The Process of Enlightenment

by Mahadev

When the darkness of ignorance is removed by the light of wisdom, the mind is enlightened. So long as the mind is not in conformity with the true nature of the Self, the mind cannot reflect the light of the soul (Self). The Self is pure consciousness. When consciousness is filtered through the mind, it appears to be modified by whatever is present in the mind. In fact, it is only an appearance—the Self is changeless—it is only the mind that undergoes change. When mind is like a clear crystal, then crystal clear awareness is manifested, and this crystal clear awareness is called Enlightenment.

The mind that is enlightened is the mind that reflects the light of soul, the light of pure consciousness. The mind that is not enlightened deflects the light of the soul—it rejects wisdom because it is deformed by gross unreality. In other words, the mind that has formed the wrong ideas, wrong impressions, wrong attitudes and tendencies, that mind is very limited and constricting.

It is our nature (the nature of the soul—the nature of consciousness) to be free. When we feel constricted by our mind, we naturally desire to break free. To attain the highest state of consciousness (the greatest freedom), an intense desire to be free is necessary. It is this intense desire to be free that distinguishes an extraordinary person from an ordinary one.

What are the mental constrictors? Our mental constrictors are our bias, our images, our resentment, annoyance, selfish tendencies, and bad attitudes. All our inadequacies are self-imposed. They exist only in our mind.

By its very nature, the mind is limited, but the mind itself is not a limitation. It is simply an instrument through which consciousness is expressed. As a musician expresses himself through his instrument which he has mastered, similarly the soul manifests itself through the mind. For the light of consciousness to manifest, the mind must be mastered. It requires daily practice. At the same time, the instrument of the mind must be maintained in good working condition. A dysfunctional person cannot manifest the inner glow of real happiness, peace, joy, and love.

As human beings, we derive a peculiar satisfaction out of accomplishment. When we excel in a particular skill (a sport, art, craft, business, science, etc.), it is a very satisfying experience. The ultimate satisfaction is attained when we master the mind. Mastery over our own mind is the highest accomplishment that we can make.

No one can ever be happy as a slave of his or her moods, whims, and desires. We were not born as slaves—we were born as free beings. Freedom is our birthright. The ultimate freedom is called MOKSHA, which means to be totally free. As long as we are ruled by our ego, we are mere peons in this world. We were born to rule, and rule we must. We need to rule over our own mind. Raja Yoga is the practice of mastery over the mind. By the practice of Raja Yoga one becomes the ruler of his or her own mind. [RAJA means ruler, or king; and YOGA means to yoke. One who controls his own mind attains MOKSHA. That is, he or she attains union with the Real Self, the Absolute, and becomes absolutely free.]

The practice of Raja Yoga is not an esoteric science, nor is it an intellectual exercise. Though the practice of Raja Yoga has been indicated in the writings of Patanjali, Vyas, and others, the actual practice is a matter of practice and direct experience. In other words, one does not learn the practice of Raja Yoga simply by reading about it—one learns only by practicing. Practice means to apply oneself diligently. Those who dabble in a particular pursuit or activity are not practicing. Practice involves regular, determined, and directed effort.

Practicing Raja Yoga means to consistently make a determined effort to train our mind to emulate our real nature. Of course, to do this one needs to first know ‘what is our real nature’. In other words, we need a benchmark, a model, an ideal. A guide, a preceptor, who has realized the true nature of the Self, gives us the guidelines for living an ideal life. Without these guidelines, our practices may falter, or we may even practice in the wrong way which will only bring the wrong results—that is, if we practice incorrectly we will not succeed in mastering our mind but instead will become a victim of our own ego.

Our Real Nature is egoless. It is filled with compassion and mercy. Our Real Nature is unselfish and forgiving. Our True Nature is characterized by power of discernment, depth of understanding, straight-forwardness, pure character, truthfulness, simplicity, and profound wisdom. The practice of Yoga means to imbibe these qualities in the mind, to form our mind with these (and other) noble traits. The practice of Yoga means to take possession of our own mind, to reclaim our mind, to lay the foundation of character, and to build the mind into a beautiful temple of Wisdom. The practice of Yoga means to till the soil of the mind, to plant the seeds of right understanding, to water the garden of knowledge with the nectar of devotion, and to remove the weeds of false attachment.

The practice of Yoga means to remain committed to the endless process of self-development and self-improvement. It means to keep growing, to continually expand our consciousness and raise the consciousness of all who come in our contact. Those who practice in this manner are bound to reap the greatest harvest—and the greater the harvest, the more there is to share with everyone. The more we have, the more we have to give— but those who are destitute, who lack wisdom and depth of consciousness, (who have not practiced!) have very little to give.

Everyone should work hard to purify their own mind. Once the mind is purified (clear of resentments, greed, animosity, arrogance, and other forms of selfishness) the vastness of consciousness will manifest itself. The Supreme Consciousness is all-embracing, all-inclusive, all-knowing, all-loving, and present in the hearts of all. There is no greater friend, no higher association, no more meaningful relationship than the relationship of the self with the Supreme Self. It is this relationship that must be established in the mind. Then we automatically become the friend of all, the well-wisher of all, and the true benefactor of humanity.

This is the process of enlightenment. It is a natural process of self-discovery, the unfolding of our real nature. Enlightenment is the essential purpose of our existence. Without enlightenment, our life is incomplete. Attaining enlightenment is the only way to find lasting happiness and contentment. There is no other way.

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