What is enlightenment?
This post is excerpted from Lightning Path Workbook One: Introduction to Authentic Spirituality. You can download a free PDF.
The first topic I want to discuss in this introductory booklet is “enlightenment.” Specifically, I want to answer the question “What is enlightenment?” I want to talk a bit about what enlightenment is and how you accomplish it. I also want to clear up a lot of the confusion, frustration, and just plain irrationality that often surrounds this topic.
What kind of irrationality am I talking about?
Allow me to illustrate. A few years ago there was this magazine called “What is Enlightenment?” which contained articles from people trying to answer the question. There was even an online forum where people could go and discuss the question, and discuss it they did. They argued back and forth. They pointed to this phenomenon or that idea as exemplary or relevant. They confidently stated that “this is enlightenment” or “that is enlightenment.” Sometimes they struggled to answer. But no matter what they did, no satisfactory answers were forthcoming. Nobody could say with definitive force, in a way that everybody could agree, that “This is what it is!” Like Sisyphus lifting a rock only to have it fall back down again and again, they strained and they struggled, but they did not understand and made no forward progress at all.
I wish I could say it was funny, but in fact, it was painful to watch. Try as they might, these people could not answer a simple question, “What is enlightenment?” We cannot blame the magazine or the people for that, because people have been trying to understand enlightenment for ten thousand years to no significant avail, or so it seems. It seems that despite thousands of years of spiritual searching and spiritual struggle, and hundreds of years of scientific achievement, little progress has been made, at least at the collective level. A handful of people claim, sometimes unreasonably so, to have achieved enlightenment, and a fewer number still might know and understand (I’m thinking Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Meister Eckhart, Edward Carpenter, and others like them), but the general population is clueless. This may sound harsh, but you can see the truth of it for yourself, if you ask ten people the simple question, “What is enlightenment?” If you do that you will get ten different answers, some of which will be so bizarre you may be forgiven for scratching your head in bewilderment or bemusement. If you ask the question, “What is enlightenment?” you will find an indomitable tower of Babel, that is for sure.
So, what do we do? If we are interested in learning what is enlightenment, if we are interested in moving forward, where do we go from here? Do we read a hundred books? Do we have a hundred arguments? Do we meditate? Do we pontificate? Do we find a guru? Do we see a priest? Or, do we simply accept the confusion as a “feature” of the game, as some do, and say to ourselves, “Only God knows for sure.” Do we soften our failure by saying, “It takes a few lifetimes.” Do we shove off the possibility and say “It must wait till my karma’s all cleared.” Do we stubbornly continue, or do we give up altogether?
The truth is, if you want to move forward, you do none of those things. You do not continue in confusion nor do you give up and go home. In fact, if you want to move forward, if you want to understand enlightenment, you just have to be attentive for thirty seconds. In thirty seconds I can tell you what enlightenment is and I can do it in such a way that not only you will understand fully what it is, but you will believe what I’m saying is true, and you will never forget what you have learned. It is true. Understanding enlightenment is very easy, and I’m going to show you in a minute. But first, there are two things you need to do to prepare yourself for the upcoming lightning strike and make things as easy as possible.
First off, get yourself over the notion that understanding and achieving enlightenment, awakening as we say on the LP, is a difficult thing. In other words, lower your expectations because your expectations are probably too high! I mean, you probably think that awakening (i.e. enlightenment) is a deep, mystical, magical, complicated thing. You probably think that accomplishing it is something that you have to struggle and work for. Meditate under the Bodhi tree, read another book, control your animal nature, earn another “degree,” attend another spiritual conference, and then you’ll figure it out.
You can be forgiven for thinking this way because this is what everybody says. Ask any guru, priest, prophet, or even scientist interested in this area, and they will tell you that attaining enlightenment (i.e., awakening) is a complicated and difficult thing, that probably takes many lifetimes to achieve. “You are a babe in the woods,” they will say, “a reject from the Garden,” “a soul in need of training,” “a ‘fool’ in a cosmic school,” and therefore, “you need lots of help.” “Learn your lessons! Clear your karma!! Pay your dues!!!” “It’s a big cosmic test, and you are living in a grand cosmic forge.”
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. Enlightenment, awakening, connection, or whatever you want to call it, is impossible in a single lifetime. If you want to attain it, you’ve got lots of work to do.
But fortunately, all these claims to difficulty and challenge are simply not true. In fact, understanding enlightenment and becoming awakened is relatively easy, at least compared to what you might expect. It is a very simple process requiring a very few words, and I’ll show this in just a few moments. Before we get to that though, take a moment or to lower your expectations. Get yourself over the notion that achieving enlightenment is a difficult thing. It is important. Putting aside the fall notion will make it easier for you to accept the simple truth when you hear it in a just a few moments.
Now, as I said above, there are two things you need to do to prepare yourself for the “lightning strike.” The first thing you need to do is to lower your expectations and get yourself over the notion that enlightenment is difficult to understand and a hard thing to do. The second thing is, get over the idea that you need help with the process because technically, you need no help at all. In order to understand enlightenment, in order to begin your awakening process, you do not have to talk to priests, you do not have to follow gurus, you do not have to genuflect before a throne, you do not have to bow down before a King, and you do not have to obey, respect, follow or otherwise submit to anybody or anything that you do not want to.
Get this straight.
Awakening is very easy to do, and technically you do not need any help at all, and don’t anybody tell you differently. You do not technically need help; so, you do not need to put up with bad teaching, bad writing, twiddle-twaddle, balderdash, baloney, drivel, tripe, and attempts to abuse, control, and take your money. When it comes to awakening, you are not dependent on anybody. If you need to, you can do it all on your own.
But, and this is very important, you can get help if you want it, and sometimes you might need to. To be sure, understanding awakening is easy. Even getting started on the road to awakening is easy. Like sitting in your vehicle and turning the key to start the engine, initiating the process, is straightforward. However, driving the car down the road, i.e., dealing with the insights and enlightenments that occur once you start authentic awakening, can be a challenge. As you move forward, you will see things, learn things, and understand things that will challenge you in many aspects of your life and sense of self. This challenge will probably require you to face some difficult truths and make some fundamental (but sometimes initially uncomfortable) changes in the way you think and live. It might be hard for you to see the truth and it might be a challenge for you to change. If that is true, if you find yourself resisting in some way, if you find it difficult to accept the truths, and if you struggle to make necessary changes, get help. Not because you can’t necessarily figure it out on your own, but because getting help will make it easier so you can move forward faster.
Getting help can make it easier.
Getting help can speed things up.
And that is all I have to say by way of preparation. Moving forward remember, awakening is not as hard as you might think, but get help if you want to speed up.
Now, as promised, I am going to prove to you that despite all propaganda to the contrary, awakening (i.e. becoming enlightened) is not that difficult. It should take less than a minute, so make sure you are sitting down and pay very close attention.
What is enlightenment, really?
To understand enlightenment just imagine that your physical body, your Physical Unit as we like to call it, is an empty glass of water. Now imagine your Consciousness, soul, spirit, atman, highest self, or whatever you want to call capital “Y” You, as the water that fills the glass. Using this Water Glass Metaphor, with your body as the glass and your Consciousness (or soul, if you like) as the water, you can easily understand that awakening is simply about filling the glass with water! Enlightenment occurs, awakening unfolds, when you fill the empty glass of your physical body with the water of your own higher consciousness. Enlightenment occurs when you fill the vessel, your body, with Consciousness.
And that is all there is to it. Enlightenment, a.k.a. awakening, is about filling the vessel with Consciousness. Enlightenment occurs when you fill the vessel with your own higher Consciousness.
To formally define awakening/enlightenment, we can say that awakening is the process of filling the physical unit with Consciousness. If you want to become awakened, fill the glass with the water of your higher Consciousness.
Now, if you accept this remarkably simple and straightforward conception, great; but if you do, a host of new questions immediately come to mind. If it is as simple and straightforward as this, why are there centuries of confusion? If it is this grounded and easy to specify, why an entire magazine devoted to failed inquiry? Why is it lifetimes of faith and devotion? Why are karma and life lessons invoked? Why so many confused gurus, priests, prophets, and scientists?
If you can get beyond those burning questions, even more questions emerge. How do you get water into the glass? How do you “initiate” the process? Is it (i.e., Consciousness) easy to handle? Are there any pitfalls and dangers involved? Can anything go wrong and if it does, how do we ensure that everything goes right? So many questions it seems, and so little time; but, do not worry. If these questions are burning in your mind, then my advice to you is patience. These questions all have answers and we will get to them in the course of our Lightning Path studies. We will start, in the next few sections, by examining more closely this idea of awakening. We will answer some basic questions about the process of awakening, and we will give some introductory advice and guidance on handling any pitfalls and challenges that you might encounter should you decide to initiate the process of awakening yourself. When we are done with this booklet, we will discuss Authentic Spirituality, economic enlightenment, and other key awakening topics. We will gradually show, through the course of study, that awakening/understanding even deep human and spiritual truths does not have to be hard at all. By the end of the process, we will put you back in touch with your divinity so that the light of your own highest Consciousness can come shining through.
But, I’m jumping way ahead. For now, trust me and do not worry. Do not be overwhelmed, do not get freaked out, and be patient. There is a lot to say and a lot to do; there are a lot of misconceptions to clear and a lot of wrong ideas to right; but that’s alright. The time is now, the place is Earth, and you have come to the right place. The game has changed and constraints and limitations are swiftly falling away. You need no longer be stuck inside a spiritual box. You need no longer struggle, like poor Sisyphus, with a burden that never ends. The way has been cleared. From this point on, there is nothing that can stop you from moving forward but you. How fast you go, and how far you travel on this road towards clear and enlightened awakening is entirely up to you.
What is enlightenment endnotes
 Awakening is a term used to describe the general increase in awareness and understanding that arises when you make a better connection to Consciousness. Awakening is a process that occurs as a natural part of the human development process, in a healthy physical unit, existing in healthy and nurturing environments. The term awakening can be used interchangeable with the word enlightenment. Awakening is enlightenment. For more on awakening, see https://spiritwiki.lightningpath.org/Awakening.
 The term physical unit is the LP term for your entire physical body, including all its various structures (e.g. brain, hippocampus, heart, skin, neurons, etc.), functions (e.g. survival, need fulfillment, connection, etc.) and energy flows (charkas, meridians, etc.) The physical unit encompasses your mind and bodily ego as well. Like other key LP terms introduced in this book, we’ll discuss the physical unit in a lot more detail as we progress through the LP curriculum. See https://spiritwiki.lightningpath.org/index.php/Physical_Unit.
 For your information, authentic spirituality is spirituality that helps you connect. See Sosteric, The Rocket Scientists’ Guide to Authentic Spirituality.
 Mike Sosteric, The Rocket Scientists’ Guide to Money and the Economy: Accumulation and Debt. (St Albert, Alberta: Lightning Path Press., 2016).