“Enlightenment must come little by little-otherwise it would overwhelm.” — Idries Shah.
In spiritual literature, have you ever wondered why there are few straight forward discussions concerning outcomes of enlightenment; or said another way, once you have traveled a spiritual path, and gained inner capacity, for you personally, what will spiritual ability look like.
Here are a few reasons for this limited discussion, and some personal observations.
- Increased Capacity. Typically enlightenment means increased light and increased spiritual understanding/experience. This way of being or inner experience is very difficult to put into words or physically describe. Additionally few people are able to tell you exactly what your future spiritual skill set will look like. No two people are the same and spiritual development is dependent upon different factors: including personal ability and Grace of the Unseen Forces.
- Examples of Spiritual Experience. In the literature, some spiritual experiences described include: visions, capacity to read minds, messages from the other side, sublime ecstatic states, hearing the inner voice, intuitive understanding, wisdom about certain situations, dreams that come true, and prescience/knowing. Because something is described doesn’t mean you will experience the same thing; these spiritual capacities are dependent upon the needs of the situation and the emerging design.
- Varying Approach. Enlightenment is a phenomenon and process that is viewed, described and developed over a period of years; ever changing and maturing. In some schools it is taught that enlightenment occurs in an overwhelming blast of brilliance; in other schools, it is taught that the process is more gradual.
- Personal Capacity Varies. Depending upon personal responsibilities and tasks in the world, our individual skill set, temperament, spiritual experience and capacity varies. No two people are the same.
- Expectation Blocks Experience. Once you are provided with a snapshot of what enlightenment might look like; this snapshot often sets in motion our expectation response, influencing and even blocking further outcomes.
- Spiritual Capacity is Transitory. For the most part, during the course of daily life, spiritual experience is transitory: it comes and goes based upon the needs of the situation.
- Both Sets of Consciousness Operating. After a time, often it is possible to have both sets of consciousness operating at the same time: worldly and spiritual. This is one of the indicators of more mature development.
- Spiritual Capacity is Already Inside You. Enlightenment is characterized by awakening of certain capacity: by remembering who you are and that these capacities, for the most part, already are part of you. Usually, within the context of a spiritual path, personal spiritual capacity develops naturally.
- Spirituality Doesn’t Replace Daily Experience. Enlightenment/spiritual capacity does not replace living in the world or give you ‘a leg-up’ on having a pain/stress free existence. It is added capacity which helps integrate, balance, and put into perspective life’s up and downs.
- Emphasis on Different Outcomes. Spiritual paths have as outcome different experience and abilities. All paths are not the same and often focus on varied goals. For example, some paths focus on healing and others on knowing and service to others.
- Unity of Peak Experiences. It has been suggested, that peak experience of Oneness and Union, with the Godhead, is essentially the same experience; using different words to describe this sublime connection. The use of different terminology, due to cultural variation, confuses and helps create a situation where mystery is intensified. For example, Peace of God, Union, Nirvana, and Experience of Oneness, may all be descriptions of a singular peak experience; which, as indicated earlier, in most spiritual travelers is transitory.
Learn to see those things
Which you must do
And those things
Which God / Light must do.
He / she who can recognize the difference
Is on their way to enlightenment.
Most travelers expect enlightenment
To arrive in a flash.
They imagine it is like turning on
A lamp in their home.
This is our desire for haste
And stems from greed.
This process is much slower
And knowledge comes in stages;
And once the Light is on
It cannot be turned off
As easily as hitting a switch.
Remember, you have been Given enough for the journey.
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff, spiritual traveler, poet, is a student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment; he holds a doctorate in education and served on the faculties of multiple colleges and universities.
Stewart is also the author of Sufism for the Western Seeker, published in 2011, was nominated by Foreword Magazine for ‘Adult Non Fiction Religious Book of Year Book of the Year Award,’ placing 4th (honorable mention) and is a must read, as well as The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.
Read his new book: Beyond The River’s Gate. Book is available on Amazon.com in paperback, Kindle format or local bookstore.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
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