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The people of ASHW are highly experienced meditators who
provide expert help for those who seek the truth.

How To Recognise Enlightenment

There is no magic formula for recognising the enlightened from the less blessed. There is no way of knowing whether your teacher has progressed along the path as far as you. Perhaps then, it is best that you don't wait to be told “Well done!” by your teacher. They may know less than you!

“Heresy!” I hear you say. Well, have you tested your teacher? Have you found a way to know they are spiritually advanced? Just because a yoga teacher can teach all the positions, it only means they have learned the positions and have cultivated a supple body. Can you see their spirit? It is tradition that maintains a hierarchy of teachers and the backbone of this tradition is money. For example, the current Dalai Lama he is a widely respected teacher while also a recipient of CIA funds. Can these two aspects co-exist in an enlightened being? Also, for a previous Dalai Lama, the sixth, two different men were claimed to be the true Dalai Lama and only one was accepted by the population. This reeks of politics, or as a minimum, a devoutness competition neither of which can identify the truly enlightened.

Any opinion on another person's enlightenment is just an opinion and has little in the way of certainty. Therefore just concentrate on yourself and you can decide if you believe you have reached enlightenment. And when you have, don't tell anybody; they won't believe you!

So, can you recognise enlightenment in yourself without having your thoughts tainted by emotion? Firstly, if you can't recognise which thoughts have attached emotions then you are nowhere near enlightenment. This might be considered step one. Having achieved the separation of thoughts and emotions you are then well on the way to recognising your own state. Remember, you will still feel emotion and well you should. It would not be helpful if you didn't feel fear when confronted by a bear or tiger. After being able to separate thoughts from emotions, what next? There needs to be a magic lightbulb moment, an “Oh wow, now I see” moment. For each person this moment is not an intellectual exercise nor just a feeling. It has to be something that fills the mind intellectually, instinctively and with feeling. Maybe something as simple as watching two birds swooping, cataloguing them in your brain with a simple phrase like “two birds swooping” and then realising that by cataloguing the birds you can't see them any more.

It is said that when the Buddha became enlightened he walked from his fig tree three times to a position a few feet away. Why? He knew that he saw the world differently and wanted to be sure it was not an illusion visible only at his tree. One thing you might see differently is everything has a more yellow tinge. The opposite colour to yellow is purple, a colour associated with fear. More yellow in the world means less fear. If fear is the dominant emotion, then removing the veil of emotion may lead to less fear and a yellower world.

For every person the experience is different. Try to explore any experience without getting too “hung-up” in the experience and realise that what you know for yourself is something that is difficult to share. If you have progressed this far with your meditation, then you are already at a point where it is your duty to help others learn the truth of meditation.

Good luck with the helping and remember: Enlightenment is not a competition!