Is there a tried and true path to attain enlightenment?
There are many guides and approaches to becoming a more conscious individual, well described steps to develop enlightened thought and behavior as well as lists of checkpoints to measure your progress. In fact there are whole texts devoted to the subject both current and ancient.
Here is a PDF on Old Testament laws to follow:
A lot to remember but some good guidelines. More succinct but similar are the excellent Vedic rules to live by:
Here are a few articles describing the steps to take to approach a more enlightened state.
And these are all excellent articles with very good information that if applied will help expand awareness and culture one’s consciousness. I’d even recommend reading them because they are very informative. I’m just not sure how a person can remember each rule, each step and how to apply it and in which order.
In short, it all sounds like a lot of work.
Don’t get me wrong. Work is how we purify the soul and bring right action to the physical world. Whether it’s hoeing potatoes, fixing a car or performing life saving surgery, all work is sacred.
But let’s be honest. We are lazy. If we see a payoff – a paycheck, potato plants growing tall and healthy after a hungry winter, the car running properly or the patient waking up in the morning and saying “Thanks Doc!” – we can be more easily motivated.
But when it comes to stuff like hey, maybe I should eat this kale leaf instead of the entire box of Krispy Kreme, or make my own butter from free range Guernsey milk instead of using the free margarine sample I got at the warehouse store, or go for a walk instead of binge watching the entire seven seasons of Game of Thrones, or even putting down the damn phone and go to bed before 12am, it’s the kind of work many of us put off until tomorrow.
Seeking enlightenment is like going on a diet. It’s not going to work unless you are desperate for the results.
Who among us is desperate for enlightenment? Most of us are desperate for Friday, coffee, for the kids to pipe down, or a week at the beach. Some of us are desperate for more basic things like food, clean water, a roof over our heads or to sleep in safety. But few among us actually have the thought, “Wow, this would be so much easier if I was enlightened. I better get on that!”
Why? Because we don’t know that it will be so much easier when we are enlightened. None of us has experienced the world from that state of consciousness.
Classic chicken and egg scenario.
We don’t understand enlightenment and yearn for it unless we have experienced it, and we can’t experience it without being enlightened in which case we wouldn’t have to culture ourselves to attain it.
A man once asked his guru about enlightenment and the guru spoke about the steps and time to reach that state. The man, intimidated by the process, asked his guru if instead of all this work, the guru could touch him and make him instantly enlightened. The guru answered, “Yes, but it would kill you.”
What this tells us is that even on the cosmic level, there is no such thing as a free lunch. This is also known as “Karma”.
And yet the rishis, gurus, yogis, swamis and sages tell us that man’s natural state is one of happiness and bliss. Each lesson they teach attempts to lead us to that universal truth. A truth that if we could experience, we would be desperate for. So why can’t we get to it without so much work? There has to be an easier way.
Now understand, this doesn’t mean life isn’t tough. Challenges are a part of this existence and we can’t escape that. Day to day grind of life won’t end, it will just change. One great sage said “Before enlightenment – chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.”
But our life’s work should be dedicated not just to the tasks assigned in this physical existence, but to enriching our consciousness to fulfill our potential as fully and perfectly developed beings. Many of us understand this, and reach toward texts, ancient and new, gurus and masters, for knowledge and wisdom. They often say “Live correctly and with discipline, and you will find God/the Truth/Enlightenment.”
Of course, this is true.
But it is backwards.
A very enlightened individual known as Christ said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Perhaps this is a roadmap and not an admonition. Perhaps it is advice to find, by quieting the mind, the connection with the Cosmic Intellect that is the author of All. In the perfect silence of transcendent awareness, one can realize, on a personal level, the state of Being, the quality of Self-referral that leads to a lasting experience of the Infinite.
By repeatedly experiencing this state of transcendent awareness, one begins retain its qualities in daily life, enhancing feelings of bliss, gratitude, heightened comprehension, connection, love, calmness, imperturbability and coping skills. There is less stress in the mind and body, supporting health, well-being and happiness. Continuously feeling all these positive attributes allows one to naturally and effortlessly support the lifestyle that most religious texts and enlightenment guides recommend.
- All guides to enlightenment agree that way to move toward a more cultured consciousness is to live a clean life eschewing drugs, alcohol, late nights, promiscuous sex, overeating, and basically living in balance and moderation. This also includes living honestly, truthfully, and kindly.
- Guides also tell us all the steps to take to reach more expanded levels of consciousness.
- The wise tell us the natural state of the humanity is bliss, happiness and joy.
How do we reach this joy when we are trying to remember all the steps while dealing with all the stress of daily life and trying to live a clean, healthy, disciplined lifestyle?
The answer is not to impose the discipline of how to live on a mind immersed in stress, but to naturally desire a life that supports expansion by allowing the consciousness an opportunity to experience this expansion on a daily basis.
Ekhart Tolle discusses this “bottom up” approach in his book A New Earth. By coming to the joy from the inside out, instead of imposing behaviors from the outside in, the success of creating a lifestyle of healthy and disciplined living as well as a lifetime of enhanced consciousness is easier, more natural, even effortless if combined with a proven meditation technique.
So what seems like an impossible exercise in strife and work trying to bang through each step of one of many enlightenment tasks, becomes a harmonious and joyous experience of just taking things as they come by immersing oneself in Being, in Silence on a regular basis. This practice allows the expansion of Self and the concurrent absorption of All without effort. It is automatic.
Now isn’t that better?