The characteristics of enlightenment:

The silence of peace: a profound sense of peace envelops the person due to the absence of the rational verbal mindset. The mind goes quiet because of this lack, and this space is recognized as being always there. Words flow through the mind but do not disturb this peace.

Presence: An incredible amount of ‘present moment awareness’ due to an inclination to remain in the present, although it seems that the mind is able to utilize memory and can think of in terms of the future, it sees no need to do so.

Authentic  Spontaneousness: due to the amount of presence,  it seems like a ‘filter’ is gone in the mind. Contrary to what people believe, emotions are felt more fully, and they are embodied more throughout the whole being…but they also are easily dropped, because any reaction is a reaction to “what is,” and reality does not need to be fought against, being the self-contraction. Actions are taken as necessary.

Dissolution of boundaries: the subject/ object duality between viewer and viewed is transcended, and there is revealed that there is no difference at all between “viewer and viewed.” The known and knower are one.

Absence of “Me” or “I”-  this is the big one, often described as the loss of the ego. We may find the things that we used to describe ourselves were illusionary, and that no concepts can stand for who we are. Paradoxically, an identity with all of life results also, because the boundaries of “ourselves” (our awareness limited to this body) is seen through.

Ex. Almost every realized spiritual teacher.

In enlightenment, there is “no person” that wakes up. It is seen as enlightenment waking itself up.

Or as I like to say sometimes—it’s enlightenment that is enlightened. It is not the “me” that is enlightened. It is not the[concept of a] person that is enlightened. It is enlightenment that is enlightened. That may be hard to understand until one experiences it for oneself, but of course, all of spirituality is like that. Everything must be verified for and in oneself.”  -Adyashanti

Combined seeing/hearing/moving/ tasting etc. – because there is no filter on awareness, we see and hear and feel at the same time.

It may not be full awakening:  Satori, momentary glimpses of a non-dual state, are temporary. They aren’t  “permanent” awakening. Although our awareness is always present, the realization and abiding in nonduality, isn’t always there. There may be more and more experiences that dissolve the boundaries of ourselves. Satori is often mistake for abiding enlightenment, even by people who undergo it.

"It’s rare when someone’s initial awakening ends up in abiding awak... –Adyashanti, The End of Your World.

Remembrance of Past lives: Once a person awakens, a remembrance of their past lives can be revealed to them. This isn’t always the case, but sometimes a person remembers their past lives. Reincarnation is well known in eastern countries, and was believed by early Christianity. Small children sometimes remember their past lives before the ego develops fully later in life, and people have remembered them in hypnosis. [See also the books Soul Survivor by Bruce Leininger and books by Brian Weiss. See also the film Unmistaken Child]

Ex. Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, Isira Sananda, Dr. Hawkins, Adyashanti

“The skeptic that I was did not want to believe anything about previous lives,” he said. I was not the kind to believe in anything of that kind. I was not somebody who would even enter a temple. I was not somebody who believed anything I could not see or understand. I followed up on all the memories that came to me. I went to the places I recalled from previous lifetimes. I met people and did much skeptical analysis of all the revelations that were coming to me. What I did remember was clearer than daylight, but my logical mind would not accept it. I had to go through the whole process of verifying it.” – Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev

Awakened intuition:  An intuition can develop, that reveals to us a valuable source of information. More of a space where ideas are “felt” and known, rather than simply verbally analyzed. Can also be described as the “soul’s knowingness,  connection to Source” etc. Can also be developed without awakening.

Things can be “seen through” or felt as if they are transparent and luminous: This is what Judith Blackstone says. Can also be the basis of Buddhist “emptiness”  of phenomenon.

For example, if we look at a table, we will see the table with all of its weight, color, and texture, and at the same time, we will be aware that the table is “transparent.” It appears to be pervaded by –or made of-luminous space” –Judith Blackstone

Called the “luminous void” by Ted Biringer

Psychic powers- does not have to accompany awakening, also called siddhas, these levels of energy or concentration can be developed without awakening. An impersonal effect of a person’s energy.

A person’s degree of consciousness can be increased after awakening, and thus can be said to “ripen” but there is no “person” who guides the process, rather it is due to karmic propensities and is an impersonal process.

It is not about trying to “be” another person…it is about knowing the inherent potentiality of our own awareness, and embodying and manifesting that in our own life. The true Guru is the Self in the individual, but others and spiritual teachings can help provide a mirror for our awareness. Our own understanding can also be put into our own words.

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Here is two videos of two people who seem relatively new to enlightenment. The full videos can be seen on youtube.

Awakening can often be confused by the pre/trans fallacy

Transrational response: Everyone is enlightened [yet there is a profound sense of peace and love here]. It doesn’t matter, because there is complete acceptance. I don’t need to do anything [because each person will discover this for themselves] yet I will continue help others remember and awaken to their true nature.

Rational response: There is a such a thing as buddhas, or “there is no such thing as buddhas.” It’s probably strictly a biological phenomenon. It can be worthwhile to pursue because of the practical benefits and lessoning the ego. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not. I need to do something.

Irrational response: We’re all enlightened…[so it really doesn’t mean anything.] These are just myths and stories. I will continue to project and remain a victim of my own thinking and interpretations. I will continue to remain in guilt, fear, and confusion because of my ego. I don’t need to do anything.
“He went there one afternoon and at about three o’clock, he parked his motorcycle and sat down on a big rock that had a stunted purple berry tree growing in its crevice. His eyes were open as he sat there, but something began to happen to him. Suddenly he did not know what was him and what was not him. “All my life I had thought, this is me,” he said pointing to himself. “But now the air I was breathing, the rock on which I was sitting, the atmosphere around me—everything had become me.

The more I say about this, the crazier it will sound because what was happening is indescribable. What had become me had become so enormous, it was everywhere. I thought this lasted a few minutes, but when I came to my normal sense, it was about seven thirty in the evening. My eyes were open, the sun had set, and the sky was dark. I was fully aware, but what I had considered to be myself until that moment had disappeared.

Here I was, sitting on a rock, and the tears were flowing to the point where my shirt was wet. I was wildly ecstatic, although I did not know what was happening to me. When I applied my logical mind, the only thing I could tell was that I was losing my balance. That was all my mind could tell me. I did not know anything about spiritual experiences. I had not been brought up in any kind of spiritual traditions. I had been fed with European philosophy: Dostoevsky, Camus, Kafka, and the like.

“Of course, I grew up in the sixties, in the time of the Beatles and blue jeans. Those were the things I knew, and here I was exploding into something completely beyond my ability to grasp. I didn’t know what it was, but it was so beautiful I didn’t want to lose it.”

About six days after this incident on Chamundi Hill, Sadguru said, he experienced timelessness again. He was sitting at the dinner table with his family for what he thought was a minute or two, but in reality, he was there seven hours, fully aware, though his old familiar self was not there. Everything else was there.

This timeless, bodiless phenomenon happened again and again with more and more frequency, and each time it happened, he neither slept nor ate for many days. One stretch was thirteen days. He did not know what this was; he did not have a name for it.

Then people began to say, “Oh, he is in Samadhi,” and they put garlands around his neck and touched his feet. Some wanted to know things such as what the future held for them or when their daughters would be married. He had no words to describe this.

Everything about him began to change. The way he perceived and experienced life changed dramatically. Even his physical body changed—the shape of his eyes, the timbre of his voice, his body structure. The changes were so dramatic that the people around him could clearly see he was undergoing some kind of major transformation. After about eight weeks, the Samadhi state became an enduring reality. Then he continually saw everyone and everything as part of himself.

After knowing and experiencing the ecstatic state of all-inclusiveness that had become continuous in him, witnessing other people go about unrealized in painfully limiting ways even though they had the same possibility within him, brought him constantly to tears of compassion. These tears of compassion slowly evolved into a resolve to strive beyond all personal limitations and comfort in offering this possibility to as many people as possible." - Midnights with the mystic

I'm sorry if I sound preachy Marty...'s just that I would like to discuss things like "enlightenment" or nondual perspectives, or things like "spirituality" in a rational manner and Integral manner, without some people's snide comments, or anger towards these issues. I would just like to share what I know or what I've learned...and be able to share it with a community of like minded people. I don't think that anyone is "better" than anyone else...nor do I think a person's self worth is based upon any "doings".

It's hard when people wouldn't even like to engage in conversation without snide comments, or aren't even interested in these issues. But isn't Integral about discussing some of these issues...along with science and other aspects of reality?

I think we can celebrate the mundane...and happiness is appreciation... of the "mundane" or of the sacred. I think a curiousity develops towards these issues, and of our own development the further we see these connections....and the connections between our own lives. And I like your insights on the threads you commented on.

I also think that people naturally want to express and help show others this peace of mind...else why would people even talk about it...or show it to others?

No...I'm not" enlightened"...nor does it mean that I don't always get angry... I do practice meditation, along with following my own path towards spiritual development. I just want to express my own opinions here...the same as you.
We've wondered in the past if the notion of enlightenment is even appropriate in the context of postmetaphysics. See our prior discussion here for context.
well, integral theory certainly favors enlightenment over western notions of salvation........jesus,jesus,jesus, universalism anyone? and i ain't talking about no skydaddy zak!
Wow, you guys really did talk alot about enlightenment, lol. I can probably talk more about it once I finish reading all of it...

I was trying to tie in "enlightenment" or nonduality, or however you want to talk about it with a biological process, thus universalizing it, and not needing to depend on language. (As you saw on the second video, the woman has trouble with defining it in language or in terms that the interviewer can understand.)

As you can see from this video (I'm sure you've seen it before...
Jill Bolte Taylor's experience, in which she has a stroke and the left side of her brain "shuts down" so to speak. Although this is a simplified version (the left and right do much of the same tasks) it illustrates my point that enlightenment has "characteristics" of a right brain functioning.

Let me just say this....before anyone starts throwing stumbling blocks in another's way. I am not saying that Jill Bolte taylor is enlightened. Her experiences are different from enlightenment ( and really, we shouldn't go around saying that all enlightened people are having strokes.) Enlightenment is different from strokes and from epilepsy, although they share some characteristics in common. Jill Bolte taylor couldn't do anything for herself, and her right side was paralyzed. It illustrates the point though, that I am trying to make. That enlightenment is based on a biological phenonemon of right brain awareness.

Look at the characteristics of enlightenment, based on actual living examples, instead of getting lost in the definitions of scholars and old texts (although those are important too). A profound silence of the mind because the verbal content has ceased, or isn't primarily predominant. A renewed sense of presence because the the time based ego belief has disappeared. The illusion of boundaries have disappeared, because the mental categories, which keep separate "things" including our identity (and really we aren't separate on the quantum level) has disappeared. It can be said "we're all enlightened" because we all have a right brain or have access to this awareness. I also believe meditation studies have shown that there is predominantly less activity on the left side of the analytical brain. There is also, I believe, a surge though, in the left-prefrontal cortex. My theory is that either enlightenment is either sort of a right-brain predominance...or that it involves a holistic synergistic effect in the whole brain. In the same way we can say that enlightenment is always there...and at the same time, it is an emergent of consciousness.

Nor does enlightened experiences depend solely on meditation. There are plenty of examples of people who didn't meditate, and yet they became enlightened. Ramana Maharashi, when he was a little boy, had an experience where time stopped, and he was unaware of himself, and lay in an ant pile for days before someone found him, (consider also the story above). Enlightenment can happen in the midst of our deepest despairs too. Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie, along with David Hawkins, were profoundly in a deep depression...until the process of their left-brain "died" and they experienced a profound sense of peace. Now, they still have their left-brains...but a process in their mind has "switched" and their awareness is more of a right brain inclusive dominance now.

And let me make another thing clear too. I am not trying to tie enlightenment solely in to biology. I believe that there may be non-local effects, or subtle energies, that go on. Hopefully when quantum computing comes of age (it is already happening), then we will know more about the effects of quantum biology in the brain. I also believe these subtle energy fields affect people too. There are tons of examples in which a person's mind "goes silent" or they become permeated with bliss around an enlightened figure. It is my belief that there are subtle energies that affect the participant, they aren't all due to a figure's charisma.

lol. Thanks andrew! Although I don't claim to be "skydaddy zak" you should know that there are several ways of interpreting Jesus...and no, I ain't trying to "convert" anyone to Jesus, lol. How ridiculus! What does it matter if I think Jesus was enlightened, or if I think Christianity can be reinterpreted, hopefully in more positive terms?

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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