Enlightenment is a journey of consciousness, a way toward wholeness. It cannot be fully understood until it is lived.
Have you ever felt like something is missing in your life? Like you’re searching for something more? Something beyond the material world?
If so, you’re not alone. Many of us feel that way at some point.
The truth is, we are all born with a deep longing. Although we may not know it, that deep longing is for enlightenment.
Enlightenment is the state of being fully aware of our true selves and our place in the universe. It is the state of being one with the Source of life, a state of peace, joy, and love.
We can get a sense of this state from reading books, practicing meditation, or receiving the words and energy of a teacher. However, enlightenment is something one lives. We cannot make it ours unless we embody it, use it, and share it with the world.
There are many different paths to enlightenment that have been charted throughout history. All of them, however, involve the same basic principles:
- Determination: We must be completely determined to reach enlightenment. We need to be willing to let go of our old ways of thinking and being.
- Practice: Enlightenment will elude us without regular practice. This could mean doing meditation, yoga, or any other spiritual practice that helps us connect with our inner selves.
- Service: Serving others helps us develop compassion and understanding of ourselves and our world. Through service, we express our true selves.
As we go down the path of enlightenment, we pass through nine levels of awareness. Each level represents a step toward wholeness.
The Nine Levels of Enlightenment
- Initial Awareness: This is the level where we first start to question the meaning of life and our place in the universe. We realize that there is more to life than what we can see and touch. So we try to live a life based on a greater truth.
- Determinate Awareness: At this step, we make the decision to dedicate our life to the pursuit of enlightenment. However, although our mind may be firm, we can’t fully control our bodies and habits yet.
- Right Awareness: Our true self awakens at this stage, and we sense its purity. We gain control over our bodies and habits. Now, we can live in accordance with the principles of enlightenment, and we serve others discreetly without seeking reward.
- Bright Awareness: This is the level where we become bright, as if we are glowing. Although we can experience this brightness at earlier levels for brief periods or in meditation, we can now remain bright all the time. Our true self is growing stronger, and we can completely live according to universal laws. We also develop a wisdom beyond preconceptions and knowledge.
- Holy Awareness: This level is where we develop spiritual powers and abilities such as the ability to heal or see the future. We may also attract followers who are drawn to our wisdom and compassion. At this step, we have to be careful not to become corrupted by the desire for fame or other material rewards or by possessiveness or self-conceit. Those desires will lead us away from enlightenment.
- Non-thought Awareness: At this level, we go beyond thought and enter a state of pure awareness. We are no longer limited by our ego, attachments, temptations, or past conditioning. Our special abilities become hidden, and we can choose to leave our bodies and return to Source or to stay and help others.
- Brilliant Awareness: This is the level of full enlightenment. We are completely awake and aware of our true selves and our connection to the universe. We can see the truth clearly and can awaken it in other people. Embodying great compassion and courage, we accept a mission to help others achieve enlightenment.
- Command Awareness: At this step, we are using our enlightenment to help others. Great wisdom for the perfection of the whole world is revealed. We become a teacher and a guide to those who are still on the path.
- Return of the Soul to Its Origin: This level, called Chunhwa in Korean, is where our true self, our soul, leaves the body and merges with the divine. We are no longer separate from universal consciousness and energy.
The path to enlightenment is not a linear journey. We may move back and forth between different levels, and we may not experience them all in the same way. However, if we continue to practice and grow, we can eventually reach full enlightenment.
I believe that enlightenment is not reserved for a select few. It is available to everyone who is willing to put in the effort, commitment, and discipline. Although it’s not easy, this journey to the most complete expression of our true self is the most rewarding journey we will ever take.
I wish you all the best on your journey.
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