Friday, November 17, 2017

What Is Self-Realization?

Along with enlightenment and spiritual awakening, self-realization sounds like an unattainable, if not undefinable state of being. One website makes the following distinctions:
“A definition of spiritual enlightenment or spiritual awakening is hard to pin down. This is, in part, because 'spiritual enlightenment' and 'spiritual awakening' have been used in so many ways to describe so many things, similar to the way in which 'love' is used to describe everything from a preference for ice cream to a merging with everything. And it is also because spiritual enlightenment and spiritual awakening are such rich and complex experiences that they are innately hard to define.
“Some definitions are very specific and narrow. One such definition for spiritual enlightenment is the complete dissolution of one's identity as a separate self with no trace of the egoic mind remaining. This sets the bar very high and means that very few people qualify as enlightened.
“The opposite approach is to say that everyone is enlightened, that there is only awake consciousness. In this view, it's only a question of whether this natural awakeness has been recognized or not. Of course, when a word describes everything or everyone, it loses some of its usefulness. If everyone is enlightened, then why even talk about it? 
~ What Is Spiritual Enlightenment or Spiritual Awakening? 
By the first definition, most Westerners claiming to be enlightened would be scorned as a braggart because in the end there’s no objective way of proving the person is or is not. In the West we measure everything quantitatively, by a series of criteria, which, once passed, automatically confers a rank or title. Like Ph.D or MD.

As a kind of spoof to upper class imperiousness, we also accept that a celebrity bearing a title has every right to. Was Duke Ellington really a duke? Or LeBron James really a king? Queen Latifah really a queen? Does it matter? We take things like this with a grain of salt, but we don’t play around with academic rank. Claiming the title of enlightenment would appear to be a serious matter, yet there are no criteria. No board of governors to examine candidates. Yet, some are universally considered “enlightened.” Did they acquire the title by general approbation and word-of-mouth? In the East they have long-standing traditions for recognizing the qualities associated with self-realization; we, in the West, do not. So how does a Westerner earn the title? I would think someone claiming the title would need solid grounds to claim such ineffable status. 

And therein lies the irony. The spiritually inclined among us begin a quest whose ultimate aim is self-realization or enlightenment, only to discover that what they are searching for is undefinable and unattainable.

If they’re smart, they settle for something else, some incremental state of being, a shock to the Ego perhaps, brought on by meditation, through which, over time, makes one more aware of the non-dualistic nature of existence. Is that enough? It is for me: I’m okay with living for forty years with kundalini. I'm okay with the opportunities it’s given me to know and heal myself. Self-realization is incremental, at least, it has been for me — presenting me with a series of opportunities to delve deeper into my being, to deal with blockages, negative emotion, and egoic distortions.

Self-realization isn’t a status symbol; it’s a process. Although disciples may consider a teacher to be "realized," the truly enlightened person would never make such a claim. In the end rank and titles don't matter.
“My sense of kundalini is it’s your life force. It carries consciousness. It moves through the body in ways that both clear out old patterns and transform the heart energy, transforms the throat energy, transforms the brain so that there’s a dramatic shift in how we’re identified. For me, a spiritual awakening is a shift in identification out of our old created conditioned self into a sense that we are an energy, or a consciousness, that is universally connected.That here’s one consciousness moving through all of us. We get a glimpse of that.”
~ Bonnie Greenwell

Another colleague, Corinne Lebrun, uses a clever metaphor to explain kundalini and self-realization. She says that normal people are like a piano with only three octaves. When kundalini rises, by whatever means, suddenly the person is a piano with eight octaves. Whether or not the person takes advantage of, learns from experimenting with the additional notes, is up to him/her.

Kundalini supplies the opportunities — infinite in number and discernment — you must decide which path to travel and how far you are willing to go. If you want to call yourself King, Duke, or Queen, so be it. If you want to call yourself “enlightened,” you may be missing the point.

No comments:

Post a Comment