The Basics of Spiritual Enlightenment

Spiritual Enlightenment transcends religion.  It transcends thought.  It transcends mind and its senses.  And it conveys a level of wisdom and knowledge about life and the universe that is unparalleled. The concept of enlightenment implies complete understanding of life and the universe, which usually is accompanied by a detachment of all things impermanent and a complete awareness of everything that is, at the moment that it is.

Pretty cool, huh?  Yeah.  It’s what gave the Buddha his mojo, what gave Muhammad his immense understanding, and what gave Jesus (and Thomas) the power to heal people and perform other “miracles” (don’t forget Peter walked on water too).  If you want to understand more about spiritual enlightenment, please read the article I posted that explains more about spiritual enlightenment here.  This article is going to talk about the disciplines used world-wide to attain spiritual enlightenment.

I passed through the portal of the enlightenment experience about 12 years ago.  I call it the “enlightenment experience”, because that’s what it was… an experience.  It was an experience of my regular senses shutting down, to be replaced with amazing visions, sounds, realizations, epiphanies, and a melding with an intelligence and love so overwhelming it literally changed my life and granted me a wisdom of which I was not worthy beforehand.  It was brought on by a deep focused meditation after a short prayer.  If you would like to hear more about my enlightenment experience, watch the video (or read the transcript) I made about the first time I encountered it.

So how does one become enlightened?  Well there’s not a set process.  It just sorta happens.  That said, it rarely happens to someone if they’re not looking for it.  So intention is a good ingredient.  But beyond that, there are quite a few commonalities among enlightenment stories globally and parallels within spiritual disciplines designed to bring on enlightenment that suggest we can make a few educated guesses on how to more easily get you there.  Let’s first discuss my pet theory, then we can review how the world’s disciplines to achieve enlightenment support it.

My theory on how to attain spiritual enlightenment is simple:  Stop all conscious thought in your mind, and the experience of enlightenment will occur.  I suppose I could have made it sound much more mystical by saying “cease the noise that exists within your mind, and you will hear the truth that lies just beyond”… but I think you get the gist.  In fact, from a scientific perspective, I believe that enlightenment is caused by certain chemicals that get released within the body during waking conscious hours when brain activity in certain areas of the brain is reduced below a presently non-defined threshold.  We’ll discuss some evidence later in this article that supports this pretty strongly.  For now, let’s take a look at the disciplines that typically lead to spiritual enlightenment, and then see how they individually stack up to this basic hypothesis.  The different disciplines / methods include:

Meditation (various forms discussed below)
Martial Arts
Sweat Lodges / Physical Distress
Dancing / Quaking / Shaking
Sensory Depravation
Near Death Experience
Depression / Despair
Self Flagellation
Spontaneous Enlightenment / Ego Death

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