Replies to common fallacies about enlightenment (or: Ignorance is only a major distraction)

Introductory remarks about Self-realization

The “I” is being created constantly. If seeking Self-realization, one should clearly understand that the I is not a stable entity, it is not a given and constant being. The I is in constant change, recreating itself at every moment, and that is why it is regarded as not real. You identify with it, but this identity is not you as far as The Self goes. Experiences, hopes, dreams, ideas and feelings interact constantly and this interaction produces the “I”. Along side of this there is a tendency to identify with all this, and that tendency is the basic I-ness. Once one gets Selfrealized, this tendency vanishes and there is no longer any I-ness, or I AM-ness. The interaction of the experiences, hopes, dreams, ideas and feelings still go on, but one is no longer involved in them. This is freedom. It is Oneness with Pure Being. It is “IS-ness”, rather than “I AM-ness”. When trying to sense the I-ness, one should be aware that it is mainly a feeling of being an individual, a someone. It is not something more or less definable, like an emotion or a thought. The I-ness and the I AM-ness are two sides of the same coin, and they together make up the primal ignorance to be overcome just before entering Self-realization.

The fact is, nothing can be said about enlightenment except that it IS. The closest you can ever come to say what enlightenment is, is that it is IS-ness after you go beyond the realization that you are NOT the primal I AM-ness or the primal I-ness (which is the same). Enlightenment is not even “nothingness”, since this implies absence. Enlightenment is not something you grow into, since this implies change of something non-enlightened into something more enlightened. And you MUST realize that in enlightenment there is no longer a someone that has become something, because there is only you as the Self. And you also MUST realize that enlightenment is NOT something you get or reach or grow into, it is BEING WHO YOU ALREADY ARE PRIOR TO ANY SENSE OF I-NESS.

There is no difference between Self-realization and basic enlightenment. However, how enlightenment manifests can vary and one can therefore speak of types of enlightenment, but the basis of all enlightenment is Self-realization, which is oneness with the Self and freedom from confusing non-Self with Self.

Ignorance about the Self is not the truth, nor your real situation. It is only a major distraction.

– – –

The following misconceptions about Self-realization and enlightenment were mostly found on the internet, some in books, some came to me as emailed questions.

1. Fallacy:
We are all born to become enlightened.

Jan: Enlightened is not something you “become”. The truth is rather something like this: We are all born enlightened and we have never been anything else and simply can not be anything else. But it is truer to say: We were never born. But let’s stay with the first “truth”. Enlightenment is not something we develop or grow. Enlightenment could be said to be: Self, aware in and of itself in a non-dual oneness. This means that Self-realization is not a matter of acquiring insights, like when getting to know an object or a subject. Self is not realized in bits of information or flashes of insight or fits of ecstasy. This Self has always been your Self and always will be your Self. The problem is not “becoming” enlightened. The problem is solely liberation from identification with non-Self. And you don’t stop this by eliminating the individual things you identify with. In fact it is better to just leave objects of identification alone and focus on not identifying with them in the first place. The only way to overcome identification is to go prior to the primal identification-mechanism and prior to the primal I-ness. After repeatedly going prior to the primal identification-mechanism (and the primal I-ness), and letting awareness merge into Self, the identification-mechanism will gradually diminish and eventually vanish. Then Self simply IS. And one realizes that one has been THAT all the time and that ignorance was just a major distraction.

2. Fallacy :
Enlightenment is a brief awakening of the mind when all prejudices and discriminations are momentarily set aside, and the world around you becomes a source of wonder.

Jan: Nope. Enlightenment is none of this. Enlightenment is not “a brief” awakening, nor is it an “awakening”. First of all, enlightenment is to realize ones nature as prior to anything temporary, hence it can not in any sense be “brief”. Enlightenment is never “brief”, either it is there or it is not. You can have “brief awakenings” of many kinds, but be assured they never have anything to do with enlightenment. Second, “enlightenment” is not an awakening of “the mind”. Mind is relative (ever changing) and enlightenment is realizing your true nature as non-relative because it is a pure non-manifest nothingness-being. Thirdly “enlightenment” is not a state of “wonder”, simply because “wonder” is within the realm of duality and indeed because any “wonder” will be a condition of duality, and enlightenment is prior to duality. Nor is enlightenment in any way “wondrous”. It simply IS. Enlightenment is Pure Being, and Pure Being is unmanifest, hence enlightenment is neither “brief”, an “awakening”, “of the mind” or related to “prejudices and discriminations”. If it was “wondrous” or a matter of “wondering”, there would be duality and this is not in the nature of enlightenment.

3. Fallacy:
Recognize that enlightenment is a purely subjective experience, nobody can tell you how to become enlightened as it is your own inner journey.

Jan: Nope. Enlightenment is prior to the subject and it certainly is not an “experience” and least of all a “journey” . Enlightenment is realization of ones true nature as unmanifest and therefore in no sense a journey. The statement “nobody can tell you how to become enlightened” is a common misconception. One who is enlightened and has fully awakened Shakti, can transfer spirituality to others as easily as handing them an orange. If this fails, the problem is never that the enlightened one can’t do it, the problem always is, that the receiver either can’t receive or can’t hold what is being given. Most people are so identified that handing them real spirituality is like trying to kill a fire in the kitchen by pouring water on the roof.

4. Fallacy
Learn to recognize the little moments when you do become enlightened as they are moments you suddenly grow as a person and your brain suddenly plugs you into another part of the universe.

Jan: No. There are no “little moments” when a “you” becomes enlightened. And enlightenment is not something you “grow” into and certainly enlightenment has nothing to do with “a person” or a “brain” becoming “plugged into another part of the universe”. My above comments should suffice as comments to this also. But please, please, please grasp the fact that anything you can in any way consider to be “you as a person ” and anything you can in any way consider to be “a momentary experience” and anything you can in any way consider to be “growing” has nothing to do with enlightenment at all. Enlightenment is freedom, plain and simple. “Personal growth” is bondage within the growing ego/mind.

5. Fallacy:
Don’t go chasing enlightenment as it comes to you when you least expect it. It could be something as simple as seeing your baby walk for the first time, feeling compassion for someone, reading a book, kissing your spouse. Don’t chase it but learn to recognize it.

Jan: This stuff about “learning to recognize it in experiences” is nonsense. First of all, enlightenment is not an experience within duality, or dependent upon experiences. Secondly, enlightenment is certainly not something acquired through learning. And enlightenment has nothing to do with any kind of experience, or event, no matter how sublime or delightful. Also, enlightenment does certainly not “come to you when you least expect it and less so if you chase it”. If that was the case, then everybody in the world, except the yogis, would be enlightened. Yogis chase enlightenment with all their heart and all their mind and all their will.

6. Fallacy:
Our only obstacle keeping us from fully awakening is our mind – therefore we must stop the mind.

Jan: Nope. If you manage to stop your mind, you have accomplished nothing but stopping the mind. Enlightenment does not care if the mind is active, passive or stopped, because enlightenment has nothing to do with the mind. So the mind is certainly not “our only obstacle keeping us from fully awakening”. The mind is no obstacle at all, the real obstacle is that you identify with the mind. If you identify with your mind, and you succeed in stopping the mind, you will still be identified with a stopped mind – and will still be just as far from enlightenment as if your mind was a chatterbox. The ONLY obstacle that keeps you from enlightenment is the subtle I-ness, the identification principle, prior to mind. So concentrate on that and leave the mind alone and you will get enlightened much sooner and with less trouble. Changing the relative will never bring you into oneness with the absolute, so stop wasting time on mental gymnastics and instead step out of it all.

7. Fallacy
Ultimately, there is only one problem: the time-bound mind itself.

Jan: This is from Eckhart Tolle. Fortunately he makes far more sense elsewhere, so I am surprised he says the *ultimate* problem is the mind. No, the *ultimate* problem is identification. The mind is just the body taking care of itself, it is not a problem.

8. Fallacy
The very entry point into the ego-less state or the enlightened state is the present moment. The ego can only be transcended by accessing the present moment.

Jan: This is also from Tolle. What is wrong is the notion that the “power of now” will make you enlightened either as an entry point or as a total presence. What is also wrong is the notion that there is a mysterious relationship between time, presence and enlightenment. The statement says that the ego can only be transcended by accessing the present moment. Well, that is wrong. You can be in the present moment from now on and for ever and still not get enlightened. The reason for this is that the ego only exists in the present moment and thus Tolle is basically off track. There is no ego in the past and no ego in the future. The ego is entirely in the present moment for the simple reason that the ego solely and utterly depends on identification with what is currently going on in the complex of mind/psyche/emotions/etc..

9. Fallacy:
All of your answers are within you, as you, RIGHT HERE (in the eternal now).

Jan: Enlightenment is not a matter of answers, so it doesn’t matter at all where any answers are — whether they are inside, outside, right here or on the moon. The statement is a bit peculiar in that it identifies the spatial (“here”) with the temporal (“now”), but the idea probably is that if “you” are totally with what your senses offer you, you are bound to be in the “now”. The use of the word “you” is problematic, because it refers to two different things. It is one use of the word “you” when referring to the “you” that will be “right here (in the eternal now)” and a different metaphorical use of the word “you” that is meant when saying “you” are enlightened. It is important not to muddle the two up. You can not in any way speak of a “you” that gets enlightened, but for the sake of communication we have to do so in a metaphorical sense. The “you” that is one with the enlightenment-state does not contain anything within, so the teaching, that with respect to enlightenment all answers are within, is misguiding.

10. Fallacy:
You do not ‘need’ any masters, enlightened beings, special people or places or books or methods.

Jan: True, enlightenment does not need any support or confirmation. It is true that since enlightenment simply IS, and also since what is realized in enlightenment is your Self, then it does not “need” any aids. But hanging out with an enlightened being who has mastered Shakti and is in lovebliss, will inevitably lead to the enlightened being transmitting Self-awaress to you and awakening your Shakti, simply because it is his/her nature to do so. The statement is like saying that if you want to go from Paris to Copenhagen, you do not need any trains, planes, cars or other methods of transportation, just your own two legs. The statement is not untrue, but it is kind of odd to choose to travel in the slowest possible way.

11. Fallacy:
To get enlightened, you only need SELF-TRUST & Present Moment Awareness.

Jan: This is a continuation of the previous statement. Trust in yourself will never (in itself) lead anyone to enlightenment. Because enlightenment is not of the self in which trust can be placed. Enlightenment is not dependent on awareness of anything, whether it is in the present, the past or the future. It is of course nicer to have your awareness in the present moment, but it is certainly not a gateway to enlightenment in the least. It will reduce identification with the pain body, but that in itself is also not a gateway to enlightenment; it is more in the category of therapy. You can have a terribly hurting pain-body and get enlightened, and you can have a happy and peaceful life and also get enlightened. And it is my hunch that those with the hurting pain-body will probably get enlightened the sooner since they have a stronger inclination to dis-identify.

12. Fallacy
Once you’ve realized you’re dreaming, you can’t follow the dream the same way as before. Now you know it for what it is, and you know that you can now wake yourself up. That’s the Awakened Mind, that’s Enlightenment. […] So, when you ponder your life and who you are, ask yourself if all this is real, or are you not in fact dreaming?

Jan: This is Buddhist teaching. However, the statement confuses “awakened mind” with “enlightenment” (enlightenment has nothing to do with the mind, no matter how awakened it is). It is quite true that “once you’ve realized you are dreaming, you can’t follow the dream the same way as before”. But what’s the point of this teaching if you are still following the dream? With respect to getting enlightened, it makes no difference if you follow the dream one way or the other. The author of this statement has not understood that you are not out of dreaming until you are Selfrealized, and the author has merely replaced a mediocre dream with a grandiose dream and commits the fallacy of assuming that because the grandiose dream gives him a greater kick it is more real. Now, replacing one dream with another in a radical way could be conducive to a mind-realization that if the previous state of affairs (which one took so seriously) was a dream, then this new state of affairs is also a dream. But unfortunately most do not draw this simple conclusion. They generally commit the fallacy of thinking that their *previous* agenda was a total dream, but that their *current* agenda is less a dream, if a dream at all. And if the new dream has a nice label, like “Buddhism”, all the worse for that. They have merely replaced one dream, which they took tremendously seriously, with another dream, they take even more seriously. And so, as far as getting enlightened, they are worse of than they were before.

13. Fallacy
The Awakened Mind is something more concrete than Enlightenment (which is pretty abstract), but the result is the same.

Jan: This is a continuation of the previous statement. It shows that the author has no idea what enlightenment is at all (he calls it “pretty abstract”). He then commits the fallacy of identifying his abstract speculations about enlightenment with the concrete results he has experienced of working with the mind (“the results are the same”). And he implies that since the results of working with the mind are more concrete than enlightenment, awakening the mind is better than getting enlightened. Well, this is all wrong. First the author commits the fallacy of transferring the concept “enlightenment” from the sphere of abstract speculation to the sphere of known fact, and in the process of this transference he transfers the quality of his own inferior understanding, “abstract”, to suddenly be a quality of enlightenment. What the author of this statement should have done instead was to admit, that he has no idea what he is talking about. If you are enlightened, enlightenment is not an abstraction at all. Rather it is so, that from the enlightened perspective, the mind (awakened or unawakened) is something that is not concrete. I wouldn’t call it an abstraction, but certainly not concrete. The authors introduction of concreteness as a measure of value and validity is totally beside the point.

14. Fallacy
Enlightenment/Salvation comes through forgiveness of illusion: Constant Peace, Happiness, Joy & Freedom!

Jan: This is the kind of nonsense you find in A Course of Miracles. It is based on duality. It presupposes that there is a subject who forgives an illusion and also that there is a subject that is somehow rewarded with “constant peace, happiness, joy and freedom” because it has mastered the act of forgiving. Let’s analyze it: This teaching maintains there are five things: 1. a subject who gets enlightened by doing something, 2. a means of enlightenment which is forgiveness, 3. A state one is rewarded with. 4. Enlightenment is synonymous with salvation. 5. Enlightenment is identified with “constant peace, happiness, joy & freedom”. Well, enlightenment has nothing to do with salvation, because salvation requires a lost subject to be saved, and in enlightenment there is no longer such a subject. In fact, you could better say that enlightenment is freedom from the illusion of salvation. Identifying freedom with peace, happiness and joy is problematic. There is no freedom in emotions, no matter how nice they are, in fact, as long as there is identification with the subject who experiences peace, happiness and joy, there can not be freedom. On the other hand, the subject can be going through sorrow and unhappiness, yet if there is no identification there will be total freedom.

15. Fallacy
You can wake yourself up.

Jan: That depends on what you understand with “you” and “yourself”. But basically the statement is wrong since it presumes a “you” that is in one state and which can enter an other (awakened) state. Anything that can change like that is not within enlightenment.

16. Fallacy
How “enlightened” someone would actually be, in a context of evolutionary enlightenment, would be determined, I suppose, by whatever degree beyond 51% the individual had actually become the authentic self, as an awakened and evolving human being.

Jan: This is from Andrew Cohen. It states there is the “individual”, who is “an evolving human being”, so we can safely assume that this evolving individual is understood by Cohen to be the real person. And as this individual evolves it does so towards becoming more “authentic”. And furthermore it is stated that if the individual is more authentic than inauthentic (has crossed the 50% border), then the individual is enlightened. The 51%-individual is considered enlightened to the least degree, but never the less enlightened. Well, all this is wrong. Enlightenment is not a matter of evolutionary degrees. Enlightenment is solely a matter of one basic issue, and one only: Is there a confusion of non-Self with Self? And this on a slightly grosser level boils down to one basic issue: Is there any identification? A binary problem (yes or no) can not be described as 51% yes and 49% no. Either there is identification with the ever changing “I”, or there is not. If there is, you are not enlightened. It is true that there are different manifestations of this basic enlightenment, and also true that after one has reached this basic freedom and Self-realization, there will be progress in how it manifests in the world and in ones life. But all this presupposes one simple and basic thing: Is there, or is there not, confusion of non-Self with Self? There is no such thing as 49% non-identification or 49% non-confusion. So either you are enlightened or you are not. And after you have become enlightened, the way in which you manifest enlightenment in life will evolve and change, but the basic Self-realization will be the same freedom from identification and freedom from assuming non-Self is Self.

17. Fallacy
Our own intense emotions – even negative ones – can be a path for spiritual growth towards enlightenment

Jan: This, and the following statements, are from Sally Kempton. No. Intense emotions are within the soul. They are within the realm of change. Emotions and what they can accomplish are in no way related to enlightenment. It is true that if you go completely into an experience of noise you will find silence, and if you go into a complete experience of agitation you will find peace. But this silence and peace has nothing to do with enlightenment, it is merely silence and peace.

18. Fallacy
It’s the radical truth behind the Spanda Karikas verse: If we choose to practice with such strong energies, they can lead us into the very source of our own power. Entering a strong feeling is like splitting an atom, except that when you practice going to the heart of an intense feeling, the power you will find inside it is essentially the very creative force of the universe.

Jan: No. Spanda Karikas is a text from the Kashmir Shaivism tradition that wanted to correct the fallacy of Vedanta that the only entry point to enlightenment was pure being and transcendence. Spanda Karikas is about realizing the unity between Shakti (poorly translated as energy) and Shiva (Pure Being) from the point of view of Shakti as a an entry point to enlightenment. Spanda is a term for the enlightened cognition that Shakti and Shiva are one and that this unity can be perceived in and as everything as a kind of dynamic prescence (Spanda). The author of this statement has committed the common fallacy of understanding Spanda Karikas to mean that any form of energy can be an entry point to enlightenment, since “all energy is Shakti and Shakti and Shiva are one ” (or something along that line) . The first misconception of this author is that she thinks Shakti means energy and she therefore assumes that the more energy something has, the more Shakti it has or is. Well, this is wrong. It is true that dynamic forces are manifestations of Shakti, but so are static objects. And there is no difference between a static object and a dynamic force as far as Spanda goes — or Shakti and Shiva for that matter. Spanda denotes the unity of Shiva/Shakti experienced as a dynamic presence in everything manifest (and also the unmanifest, since at this level of gognition there is no distinctyion between the “two”); in fact everything manifest is experienced as a concretization of this dynamic prescence which is inherrently unmanifest. The notion that turbulence equals Shakti is totally wrong and it leads to the misconception that the more turbulence, the better, if only you handle it correctly.

19. Fallacy
But there’s a big difference between using strong energy to get high or to feel more alive, and consciously using energy as a way to move deeper into our own essence. That movement, of course, is what the inner life is all about.

Jan: This depends on what is meant by “essence” and “inner life”. Unfortunately statements of this sort rarely say. The first fallacy is that enlightenment is “inner life “. Well, it is not: enlightenment is beyond inner and outer, or it is both inner and outer, as you please. The statement equates “moving deeper into our own essence” with “what the inner life is all about”. But as long as there is an “I” and an “essence”, there is duality. You can take any “I” and move it deeper and deeper into “essence” from now on till the sun burns out and you will still not get enlightened. Also getting Selfrealized is not a question of “moving”, neither in a concrete or metaphorical sense. The next point of the statement is “consciously using energy “. What does the author of the statement mean by this? Well, we have no idea. But Self is not within the realm of consciousness and its motions, and as long as someone is using something, the very “using” will prevent Self-realization, no matter how conscious the “using” is.

20. Fallacy

True meditation takes you into a relationship with your own heart.

Jan: No. True meditation mirrors Self-realization and thus takes you beyond duality. Any relationship is within duality, so true meditation frees you of relationships. If there is a you and a heart, forget it.

21. Fallacy
Meditation is not just a practice. Meditation is a natural state. It’s an actual channel in our consciousness, a bandwidth of tranquility, energy and joy that reveals itself when we learn to pay attention. Once you discover how to tune yourself to the meditation bandwidth, it will empower your life from within.

Jan: Self-realization is not an empowerment. Empowerment means there is someone who gets empowered by something or someone else and this is within duality. She makes a confused statement: Meditation is “a natural state” and yet meditation is “a channel into your consciousness” and also “a bandwidth that empowers you”. Well, I assure you, every aspect of her statement is wrong with respect to Self-realization and enlightenment. Why? Because every aspect of this statement is within duality and depends on a relationship between A and B. Furthermore, the entire goal of her meditation is to empower “your life from within”, which means she believes the goal of meditation is to empower the relative sphere of life or, in other words, to get a good kick of power into your worldly life. Nothing of this is within the sphere of enlightenment or Self-realization. In fact it contradicts it. Her point is that meditation is a bandwidth, you can tune yourself to, and that if you do this attentively, it will empower you. This is true for some kinds of meditation where one does not want to get free of the “I”, but not true of meditation where one wants to get free of I-ness and merge with Self in Self-realization.

22. Fallacy
Liberation (mukti, enlightenment) is the complete liberation of the senses from the control of the mind. The purpose of life is to live the life of the senses. The senses must be free and independent of the mind.

Jan: This is from Bhagavan (the diksha guru of Oneness Movement). Nevertheless it is total nonsense. Neither the mind nor the senses have anything to do with enlightenment and whether they are connected or not is irrelevant.

23. Fallacy
You will feel that you are connected with everybody. So you discover true love. True love and true joy are not separated, they are one and the same. You feel connected with everything and everybody. You do not live for yourself any more.

Jan: This is also from Bhagavan, the diksha guru. Within the realm of duality (relationships) this is all very, very nice. However, it has nothing to do with enlightenment and Self-realization. Self-realization and enlightenment are not a matter of relationships. Your relationships change after Self-realization, but this does not mean changing relationships will help you get enlightened, nor that changed relationships is the essence of enlightenment.

24. Fallacy
Enlightenment is the opening of one’s eyes to what is. In order to attain Enlightenment, the exact way to Enlightenment must be known. First, the activities of the karma which try to conquer the self must be stopped. Second, one must be able to see what is. Third, there must be conscience and courage. Fourth, the karma in oneself must be extinguished through endless love.

Jan: This is from Tathagata. On the one hand it is stated that enlightenment is characterized by the ability to “see what is” and on the other hand the path to enlightenment incorporates to “see what is”. If this ability is the quintessence of enlightenment, it can not also be a prerequisite to enlightenment. It is stated that the first step to enlightenment is: “the activities of the karma which tries to conquer the self must be stopped”. This stopping, unfortunately, is not possible. An enlightened person’s life is just as much within the sphere of karma as anybody elses, but the Selfrealized one is free of the binding influence of karma since there is no identification. Also it is wrong to say karma “tries to conquer the self”, as if karma has ill intentions and a bad will (“tries”). The truth about karma is that it is completely neutral and that it does not try anything, since karma has no consciousness. Also karma never “conquers” the self. The small self upholds ignorance partly by identifying with the minds reactions to the effects of karma. It is not karma that upholds ignorance by conquering the self. The fourth step to enlightenment is stated to be “the karma in oneself must be extinguished through endless love”. Well, love is itself within the sphere of karma so it can not be a means of extinguishing karma. Endless love will generate good and nice karma and neutralize bad and unpleasant karma, but it is still within karma. Finally, you do not have to extinguish “the karma in oneself” to get enlightened for the simple reasons that there is no karma in the Self and that karma is not the basic problem of ignorance. Karma is a bothersome circumstance of life at large, but it is not the root, or cause, of ignorance. It is true that in enlightenment you are in a Selfcognition prior to karma, and thus can be said to be free of karma, but it is a misunderstanding to conclude from this, that one has to free oneself of karma to get Self-realized.

25. Fallacy
If you are aware of your “I AM-ness” right now, it is an infallible guide to Big Mind. If all objects are gone, what remains is I AM-ness. I AM-ness is pure Self. I AM is the only thing that exists. Suffering and bondage is the mis-identification of I AM-ness with an object.

Jan: This is from Ken Wilber. He commits the common fallacy of identifying “I AM-ness” with the pure Self of Self-realization. Pure Self is prior to “I AM-ness”. Once awareness merges with Self, one realizes that “I AM-ness” is the primal ignorance and the last illusion to get free of. There is no “I-ness” (or “I AM-ness”) what so ever in Self. In fact the “I-ness” and “I AM-ness” is the ultimate hindrance to enlightenment and the beginning of all other forms of ignorance. It is true that “Suffering is the misidentification of I AM-ness with an object”, but it is not true that “Bondage is the misidentification of I AM-ness with an object”. Bondage IS the presence of “I AM-ness”, or “I-ness” . And out of this bondage suffering arises because of misidentification of “I AM-ness” with objects.

26. Fallacy
When practicing, the moment you recognize you are distracted, the moment you realize who is distracted, ” I am distracted”, you are instantly and automatically reinstalled in “I AM-ness”.

Jan: This is also Ken Wilber. It is from a lecture where he teaches how to do a practice for enlightenment. Unfortunately this practice only anchors the practitioner in the primal bondage and the root of suffering. It will not lead to Self-realization. The reasons for this are explained above and will also be elaborated in the following.

27. Fallacy
Enlightenment is the recognition that your nature is nothing other than all things. As all things evolve, so does enlightenment. The enlightenment Buddha got is not the same as the enlightenment we get today. Enlightenment itself is changeable, it evolves.

Jan: This is from Diane Musho Hamilton and reflects Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen. It is nonsense. Enlightenment is not a recognition that ones nature is all things, rather it is a recognition that ones nature is no-thing, or nothing. But all this implies separation between a cognizer, a recognition and a something assumed to be the nature of the cognizer. The basic realization that occurs slightly prior to enlightenment, is that anything you thought yourself to be is a construct depending on, building upon, one single basic illusion: That the Self is I AM-ness. And once one realizes the illusory nature of I-ness and I AM-ness, then awareness collapses into no-thing-ness, or pure unmanifest being. This collapse is NOT a recognition, for there is no longer anyone to recognize anything. And there is most certainly not a recognition of being “all things”. The idea that enlightenment evolves, and that Buddha’s enlightenment was less evolved than contemporary enlightenment, reflects a lack of enlightenment on the part of the person who originated this wrong idea, and on the part of those who propagate it. Enlightenment is total freedom from anything that changes, hence also from anything that evolves, and so the nature of enlightenment can not be said to be evolving. Enlightenment is total, absolute and unconditional freedom in and as the unmanifest Self. If enlightenment was an evolving state, this would not be the case. Enlightenment is not a state, if it was, it is true it could evolve and change. The entire concept of “evolutionary enlightenment” (which Wilber and Cohen promote) has nothing to do with Self-realization. Of course “enlightenment” is a flexible term, but normally enlightenment and Self-realization are synonyms. Evolutionary enlightenment is based on the notion that “one” can be more or less “the authentic self” and that this “authentic self” is characterizable as “I AM-ness” and if one is more identified with “I AM-ness” than with something else, one is considered to be enlightened. Furthermore, this “I AM-ness” can apparently be in different states, since enlightenment is believed to evolve. All this is wrong as far as Self-realization goes. Only states evolve. Since enlightenment is freedom from confusing “a state” with Pure Being, evolution is not within the nature of enlightenment.

28. Fallacy
Even great masters, who seem very enlightened, even they go through falling asleep, waking up, falling asleep, waking up. The difference is that they can hide it better, because they don’t act out when they have fallen back to sleep, when they feel like the petty small human again. What happens with the great master, however, is that they remember more quickly again who they are.

Jan: This is from Christine Breese. It is not true about Self-realization (enlightenment). It is only true of the level of realization where self is understood as “I AM-ness” (which many wrongly believe is enlightenment). But in this so called “enlightenment” the basic I-ness has not been transcended and the focal point (or source) of awareness has not merged into Self. As long as there is I-ness, anyone at this level of realization will at times “feel like the petty small human again” due to eruptions of identification with less subtle layers of consciousness. But enlightenment and Self-realization mean that the seed of identification (prior to manifest identities) has been transcended and there is no longer any confusion of I AM-ness with Self. Once this has been achieved, one will never again have moments of falling asleep into “petty small human” identity. It is true that after Self-realization, the “petty small human” remains, and true that it will act out once in a while, but it is wrong to say a Selfrealized person will fall asleep during those moments and become identified for a while. This sort of temporary identification with personality structures and with acting out is latent within the instability of “I AM-ness” and “I-ness”. So any loss of non-identification, ever so shortly, is a sign that one has not transcended the primal ignorance of I-ness (the unmanifest tendency to identify) and that one has not merged awareness and Self. Hence a sign that Self-realization has not been achieved.

29. Fallacy
There is nothing one must do except be awake in the moment, and everything else takes care of itself. The first challenge is to become lucid, rather than operating on automatic pilot through life. The next challenge is to maintain that lucidity without falling back to sleep into the human condition. Stopping the mind is the first step. This is where it begins. It only deepens from there.

Jan: This is also from Christine Breese. This practice can lead to temporary realizations of the I AM-ness state, but not to Self-realization. Please see above comments about this. The notion that stopping the mind is required in order to reach Self-realization is wrong. Realization is not on the level of mind, so whether the mind chatters or is silent is of no importance at all.

30. Fallacy
The common basic definition of enlightenment is that the enlightened one lives in total and constant contact with the divine, that this persons ego is permanently dissolved in divine ecstasy, and that the person in all acts and words is a pure channel for the divine energy.

Jan: This a common misconception. It maintains that enlightenment is a relationship in the nature of “contact”. And it maintains that this relationship is defined by three things: 1. It is with the divine, 2. it is developed to a very intimate degree, 3. it is of the nature of ecstasy. As a consequence of this, it is maintained, the enlightened persons ego is “dissolved in ecstasy”, and also the enlightened person is a “pure channel” for the divine. However, this is a misconception. Basic enlightenment is in no way defined by a relationship, in fact enlightenment can be characterized negatively as the absence of the relator (in other words, there is no longer anyone who relates). After enlightenment, there are of course all sorts of relationships going on in life, both internally and externally, but there is no longer anybody relating. It is a basic characteristic of ignorance that one identifies with an imagined part in life’s relationships. Ignorance circles around this error: If there is a relationship, then “I” must be relating, therefore, “I AM”. And so the confusion of Self with non-Self results in I AM-ness, and out of the relationship arises fragments and structures that contribute to a more structured ego. It makes no difference if the relationship is with objects, other people or the divine. Freedom from the relating part in any relationship is a characteristic of enlightenment. It is a characteristic of basic enlightenment that one has transcended I AM-ness and I-ness alltogether and merged awareness into Self. This is not necessarily ecstatic, in fact it basically isn’t. However, an enlightened one may develop a relationship with the divine and may develop ecstasy. But so may anyone who is not enlightened. So relationship with the divine can not be said to be a characteristic of enlightenment, nor can ecstasy. One should be aware, though, that the nature of a relationship with the divine will be quite different after enlightenment than before, but this distinction is not relevant here.

31. Fallacy
Enlightenment is the conquest of death through turning the body into light. This type of enlightenment is perfect mastery over matter. It is the ultimate enlightenment.

Jan: This is what the Tamil Siddhas teach. However, it has nothing to do with enlightenment. It does not matter if your body is matter or light. If there is identification with it, there is not enlightenment. Enlightenment is prior to I-ness, I-ness is prior to any body what so ever.

32. Fallacy

Enlightenment is one of the attainments people seek on their spiritual quest. It is the highest level of light that most people experience within themselves. That is the state of enlightenment. But enlightenment is defined by each generation. Each generation defines new heights available within enlightenment.

Jan: This is from channeler Lee Harris. It is wrong from beginning to end. Enlightenment has nothing to do with levels, nor with light. Anything that can be divided into levels is within the relative. Enlightenment is oneness with unmanifest pure being prior to I-ness. Enlightenment is not defined within each generation, enlightenment has always been known to be undefinable, yet always tentatively defined in ways pointing to the same state I have hinted at above as pure being prior to I-ness. Enlightenment is freedom from confusing non-Self with Self and this implies freedom from I-ness and I AM-ness. There may be an “I” lingering, but there will be no identification with it at all, hence enlightenment has always been understood as freedom from confusing non-Self with Self, freedom from I-ness and freedom from identification. This is not a level to be attained on an ever expanding hierarchy of attainments, and this has nothing to do with light or dark. It has to do solely with Pure Being prior to anything.

33. Fallacy

From Self-realization to full enlightenment… After reaching Self-realization, the real growth of consciousness begins. This happens through integration of the great fire the Self is meeting this world. After reaching Self-realization, the body turns back to being just a body. From here on, the real growth starts. This growth means that the “I”, that through the general enlightenment was released from the body, starts to disappear. Then there no longer is somebody being a nobody – but nobody being a nobody. At this time the karma of Ones own body is burned out and the body is cleansed, which means it becomes a clear passage for the Self. Without being a part of duality, having a body not knowing what the “I” is, the road is clear. This is non-duality. There are no diversions away from the road, as the cause of identification with the body. The body has realized its Self – but not The Self. The dissolving happens when the Self integrates into the body. This can now happen because non-duality makes it possible – there is no running and no fear. Becoming Universal Consciousness means seeing all of the mystery this life is, becoming able to see-feel life in all of its many colourful aspects, with all parts of this amazing reality visible. But reaching this Truth, there will be no one but The One – the universal seer watching.

Jan: This is from Aisha’s website. Ii is her description of what she believes is her progress from “Self-realization” to “full enlightenment”. Let’s look closely at what it says since it throws light on a high state and also on it’s limitations and illusions.

She defines “Self-realization” as a state where the “I” “through general enlightenment was released from the body”. But this is not Self-realization with a capital S (meaning The Self). It is the small ego-self’s (“the I’s”) freedom from identification with the body, nothing more. It is not freedom from the small self and does not involve merging with Pure-Being-Self in any way. This can be called self-realization (small s), but not Self-realization (capital S).

With regard to getting Self-realized, the I’s non-identification with the body is neither a benefit nor a hindrance, it is totally irrelevant. The whole and sole issue regarding Self-realization is to go prior to I-ness and I AM-ness. She says “general enlightenment” is the process that releases the “I” “from the body”. But what is “general” enightenment? Enlightenment is not a “process”, it is Oneness in ultimate Self, prior to I-ness and also prior to the I AM-ness of the witnessing state (where there is no manifest “I”). Also, enlightenment can not be “general” since generality is within the relative sphere of life. Enlightenment is absolute in the sense that it is prior to (and permeating as well as being) every conceivable aspect of everything. The “I”, as well as generality and “the body”, belong to the relative and therefore her notion of Self-realization is totally unrelated to The Self and Enlightenment.

She states that “real growth of consciousness begins” “after Self-realization”. But no, the truth is that after Self-realization consciousness begins to disintegrate and vanish; this has nothing to do with growth. In fact Self-realization is the end of spiritual growth since there is nothing left to grow. Remember: consciousness is the selfcentered complex of karma, mind and emotions which awareness usually identifies with and wrongly believes to be Self. She says this freedom from body-identification “means” the “I” “starts to disappear”, but this is not so. This situation (of non-identification with the body) is only the beginning of a radical transformation of identifications, not the beginning of the dissolution of I-ness.

The dissociation of body and “I” is a characteristic of kundalini being concentrated in the heart without Self-realization.To call this dissociation “Self-realization” is confusion.

She continues : “This happens through integration of the great fire the Self is meeting this world.” This sentence is unclear, but she seems to mean: “the Self” is “great fire”, and when this great fire “meets the world”, then “This happens” (“growth of consciousness”). In other words: “When the great fire of the Self meets the world and one can integrate this meeting, growth ensures”. This is indeed a perfect description of the kundalini-process (prior to Self-realization and prior to enlightenment). Now, the Self is not “great fire”, but Shakti as Kundalini working in the body most certainly is. Ultimately, in enlightenment, Self and Shakti are realized to be one, and then there is no more “fire”.

She then states that after the disappearance of the “I” there “no longer is somebody being a nobody – but nobody being nobody”. Now, this is not Self-realization, but the level of I AM-ness where there is an extremely subtle sense of being “nobody” witnessing everything. In Self-realization this witnessing-stance also goes away. In order to understand this, one should understand the witnessing stance is indeed prior to the “I” and is indeed perfectly described as “nobody being nobody”, but Self-realization is prior even to this. Just because the “I” “starts to disappear”, or one is no longer identified with the “I”, and one realizes oneself to be nobody (nothing, not-I), it does not mean Self-realization has occurred and one has entered non-duality. It is merely reduction of the energy and complexity of the manifest “I” and also realization of non-diversified consciousness. Specifically subtle I-ness and I AM-ness lies between Self and non-diversified consciousness as a subtle point of reference. I AM-ness is characterized as a sense of “nobody being nobody”, but it is not Self-realization yet. There is subtle identification with nothingness or with total negation of manifest I.

She continues: the body then “becomes a clear passage for the Self. Without being a part of duality, having a body not knowing what the “I” is, the road is clear. This is non-duality.” No, this has nothing to do with “non-duality” at all. In her description there is clearly duality between “nobody being nobody ” and “body”, and duality is also expressed in the statement that the body acts as a “passage” for “the Self” (apparently she now uses the term “Self” differently) . But in real Self-realization, the Self needs no passage, for (with regard to the body) the Self is present beyond, in, as and around the body while all the same remaining unmanifest and without location. This is the non-duality of enlightenment. Thus, speaking of “a passage for the Self” is not in the nature of Self-realization or enlightenment. What she describes is the characteristic freedom and limitation of the witnessing state.

She ends her journey with a description of what she believes to be “full enlightenment”. It goes: “But reaching this Truth, there will be noone but The One – the universal seer watching.” However, this is still the witnessing state (perfectly described), but it has nothing to do with “full enlightenment”, nor Self-realization. What she says is the final “truth” is: “Becoming Universal Consciousness means seeing all of the mystery this life is, becoming able to see-feel life in all of its many colourful aspects, with all parts of this amazing reality visible. ” This is indeed very nice, but it is not what enlightenment “means”. Having this ability to appreciate “the mystery of life” does not mean one is enlightened, nor does the wonderful empathy expressed in this sentence.

It is noteworthy how her narrative and definition of enlightenment revolves around the body throughout. But in fact enlightenment is in no way dependent on the body, so describing Self-realization and enlightenment in terms of the body’s process and the body’s state is misguiding and a misunderstanding. She writes about “full enlightenment”: “There are no diversions away from the road, as the cause of identification with the body. The body has realized its Self – but not The Self. The dissolving happens when the Self integrates into the body. This can now happen because non-duality makes it possible – there is no running and no fear.” Again she poses a duality between the body and The Self and says the integration of the body and The Self is possible because of “non-duality”. This is of course a contradiction; if there is “non-duality”, there can not be duality between The Self and the body. She says “non-duality makes it possible” to “integrate the Self into the body”, so she clearly sees non-duality as a pre-requisite to integration. However, if there is something to integrate, there is duality. She understands non-duality as a characteristic of pre-I beingness (the unmanifest) only. Of course, when we have unmanifest pre-I beingness without qualities, there is no duality within this beingness, but the non-duality of enlightenment is very, very different from this since it incorporates the (so called) “manifest”. This means that in “full enlightenment” there is no duality between the body and the Self in terms of Self-realization (hence the Self does not “integrate into the body”). This true non-duality is very hard to understand and very hard to describe. But reducing the age old concept of non-duality to being only a quality of unmanifest Pure Being separate from the plural manifest is a misunderstanding of the traditional meaning of the term non-duality.

What she also states here is that “full enlightenment” is characterized by “no diversions away from the road”, however, in Self-realization and enlightenment, there is no longer a road. She concludes that full enlightenment is “the universal seer watching”, but this witness state is in fact only the door to Self-realization. As she herself so aptly speaks of “no diversions away from the road”, one certainly is firmly on the road to Self-realization and enlightenment once one enters this witnessing state. But calling this witnessing-state full enlightenment beyond Self-realization is wrong. The witness-state is the entrance to Self-realization, just as Self-realization is the first kind of real enlightenment and the door to the non-duality of “full enlightenment”.

34. Fallacy
You can’t become free if you do not know what you need to be free from in the first place. Know thyself. The way to freedom is living it rather than running away from it …How can you know pain without feeling it?

Jan: This concept of freedom is not the freedom of Self-realization. It is the kind of freedom one seeks in therapy, where one seeks to know a problem in order to get rid of it. However, the freedom of Self-realization is not a matter of getting rid of anything. It is more in the order of waking up from a dream. To remain in the analogy, what above statement says is that in order to wake up from a dream, one must know the dream better. But this will just keep one in the dream. It is the same with getting Self-realized: Knowing the small self better is not going to free one of identification with it. Probably on the contrary. But what is most important to understand is that one is not attempting to get rid of the small self. What one is attempting is to get rid of the basic I-ness that causes identification with the small self. And there is nothing to know about this I-ness, it is a primal principle without any qualities. The “you” you identify with is not YOU. The YOU is already and always FREE. Enlightenment is partly realizing this, and also partly realizing that bondage is an illusion. … So: Enlightenment is not a matter of running away, nor a mater of living it. Both these attitudes are equally wrong. In Self there is no pain, in mind there is pain. … Both can co-exist. If you want to know pain, go on. But it will not lead to Self-realization. Yet all the time Self-realization is there within you waiting for you to let go of pain and merge with IT.

35. Fallacy
The “heart” is the abode of the Self, not the physical heart but the spiritual heart “2 digits to the right of centre”. When we enquire “who am I?”, we will find the answer there. If we watch the place where bliss arises we feel for ourselves that it is the very same place.The Maharshi (Ramana) said that the enquiry, “who am I?”, also takes the form of “whence am I?”, ie. where is the source of me.

Jan: The Self does not have any abode at all, since the Self is prior to anything manifest. Once the Self is realized, it is not in any physical location. If we are talking about physical reactions or sensations connected with realizing the Self, it is more correct to say the Self permeates the entire body and a large area around the body, because once one is in the Self, that is the space that becomes permeated with bliss and presence. So the question “where am I” is really strange since it has no answer. One should also be aware that the question “who am I” does not have an answer, since there is no “who” (“me”) in Self, and the “I” one is enquiring about, is also not present in Self and indeed, because the Self is unmanifest. This means that the recommended self-enquiry is structured around ignorance and is in itself basically ignorant, and its goal is to get ignorance to disentangle itself from false identifications. This disentanglement is most valuable, but the part about the Self having a physical location and that one will there find the “answer to who am I?” is wrong. Since the Self is not within time and space, the notion that the Self has its abode within a small space in the chest is absurd.

36. Fallacy
If one looks at the thousands of spiritual practices that have been taught to humans in the past, the Awareness Watching Awareness Method is the most rapid and direct means to bringing sorrow, suffering and the ego to its final end here and now in this lifetime. The Awareness Watching Awareness Method is the most rapid and direct means to living in infinite-eternal-awareness-love-bliss.

Jan: This is from Michael Langford’s book. It is a big statement. From the amount of time Michael has spent every day on his method, it is obvious that he can not have had much time left to practice other methods, in fact he makes a virtue out of not practicing other methods, so his statement is purely speculative. His method is that of Ramana Maharshi and it is a fine method, but it is not the fastest to what I call love-bliss, and though Michael also uses the words love-bliss, I doubt he is referring to the same as I. This I will explain in the following,

Awareness watching awareness is part of any practice that leads to Self-realization, so Michael should perhaps have called it “the essential means”, rather than “the most rapid means”. The awareness watching awareness practice is aimed at freedom from identifications and ultimately at Self-realization. This Self-realization can have a peaceful “bliss”, but not necessarily, it can also be empty. The love-bliss of which I speak is massive in intensity and “peaceful” is not quite the word you would find most fit to describe it, though it is entirely unmanifest. Also the love-bliss of which I speak does not come with simple Self-realization for the simple reason that it takes a thorough transformation of your presence in the world until non-duality dawns on you, and you as Self recognize Self in everything around you. This transformation takes time, since it is not a matter of transcendence but a matter of rearranging substance. Awareness watching awareness is a purely transcendental method and it can not lead to this, it can only lead to Self-realization understood as freedom from identification, but not to Self-realization understood as direct recognition of Self in everything (non-duality). So the next question is: Ignoring these higher states, is awareness watching awareness the most rapid means to basic Self-realization? No, it is not — for the simple reason that it is still a practice that starts in illusion and false identification (confusion of non-Self with Self) and seeks to help the deluded awareness disentangle from delusion about itself and its own nature (the Self).

The most rapid means is when the Self actively takes part in dissolving identification and delusions about Self. This is the most rapid and direct means because it is not “a means” and not “a practice”, thus it does not begin in ignorance and try to make ignorance unignorant through practice (such as other practices do, including Michaels). It is the Self burning and collapsing the manifestations of Self that cause confusion of non-Self with Self and thus it removes identifications, I-ness and ignorance. But it does far more than that as I will explain in a minute.

What do you do when you are on this path where the Self is actively and spontaneously removing the distractions that keep awareness from merging into Self? You surrender to grace and the Self (they are One and this oneness is soon realized on this path). Part of opening to this surrender is doing a small amount of awareness watching awareness when beginning a meditation, but once this practice has given a basic freedom from present entanglements, one surrenders to the grace burning within and merges with it in oneness with massive energy and bliss-beyond-bliss. This merging begins to develop the higher states of enlightenment beyond basic Self-realization even before basic Self-realization has been achieved.

Since this is not a practice but a process of surrendering to (and merging with) what is continuously burning away ignorance from within (this “what” is the Self). The proper question now is: what do you do to get on this path? The answer is, that this path is grace and grace it not something you can create or do yourself, it is given to you either by divine intervention (I received it spontaneously from the Blue Being when I was still a teenager) or by the loving kindness of someone who is capable of awakening it in you (I do this with my close friends). This awakening involves Shaktipat, but also involves creating a connection between unmanifest Pure Being and the Self as manifest identity and I-ness so the Self become alive and vibrant even in the structures of ignorance. (As I have said repeatedly: ignorance is an illusion: all is Self already). Shaktipat is a special awakening of kundalini so that kundalini does not become dormant again, but aims solely and utterly at your ultimate merging separate-awareness into Self and dissolution of ignorance into the non-duality of the love-bliss-beyond-ecstasy-recognition by Self of Self in everything within and without.

However, there are means to invite the Grace of Self and kundalini to awaken and put you on this path. I have described them on the page about meditation. Do not underestimate these practices, though they may seem simple. There are other more potent ones, and if you practice the ones on the meditation page daily for a while, let me know how things are going and I might instruct you in these other methods.

~ Jan Esmann (View his book and interview here )

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