As human beings we experience at three different levels. Experiences in the Gross realm take place largely in the body. The next level of experience occurs in the Subtle realm, characterized by phenomena, yet to be scientifically verified, such as mysticism, NDE, OBE, dreams, astral travel, visions, kundalini.
Finally, there is experience in the Causal realm which is where the ego 'I' originates. It is also the source of attention. Experiences in any or all of these dimensions are not enlightenment. When I first heard the parable of the blind men and the elephant, I had a palpable and immediate insight that the elephant was a metaphor for enlightenment and each realized adept had only perceived one aspect and then proclaimed it to be the whole elephant.
Writing and speaking from my own experiences and insights — realizations gained from these sources, as opposed to being theoretical and/or philosophical hypotheses — have always been important for my own integrity as a spiritual writer. And so I look at the nature of my experiences in these three domains and how sensing one aspect of the elephant fully convinced me it was enlightenment.
The experiences I'm talking about relate to the esoteric path of spirituality as opposed to the exoteric path of religion. It is also not a linear path; the Subtle/Causal can occur alongside the Gross, but the Subtle experiences are not consciously accessible in the beginning.
Experiences in the Gross realm occur largely up to the age 21 although nowadays many twenty-somethings don't actually reach that age until a much later date. Nevertheless, these physical, emotional, mental experiences occur as the ego and egoity develops.
While engaged in intensive self-developmental training for five years, I examined areas of my life where I felt a loss of freedom, power, and self-expression due to circumstances and events in my past, whose meaning I then shifted to other causes in order to free myself from the hold these experiences had on me. During my time in this training I was definitely gripping the leg of the elephant and declaring it to be enlightenment or freedom from suffering. At that time, this was Enlightenment for me and I told everyone who would listen that it was!
|The Body's Chakras|
I now realize I held back from pursuing the Subtle: there was something I felt I couldn't trust myself with. Had I had these lights, visions, and mystical experiences, I might have gotten stuck there! Plus, my heart told there was more to it. My reluctance to engage in this realm is why I haven't had many experiences of this type and why I groan inwardly every time someone mentions "seeing angels." In the past I am ashamed to say that I was dismissive of everything to do with revelations like this. Now I completely accept these kinds of experiences as valid and originating from the Subtle realm.
The Causal realm is where one adept claims the source of the ego 'I' and root of egoity as well as the root of attention dwells. Because of my lifelong struggle with ego, I decided to investigate his claims and despite the communal damage that devotion to a Guru often arouses, I became a formal devotee of this realized Adept because of the clarity with which He writes about this dimension of experience, and the fact that it can only be felt. He speaks at length about the ego knot that defines this realm and how it is only when the ego knot is released that there is Enlightenment. According to my Guru's analogy, before attention is freed from this causal knot the human being is like a closed fist — separate, but after the ego knot breaks, the closed fist becomes an open hand and the separation is no more.
Profound as this is, it is still only another part of the elephant because the elephant itself has four additional states within its own state: Divine Transformation, Divine Transfiguration, Divine Indifference, and Divine Translation. Another reason I became a formal devotee of this realized Adept is because these stages resonate intuitively. These stages exist not because this Adept was a great thinker, but because every word He's written comes from His experience. For me, this realized Adept has not only grasped the whole elephant but IS the elephant.