Great prophets, gurus, spiritual leaders, and teachers across the world encourage us to search for the Great Light and find this mysterious thing they call "enlightenment". Many people begin their spiritual quest with one major mission: to become enlightened. But what is enlightenment and how can we truly reach it? Is it concrete or abstract? Physical or spiritual? Visible or invisible?
Marianne Williamson believes, "Enlightenment is the key to everything, and it is the key to intimacy, because it is the goal of true authenticity". For her, the definition of enlightenment is rooted in being authentic which goes along similar lines as Socrates' famous decree, "Know thyself". By knowing ourselves well, we will know others better and avoid common traps and illusions of the outer world.
Paulo Coelho defines enlightenment as something physical based on daily actions. He states that, "I believe enlightenment or revelation comes in daily life. I look for joy, the peace of action. You need action." Thich Nhat Hanh considers enlightenment as purely being alive every day. He says:
Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive - that you can touch the miracle of being alive - then that is a kind of enlightenment.
In Sandra Ingerman's latest book, Walking in Light, she also speaks of the importance of living daily from a place of light. She defines walking in light as being a state of non-duality and creating a "rich inner landscape" that will affect everything around us positively. Sandra tells us that, "It is a great gift that you can share to beam light like a star in the night sky and be a vessel of unconditional love".
Having the Goal of Enlightenment
Twelve years ago I made a statement out loud and to my spirit that I wanted to reach enlightenment in this life. I kept this promise secret for many years and dedicated myself to a disciplined daily spiritual practice that encompassed eating healthy food, doing various fun physical activities, meditating, reading positive uplifting books, and writing The New Dimensions Trilogy.
What I discovered was that no matter how dedicated you are to being enlightened, you will not go far if you are overwhelmed with emotions that constantly rock your boat. I realized then that enlightenment was about mastering emotions and controlling thoughts above all else. If the waters are constantly agitated in our daily life then enlightenment cannot enter our hearts and minds.
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A book that was deeply revelatory in my life was Hermann Hesse's book Siddartha. In this book, Hesse tells the story of the Buddha and shows how enlightenment cannot be reached by jumping straight into the light: we need to explore various facets of darkness and excess in order to physically understand enlightenment. Enlightenment must be an experience not a notion. It must be experienced by everyone individually and in the physical world.
Siddhartha first explores hunger and poverty, then riches and financial excess, then sexual and epicurean delights, until finally he comes to the realization that it is through the Middle Path that enlightenment awaits us. The Middle Path is about balance and harmony and about, "the golden mean between self-indulgence and self-mortification". The Buddha then drafted the Eightfold Path philosophy which consists of right thought, right speech, right understanding, right livelihood, right effort, right action, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Observing Our Emotional Reactions
By closely observing our emotional reactions to events around us and not letting our emotions control us, I believe we can all reach enlightenment. Our emotions are affected by our thoughts so the first step to mastering our emotions is to master our minds and create positive thoughts. Like the Buddha said;
To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind, he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
The problem is, how do we put into practice emotional and mental self-mastery on a daily basis? We often get lazy or tired and drop our focus and patience and this allows room for our emotions to take over again and our thoughts to rage tempests in our minds. If you can make it your priority every day to observe yourself and correct yourself, you can make great progress in your quest. Be a loving guide to yourself but be disciplined and firm in your mission. I suggest a mixture of self-love and self-discipline to achieve mastery over yourself.
Enlightenment Is A Journey, Not A Destination
Enlightenment is not a destination but a journey. If you have made the same promise as I did to reach enlightenment in this life then I encourage you to walk the Middle Path like the Buddha once did and to become a master of your thoughts and emotions above all else. If you can stop fighting with yourself then you will stop fighting with the world and others around you and slowly the light will pierce your thick layers and dissolve your ego, which is your biggest enemy to enlightenment.
Eckhart Tolle advises us,
To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.
©2015 by Nora Caron.
Book by this author
Journey to the Heart: New Dimensions Trilogy, Book 1
by Nora Caron.
Watch the book trailer: Journey to the Heart - Book Trailer
About the Author
Nora Caron has a Masters degree in English Renaissance literature and speaks four languages. After struggling through the academic system, she realized that her true calling was to help people live from their hearts and explore the world through the eyes of their spirit. Nora has studied with various spiritual teachers and healers since 2003 and she practices Energy Medicine as well as Tai Chi and Qi Gong. In September 2014, her book "Journey to the Heart", received the Living Now Book Award Silver Medal for Best Inspirational Fiction. Visit her website at: www.noracaron.com
Watch a video with Nora: New Dimensions of Being
Other books in the trilogy: