Ask Parvati 28: Enlightenment and Emotions – Part 1: What Is Enlightenment?

ENLIGHTENMENT AND EMOTIONS

Dear Parvati,

When a person is enlightened do they still respond to human emotions the same way that, lets say, the average person would?

PART 1: WHAT IS ENLIGHTENMENT?

Thank you for this question. It is an important question in that there are many misconceptions about enlightenment, mostly because most of us are not yet fully enlightened. If we are lucky, we may have glimpses. But enlightenment is something most of us actually know very little about from personal experience.

They say that only the enlightened can recognize an enlightened being. So not yet being fully realized myself, I can only imagine what the end “goal” would be and how a fully realized being would respond to emotions. I have a sense based on what I have experienced and through learning from great masters.

Due to this, I feel it appropriate to talk about emotions and enlightenment in this blog referring to the body of experience that I can offer and in drawing upon to wisdom of the great masters that guide our way.

Unlike book learning, wisdom that comes from experience resonates in complete understanding through our entire being. There have been periods in my life of blissful flow and oneness, but not in a permanent way. I also experience states of division, separation and suffering. My journey is not yet complete. So we rely on the guidance of the great masters such as the Buddha and Christ to provide us with the tools and roadmaps to direct our journey to enlightenment.

So what is enlightenment? I understand enlightenment to be part of every human being’s destiny. We each are called to this state, to reach the “goal” (as some traditions call it) at some point through our many incarnations. In truth, we are one with pure consciousness. The process of our soul’s evolution involves a purification of our distorted perceptions so that we may realize our true, divine nature. This process is of personal benefit, and also of benefit to all beings, as we are all connected.

In the Hindu tradition, there is an understanding of four primary goals of human existence: dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), kama (desire) and moksha (liberation). It is said that of these, the highest dharma is moksha, the experience of full realization.

There are various stages of enlightenment. In the early stages, we begin to awaken and realize that there is more to life than wanting and our perceptions. We start to question the nature of the mind and the grip of the ego. Then there are various stages of purification of the mind as the ego dissolves and we feel more interconnection. As we evolve, the ego holds less power and we slowly merge back to the One. Finally, we reside in a permanent state of oneness with pure, divine consciousness and feel a unity with all that is. In this final stage, we are no longer identified with the body or the mind. We have transcended even death itself.

The fully realized being, my guru, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, lovingly known as Amma or Mother, speaks eloquently of the dissolution of the ego:

“Within the bud of the ego, it is dark and narrow. When the bud gives way and the flower emerges, everything becomes beautiful and pervaded by the most glorious light. You come out of the dark into radiant light, from imprisonment to freedom, from ignorance to true knowledge. This world of diversity is transformed into perfect oneness. It happens within you, not externally.”

It is my understanding that when we return to the One, the final stage of enlightenment, we see all that is as a reflection of pure consciousness. All that is, is divine. In this state, we don’t have emotional reactions but still have the capacity for emotion, while abiding in the equanimous state of pure compassion.

This is a very sophisticated state of being, one very few know, one that is true mastery. Such a state involves the absolute dissolution of the ego, of any notion of duality or separation and the complete merging into the flow of pure consciousness. When we are in the One, it is my understanding that we are in a permanent state of unity with the world, with the universe and with all of creation.

Amma speaks of this state of being with first hand experience:

“As the realization that everything is pervaded with Divine Consciousness dawns within you, you also see that every human being, everything in creation, is already Divine. The only difference is that you know that you and they are one with Divinity, but they do not. It is only a question of uncovering the truth.”

In the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred Hindu text, Krishna tells Arjuna that an enlightened being sees all things equally and loves all things equally. This passage expresses some of this notion:

“By seeing the Ultimate Consciousness equally everywhere, impartially situated, one does not degrade the embodied self, by the self; therefore reaching the supreme goal.” (Bhagavad Gita, 13:29)

So then how do we embody such a sophisticated state of equanimity and balance? The masters tell us, the answers lie right here, in the eternal now.

(Continued tomorrow with Enlightenment Now)

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I guess that’s true. If one TRULY EXPERIENCES oneself as not staerape from ANYTHING than blaming someone for anything one feels is as ridiculous as yelling at the clouds for raining (Unless you praise them because you are a midwest farmer in the midst of a drought!). Oh, but how difficult it is to bring this great notion of interdependence and emptiness from head to the heart level! Am I really feeling this peace in the midst of a busy day (For me, this is seeing sometimes 20 sick hospital patients, and their sad families, per day.)? My buttons are pushed constantly. And, so I suppose, this is where practice comes in. After 5 to 6 years of overall good practice, I’m still trying to convince myself that daily practice even briefly is critical; it is truly like exercising one’s spiritual muscles and keeping my spiritual condition up, as they say in AA rooms. Dogen allows me some some slack, too: Since practice is enlightenment, I need not worry about fruits of practice in terms of traditional concepts of gain or loss. So I am no committing to sitting for an hour a day: morning, evening, or at lunch in the office, and I am feeling results. All this samsaric stuff is still brewing, but in a more open, larger container, much of which I experience with fellow suffering humans like me. Imagine that!: Just like me! And that’s awakening!

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

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