic to others. Not Facebook, Twitter or a PR team!
Whilst doing all of the above will certainly lead you to omitting the magnificent nature of Enlightened people, there is one last ingredient that is essential to this radiation of our True Self. Enlightened people recognise their True nature and they acknowledge the True nature of others. They don’t see the person, the personality, the behaviours, both good and bad. They see the Truth behind the outer: The aspect of the other that is changeless, formless and eternal. That is pure, untainted by life events and whole, without need of healing or evolution. They focus on, and relate to, only this in everyone. And this acknowledgement of another’s inner calm, love and radiance is what makes those qualities shine forth from them.
Enlightenment is, in truth, a natural desire for us all. If you want to accomplish that innate desire though your life time, you might use these suggestions to support your own personal growth and development. And whilst doing so accepting the paradox that on one level you are already Enlightened, and on another you have a long way to go!
I leave you with parting remarks from Japanese Zen master Hakuin: Pointing directly to the heart-mind, see your own nature and become Buddha.