05 January 2021

What is enlightenment?

 Had the good fortune to complete a 10 day silent meditation retreat at home prior to Christmas. As we all know, meditation has many practical benefits while for millennia it has been at the heart of the spiritual path. The destination? Give it many names, however, enlightenment is a common one. So this week what is enlightenment? And what is enlightenment like? Seems like a great topic to dive into at the start of a New Year - 2021. 

And best wishes for a safe, healthy and fulfilling year, but first

         Thought for the day

The Minimum Working Hypothesis 

1. There is a Godhead, Divine Ground of Being, or Brahman that our reality depends upon for its    existence. 

2. This Ground both transcends the world and is immanent as the world. 

3. It is possible for human beings to love, know and, from virtually, to become actually identified with the Divine Ground. 

4. To achieve this unitive knowledge is the ultimate end and purpose of human existence. 

5. There is a Way or Dharma that must be obeyed if people are to achieve their final end, and this Way is a way of peace, love, humility and compassion. 

                             Aldous Huxley

The mind has two aspects. 

The Active Mind is the domain of our thinking (including our unconscious) and emotions. The Still Mind is beyond all that and is the domain of enlightenment. To experience the enlightened qualities of the Still Mind is to experience the fact that the Godhead, Divine Ground of Being, or Brahman Huxley speaks of above (and that others might call the true nature of our mind) is for real. 

Meditation provides the pathway, the possibility to test this for ourselves – and to experience it for ourselves. The experience is beyond words and beyond concepts, yet it can be experience directly through our own experience. And then we can use words to allude to what it is like. It has a lot to do with experiencing a state filled with unconditional, pure or divine love.

During my retreat, experientially there came a reminder of a previous experience.

When I was recovering from cancer in the 70s, still very ill and still on the path to recovery, I visited the Indian Hindu sage Sai Baba. Regarded as an Avatar – a divine incarnation – by millions of followers, Sai Baba had a strong reputation for being omniscient and a powerful healer. I was attracted to both!

The full story of the meeting that followed is in my biography The Dragon’s Blessing by Guy Allenby. 

The key point is that  in a small interview room in remote rural India, I met with him and 2 Indian families. 

We were addressed in turn and the couple before me were overawed. Very devotional, amazed to be interviewed, they were on their honeymoon.

The husband was the spokesperson for the couple and he gushed…

“Baba we want to you to guide our marriage, our lives. We want you to be with us , to protect and to guide us”.

The love was palpable.

Sai Baba responded

“You are like a fish in the ocean. 

You are the fish and I am the ocean. 

I am in front of you and I am behind you.

I am above you and I am below you. 

I am on either side of you. 

When you breathe in, I am in the breathe you breathe in.

When you breathe out, I am in the breathe you breathe out.

I am in you; I am all through you.

I am with you always. I always have been; I always will be…"

So the thing is to understand this. Sai Baba represents pure love. Divine love if you will. He embodies pure love and he is speaking from the awareness of pure love.

This Still Mind, this stillness we can come to experience in meditation is the experience of unconditional, limitless, pure love. 

This love is not a place or a destination. 

To experience it is akin to what it would be like to be a fish and to realise you were in fact swimming in an ocean; that the water was all around and through you, that it was integral to your being. 

That the water was your real home; that it did both support, nourish and maintain you.

So enlightenment is to experience the truth of who we really are. A finite being swimming in an ocean of pure love. A finite being that struggles to realize this and struggles to live in accord with the love that is our natural state and our heritage. A love that is filled with potential and possibilities. A love constantly drawing us back home.

And omniscience? Well that is another matter altogether. 

Enlightenment is conceivable; omniscience is for the very rare few…


Each Monday, courtesy of the free Allevi8 App, many of us gather to meditate together on Zoom. Maybe it is the practice benefits you need and crave; maybe enlightenment is of more interest; either way you are welcome. 

Download the Allevi8 App from your App store and the Zoom link will be sent for these regular, free guided meditation sessions…

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