Is Enlightenment Permanent?

is enlightenment permanent

Is enlightenment permanent or is enlightenment a transcendent state which one loses?  If we define enlightenment as the direct realization that you are consciousness, then insight into enlightenment is the same as insight into anything else.  There was never un-enlightenment, there are no permanent states, and this realization is final.  The further realization that there is no one here to experience enlightenment is also permanent.  This is not to say one cannot temporarily feel contracted during the course of life after realization, but ongoing confusion comes only if one still has doubt about their true nature beyond the mind.  Once this is seen, realized and discerned clearly through practice, there is no way to make the mistake again.  It would be like all of a sudden thinking you were your hand.

Part of the problem with our way of “knowing” is that we are always looking outside of ourselves.  We look at other people, we judge their actions, we judge their words and we judge concepts against other concepts.  We feel that we are “doing our homework” in this way, but this is completely backwards.  It is like trying to “know” that we are only watching a movie, but waiting for the characters in the movie to confirm that we are only sitting in a theatre watching a movie.  This is absurd.  Who would need approval from actors on screen to realize that they are watching a movie?  The actors go according to script, and even if they pointed out we were only watching a movie we would not see it unless we realized it for ourselves.  If we want to realize we are only watching a movie we need only to watch ourselves and realize first hand that we are sitting in a seat watching a movie.

Only by going deep within ourselves do we come to finally see that we were only ever actors.  Accompanying this realization is the fact that others are also actors.  We come to see and feel this in a very plain and ordinary way, either through a direct experience of emptiness which is difficult to explain but unmistakable or as a result of steady, gradual practice.  We cannot, then, un-realize it, unless we have not really realized it in the first place.  Part of the problem with this question of whether enlightenment is permanent or not is that this question is still being asked by “the frog in a pot.”  No, the frog in the pot is never free, never enlightened.  No matter what “transcendent” experience the frog in the pot has had, the frog is still a frog in the pot.  Only when the frog’s consciousness recognizes itself as the same consciousness that knows all things does it realize he is not a frog.  He then becomes, permanently, not a frog.  Similarly, you are not now, nor have you ever been, nor will you ever be, nor could it ever come to pass that you could ever be a body or a mind or a name or a story or anything that you are conscious of in any world, realm or universe that may arise at any time.

Real Ego Death

The initial stages of enlightenment are marked by an obvious “breaking off” or freeing of awareness from the physical prison of the body and mind.  This is what is felt as “suchness” or “thusness” or thundering silence.  It is the first real freedom we have ever experienced in this life and it is dramatic and irreversible.  It is not an experience but an opening.  Once it is open, the real work begins.  This free awareness becomes like a fire which, when applied to the inner work, recognizes and burns away all that hides the truth from us at a much faster rate.  What hides the truth from us are the special stories we tell ourselves and believe.  The truth is this moment as it really is and what hides this moment from us is ego.

In the final analysis, an enlightened person is a dead person and the dead do not come back to life.  The translation of Nirvana is “blown out,” or extinguished.  This is not about just about some kind of experience or some kind of exalted state.  It is about practicing until you realize that what you thought was a person is not, what you thought was a world was not, what you thought was agency was not and what you thought was a life was not.  What you are enlightened from is the notion of a separate self.  Permanently.  Not just giving up self love or selfishness, but giving up the whole notion that you were ever a person.  Just like when you found out Santa Claus wasn’t real.  You do not become a resigned man or a surrendered man.  You become a headless man, a dead man, yet somehow free to be more alive than you were previously.

When the last of your delusional, personal story has burned up and you “die before you die,” you become just as you were before the story.  You become the natural, conscious self.  If you “lose your state,” then it was just another state.  How can you “lose” what you are?  Maybe you failed to recognize what you are but once the recognition is made it is not easily forgotten.  Enlightenment is not necessarily about “transcending” or becoming a God or perfect or divine or holy.  It is not necessarily about being kind to animals or acting “spiritual” or fantasizing about what might happen after death.  It’s about the end of fantasizing.  It’s about understanding once and for all that you are not and never have been a separate entity except in your own false recognition.  Then you are free to become everything.  And nothing.  But not before that.  Then it is permanent.

15 thoughts on “Is Enlightenment Permanent?

  1. Since you have not given a name of how you have been called, I am to address you as-
    “Mind Without Walls”
    Yesterday I had read this post in a hurry and had to attend some work so I had left it without a comment.
    Your blog name itself spells of your thought and the pattern of thinking.
    Whatever you have written is right and this does not come just like that, it needs to have come across a Guru or the scriptures and a study.
    It ofcousre does require some sort of “Sadhana”, I hope you understand.
    To understand also it needs to have gone a long or atleast a short way in the Path.
    So, therefore, this Post is of high value though is less understood or of least interest.
    Please do not misunderstand me. There are so many people who want to be enlightened, but have taken different paths or strange ones too.
    We cannot leave it like that, and that is what all enlightened have done, they have said what to be said. You have said the same thing, it continues.
    I am very happy having come across and let us wish good for both of us.
    Love to YOU!
    Shiva

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very good perspective about enlightenment, especially the movie theater example. I wondered myself about the permanency of enlightenment (or sagehood in my view), and I thought that it is permanent because “great understanding” will certainly not become “small understanding,” and once enlightened, one would continue be enlightened through enlightenment’s very nature. In Hinduism(?), what role does physical death have in enlightenment? I would expect no role, but my reason would be due to the unboundedness of the mind.

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    • Reincarnation aside, what is born and dies is no longer perceived in Nirvikalpa Samadhi, as it does not absolutely exist. Physical death (and birth) are as illusory as all phenomena.

      Liked by 1 person

    • In this case, it was more a description of initial stream entry (mainly, the relinquishment of identity view) or, in advaita, the recognition that you are consciousness rather than its content… In Christian terms, ALL things are done through Him. Including what we call “us.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting post. The movie theater metaphor is very similar to what I had been trying to tell someone a year ago. I find that I’m somewhere between the beginning of the end, and the end. Lately it seems like be beginning of the end of the end, if that makes any sense. Would so like the relief of finally seeing once and for all that the individual called me does not and has never existed. She goes in and out of this awareness…spends a lot of time giving up desires, which seem to be endlessly bubbling up from wherever…it is a very tiresome process; perhaps she is taking the hard way and doesn’t realize there is a more direct route? The aversions are the most difficult though; aversion to pain, which, because of fibromyalgia makes sleep nearly impossible without medications which are not good for her. It’s kind of difficult to really let herself accept the pain without aversion though. A belief seems to interfere, over and over in many parts of the body, and she has yet to identify that belief. I will email you the rest of this long message LOL

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  4. I’ve thought about your post here quite a bit, and decided I’d like to add the following which you, and other readers, may potentiall find helpful;
    Essentially, the gist of my comment is, in order to learn the truth and become convinced, you do not only need to meditate and have the experiences of greater depth of peace and bliss that this creates, but you also need to be able to remember those experiences, compare them with experiences of less-skillful modes of being, draw conclusions about your comparisons, and remember your conclusions. In this way, you give yourself an ever-growing body of evidence, which at some point a “preponderance of evidence” that liberation is in fact preferable.
    This evidence also enables you to become more and more convinced that going deeper and deeper into states freer freer of desire, is beneficial and worth the risk of losing one’s desires permanently. In this way through marking and remembering your personal conclusions about your more and less enlightened states of experience, you gain the necessary courage to give up everything in favor of nothing.
    Therefore I strongly encourage anyone who wishes not to waste time and effort in their progress to final liberation, to be constantly training their mind to not only continously design good and useful experiements in meditation and mindfulness (and less skillfull modes of being), but also REMEMBER all of the interesting results of those costly experiments, to COMPARE AND CONTRAST AND DRAW CONCLUSIONS about their different modes of being, and then to REMEMBER THE RESULTS OF THEIR EVALUATIONS AND KEEP TRACK of the growing weight of evidence and what it is telling them.
    In this way, by intentional memory, I would suggest that many people can avoid wasting a great deal of time in their journey to liberation, and can as a result, reap exponentially growing freedom from suffering from day to day in their lives and practices.
    You can’t become convinced the truth of Liberation from suffering if you don’t remember what you’ve experience; but haphazard, unintentional memory can still waste a lot of time. I encourage anyone who is practicing, avoid wasting so much of your effort, by training your mind to remember what you’ve learned. You will happily get further than you ever guessed was possible, and in less time, with less effort and less suffering.

    Liked by 2 people

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