People from the Eastern hemisphere are probably more acquainted with the term or the word “Enlightenment.” If you’re from the Western hemisphere, you probably are acquainted with the term “Awakening”. So what is “Awakening” or “Enlightenment”? In the Western tradition Abraham Maslow was really the pioneer in studying these wonderful experiences of “Awakening”. He called them “Peak Experiences.” They really are magical, wonderful, enlightened experiences of truly being present in the moment. Being present in the moment and alive; being so present that you feel and sense everything around you and everything inside of you. It was a very magical, beautiful experience he found as he researched it many years ago.
In more of the Eastern traditions they use the word “Enlightenment,” very similar to what we call “awakening” in the West. It entails losing the egoic and being present with right now. Buddha is quoted to have said “There is no self.” I think what he meant is that we are so in touch with all that is around us that we lose the egoic identity of “me” and “mine.” There’s a greater love and we’re more in touch with other people than we are with ourselves. Sometimes, when people do drugs this experience of “me” and “mine” occurs. I definitely don’t advocate this method as a way of moving into an awakening. We all know that drugs are not a solution to finding ourselves but will only put us on a path to self-destruction. Meditation is a safe and much more effective way of experiencing this form of awakening.
There truly are many different definitions of enlightenment or awakening. I could go on and on about what it means or what it doesn’t mean. In the Western tradition the term “via nakeva” is described as “it isn’t what you think it is.” It means that it isn’t anything that you think it is. In the East they often use the term “neti-neti” which means “not this, not that.” So enlightenment is really beyond description. It fascinates us, we pursue it, and some people even enter monasteries to experience it. Some people enter retreat centers and programs to find “enlightenment” or “awakening.” There is a lot of energy around the world going into finding an awakening or enlightenment.
I too hold to the tradition that true awakening and enlightenment truly cannot be fully described. It is beyond words, beyond description. What I can do is give you some practical, hand-on tools so that you too can have these wonderful experiences on your own. Perhaps the best way that I can describe it is that enlightened, awakened people are very quiet. I don’t mean that they don’t talk; what they do is they stay “still inside.” They allow their mind to be quiet, to be at rest, and to be present with what is. I often use the example of children. Children are often perfect examples of enlightened beings because they are really 100% present with what is, right here, right now. They don’t worry about the past or the future. They concentrate on that moment that they are living in.
If you’re interested on having your own enlightenment experience I encourage you to be still. Be quiet, quiet the mind. What you will find is that in that vacuum, in that huge emptiness of nothingness, it is actually filled beyond description. Let me give you an example. If you have ever been in a cave, as I have been when I’ve been spelunking, when you turn off all he lights it becomes pitch black. It is still, with no talking, yet what you will find is that is still but so amazingly full that emptiness can be. That silence is amazing. I encourage you to find this emptiness, this quietness, and be present with what is. Don’t think about it, don’t put words to the moment, don’t describe it, just be in that quietness. It isn’t beautiful, it isn’t ugly, it isn’t exquisite, it just “IS.” Lose all the adverbs, all the adjectives and just be. Be still.
If you practice this experience of being still, in this quietness, that is what I am going to call “Dr. Puff’s Awakening or Enlightenment Experience or Life.” When you are truly still you are awakened to the vast infinite reality around you that your normally very busy mind is keeping you from. Be still and quiet.
In the Christian and Jewish Bible there is a beautiful verse that I really love that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” I think the key there is to just be still and the whole vast cosmos opens to you. The wonderful thing is that you can experience this on your own. All you have to do is work towards quieting your mind. I know it’s work, but it is so worth it to reach the point where you can truly quiet your mind. Keep practicing and working on it.
I think one of the best ways of achieving this is to go on a retreat but if this is not possible keep using the techniques I teach you here or the podcasts on my website to work towards that moment when you become enlightened. Eventually you will find that you can find that place in your mind where you are still, quiet, and even “awakened” or “enlightened” on your own. Work towards this and keep meditating. You will begin to have perhaps “mini enlightenment” experiences that will get bigger and grow. Perhaps some day you will enter a world where throughout the day you are truly present and still. You will be still and enlightened with the vast and wonderful cosmos that used to be cluttered with your thoughts throughout the day.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com He also creates a weekly podcast that explores the world of Enlightenment available at http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com If you would like to contact Dr. Puff, his e-mail address is DrPuff@cox.net