No one saves us but ourselves.
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path.
The Buddha (Dhammapada)
Many people go around not knowing what to make of the idea of spiritual enlightenment, also known as nirvana, moksha, mystical union and what have you. They may have read about the Buddha or heard about Jesus, but they wouldn’t know what enlightenment truly meant even if their life depended on it. In other words, the experience of enlightenment feels foreign to these individuals. Some claim to be enlightened who really are not; sometimes these people are speaking from their aggrandized personhood, and not from their perfect state of presence.
If you happen to be interested in the concept of Enlightenment, I am here to tell you that all these points on Nirvanic Insights (Immersed, Presence vs Person and the Spiritual Pointings) are legitimate insights and ways of reaching that state. These are insights that you may have great use for on your journey towards total freedom.
My understanding of spiritual enlightenment is that it’s nothing other than you being present as presence before yourself without any trace of the constructed self-separate person.
And do you know what the greatest thing about enlightenment is? Well, that would be that presence is already enlightened unto itself, like a self-shining sun. This is known as the buddha-nature or bodhicitta within you, as it is known in some schools of Buddhism, which is your original consciousness. However something seems to hide it. Therefore you don’t need to “create” and “maintain” enlightenment when you discover it within you, but you only need to recognize it, be one with it and dissolve in it.
Spiritual enlightenment is simply the dissolution of the ego-mind, the separate self, the mentally constructed person we think we are. This person is not you by the way, because you are not your person, a truth that you most assuredly know by now if you’ve read the previous article on presence.
Enlightenment is therefore a powerful recognition and a shift of perspective from where you’re seeing yourself, life and reality from. It is not something attained, because it is already here, though it appears not to be.
Presence is your true self, the person is merely an afterthought, and like all afterthoughts, they have their role to play but cannot stay in the grand scheme of things.
Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Meister Eckhart, Mooji, Ramana Maharshi, Rumi, Teresa of Avila, Kabir, Tilopa, Bodhidharma, Hui-Neng all are examples of individuals who understood this deeply in their being, and therefore were freed from the tyranny of time and the restlessness of personhood.
You can do the very same, you can become your own self-shining sun, in truth, you already are, you just need to recognize it!
Our Original Selves
“I believe in the immortality of the soul because I have within me immortal longings…”
No one can teach you to be presence and no one has taught you to be consciousness. On the other hand you were indeed taught to be a person as you were not born a person. Prior to even your physical body you were presence. It is at this point where it could become abstract and spiritual. The chain of events looks something like this.
Absolute awareness → Presence → Body → Personhood → Presence → Enlightenment
That is my spontaneous image of how the spirit is born into the body and personhood and thereafter transcends its own limitations when reaching its evolutionary peak.
You may ask, where on god’s green earth do I get this stuff from, I would say by simply being present as presence. These words are pouring out without a person to put its stamp on them. They are spontaneous, and it doesn’t really matter if they are “objectively” true or false. Presence is all about subjectivity, namely absolute subjectivity. When you reach this state of absolute subjectivity, you transcend both subjectivity and objectivity. This is your innermost and original condition, namely pure presence witnessing itself. Ain’t that a mind-boggling thing to ponder!
Your original self can never be seen with separate eyes, if you wish to see your consciousness, you have to dance with it and become lost in the dance so completely that only your presence remains. In doing this, you come to know it and “see” it for the very first time for what it is, and not what you think it is.
Your natural state is presence, the person is a symbiot which sometimes or most often turns parasitic quite quickly, and the meaning of life is to transcend it by dancing in your own presence!
Recognizing your original self is just another way of describing spiritual enlightenment.
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s also currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.