Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
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.