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What Is Spiritual Enlightenment?


by Enza Vita

This article first appeared in  Watkins Mind Body Spirit, Issue 51 

No matter how sophisticated or profound, nothing that has been said, written, or thought about enlightenment is the absolute truth. It is just a pointer, a relative truth. With this comes true humility because you know that nothing you can say about it is ultimately the truth.

The most accurate description of spiritual enlightenment demands silence but this leaves most of us with our assumptions and thoughts and ideas about spiritual enlightenment intact which is not very helpful. And so every teacher tries to provide a doorway which can only be discovered by each of us by connecting the dots through many layers of disparate insights, experiences and communications.

Enlightenment is not a special experience

Some teachings encourage us to see spiritual enlightenment as a special experience like a perpetually sunny day where we become detached from the messiness of ordinary life and float around permanently on a cloud of bliss.

I prefer to see our everyday life as the all-inclusive Awareness, the Ultimate Source always present in and as EVERY experience and I encourage the deep descent into the ordinariness of our life so that we can realise that enlightenment doesn’t exist just up there in the Transcendent World but right here in every experience of our sometimes messy life.

Enlightenment is not the permanent state of oneness and presence that seekers imagine, but the absence of that which imagines oneness and separation. It’s seeing the face of God, the Beloved in everything as everything and knowing that everything is an expression of That – winning, losing, falling flat on our face and resting as That which includes and transcends all duality.

And the realisation is that God, the source, the Absolute is everywhere and everything including our ordinary life as it is moment to moment. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes messy and even terrible. But always, always deeply miraculous.

How do we realise spiritual enlightenment?

Some teachers tell us to “be in the NOW’ or to “surrender” but what does this truly mean?

“Just leap into the unknown” some others say. More good advice because that IS the process, but where exactly do we leap from?

The first step is to see that there is a shining core inside each of us that is always here. It is that which is perceiving these words and everything else. If you look directly into it, you will find that this innate sense of alive intelligence has no form, no colour, no centre, and no edges. It doesn’t come from anywhere and doesn’t go anywhere. It is clear and empty. It can be filled with all sorts of things like thoughts and emotions and sensations, but this sense of pure living intelligence is there always regardless of thoughts, emotions, sensations, or circumstances. This vast empty aware space is pure unadulterated beingness, spilling out into and as yourself.

The second step is to break the addiction of following every thought, sensation, and object that appears, because this is the cause of overlooking the awareness that we are. When we remain effortlessly un-distracted, our true nature becomes obvious and undeniable.

This realisation is not a mystical, mysterious thing. It is simply the shift of identification from the I-entity, to the I Am awareness. But not the concept of awareness; rather the actual experience of awareness as this presence that we truly are and that is not limited by any form, yet contains all forms, and is never separate from itself.

As this cognising intelligence that is awareness contemplates matter, it understands that all matter is an expression of itself: Emptiness is form; form is emptiness. Awareness is matter; matter is awareness. Finally, even this subtle appearance of duality disintegrates and life becomes as it is—single, complete, one.


Your very nature is what I call enlightenment

The truth is that there is only being. There is no separate entity that could be enlightened or unenlightened. There are only innumerable expressions of the One Being (which we call people, animals, forms etc.), mirror-like facets, reflecting being-ness back to itself.

Enlightenment is “seeing” this truth but with no “seer” and no “seen.” In enlightenment, the seer and the seen disappear. Or more accurately, are seen through as illusions. In reality, they were never there, apart from being concept and misunderstanding.

There is nothing outside of you that must be brought in. Your very nature is what I call enlightenment. It doesn’t exist somewhere, waiting to be found. It is you, your very core.

You are the One Self, the original undivided complete One from which and in which everything appears and disappears as an expression of itself. There are no others but itself. Within this undivided One, insights, thought, feelings, realisation, and human beings appear, including the one you think you are.



ENZA VITA is the publisher and editor of InnerSelf newspaper and website, and the founder and director of the MahaShanti Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to spiritual awakening. She has distilled over 40 years of spiritual exploration into a modern, practical and authentic spirituality that engages with the universal teaching underlying all religions.

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