Posted by: Soh

The following article is written by my forum friend, Longchen/Simpo, who also posts in my forum ~ Buddhism: Wisdom Bliss ~. Also check out a previous posting of his articles on this blog: http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/how-is-non-duality-like.html
Update, August 2009: Please note that the author of the site has taken down all his spiritual growth articles. The links below will not work anymore, however I have uploaded an archive of all his articles at Longchen/Simpo's Articles
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This essay is not a definitive writing on this subject of enlightenment. The following is just an expression of my own experiences and findings.
There seems to be a notion that enlightenment is just one final state. Many also believe that when one has certain transcendental or mystical experience, that experience is final and complete. This assumption is perhaps popularised by the classic stories of enlightenment that are widely known. Also there is much granduer associated with this notion of Enlightenment which, in my opinion, is totally overhyped and uncalled for.
My opinion is that enlightenment is not just one 'standard' final state but is a gradual and progressive establishing of states of consciousness. The process is a succesive unfoldment and transformation, leading to increasingly clear understanding of the dynamics of consciousness. So perhaps, enlightenment as described by various persons and traditions can be referring to different states of consciousness.

I, myself have not reach the end of the road. But from years on a spiritual path, I can confidently say that enlightenment happens in a series or stages of self-realisations and self-discoveries. There are, in fact, more than one type of transcendental or mystical experience.

Almost all stages of enlightenment can be said to be associated with states of Presence. However, the Presence comes in various degrees of clarity and intensity. The degree of intensity is directly dependent on the level and depth of one's clarity as well as one's realisations/discoveries.
Usually there is a difference between an initial awakening and a later stabilisation of that stage.

Also, as one progresses along, the relationship or connections of oneself to the universe and existence in general also becomes clearer.

Below is an attempt to illustrate the stage-based characteristic of enlightenment:

When one first begin meditating, one may have an initial experience of all-pervading Presence. This Presence, is most often experienced when thoughts are momentarily suspended. This Presence which exists in the timeless Present Moment is our true characteristic or nature.

However such an experience can only be classified as an initial awakening to the true nature.. which ironically have no sense of being an individual self. This is because, after the meditation, the Presence seems to have disappeared. One cannot understand and find the connection of Presence to our everyday life. Because of that, one will have difficulties re-acquiring the Presence. And it takes many stages and series of realisation to understand the relationship of Presence to our phenomenal world. It can be said that the prolonged sustaining of Presence is dependent upon the stages and depth of realisation.

Also, during the earlier stages we may mistaken another state to be the pure pristine presence. For example, we may mistaken 'I AM' or the Eternal Witness for pure presence. This is because the thinking mind has created a seemingly constant image of Pure Presence. This image is the I AM or Eternal Witness, as it is commonly described. Basically, at this stage, the true characteristic of Presence is not being clearly understood.

Usually, in order to pass through the so-called 'I AM' stage, the person must move towards even deeper understandings of consciousness. These understandings may include realising that one's sense of self or personality is not the doer or controller of action. This realisation allows one to loosen the 'sense of self's compulsive grip and in the process, a state of NOWness can be experienced. By NOWness, I am referring to a peaceful state where the mind is not chasing after thoughts but rather is abiding in the Present Moment.
This stage may persist for sometime before the person realises the illusion of subject-object division. This stage involves discovering and recognising the hypnotic impression of there being an observer (which is oneself) and the being observed. Typically, this is where one begins to see through the illusionary nature of our phenomenal world. This entire band of realisation stage is often known as non-dual experience or non-duality. After the initial experiences of non-duality, the person may reach a even more profound realisation. This is the realisation that everything that is being experienced is truly spontaneously manifesting. This realisation is more subtle than the previous realisation and represents a major leap in understanding.

Also, in the further stages of the enlightenment process, there are experiences of increasing brightness to one's consciousness. This brightness is the result of mind's deconstruction which allows for intense penetration into consciousness.
While there may well be other stages not described here, nevertheless, one can still see from the above description that enlightenment is not so straight-forward after all.

One more thing to add. Realisations and karmic pattern clearing go hand in hand on the spiritual path.

For your necessary discernment. Thank you for reading.
If you are interested you may also wish to read about the series of realisations that I had on my path of enlightenment as well as other essays related to this subject of enlightenment. Click here for the articles.

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Commments:
Please also read the following articles from the same author at http://www.dreamdatum.com/articles-path.html
self growth, healing, enlightenment, meditation______________________________
These are articles dealing with self-growth, healing and discovery systems or paths
General Information on self-discovery
Why is spiritual truth so elusive?
Why is spiritual truth so elusive?... This article attempts to find the causes.
A system of self-discovery
The path that I am walking upon... This article describes a system for self growth and discovery.
What is the Higher Self
Who and what is the higher self? Is there a way to contact it?
Enlightenment is a gradual process
Many people has the notion that enlightenment is one state. Many also believe that when it is attained, a person is forever in that state. My opinion is that enlightenment is not just one state but is a gradual and progressive establishing of states of consciousness..
Can the Source of existence be an Object?
Can the Source of existence be a thing? Can IT be an tangible object? Can we even can IT it? ...
Paradox
Paradox of perception...
Ripples on the surface of the Source
The impression of there being a 'me/self' interacting with the environment and others can be compared to the ripples on the surface of Being. The ripples can be liken to individuals/selves. The ripples are the perceptions of sensorial and thought experiences. Different beings/individuals will have different experiences that are dependent on their sense characteristics. Being/Absolute can be liken to the entirety which is the vast ocean. ...
The limitation of Science in dealing with Reality
This article describes why science may not be the right tool for dealing with Reality. ...
Is there really an Eternal Witness?
This articles explains why no Eternal Witness exist...
How does Non-duality feels like?
A description of how non-duality feels like from my experience...
Clearing of karmic patterns and habits
Beside having insights and realisations, karmic pattern clearing is equally important for effective transformation to occur.....
Are we supposed to get rid of unwholesome thoughts?
Many spiritual teaching say that one must get rid of unwholesome stuffs in one's life. So does that include getting rid of unwholesome thoughts that one is having? This article is related to karmic pattern clearing ....
Misconceptions surrounding the term Non-duality
An essay about the misconceptions surrounding the term Non-duality...
The non-solidity of existence
An essay about the non-solidity of existence...
Series of realisations and self-discoveries
Below is a list of realisations that I had. They are arranged sequentially with the earliest realisation on the top. What was being discovered is that a latter realisation can over-ride or modify upon an earlier one. This listing is not a definitive guide, but a documentation of the process based on my own personal experience.
The description of the self-discovery path that I use can be found here.
Who are we?
Are we just the personality?
Self-arised impressions?
When we interact with the world and others, are we really engaging the external environment
or are we really just interacting with our thoughts and ourselves?
Can a face see itself without a mirror?
Likewise, can the Absolute Source percieve itself without a mirror?
Doer and the being done
Who is the doer of action? ...
Symbolism and Presence
Our world seems 'solid' when we externalise experiences...
Entering Present Moment
Entering Present Moment cannot be a contrive activity. It happens when it wants to and is without any active intention on the part of the mind. ...
The impression of self and others
When the hypnotic impression of there being an observer (self) and the being observed(others and environment) is being discovered and recognised, the world suddenly appears illusionary....
Knowingness and Self
Knowingness is in-built into consciousness. But this knowingness is being mistaken for a doer or a self.....
All is the Universal Mind
Click to find out... Please understand that there is a difference between a conceptual understanding and an experiential realisation...
When meditation can be a hinderance
Meditation is a useful practice for one on a spiritual path. However, at a certain stage it can actually be a hinderance. This article is an essay on when meditation becomes a hinderance to experiencing Oneness Presence.....
Non-dual conversation
Is it possible to maintain non-duality when talking to someone? Yes it is possible ...
A new phase
Description of a new phase ...
Below is a list of spiritual transmission example.
These are some psychic transmissions that I had some years ago. They represented an intermediate stage of my spiritual development.
Transmission example 1
A query on reincarnation...
Transmission example 2
An explanation on consciousness...

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