Image by Matthew Greger
There are no words to describe Enlightenment. We can use concepts to allude to the state of Awakening, to God-Realization, to Self-Realization. That last one, Self-Realization is rather ironic since the process of Liberation begins with realizing there is no self. We can say it is a state of Unity, of ultimate bliss and peace; that it is freedom from suffering. Enlightenment is the end of Ignorance, the end of attachment to senses, and the end of coming to any state of Being.
Liberation from suffering is probably the closest we can come in words. It does not mean pleasure and pain are no longer felt. In reality, they are felt more deeply since there is no resistance. But a particular sensation doesn’t hang around very long because there is no self to cling to it. Beneath all the waves that arise, there is an indescribable sense of peace, but even the word peace falls flat in reality.
Enlightenment does not mean everything in our lives works out. It doesn’t mean all money problems and relationship issues and health challenges suddenly disappear. What it does mean is the human drama does not block the unreasonable joy which is the play of existence.
Even Shakyamuni Buddha had to eat, manage relationships, and deal with back problems which would cause him pain and disability. When the back pain became intense and his body could not sit up straight, he would ask one of his disciples to give the discourse while he lay down. The statue of the reclining Buddha represents his final illness, when he could no longer sit up before the death of his body, yet he still exuded the peace and bliss of Enlightenment.
Why didn’t Shakyamuni Buddha heal himself, or ask one of the many gods, goddesses, or healers who came to him to hear the Dharma to fix his body? I can speculate that having a perfect physical body was unnecessary for him to accomplish his task of teaching. When you know you are the Dharmakaya, what difference does the temporary physical vehicle make?
On another level, his physical pain also served as a teaching for his students to let go of their attachment to and worship of the body. In his last teaching, moments before death, the Buddha exhorted his students to let go of him and hold only to the Teachings.
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Enlightenment Does Not Mean You Are A Saint
There are Enlightened Saints, but not all Saints are Enlightened and not all of the Enlightened are Saints. As long as the body exists, there is a sliver of ego and a variable personality interacting with the world, complete with its own quirks and eccentricities.
The difference between one who is Liberated and one who is not is there is no clinging to the ego or personality. The Awakened changes to fit the needs of those around them, to show the Light in a way they have the possibility of seeing It, which aids in the Awakening of those they meet. Or, sometimes their job is simply to meditate alone and let the Light shine through them, so they may chase people away.
Their actions don’t always make sense to those who are watching from the outside. To the average person, the Enlightened may appear aloof, fickle, sometimes cold, and sometimes extremely loving. None of these words adequately describe Enlightenment. It is everything and nothing all at once.
All I or anyone can really tell you is the struggle to Awaken is worth every hardship. Each experience you have in this world contains within it the seed of realization. While it is certainly not easy to let go of every last attachment and expose yourself bare before the Light, it is what we were made for. Enlightenment is our Natural State.
CLOSER THAN WE THINK
We are One
There is no Time
There is no Space
Those we miss are
Closer than we think
Diamond of Enlightenment
Enlightenment is a diamond, not a ladder. There is a ladder we climb through mindstate after mindstate, until we reach the jumping off point. We launch into the Void, releasing our hold on all mindstates, completely dissolving the self.
The seat of consciousness turns. Then it turns back. Over and over we dissolve the self in Samadhi. Then we return to ordinary consciousness with all of our complaints and clinging. Raptures of ecstasy pour through us and disappear without a trace.
At some beginningless or endless point the turning – the coming and going into and out of Samadhi – stops. There is no longer any fixed point of self that turns. The Light burns away the sense of a fixed self completely, and the flame is extinguished.
Pleasure and pain exist within the body, but the deep-seated doubt and unsatisfactoriness – the suffering – are gone. There is a memory of it, but the feeling of it as something real has disappeared. The intense suffering which binds us to the story of individuality is only a mental concept, like last night’s dream.
The emptiness that is shines and reflects like the facets of a diamond, with countless surfaces to explore, yet no one is there to experience anything. One view of the diamond is not higher than another, only different. But know these words are only foolish pointers to what can never be captured.
The ladder leading to the diamond of Enlightenment is available to anyone. However, actually jumping off and completely dissolving the precious self is not a very popular option. It is not what we think it is; it is beyond thought and description, and perhaps even a bit disappointing to the ego who wants to be more than it is. But it is well worth the effort of disciplining the mind to the point where we can let go of all of this and know our true nature.
Excerpted from the book: Unreasonable Joy by Turīya.
Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Electric Bliss.
©2020 by Jenna Sundell. All Rights Reserved.
Unreasonable Joy: Awakening through Trikaya Buddhism
Unreasonable Joy: Awakening through Trikaya Buddhism, points the way towards Enlightenment and liberation from suffering. We suffer through tragedies and the daily grind of eat-work-sleep, chasing happiness but finding fleeting pleasure. Built on the foundations of ancient wisdom, a new school called Trikaya Buddhism promises freedom from the suffering of this wearisome cycle.
For more info, or to order this book, click here. (Also available as a Kindle edition.)
About the Author
Turīya is a Buddhist monk, teacher, and author who, despite living with chronic pain, founded the Dharma Center of Trikaya Buddhism in San Diego in 1998 to share her path. For over 25 years, she has taught thousands of students how to meditate, trained teachers, and helped people discover the unreasonable joy of our true nature. For more info, visit dharmacenter.com/teachers/turiya/ as well as www.turiyabliss.com