While researching about enlightenment online, a person will inevitably conclude that it is a term that is loosely used for several things relating to spiritual development. Many of the modern spiritual teachers and gurus often refer to it as a sort of a realization of ones own true nature, through spiritual practices of different kinds, or just by intense practice of being aware in the present moment. Many of them will also say that we are already enlightened, but we don’t realise it due to entanglement in the mind, and that by realising that we are consciousness, we will by default become enlightened.
It seems that many westerners like to take up such teachings because they are not very difficult to practice, but ultimately they will get disappointed, and the reason for that is because the cause of suffering (the subconscious mind) is not being addressed.
If you just acknowledge an internal suffering that comes up from the subconscious mind (such as anger, jealousy, desire etc.), but just let it go (or as some streams of spiritual thought are teaching not to resist it), then this psychological aspect will continue dwelling within yourself. Even if you let it go and it goes away, it will still leave an impression in the mind, and by it comes suffering.
In comparison to an easy way to enlightenment as taught in the West, in the East there are many who take it in somewhat different way, and that is to try and reach through meditation the state known as Samadhi. The ultimate stage of it is called Nirvi Kalpa Samadhi, which is related to freeing the consciousness from the body, mind, and ego, so for it to partake in what is known as the ultimate experience of bliss, the other shore beyond created Universe, the Illuminated Void. Even though such experience would give great benefit and strength to someone seeking awakening, he or she would not be awakened by the experience itself, because the darkness inside the subconscious mind has not been transformed. Indeed, the person who returns from such a fantastic realization will be different, but his egos will still make him suffer, and his conditioned consciousness (that is trapped inside the subconscious mind) will still stay where it is and in the state that it is.
So in both the former (the West) and the latter case (the East), the end result, which is happiness, will not truly be achieved. Of course, there will be temporary states of bliss, happiness, peace and love, but the permanent states that come with enlightenment will not be there, because the darkness of the subconscious mind has not been transformed.
Many will settle for less, for what they achieved with the teachings that was presented before them, but in their heart they will wonder if that is all there is to it. And their teachers will try to silence that voice of that divine spark, saying that there is nothing more to gain, and that they are perfect as they are; that that voice they hear is just an aspect of their mind making them miserable…Nevertheless, in their hearts they will know that something is missing. They will notice that in themselves they are still empty, that nothing fundamental has changed.
The sad thing is how spiritual teachings of all ages of the past have been twisted over time, and as consequence people become confused, accept them and settle for less, even though the hardships of the path and the great rewards that ensue have always been part of the teachings of sages and adepts. There were times when a true Teacher had to have spiritual authority to teach, and he was knowledgeable and wise, showing people the path to true enlightenment. The latter is symbolically depicted in some of the most amazing myths, legends, and stories of the world. It was always about a long and adventurous journey of a brave men or women, that move through strange lands, passing cunning temptations, battles against mighty warriors and horrible monsters…. It is about the path of initiations that is well defined, and where the rewards are parts of ones own Being until finally the entire Higher Self is incarnated within and fused with consciousness as One….
It is only then that the aspirant to enlightenment will know what that word means in its full sense. However, as that path has three big stages (also referred to as the three mountains), we could also say that the first true understanding of what enlightenment is comes after first stage, when substantial part of ones Higher Self has entered and endowed the person with awakeness, peace, and happiness.
So in this attempt to answer the question “How much more until enlightenment”, which many people interested in spirituality wonder about, my advice would be to see if the path you are on is giving you a change in yourself that you seek, and to answer to yourself if you are content with what you inwardly have right now.
If there is still an overwhelming darkness, then the light cannot find its way to shine through. The darkness of our subconscious mind will not be resolved or gone by us ignoring it, or not resisting it and letting it pass. It will not be gone by an “Aha moments” or by experience of the Illuminating void. Nor will it be gone by understanding that it is not who we are.
The darkness will only be resolved by an intense work on it, from the state of non-identification and non-reaction. Only then we transform the darkness of the subconscious mind into the light of consciousness; by liberating particles of consciousness that were previously trapped inside that darkness. When we get this process in motion and start reintegrating with our Real Being, it is then that we will know something of enlightenment, and that we are on the path to self-realization.
HDP, November 2019.