I, Awareness, cannot be enlightened. I am already the light that illumines all experience. Nor can a separate self be enlightened for when the separate self faces the light, it vanishes, just as does a shadow when exposed to the sun.
— Rupert Spira
(image source: Guillem Marí)
There is in us an instinct for newness, for renewal, for a liberation of creative power. We seek to awaken in ourselves a force which really changes our lives from within. And yet the same instinct tells us that this change is a recovery of that which is deepest, most original, most personal in ourselves. To be born again is not to become somebody else, but to become ourselves.
— Thomas Merton – Love and Living (Christian Humanism)
Q: Is self-realization so important?
M: Without it, you will be consumed by desires and fears, repeating themselves meaninglessly in endless suffering. Most of the people do not know that there can be an end to pain. But once they have heard the good news, obviously going beyond all strife and struggle is the most urgent task that can be. You know that you can be free and now it is up to you. Either you remain forever hungry and thirsty, longing, searching, grabbing, holding, ever losing and and sorrowing, or go out wholeheartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing taken away. In it all desires and fears are absent, not because they were given up, but because they have lost their meaning.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am That – Chapter 69 – p. 315-316
Enlightenment could be defined as the absence of resistance to what is, the total intimacy with whatever is taking place without any desire to reject or replace it; so intimate that there is no room for a self to separate itself out from the whole, to stand apart and look at the situation from the outside, to judge it as worthy or not worthy, good or bad, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable; so intimate that there is no room, nor any time, in which a separate self could take refuge inside the body and so finds itself without boundaries or borders pervading the whole field of experience; so intimate that there is no ‘me’ on the inside and no object or other on the outside, but only seamless intimate experiencing; so intimate that there is no room for a ‘self’ and an ‘other’, a ‘me’ and a ‘you’, a ‘this’ and a ‘that’, a ‘now’ and a ‘then’. So utterly now and here that there is no time for time and no place for distance or space.
— Rupert Spira – Presence: The Art of Peace and Happiness
Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale.
From what land do you come, O Swan? to what shore will you fly?
Where would you take your rest, O Swan, and what do you seek?
Even this morning, O Swan, awake, arise, follow me!
There is a land where no doubt nor sorrow have rule: where the terror of Death is no more.
There the woods of spring are a-bloom, and the fragrant scent “He is I” is borne on the wind:
There the bee of the heart is deeply immersed, and desires no other joy.
— Kabir – One Hundred Poems of Kabir (XII – Translated by Rabindranath Tagore)
I have thrown from me the whirling dance of mind
And stand now in the spirit’s silence free,
Timeless and deathless beyond creature-kind,
The centre of my own eternity.
I have escaped and the small self is dead;
I am immortal, alone, ineffable;
I have gone out from the universe I made,
And have grown nameless and immeasurable.
My mind is hushed in a wide and endless light,
My heart a solitude of delight and peace,
My sense unsnared by touch and sound and sight,
My body a point in white infinities.
I am the one Being’s sole immobile Bliss:
No one I am, I who am all that is.
— Sri Aurobindo – Last Poems – Liberation
Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know — all mystics — Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion — are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.
— Anthony de Mello – Approaching God – How to Pray
You have heard much of this world,
Yet what have you seen of this world?
What is its form and substance?
What is Simurgh, and what is Mount Kaf?
What is Hades and what is Heaven and Hell?
What is that unseen world
A day of which equals a year of this?
Come and hear the meaning.
You are asleep, and your vision is a dream,
All you are seeing is a mirage.
When you wake up on the morn of the last day
You will know all this to be Fancy’s illusion;
When you have ceased to see double,
Earth and Heaven will become transformed;
When the real sun unveils his face to you,
The moon, the stars, and Venus will disappear;
If a ray shines on the hard rock
Like wool of many colours, it drops to pieces.
— Sa’d Ud Din Mahmud Shabistari – The Secret Rose Garden – Part V – Time and this Dream-World (The Dream of Life)
The moon has become a dancer
at this festival of love.
This dance of light,
This sacred blessing,
This divine love,
to a world beyond
only lovers can see
with their eyes of fiery passion.
They are the chosen ones
who have surrendered.
Once they were particles of light
now they are the radiant sun.
They have left behind
the world of deceitful games.
They are the privileged lovers
who create a new world
with their eyes of fiery passion.
— Jalalud’din Rumi – The Privileged Lovers
When the Zen master attained enlightenment
he wrote the following lines to celebrate it:
“Oh wondrous marvel:
I chop wood!
I draw water from the well!”
After enlightenment nothing really changes. The tree is still a tree; people are just what they were before and so are you. You may continue to be as moody or even-tempered, as wise or foolish. The one difference is that you see things with a different eye. You are more detached from it all now. And your heart is full of wonder.
That is the essence of contemplation: the sense of wonder.
Contemplation is different from ecstasy in that ecstasy leads to withdrawal. The enlightened contemplative continues to chop wood and draw water from the well. Contemplation is different from the perception of beauty in that the perception of beauty (a painting or a sunset) produces aesthetic delight, whereas contemplation produces wonder – no matter what it observes, a sunset or a stone.
This is the prerogative of children. They are so often in a state of wonder. So they easily slip into the Kingdom.
— Anthony de Mello – The Song of the Bird – Pages 16 – 17