Q.  It seems I keep reading about all sorts of mystical and psychic experiences people are having as well as those saying they are becoming enlightened. What do you think about all of this?

A.  I think it is a purely natural occurrence. These experiences come from who and what we are and should not be regarded as outside the realm of normal. Sometime parents have even been concerned that their children are having psychological issues when they talk about such experiences, but this is only because of a lack of information. All that is gradually changing through books and articles that are coming out, but unless a person goes looking for such material they won’t be exposed to it through normal educational channels. I do believe that the time will come when that will change and people will be exposed to realities that are beyond the five senses. For instance, the subject of energy healing is now being covered in some medical schools.

Q. What about the phenomena that many are calling enlightenment?  They describe the dissolution of whom they thought they were and a transcendent awareness of a different view of reality emerging.

A. More and more people are talking about such experiences. It is something that has always been happening, but today we have much better means of transmitting this information. We live in an age of books, magazines, internet, videos, TV and ease of travel that has never been available any other time in history. This has made people more aware of spiritual experiences and teachings as well are more openness to discuss such things.

In order to discuss enlightenment it is necessary to have an understanding on what composes our lives. We experience life through two major identities. One is called the True Self and has to do with our spiritual nature. It has natural qualities of goodness, happiness, joyfulness, unconditional love, lightness of being, fulfillment, kindness, generosity, a sense of being whole and complete, and having a realization of being one with everyone and everything. The other aspect of a person is referred to as the ego-personality. This is the identity most people identify themselves with. It includes all of a person’s wants and desires and has an underlying sense that it is incomplete, insecure, and disconnected. In order to cope with these characteristics it has many self-protection defenses and it manifests them through a plethora of judgments and emotional reactions.

Once these two aspects are acknowledged then we can determine where each of our responses and experiences are coming from. Let’s say for example, you find yourself angry and upset about what someone has done. You can ask yourself where is this coming from? Is it coming from my True Self or the ego-personality? The answer is obvious. Since it is not the True Self it must be coming from the ego-personality which is a false identity. At that point you can begin to dis-identify with this trait which is not the real you and in the process you automatically reveal more of the real you or True Self.

The more you progress with this process the more you find yourself awakening to the depths of the true self until it predominates as the ego-personality diminishes and is replaced. Eventually the ego-personality fades away and you are left with the True Self or soul and we then say the person has become enlightened.

Q. I’ve heard that enlightenment happens to some people suddenly and unexpectedly so how does that fit in with the process you just described?

A. It actually fits in perfectly. Enlightenment usually happens in stages. A person may have a flash realization of enlightened awareness in a few seconds but integrating and implementing the implications of that shift can take months and years, and there can be a whole sequence of awakening experiences.

What typically happens is a person has a realization of the unity of all existence. This can be triggered by a meditation practice or something happening in a person’s life that causes an epiphany. It can be quite beautiful but also quite a shock to the system because suddenly all perceptions are different from what the person has experienced in his or her lifetime up until that point. For instance the person may feel at one with everything around them and be fully in the present moment. While this can be quite euphoric it can also be disorienting. Now also add to that being so in the present moment that you cannot think of the previous moment or anything of the past, nor can you think about anything in the future including the next moment. Essentially time ceases to exist. When you are this fully in the present moment you have reached the end of time for you. It can be quite immobilizing, and take awhile to adjust to this new way.

Over time a person can either let this fade into the background of experiences or the awaking can integrate and even deepen into everyday experiences. In the case of the former a person may feel like they lost their enlightenment, and in the case of the latter they know they have changed and everything is perceived differently. The Bible refers to this as being in the world, but not of the world. It is a simultaneous awareness of non-duality while living in duality.

When people go through shifts like this the experience can be quite dramatic and when you hear them tell their story you may think that is the way it is supposed to happen. It also seems like a mysterious event that can happen unexpectedly at any time. For some it is this way, but what I have observed is more likely is there is a progressive diminishing of the ego-personality as more and more of the True Self emerges and eventually takes over. There can be notable awakening experiences along the way as each rung of the ladder of enlightenment is climbed.

Q. Is enlightenment really an experience for everyone?

A. What’s exciting to me is that this awakening seems to be able to work for just about everyone. There are degrees or levels of enlightenment and some people will feel it more than others. Because the soul is composed of a very pure spiritual light, it has all frequencies and qualities within it, and therefore it works to bring about whatever healing and transformation a person needs and desires. I believe that everyone can tap into it as I did and awaken to their soul’s presence. While everyone may not have a dramatic experience, they can, nonetheless, achieve the enlightening results. This experience is certainly one that is ready and waiting for all. As people have an awakening to their inner soul light they change their lives in ways they never imagined possible.

Q. I have a question and would appreciate if you could answer it. Without an ego or personal will, how do you live your life? How do you make decisions? How do you know what you want? How do you orientate yourself with this new being?

A. These are good and important questions which are of great concern to the ego itself because it fears that it will be eliminated through the awakening or enlightenment process. In actuality, the only things that are eliminated are negative characteristics such as negative emotions and judgments. The mind also becomes free of its adherence to stories and mythologies.

During the shift into non-duality and what is regarded as enlightenment, there is a sense of complete dissolution of all individuality; however, individuality emerges out of the experience and the non-dual backdrop integrates into everyday experience.

In addition, the restless mind becomes calm and in some cases deeply quiet. You can still make choices, but you are surrendered to the outcome and do not offer resistance. There is a deep abiding peacefulness, joyfulness, happiness, satisfaction, completion, unconditional acceptance, and love.

The mind endlessly tries to figure out what it cannot figure out and the enlightenment release of the negative ego is freedom from the tyranny of the mind. Surrendering the need to figure things out is one of the ways to arrive.

Most people think of the ego as a negative and separate entity, but this is not a clear understanding of what it is. Ancient writings describe the “Ahamkar” which is also called the ego, but it is neutral. The Ahamkar or ego or soul is the individual identity at a level above the mind created identifications. This teaching is derived from ancient Sankhya philosophy which predates all the Eastern religions. The impulse of our creation emanates from Purusha and results in the individual soul creation (ahamkar). That is who you are and is immortal. The negative perceptions of the ego will eventually wear themselves out or fade away and what you are left with is your True Self or Ahamkar.

You may have already read other articles I’ve written on the subject, but here are some links.

From the heart,
Jonathan