What You Seek is What is Seeking - God is Closer to You than Your Self
When it comes to the subject of Enlightenment I am no authority. I do not possess special knowledge nor do I profess to speak to you now from some elevated state. On all matters Divine there is but one authority and that is The Great Mystery.
Enlightenment is often said to be a state of conscious communion with Divine Source.
According to some spiritual traditions this state is something of a finish line. One's existence is seen to be a cycle of birth, death and rebirth as one's soul perfects their karma and eventually reaches a state of Nirvana or pure bliss.
In the Judeo-Christian world the word "Heaven" is more commonly used. A person is believed to live only once and at the end of their life will face judgment. The outcome of this judgment will determine whether or not a person is worthy enough to enter the Kingdom of God or have to face eternal damnation. Something of a "get out of jail free card" is provided for those who believe in the teachings of a specific messiah or prophet and one's transgressions in this life can be forgiven such that they become pure enough to enter into a state of permanent God awareness, living side by side with God forever - so long as they believe.
These are the two main theories or beliefs that dominate the world religious consciousness. Outside the sphere of religious orientation are the Agnostics who neither deny nor embrace a concept of the Divine. Less popular, but growing in numbers these days, are the trendy New Atheists who believe that any concept of God or the Divine is pure fantasy concocted by the feeble human brain which fears death. Many even reject the idea of "god" as simply the Infinite and not a deity. To some Atheists, science is the ultimate authority - even though science is all too often the absolute faith that what one perceives through the sense organs is real, reliable and complete. It can be argued, from this standpoint then, that this New Atheism is very similar to religion, since it is faith-based; faith in the sense organs. Faith that the sense organs can perceive the entire scope of "reality" is just as crazy as thinking that Jesus is coming to rapture his children some day.
Everything I have described to you thus far is rooted either in logic or in faith - faith being the belief in things unseen and faith being the absence of critical thinking. But there is another dimension of perception available to us and that is the field of pure knowing. Direct perception.
The brain-body organism that thinks it is me - that is to say the accumulated collection of beliefs, experiences, biases, prejudices , opinions, sensations, longings, hopes, fears, and other perceptions which all add up - which all conspire to equal a "person"... This person has had glimpses of a Divinely perfect state of pure bliss. The character that thinks it is Eric Allen Bell has thought himself to have had moments of clear God awareness. The person who I am often identified with has had a brush with total clarity from time to time, only to fall back into the survival-oriented, me-centered day to day existence that is life in the material world.
Can one then, as a person living in the world, have direct perception of the Divine? Can we experience continuous and conscious communion with Divine Source while living in this place we call the world?
There is nothing unique about me posing this question to you. The question is as old as time itself. What is Enlightenment?
How do you experience a continuous awareness of the Divine? If that which is Divine is infinite, and by its very nature it must be, then the Divine never loses its awareness of you. Therefore you are always constantly connected to God. The belief that you are apart from God is a state of ignorance.
So in an enlightened state one becomes aware of what already is. We awaken from our sleep. The awakened self already exists concurrent with the everyday mundane self who is generally unaware of who and what we are and where we came from.
The awakened self doesn't need to awaken. The Ego self, by definition cannot awaken, but will use so-called "spirituality" as a form of self help and decorate itself with its accomplishments, it's knowledge and its belief systems. It uses the spiritual experience as a means of avoiding anything spiritual at all.
As such, when asking the question "Can the self be awakened?" it is worthwhile to ask yourself who it is that is asking. Do you imagine yourself to be a person? If you do imagine yourself to be a person, know that the person can never be more or less than what it is. The person has no need for awakening as awakening runs counter to the survival-based mindset that is the mandate for the society the person is living in. Only that which is not a person, not a citizen, not a race or a gender or a set of beliefs can even begin to truly ask the question, "Who am I?"
If one adds to their arsenal of beliefs that "We are all one" that is only a thought and should not be confused for real perception. I know that New York exists, but seeing it for myself is an entirely different kind of experience.
That which is awake within you does not seek awakening. That which seeks awakening can never find it as every move it makes is in fact an attempt to avoid the experience entirely.
Call off the search. There is nothing to find for the one who has not lost anything.
Eric Allen Bell