A short podcast looking at the relationship between meditation and enlightenment, and at the process of awakening. Subtitles are available by clicking on “CC”.
For translation of subtitles into languages other than English, view the podcast on YouTube here. Turn on Closed Captions (CC) and use the settings button to select the preferred language for the subtitles.
Another thing that is often asked by people when they begin a meditation practice is: “What happens to people who meditate on a regular basis over the long term?” Are the things that we hear in the stories about saints and sages true? Do people become enlightened, and what does that experience actually feel like? What’s the process of transition that takes place as someone progresses on the path over the long term?
So, there are basically two different processes going on, and we can think of these as two different processes taking place in the body and mind. One of these processes is the process of the mind coming to stillness and silence. The second process is the process of energetic purification, the purification of the subtle energy channels and the subtle energetic centres in the body.
So, both these processes can be happening at the same time, and they are actually both products of our meditation practice. Meditation practice is designed to both purify the energetic system, which is the chakras and nadis, and to bring the mind to stillness and silence.
If we look at the process of the cultivation of peace and stillness first, over time, as we practise, we are becoming increasingly still, increasingly quiet and increasingly calm. This experience of inner silence and peace is not just found while we’re meditating, but also begins to be experienced when we’re not practising on the mat, or on the meditation cushion. We begin to experience this peace in our daily life, and as this peace deepens, it is experienced also as joy and also as bliss. In the beginning, peacefulness and bliss will only come infrequently and only stay for short periods, but over time they will become increasingly common and the states of bliss will last longer when they do come. Eventually, we are experiencing bliss in various forms, continuously. Peacefulness and bliss are not unchanging. There are different kinds of bliss, different flavours of bliss that are constantly changing. We only have one word for bliss in the English language, but eventually we will have many. Maybe words like “rapture”, or “delight”, or “euphoria”, would help to describe the various flavours of bliss?
Then if we look at the process of energetic awakening, what is happening is that the body is being purified on the subtle level. Energetic channels are being purified and widened, allowing more prana to flow through them and causing those flows of prana to become stronger. At the same time, the energetic centres are being activated and opened, and this process of activation and opening can be experienced in many different ways, as it unfolds. There are many symptoms that can accompany this process of energetic purification of the body and mind. I mentioned some already, things like the body shaking, experiences of inner heat, or experiences like electricity flowing through the body.
But as the process continues, at a certain stage in our journey of awakening, we begin to experience ecstasy in the body, and this ecstasy can also be experienced in many different ways. Quite often, when we first experience ecstasy, it is experienced as an ecstatic connection between two points, for example, between the perineum and the third eye. It could also be experienced in the arms, or in the legs, or in other places within the body. It could be experienced as rushes of ecstasy going up the spine, or waves of ecstasy going up the whole body. As with bliss, in the beginning, these experiences are often quite infrequent, but gradually, they will become more and more frequent, and they also become increasingly expansive. So, we begin to experience moments of ecstasy that fill the whole body, or even radiate out beyond the body. Over time, the experience becomes so frequent that we are constantly experiencing some form of ecstasy, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This ecstasy feels like every cell of the body is vibrating with joy.
So, we could refer to the stage of continuous bliss as the first stage of enlightenment, the state of continuous ecstasy as the second stage of enlightenment. But numbering them in this way is not meant to imply that one will necessarily come before the other. We could experience continuous ecstasy first and then bliss sometime later, or vice versa.
And as we progress further on the path, there is a subtle merging of these two states into the experience of unity, divine love, and liberation. Again, this is a gradual process which only comes as glimpses in the beginning, but which, over time will become a constant state of being. So, this state of unity and divine love could be called the third stage of enlightenment. These stages are all milestones on the path that we pass as we progress further along the road.