Defending Your Enlightenment
Anyone who makes some spiritual attainment has to deal with other people’s criticism. They often do not want to see us make advancement or improve our lives. The ‘crabs in a basket‘ syndrome makes them want to drag us back down to their level. This leads to the necessity to protect and defend our enlightenment.
Recently we published some posts on the method of our degeneration from godlike spiritual beings to ordinary humans. It is interesting to note that the means of falling into our current condition mainly manifest through our communication and relations with other people. We have been dragged down by going into agreement with external value systems, especially those containing negative emotion, evaluation, invalidation and stress.
These same factors can influence us to give up spiritual gains we have made, and revert to previous lower states of consciousness. Generally, people feel themselves to be in competition with others. When they see someone make a big improvement, it threatens them—they feel unable to compete. So out of fear and envy, they try to drag that person back down to their level.
This can happen to anyone who is different. You could think of it as a form of bullying, but it is especially dangerous when it happens around spiritual advancement or even enlightenment. Let me tell you a story.
I lived for some time in Portland, Oregon, working as a technical writing contractor. After my project was finished, I had some time remaining on the lease of my apartment and nothing to do. I had been studying Taoism and especially, The Secret of the Golden Flower, an esoteric text on meditation. My apartment was very quiet. I had the time and the place to do some nice meditation.
So I took several months off and simply sat, starting with about 3-4 hours a day. I have always had trouble with my legs falling asleep while sitting. So I would sit for 20-30 minutes at a time, get up and walk around for a few minutes, and sit down again. I made a very comfortable sitting place with a raised seat, which helped me stay sitting longer.
What did I do? Nothing. I sat and waited. I watched my breath, my mind and my heart, and my energy. Soon I realized that even without doing anything, even without thinking, there is a lot going on. There is no need for TV, no need to be bored, ever. Inside of us there is a very entertaining display of energy and motion. All we have to do is sit down, shut up and watch.
I sat every day like that for 10 weeks or so, gradually working my way up to 12–18 hours daily. Then on December 21, 1984 I sat for the morning as usual, then had some whole-wheat ramen noodles for lunch. After lunch I rested for a few minutes, then got up and prepared to sit again. Suddenly I felt that someone else was in the room—a distinctly feminine presence. After meditating so much, I had become very sensitive to people’s energy. I looked around the apartment but nobody was there.
Then I felt a soft tap on my forehead.
Energy rushed up my spine and out the top of my head. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by a spiritual vision. I could see conscious spiritual energy everywhere, in everything. I felt totally ecstatic. I saw the same thing everywhere I looked: luminous, conscious spiritual energy pulsing and coursing through everything, like an all-pervading ocean of milk.
The experience lasted for hours. After four hours of unrelenting bliss, I decided to take a reality check; I visited a local tea house. As I walked in, the potted plants greeted me happily—but the humans ignored me completely. They were so dead they may as well have been cardboard cut-outs. At first, I got in the line like everyone else. After some time of being completely ignored, I decided to test the boundaries.
I cut through the line, grabbed a cup, filled it with hot water, dumped in a tea bag and some honey. Looking around, everyone was still studiously ignoring me. Pushing it to the limit, I took my hot cup of tea, sauntered towards the door and walked out without paying.
Silence. No response at all. This experience revealed an interesting aspect of the mass hallucination in which most humans live. They hate happiness and avoid ecstasy so much that if someone is truly happy or ecstatic, they behave as if he isn’t there. Denial is a powerful drug.
In the days and weeks that followed, all I had to do to repeat the ecstatic experience was sit down and take a deep breath. More experiments with people showed beyond a doubt that whenever I was in an ecstatic state, I was effectively invisible. It was in all ways a classic enlightenment experience.
Now the interesting and germane thing here is that none of my friends acknowledged my enlightenment experience. In fact, even though I had an extraordinary spiritual experience, they all treated me exactly the same as before. None of them wanted to learn from me how I had attained it. In fact, none of them wanted to know anything about it. My amazing and important attainment was simply thrown into the well of denial. In short, it was invalidated.
Over time, I stopped believing in my own enlightenment. The ecstasy gradually faded. I became an ordinary personal again, full of anxieties and uncertainty. I didn’t see myself as having solved a major problem in life.
I lost all that I had attained, because I went into agreement with people who were envious of my attainment. They would not acknowledge my experience or support my new state of being. And so I gradually degenerated until I became like them.
This has happened to all of us—many, many times over many lifetimes. The aberrations that make us small, unenlightened and inauthentic are covering our real nature, our authentic self. As soon as we remove them, we recover our original state and abilities. But then others will act to restore our covering of aberration as soon as possible, to protect their own aberrations and spiritual disabilities.
The conclusion is that if we have made any spiritual advancement, we must protect and defend our enlightenment to prevent losing it again. Simply being aware of the situation is a good beginning. You also may have to disconnect from certain people in your life, to protect your gains.