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Lesson 318 - Is the Witness the Same as Enlightenment?  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Mar 18, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"


Q: A question came to my mind while reading the lessons. You speak of the kundalini ride and how the energy accumulated transmutates outwards into outpouring divine love (that is great by the way!). My question is, in your case, as I suppose you had been meditating for many years prior to all that, you were awake, i.e., had abiding inner silence and was aware of the essence of what you are.

I guess it may correlate with the 3 phases of enlightenment that you identify:

-- Abiding inner silence (witnessing) cultivated by daily deep meditation.

-- The rise of ecstatic conductivity (kundalini) cultivated by spinal breathing pranayama, hatha yoga methods, etc.

-- The merging of the two = outpouring divine love and unity.

Is this correct? Do you think that one who has only the witnessing state (1st phase) is enlightened? Maybe so, but not "outpouring?"

A: Yes, I was fortunate to have many years of deep meditation before going through the kundalini stage, and it makes for much more clarity and purpose about what is happening. Inner silence (the witness) is the fundamental constituent of rising enlightenment. This is why we cover deep meditation first in the AYP lessons. 

On the other hand, during that time many years ago, I did not have the integration of tools we have available today for smoothly cultivating and navigating the kundalini stage, so a lot of "R&D" occurred during those years. Many of the things that are routine now in AYP were formulated during that time. The Secrets of Wilder novel provides a facsimile for some of those experiences a process of learning by trial and error, through ongoing applications of cause and effect in practices.

As for enlightenment, I do not see it as a fixed absolute thing. The three phases you mentioned (see Lesson 35) are signature experiences we may notice emerging along the way, and are for general confirmation of progress as we keep moving forward. As many practitioners know, these experiences are real. Yet, there is no end destination where we can say, "I have arrived!" Be leery of anyone who proclaims that. When we are there, we will not be exclaiming anything. The greatest enlightenment is the one that does not speak much of itself. It only does for others, continuing the purification and opening in everyone. And that too is an ongoing journey. Where does it end? Let's keep going and find out.

Along the way, what we might be inclined to call "enlightenment" is always going to be relative to what came before and what is to come later. If we feel more peaceful and happy than last year, we are relatively more enlightened compared to last year, right? And we will see what it will be next year as we continue to practice. Of course, it is what it is in the now, and that is most important. The rest of it is about keeping up our motivation (bhakti) for continuing on our path. What we think about it doesn't matter all that much. What we do consistently over the long term in practices makes all the difference.

In the AYP Self-Inquiry book, one of the "pitfalls of the mind" that is discussed is the "illusion of attainment," or of thinking we have "arrived." Because of the rise of the witness in so many quarters these days, there are quite a few people around who may be inclined to reside in this pitfall, promoting adherence to the witness stage over being actively engaged in the world. This is not enlightenment. Neither is it yoga. It is separation. The message here is: It is time to move on!

While the witness stage is often presented as "enlightenment," it is only the beginning. It is the starting point for illuminating all of the human race, and beyond. This can only happen when we, as the witness, become ecstatically energized and continue to act in the world. That is the divine outpouring, which we also call stillness in action. It must continue as our divine stillness radiates outward on the wings of ecstatic kundalini. 

It is no longer about whether any one person, or few persons, are enlightened or not. It is about everyone becoming enlightened. It is the ongoing evolution of our species, the journey that we are living every day.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed instructions on building a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing, and on the evolution of the stages of enlightenment, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book., and AYP Plus.

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