Q. 389 – Enlightenment is not an experience

Q: I just have to ask your opinion on something that I experienced the other day.

I was sitting in my car around 7.00am drinking a cup of coffee and reading the short story “the dazzling dark” by john wren- lewis”.. as I finished it I put the paper down to contemplate what I read and just sat for a moment or two thinking who am I really, I had the strangest experience that I was sitting in the back of my car looking at myself sitting in the front of the car, i had a feeling/vision of seeing the back of my own head and body just sitting there…like a totally different person was viewing this strange body in the front….crazy stuff, it only lasted a split second or so..but was a complete vision….maybe I was imagining it because I wanted to see the truth so much..still do!….I really don’t know…but I can still feel it when I think of it…it felt great..like the body in the front of the car was, just a body.. .but I felt no real connection with the solid body)…..no fear, nothing,, it was just like looking into someone else’s car…this happened 2 days ago, I was going to dismiss it as just the mind at play., as iv had other small experiences before but dismissed them as mind states as I suffer form anxiety from time to time..fear etc, .but I don’t know, I really don’t know…

What do you think?

A (Dennis): You should read my book ‘Enlightenment: the Path through the Jungle’. There is a whole section on ‘what enlightenment is not’ that covers this sort of thing. Here are a few relevant quotes from it:

  1. Enlightenment is not about ‘experiencing the Self’ – otherwise everyone would be enlightened. It is not about experience at all, it is about self-knowledge – the direct knowledge that you are already that which you seek. (See 25 – 97.)
  1. Nor is enlightenment itself an experience – experiences come and go. Enlightenment is not temporary – once it happens, that is it. Consequently, if you had an experience and wonder whether you are now enlightened, you can be sure that you are not. Also, there is no need for a seeker to try to recapture a ‘good’ experience, thinking that it was somehow closer to enlightenment than the usual ‘bad’ experiences. (See 102 to 104)
  1. It has nothing to do with ‘energy’, nor is it a ‘force’; it is not something ‘external’ that enters the person. It is not a light in any literal sense, nor does it make you less heavy in anything other than a metaphorical sense.

Physical manifestations of light, whether ‘flashes’ or ‘blinding’ do not signal enlightenment but are a sign that one may need to visit the doctor.

  1. Similarly, ‘inner voices’ or ‘messages from the heart’ invariably arise from the mind and, irrespective of spiritual content, usually relate to the ego.
  1. It is not an ‘expansion of consciousness’; it is not ‘within’ us (or without). Consciousness is already everywhere and always.
  1. Enlightenment is not about altered states of awareness. Enlightenment is not a state and Consciousness is the reality of all apparent states, in the same way that gold is the reality of rings, bangles and chains.
  1. Feelings of ecstasy, visions of God, yogic flying, astral projections and other “pastimes and drugs, and features of the press” (Ref. 8) have nothing to do with enlightenment. Nor do bright lights, visions, hallucinations or premonitory dreams.

Hope this effectively answers your question, although I appreciate you did not actually mention the E word.

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