Instant Enlightenment – Other Factors

Yesterday, I discussed whether instant enlightenment was a myth or not. Summing it up in a couple of sentences, it is a gradual process that needs time, discipline and effort. Nobody gets enlightenment just because they recognize the Truth, it is much more than that. It simply is when you become the Truth.

There are two other factors that I thought about when it comes to the topic of instant enlightenment that people from the neo-advaita scene or neo-bhakti movements can counter argue with me. That is the Guru and/or Grace. These two factors may have a great impact on a disciple. So let’s explore this together and see if Guru or Grace causes instant enlightenment.

The Spiritual Guru

What is the role of the Guru? What is the impact of having a Guru? Is it enough to be without a Guru? Does our whole life need to center around the Guru? This is dependent on the seeker and their experiences. Here, I will discuss my views and responses to those questions.

The role of the Guru is to simply show the way, give the pointing, pass on the mantra or give the initiation. They can guide but they can’t walk the path for you. You have to respond to your own calling. The role of the Guru is also very personal. We need guidance in our day to day life because we live in the world, we have a family, we have a job or business, we go to school or college. We may need help on how to interpret the teachings according to our living experiences or need guidance during a difficult time. It is the Guru that will offer guidance but again, their role is to give you the path to enlightenment, whether it is instant or not, is dependent solely on the seeker and their readiness.

The impact of the Guru depends on how much they are invested in your spirituality. If it is simply listening to sermons or reading their books, there is only a certain impact that the Guru will have. If like I mentioned before, the Guru guides you during difficult times, the Guru is there for you, the Guru supports you very personally, the impact will be strong. Whether it is a positive or negative impact again is dependent on the seeker. From the genuine Gurus that I know, they seek to take you away from conflict. They will never break a family, gather money for their personal gain or control your lifestyle. They offer a path to you but don’t demand you to walk the path. They are both involved but also take a step back at the same time. They offer the seeker the freedom to act.

Can we advance in spirituality without a Guru? I don’t know but I have hugely benefited from having a Guru that was there for me and who guided me personally with my spiritual journey. If I was feeling helpless with a spiritual conundrum, it helped me immensely to have my Guru’s guidance. Sometimes, it was knowing that I had someone to fall back on during difficult times that gave me the strength to advance spiritually. I know some friends who do not have a physical guru but to be honest, they may follow the teachings of someone that lived in the previous century or thousands of years ago. We all have someone that inspires us, so their guidance is great. The more personal, the better.

So does our life need to center around the Guru? No, it doesn’t have to center on the physical being of the Guru. Not at all. We are to enjoy the presence of the Guru whenever the opportunity arises. We are to take advantage of this for sure. However, there needs to a life centered on the Teachings. My Guru would give the biggest smile if I told Him about how a particular teaching helped me. This gave Him more joy than simply following Him wherever He went or even praising Him. It is important to have the presence of the Guru but priority is with the Teaching.

I know some friends, who are devotees to different gurus and have become disenchanted. They followed someone and then found that their Guru did not live up to their title, they came across someone who was greedy, angry, or extremely controlling and authoritarian. However, those very friends tell me about how the teachings of the Guru helped them but they simply couldn’t follow that guru again with the same devotion to the physical form.

Concluding all these questions, instant enlightenment may not be given by having a Guru or being in the presence of the Guru. It is following the Teachings that bring a gradual growth that can lead to enlightenment. Sometimes, it is the silence of the Guru that helps and we find the answers to everything within because that Presence guides us to find our own inner Guru. The Teaching has to be Supreme and maybe when we consider this, enlightenment can be instant as an Inner Guru will always be there for us.

Grace

Grace is help by some divine intervention. Out of nowhere, we find that somehow our spiritual growth has increased tenfold and we can’t explain how. This genuinely happens and I have found that in my own life and experiences that some things are unexplainable when it comes to excelling spiritually.

Grace is like being dependent on chance. If you receive it then you are lucky. If you don’t then you are not so lucky. If you are a good devotee then you may get grace or you may not. There is no definitive way to attain Grace and that is the biggest argument against it in causing instant enlightenment.

However, Grace can be interpreted as the culmination of practice. The more sincere we are, the more honest, the more we apply the teachings, the more we feel that element of Grace assisting us.

I do believe Grace helps but it isn’t something that provides instant enlightenment. Grace does give you awakenings or satoris but that is it. That internal movement towards enlightenment can be called grace but again, momentum is only achieved through practice.

Practice is the answer

As we have briefly discussed the role of the Guru and the role of Grace, as much as they may be beneficial, I am doubtful that they cause instant enlightenment. I doubt the first look of the Guru will cause instant enlightenment. I doubt that Grace appears and you are suddenly enlightened.

Guru’s presence and the concept of Grace are necessary to help progress in your spiritual journey. Sometimes accepting experiences as an element of Grace helps to keep the momentum going without getting into the details. Sometimes, it is easier to explain such experiences as Grace and it definitely helps us to avoid spiritual pride and grounds us to humility. Which is beneficial for effective spiritual practice.

Also, there is nothing bigger than the Guru’s Teachings. Every scripture is the Guru and every physical presence that helps you spiritually is the Guru. We are to commit to the Teachings, yet enjoy the physical presence of the Guru. Infact, the Guru’s Teachings awakens the Guru within you. This is available to everyone and it is something great sages like Ramana Maharshi attest to.

The more we practice the Teachings, the more clarity we get. The better clarity, the more we are open to enlightenment happening in a more gradual, consistent and grounding way.

Instant Enlightenment – Is it a Myth?

Growing up, I feel that I was always told that we can realize God in an instant, and that realizing God is the same as being enlightened or self-realized. Although, I believed this when I was growing up, when I did receive the Knowledge that was meant to give me this instant enlightenment, I didn’t feel enlightened or god-realized. The Knowledge given was potent enough for me to feel the Energy that it was pointing to but my mind didn’t change, I didn’t have any experience like feeling oneness with everything.

I say all this because my Guru has never claimed to me that I would get instant enlightenment, He always told me to continue working hard on my spirituality. To be honest, I don’t know how I got the idea that I would get instant enlightenment/liberation, my memory doesn’t serve me well on this point. It did get me disenchanted with spirituality around 10 years ago though and that wasn’t a nice experience for me. I was also told that I will be liberated but to be honest, I was still scared of heights and spiders at that time, so obviously I didn’t feel so liberated! How can you feel free when basic fears still roam the mind?

I used to hear people talk about how they were instantly enlightened or could see god everywhere but it didn’t tally up with their actions so it took me down a path of confusion.

It was only years later that I started to read wider spiritual literature that I started to understand that enlightenment was very unlikely to be instant, it was always a steady process. Not everyone simply got it straight away without the mind being fertile enough to receive the Knowledge, therefore once received, it was the only thing needed. Most of us, need to spend and focus time on building a spiritual practice that is serious enough for enlightenment.

Today, the neo-advaita scene, the neo-bhakti scene, all make promises of instant enlightenment. However, they are making a huge mistake. It is not instant enlightenment but one is able to recognize the immediacy of the Truth, once the Knowledge or Pointing is received. One is able to understand the Taste but that is it. It is like when you go to an Ice-Cream shop and taste different samples. Once you taste a flavor, you immediately have the taste, you recognize it. You may order 1 scoop, but that one scoop will finish. Therefore, this ‘enlightenment’ really is short-lived and is more likely to be an awakening or a satori. What I consider enlightenment is a perpetual state – it is continuously there as the ego has dissolved away.

So what if like me, you were given the promise of instant enlightenment, or you read books, watched YouTube videos, listened to podcasts, went to satsangs, meet-ups or retreats and were told you would be liberated instantly because the Truth is always now, the Truth is always here, only to find out that really there has been little progress and you have fooled yourself into thinking you are liberated, you are enlightened? Well, don’t worry, there is hope, even for the likes of me and you!

There have been great Gurus of the past and present that understand that Truth can be realized, right here, right now but it requires some effort in the beginning. Most of the people that seem to get it instantly tend to have already done great practice in the past. Therefore, it isn’t as instant as it is perceived.


So let’s look into what needs to be done when we receive that special Mantra, Knowledge/Gyana, Pointing or Initiation?

Contemplate on that Mantra, Knowledge etc.

Take time out to think about whatever you received. Take time out to contemplate on this wisdom. What impact does it have on your mind? What does it do to your surroundings? Does it do nothing and still feel potent? Contemplate on it, focus on it, dwell on it, don’t let go of it. The more you live with it, the more it helps you.

Meditation

Meditation is a useful practice and this meditation that I am talking about is specific. Just watch your mind and keep watching. Travel with each thought and emotion and see where it leads to. Find where the thought or emotion appear from. How does it get formed? How does it dissolve? This isn’t easy as it sounds and is an arduous process and doesn’t offer it’s rewards easily.

Reading Scriptures

Reading the Scriptures, I am mainly someone that has studied texts from Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. This is important. When we read, we are meant to contemplate on the words. Look at what they really mean to us, forget whether the interpretation is right or wrong because investigation or inquiry into it will help us get to the correct meaning. However, when we read more about the Truth, we find ways on how to incorporate it because Sages who got enlightenment, liberated, they recorded their guidance there. This is the satsang that is most important.

Prioritize and spend time for your spiritual practice

You have to spend more than 2 or 3 hours a week on it, if you want to get any results. Spirituality isn’t a part-time affair or entertainment for a couple of hours. It is serious, more serious than one can imagine but there is fun in there too. If you do chanting, or listen to mantras with music, it creates an ecstatic feeling so it can be joyful, you may end up dancing, that is fine. However, your discipline to spend time on your spirituality must be serious. It has to be as focused as possible and must be everything you want. The thing is, we don’t have to let go of our material possessions or anything like that, or let go of any desires. Let your spiritual practice define what needs to be done. What matters most is what matters to you the most.

Be honest in your reflections

Be honest about where you are spiritually, record it in a journal or start a blog like me. Inquire into your spiritual journey with great honesty everyday and don’t be disheartened if it hasn’t moved forward for a while. The more honest you are, the more humble you will become. All this is a natural process. There is no need for the holier than thou attitude and if you read the scriptures, you recognize that none of those sages ever had that attitude. They were humble and honest and wanted future generations to continue with that legacy.


These are a few things I wanted to mention that will guide us into a more gradual journey towards enlightenment. It may take a long time, it may end up happening instantly, who knows but the fact is we need to be humble, honest and ego free. If we are to become true spiritual beings, we have to imbibe all the virtues required. We cannot become bigots after enlightenment, it isn’t possible. If one can fall from grace like that, I question if one ever was in grace or was enlightened.

This may take years, but I am ready for this type of journey. I am ready to take the time to be more aware and be brutally honest about it. Yes, the Truth is here and now, and I feel it but I haven’t become it yet. There isn’t a union or oneness with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from my side. It may be united with me but doesn’t mean I understand that it is always united with me.

I hope what I said makes sense and please do reach out to me if you have any questions or comments. This is a discussion, a dialogue to get to a place where we want to become enlightened beings. We can discover the answers together with an open-mind.