Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

From 'What Enlightenment is Not'

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Enlightenment has nothing to do with 'merging with the Self' or ‘becoming one with God’. In reality, we are already the Self so that these expressions could have no meaning. Nor is it a 'feeling of unity'.

When a pot is broken, the ‘pot space’ does not merge with the ‘total space’; the ‘total space’ is entirely unaffected by the presence of the container and remains the same before, during and after the temporary appearance of the pot.


Enlightenment is not about 'experiencing the Self' - otherwise everyone would be enlightened. It is not about experience at all, it is about self-knowledge - the direct knowledge that you are already that which you seek . (See 25 - 97 .)


Nor is enlightenment itself an experience - experiences come and go. Enlightenment is not temporary - once it happens, that is it. Consequently, if you had an experience and wonder whether you are now enlightened, you can be sure that you are not. Also, there is no need for a seeker to try to recapture a ‘good’ experience, thinking that it was somehow closer to enlightenment than the usual ‘bad’ experiences. (See 102 to 104 )


Enlightenment is not a 'state' – these also come and go.


It is pedantically true that there is no such thing as 'gradual enlightenment'. As noted in 94 , however, there is another potential misunderstanding of terms here. It is true that you cannot be ‘partly’ enlightened – you either are or you are not – but the removal of self-ignorance can certainly be gradual.


There is much confusion about 'who' it is that gains enlightenment. Clearly the non-dual Self, brahman, cannot become enlightened and yet the ultimate truth is that there is no separate entity, no satyam ‘ego’ or 'person'.


Jean Klein (who was essentially a direct-path teacher) said: "Liberation does not concern the person, for liberation is freedom from the person." (Ref. 48) Tony Parsons (who is a neo-advaitin teacher) says: "There is no such thing as an 'enlightened person'. No person has ever been 'enlightened'." (Ref. 47) Jean Klein is correct to the extent that he uses the word ‘liberation’; Tony Parsons is wrong since he uses the word ‘enlightened’. N.B. Remember the definition of person given in 105 to 109. It is the jIva who gains enlightenment, and it takes place in the mind as is explained in 99.


Extracts from the Book
Summary and Endorsements
List of Contents
1. From 'Foreword' - NonTraditional advaita
2. From 'Purpose of the Book (and Disclaimers)'
3. From 'Self-Ignorance'
4. The 'Person'
5. From the 'Scriptures'
6. From 'What Enlightenment is Not'
Page last updated: 07-Jul-2012