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 Yoga, Science and Philosophy
 Enlightenment /awakening/ self-realization meaning
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Posted - Feb 05 2019 :  12:12:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
Hi everyone!
Maybe it's silly, but since a couple of weeks I've thinking about the meaning and use of the following terms: enlightenment, awakening, self realization, and liberation. Needless to say, I've been quite confused of their usage in the literature.

You see, some texts use them (or a couple of them) indistinctly, while other apparently make some difference in terms of spiritual development. Up to now, the definition that I found most interesting (assuming there's differences between terms) is:
  • Enlightenment and awakening are similar terms. They are use to define the state of a person that succeed in controlling their mind and got to know his/her true reality. He/She still has Vrittis and Samskaras, but can control them to some extent.
  • Self realization is that state where all the samskaras had been burnt, but still there is some attachment to the worldly reality that prevent the total union with the Creator (God, or whoever/whatever anyone wants to call it!)
  • Liberation is the term to describe the full connection with the Creator. All the Samskaras have been burnt out, and there is no attachment anymore

What do you think? Can you share your thoughts or knowledge about the topic?

Thank you!



United Kingdom
4154 Posts

Posted - Feb 05 2019 :  9:21:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi y154707,

Different people use these terms in different ways. I don't think we (humans) will ever come to agreement over what they mean, especially as they are beyond comprehension by the mind.

Probably the best we can do is to look at the way different teachers use the terms and use that as inspiration to help us move further along the path. Trying to attach to one specific definition, or another, could well be more of a hinderance on the path, than a help. Holding loose definitions, that we are ready to let go of whenever necessary, could be a more skilful way of approaching what is ultimately undefinable.

Here are some examples of the ways that the terms are used in the AYP lessons:

"It is a strange thing. Somewhere along the line we stop trying to "get" enlightenment and find ourselves "giving" ourselves to it. We may be doing everything the same - practices, bhakti, service and all that. Maybe even more practices - yes, definitely more practices. The nervous system wants to do them as it opens. But something changes. Maybe it is in the rise of kundalini, and we no longer feel in charge. It is easy to give in to a powerful divine process happening automatically inside, even while continuing aggressive practices. As the ego is dissolving to become pure bliss consciousness it still craves enlightenment and struggles to do more to "get it!" Then, magically, our need to "get" turns into a need to "give." This is an important turning point that has its foundation in practices and rising bhakti. It is a maturing that occurs in our nervous system as it becomes purified." [Yogani]

From: Lesson 120 - "Getting Enlightenment"

"The statement "I am enlightened" is an obstruction on the path.... It is much better to regard experiences of enlightenment as milestones, epiphanies, or stepping stones along the path. This will always be the case, because there will always be more expansion occurring until the whole cosmos is awakened. Enlightenment is not something that can be possessed personally. It is only occurring when it is being given away freely..." [Yogani]

From: Lesson 390 - When Will I be Enlightened?

"who is to say when we are totally awakened? There is evidence that daily practice continues to take us perpetually further into the unity experience, living as stillness in action in the divine flow." [Yogani]

From: Addition 329.3 - Practices After Awakening?

"Who can say whether the Self is a who or a what? It is unknowable in the mind. We can only know by Self-realization, which is beyond the mind. And then it cannot be clearly described." [Yogani]

From: Lesson 353 - Alternate Sutra for Self-Inquiry Samyama

"Going back to that infinite extrapolation of things becoming better in the present, it is about things becoming better for everyone. And this is infinite, because the incarnation of consciousness in materiality is infinite. So our enlightenment is tied to the enlightenment of everyone. Liberation of the One is liberation of the whole." [Yogani]

From: Lesson 363 - Liberation of the One is Liberation of the Whole

You did not mention the term "jivan-mukti", but here is a quote on that:

"...neurobiologically speaking, the jivan mukti/Christ stage corresponds with the union of inner silence and ecstatic conductivity evolving up from everywhere in the body, reaching maturity in the head, and then migrating back down into the heart where the spiritual rebirth occurs. So the heart is where we will end up with all this. The heart is the final home of our enlightenment in this body..." [Yogani]

From: Lesson 274 - What's the End Game in Yoga?

All of that may not help to give any better clarity over what the terms actually mean. But that could be a good thing. Ultimately we have to live them, for them to have any real meaning.

The best definition of all of these terms that I have seen is in lesson 10:

"If you set your heart and mind to it, you can do it. Honest. And then nothing will ever be the same. You will laugh and laugh when you see how it really is." [Yogani]

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491 Posts

Posted - Feb 06 2019 :  09:09:17 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Also read lesson 413
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5 Posts

Posted - Feb 13 2019 :  06:25:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you guys, I'll go through the lessons you suggested to see if it clarifies the issue.
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105 Posts

Posted - Jul 24 2021 :  2:51:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Originally posted by Christi
"...neurobiologically speaking, the jivan mukti/Christ stage corresponds with the union of inner silence and ecstatic conductivity evolving up from everywhere in the body, reaching maturity in the head, and then migrating back down into the heart where the spiritual rebirth occurs. So the heart is where we will end up with all this. The heart is the final home of our enlightenment in this body..." [Yogani]

From: Lesson 274 - What's the End Game in Yoga?

This quote was really valuable and interesting to me. It matches some experiences I've had, that I didn't really know how to explain.
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