Spiritual enlightenment is the process of opening up fully to the soul and living from there so that the light that we are can shine.
Soul is what we are. It’s our essence, our true nature. As soul, we are light, we are pure awareness, we are the bearers of true knowledge. We are beautiful, peaceful, powerful beings.
We come into the world as soul, but during the process of socialisation we move away from our essence and turn, instead, to the mind, allowing it to guide us.
The mind, which consists of beliefs, thoughts, feelings and the body, develops through and is influenced by our interactions with the outside world, primarily our relationships to others.
We are also influenced by the norms and values of the culture into which we are born, and in particular, by expectations as to who we should be, and how we should live our lives.
We try our best to adjust, to fit in. On the surface, things may seem fine but, deep down, many of us find it difficult to be ourselves. We believe we’re not good enough, attractive enough, clever enough, that we’re not worthy of being loved.
So, to satisfy our need for love and acceptance, we craft an image that we present to the world that we think others will like, while we hide those parts of ourselves that we don’t like in order to avoid rejection.
This seems a logical thing to do: the image we present to the world is a form of self-protection, a way to survive the dangers that we perceive around us. As well as making us feel safe, it also gives us a feeling of control.
But, while hiding behind a self-created image may appear to be helpful, it has serious, negative effects:
• It confines us, and by doing so limits our self expression.
• It keeps us in a constant state of fear. We’re always on guard, looking out for the slightest sign of rejection, of being exposed.
• We expend a lot of energy keeping the image intact, because we are sure that if people knew who we really were, they wouldn’t like us.
• Most of all, hiding behind a self-created image is painful, because we can’t be who we truly are.
Yet, all the while, we long to be ourselves. This longing is the soul, calling us back to the light.
We try to get there in a variety of ways. For me, it was the practice of self-reflection. For you, it might be meditation, yoga, reading spiritual literature, taking courses. It can be a hundred and one other things. Our practices may help, but they don’t take us there fully. We continue to uphold our self-created image.
Then, out of the blue, something happens. It might be an accident, or an illness, or some other kind of deep personal crisis. Suddenly, we’re plunged into darkness and pain, and the image that we’ve been hiding behind shatters, allowing the light to shine.
This is the process of spiritual enlightenment: the process of opening up fully to our true nature, our soul.
The Four Phases of Enlightenment
These phases are not steps that need to be followed. They simply illustrate the core aspects that are a necessary part of the process of enlightenment.
What I’m describing here is based on my own experience, which I share in Return to My Soul: My Journey from Darkness into the Light
Keep in mind that everyone’s experience of enlightenment will vary, but no matter how it plays itself out, the core aspects of enlightenment are always the same:
A Deep Longing
Spiritual enlightenment answers the call of our deepest longing. For me, it was the longing to find my real self, but for you, it might be something else: a longing for meaning, fulfilment, spiritual connection, freedom, peace. A longing to be happy.
Darkness and Pain
To realise our deepest longing, we need to resolve the issues that stand in the way. This means opening up to the darkness and pain that we carry inside: old wounds, the negative beliefs we have about ourselves, our fear and guilt.
The paradox is, that when we open up to our darkness and pain, we also open up to the light. And, the more we open up inside, the more the light that is our essence can shine.
Living From the Soul in Everyday Life
As we open up more and more to the light, we discover that we are faced with a choice between continuing to live from the mind and living from the soul. If we choose the soul, we need to learn how to live from the soul in everyday life.
From my upcoming book, ‘The Art of Enlightenment‘, a guide to living from the soul.
I’ll be sharing more articles like this on the blog. I’ll also be sharing updates about my books, and information about upcoming telesminars and courses. I hope you’ll join me.
If you’re curious about whether you live as the full expression of your real self in everyday life, you might like to take The Spiritual Enlightenment Assessment. You’ll find it to the right of this page.
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