Many people throughout the world are on an earnest search for spiritual enlightenment. I myself spent many years obsessed with the idea that I might somehow become enlightened. I now believe the whole idea is a hoax, and I will try to explain why.
I used to spend my days meditating. I would focus on my breathing, and attempt to simply observe, without any effort, what was going on in my body and in my mind. This was a regular practise for a few years, and I sometimes experienced feelings of peace and calmness. On one occasion, I had a deep spiritual experience, and I witnessed my bodily form dissolve into a feeling of bliss. The feeling only lasted a few seconds, before I came back “down to earth” and began reflecting on what I had experienced. I don’t know whether meditation gets much deeper than that.
I was definitely trying to get somewhere with my meditation practise. I was desperate for peace. In a sense, I was trying to escape. It wasn’t until, after years of struggling, I finally decided to give psychotherapy a try, that I began to realise what I was trying to escape from.
No doubt, I was a mess when I began attending psychotherapy. My mother had passed away after a terrible illness, and I was still merged with my mother in the way that children tend to be merged with their parents. I had loved my mother dearly, and been obsessive about looking after her, but in the meantime I had lost a great deal of myself. What psychotherapy did was begin to put me back in touch with myself.
As I explored my frustrations, fears, anger, and suffering, I began to find words to convey to my psychotherapist the deep loneliness that I had felt for many years. With frequent tearful outbursts, I began to talk through emotions that had been repressed, and I began to be much more self aware. A big part of being an adult is simply finding words to express emotions. This is something I never learned how to do as a child, and it was liberating to learn how to do so as an adult.
The more I attended psychotherapy, the less interested I was in meditation and enlightenment. This is because I was finding the peace that I had been seeking through meditation by being able to express myself openly and be in touch with my feelings. It surprised me that the enlightenment I had been striving so hard to attain became relatively unimportant. All I had really needed was to explore what my fear of not being enlightened meant, in terms of my past, and my present emotions.
When God began to reveal Himself to me in my mid-twenties, this brought a whole new dimension to my life. The reality of God puts the idea of meditation in a completely different perspective. I became aware that the supreme reality was not just a feeling of bliss, it was an active God. I realised that God is in control of everything, from the movement of thoughts to the movement of bodies.
What troubles me about meditation is that it tends to neglect God as doer, as it focuses so intently on what can be personally achieved. I also believe it can be an attempt to escape from emotional states that we are afraid of.
It bothers me that there are people who consider themselves to be spiritual gurus, who have supposedly attained enlightenment, because I can clearly see now that there is no such thing. Having doubts, frustrations, and fears is simply part of life – there is no magical state where we are free from these things. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t experience these emotions.
There is no supreme peace in this life, because we are all in touch with other people, who have their problems, and we have to deal with them. Even if you sit under a tree for decades and meditate, you are still 100% dependent on God for any peace of mind that you experience. God can bring or take away your peace in any moment, so no one has ever really attained stable peace or enlightenment.
If anyone claims to you that they are enlightened, alarm bells should ring in your mind, and you should ask that person to explain precisely what they mean. If it doesn’t make sense to you, on your terms, then you must reject the idea. It is quite probable that the supposedly enlightened person is deluded.
There is a culture in India where those who are supposedly more enlightened gain devotees and win the respect of many people. This is analogous to the pop stars of the West. But please realise that the so-called enlightened one has absolutely nothing to offer you. Don’t think that they are great. Don’t think that they are special. In the same way that the guru is a child of God, so are you. The guru has nothing that you don’t have!
There is no enlightenment. Give up the search, and realise that your happiness or sadness in this eternal moment is totally dependent upon the will of your creator and sustainer, almighty God.