Enlightenment FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Enlightenment FAQ

Enlightenment FAQ – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about spiritual awakening, transpersonal development, being and becoming, self-realisation, enlightenment, life after enlightenment, duality and nonduality.

Enlightenment FAQ

What is spiritual awakening?

Spiritual awakening is the gradual unfolding and development of our consciousness, where more of our essential nature emerges and expresses itself. Our personality is refined through conscious awareness and “inner work” on our ego structures. Our soul develops through meditation and discovering, embodying and expressing essential qualities. So awakening is the result of actively working on the ego structures that hold us back AND actively developing the essential qualities that carry us forward.

How does spiritual awakening happen?

Spiritual awakening is awakening to our spiritual nature, but in order to do that we must awaken from our ego nature. The ego is a tool that the Self uses to develop its consciousness, just as a book is a tool that a reader uses to develop knowledge. There is nothing a book can do to make the reader more knowledgeable, likewise there is nothing the ego can do to make the Self more evolved. Inner work is not about making changes happen, it is about creating opportunities for healing, reintegration and growth to occur naturally. The ego’s desire to awaken is futile and impossible because its dream can never become reality – we have to awaken from the dream in order to see reality.

How can I spiritually awaken?

The journey of spiritual awakening is two-fold:
Becoming Self: This is the psychological/personal aspect of the path. It involves dissolving the psychological material that block the unfoldment and expression of our true nature.
Being Self: This is the spiritual/transpersonal aspect of the path. It involves aligning with our super-conscious and actively expressing our true nature. This develops our association with our true-Self, so that someday we will come to realise that this is who we truly are.

What is Self-realisation?

Most people are suffering from mistaken identity – taking ourself to be someone we are not. The goal of psycho-spiritual development is to correct this mistaken identity; not to strengthen or improve our false identity. The self-that-we-think-we-are does not ontologically exist; it is a mental creation or figment of our imagination. The self-that-we-think-we-are cannot awaken – we have to awaken from that false-self in order to realise our true-Self. Self-realisation can occur at enlightenment; in which case we see through our false-self and simultaneously realise our true-Self. Or it can occur prior to enlightenment, in which case we see through our false-self and (temporarily) experience “no-self”.

What is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment is our soul experientially realising its own ontological presence (or beingness) and unique essential nature. Enlightenment occurs when the Self transcends the personality to centre itself in the soul, at which time the Self instantly and fully realises itself (whether it was partially realised before or not). Enlightenment is full and permanent Self-realisation. It is waking up to a new and higher level of reality which allows us to see things from a completely different perspective that isn’t limited by concepts.

Is enlightenment achievable in this lifetime?

Well, it all depends on your current level of development… Enlightenment in this lifetime is unlikely for most people because it requires such a highly developed consciousness that very few are close to attaining. A lot of dedicated inner work is required over dozens of lifetimes to raise our consciousness to the level where enlightenment becomes possible. But the work we put in now will pay great dividends in the future, so please don’t be disheartened.

What if I don't attain enlightenment in this lifetime?

We don’t have to wait until we become enlightened to know freedom (that is just a false belief). Freedom and peace come from accepting “what is”, including our ego, our story and our flaws. Acceptance doesn’t mean passively rolling over every time we encounter an obstacle in life. Life’s difficulties are not obstacles on the path – they are the path – they are the challenges through which our consciousness learns and develops. There will always be ups and downs in life, but the less we resist the downs, the sooner we will be up again. True freedom is having no concern for personal results. Whether we succeed or not on a personal level is irrelevant, because all experiences are successes on the spiritual level. We will not achieve what we truly want until we drop all personal investment in becoming awakened, enlightened, happy, fulfilled or whatever. The only thing that needs to change for you to be who-you-really-are is your perspective!

Is enlightenment sudden or gradual?

Re-enlightenment is a sudden and spontaneous process that usually occurs the late teens or early twenties. People who have experienced this may give the impression that enlightenment does not require working on ourself, but unfortunately that’s not the case. For first-timers, enlightenment is a process that gradually builds to a profound crescendo.

What is life like after enlightenment?

Most people think that enlightenment will be something different and amazing (e.g. peace, bliss and unity), but we are already these things because they are our true nature. When we rediscover our true nature we realise that these qualities have been present all along, we just didn’t notice them. So yes, enlightenment is quite different in some respects, but it is also very normal and familiar. Our new sense of Self is far subtler than our old (false) sense of self, so much so that we may initially believe we have no self. Finding and realising our life’s purpose becomes less important as our concept of a personal self and ego-driven goals fade away. Without an ego-self to defend and bolster, we can relax into our being, which results in a relaxed confidence and a general sense that everything is ok. A sense of direct knowing arises, which means we no longer need anyone else to validate our experiences, beliefs or sense of self.

What is duality?

The true-Self has forgotten who it really is and believes it is the false-self. The false-self stands between the true-Self and objective reality. The false-self stands between the true-Self and its experience of reality, so there is no direct experiencing. There is separation between the true-Self and reality – hence duality.

What is nonduality?

After enlightenment, when the false-self no longer present, the true-Self can perceive reality directly. There is nothing between the true-Self and its experience of reality, so the true-Self can directly experience reality – hence unity or non-duality.