Nine times out of ten when you tell someone that you’ve had numerous spiritually fulfilling experiences or have achieved enlightenment you’re statement will be met with a doubtful scoff. A cynical laugh and a brush off. You might even encounter anger or righteous indignation by the mere mention of it. After all, true spiritual enlightenment is nearly impossible but for a few select souls; like the Dalai Llama. People are more than willing to believe that the Dalai Llama or the so-called “Buddha” had spiritual enlightenment experiences. But a regular ole normal person? Impossible. And yet the majority of people on planet earth, even those here in the West, still profess to believing in a god and belonging to a religion — many even attend a church regularly. But they find the idea of enlightenment, true spiritual fulfillment very hard to believe in. Especially in others. Why the disconnect?
For one thing, there seems to be a thick line separating what people believe about “God” and how people think about spiritual enlightenment. Perhaps in days past, religion and spirituality used to be tied together, like next of kin. But in modern times, they seem as estranged as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Existing in different worlds and for completely different purposes. Religion in today’s world seems more to address one’s morals and ethics, along with a sense of community and social status, than it does one’s spiritual fulfillment. Once a person starts on the path of the seeker, searching for truth and spiritual fulfillment, they seem to leave the major religions of the world behind and enter into an alternate world more akin to the esoteric and supernatural. But why? When did religion cut the cord from simple spiritual fulfillment? And what exactly is spiritual fulfillment? What is enlightenment for that matter?
There are countless misconceptions about spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment in human mass consciousness. Erroneous assumptions or flat out lies in the form of myths, legends and fairytales that have been indoctrinated into human hearts and minds for centuries and some even for millennia. Very little of what has been written in the way of religion or spirituality is true or even of any use. One learns this fact very quickly once on the path. Almost all of these false facts and erroneous conclusions with very few exceptions come from and are promoted by one form or another of what we call “the world religions”. No matter where we live on planet earth, there is at least one or more “god legends” that is commonly promoted by one or more of these religions. No one, no matter where they happen to be born and grow up on planet earth, is immune from it. Because we are aware that over the last five thousand years human beings have believed in no less than one to five thousand different “gods” — bearing over ten thousand different names by some accounts, it is ironic that each generation is well aware of the numerous “false gods” that humankind “used to believe in”, but they still persist in believing that the NEW god that they believe in NOW is the “one true god” — not one of those old-fashioned “false gods” of the past. This is red flag number one. It’s a presumptuousness that is both sad and laughable.
This is not to say that true spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment is not possible, for as many can and have attested to through the ages right through to today, it certainly is possible. For some it is easy. For others it seems a bumpy, rocky, long and challenging road. This difference probably has more to do with the beliefs a person holds, whether consciously or unconsciously, than anything else.
One of the first questions we need to ask is, is a “god” even necessary to achieve true spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment? Ask a Buddhist and they will reply “no”. Ask someone who practices any of the Big Four major religions of the world — Judaism, Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism — and they will emphatically reply “Yes, absolutely. A god is absolutely necessary”. To them, spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment has more to do with their god and their religion than anything else. They go together. One can’t exist without the other. Their religion is their spiritual fulfillment. The god of their chosen religion — whether deliberately chosen or indoctrinated — is the focus of, reason for and cause of their spiritual fulfillment. Which begs another question: is practicing a religion and/or worshiping a god the same as what we refer to as “spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment”? The answer seems to be both yes and no.
For some, practicing a religion, believing in the tenets of a particular religious faith, is less about spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment in the here-now than it is about achieving that state of being in the “after life”. They freely admit and proselytize that the life that we currently inhabit in the here-now on planet earth, in these minds and bodies, is meant to be one of sacrifice in order to achieve spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment in the future, after one passes on and dies. This has always struck an odd chord for me personally. There seems to be a major disconnect in this particular belief, even though it is one that is shared by billions of people. Why would we be here if the only purpose was to suffer and struggle through it with nothing to look forward to but the end of it all?
If we examine this belief and the possible origins of it, it is clear that it has very solid and practical applications. When the world’s religions were first formed, life WAS hard, challenging, full of suffering and struggle. The promise of true happiness and fulfillment in the afterlife if one just persevered in this life offered hope. That hope kept people alive, at least long enough to procreate and continue the perpetuation of the species. An important role duty of any living thing. If one is raised to believe that life has no purpose other than struggle and suffering, with no promise of anything at the end of the road, why go on? Why even bother to live until tomorrow? But if one is led to believe from an early age that all one need do is persist in living life to their best ability for as long as they are here and THEN they will be REWARDED with an eternity of infinite bliss and fulfillment in an “afterlife”, then they just might stick around and give it a go. At least long enough to procreate.
But of course, that’s not the only requirement. There’s a catch. Besides sticking around, one is also asked to “believe as we believe, follow these specific sets of rules and laws AND defend them, even to your death if need be” and THEN “you will most certainly be rewarded with an afterlife of eternal bliss and the fulfillment of your greatest dreams and aspirations”. For this, human beings are offered the most outlandish rewards in the “afterlife”, ranging from “seventy-two virgin girls to serve your every wish and command”, to “giant houses one streets paved with gold that sit upon the clouds of heaven”, to “becoming one with God the almighty”. This is a second practical reason for and application of fostering in people a belief that true spiritual fulfillment comes “not in this life, but in the afterlife”: the ability to control those people through heavy indoctrination while they are alive by holding out a reward in the afterlife for them that is just out of reach.
Promote a few men among them to a higher status to act as watchdogs and overseers — priests, bishops, cardinals, rabbis, imams — and a pyramid-like hierarchy of control is made easily possible, where the few can control the many. Throw in some early indoctrination of some form of punishment — either in this life, such as banishment from one’s society, torture or death, or in the afterlife, such as “an eternity in hell” — and along with the reward factor, this control is made even easier.
Now spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment in THIS life, here-now, is no longer even desired or contemplated. Everyone is so concerned with this “eternity in an afterlife” that they’ve completely let go of one of the most rational and reasonable human considerations: personal happiness and fulfillment here-now. This is a misconception about life that has plagued humankind for thousands of years, ever since the first major religions were formed; and most don’t even give it a second thought.
But some do. In the modern times that we live in, at least in areas of the world where it is politically allowed — such as in democracies and republics, some people began to contemplate these belief systems taken for granted for so long and by so many and came to conclude that they were implausible at best, downright false propaganda at worst. Ideas such as existentialism — the idea that only what we are able to see, touch, hear, taste, smell or measure in the here-now is all that is; everything else is illusion — began to pop up. Ideas such as agnosticism — the simple notion that we don’t know what we don’t know but are open to anything if at some point it should become clear to be true to us; and even atheism — a sort of anti-religious faith that is just as unreasonable and illogical as religious faith is when it is broken down — a determined belief that one is SURE that a god does not exist. (talk about silly: non-religious people bad mouthing religious people for believing that “God definitely exists” when they are sure that “a god doesn’t exist”. Both flying by the seat of their pants on nothing but faith and faith alone, sure of themselves for no other reason than they want to be, neither of them with any proof to back up their claim. But these are all important steps on the path to spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment.
Most people are often religious as children, atheists when they reach their teens or twenties, and eventually settle into a comfortable agnosticism once they mature. But some reach further. The quest for true spiritual enlightenment.
Breaking the shackles of religious belief based purely on indoctrination, or fear of a torturous afterlife, is a major step, an important one, a necessary one if one is to ever achieve true spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment. But one needn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, though one can hardly blame them if they are want to do so at first. It’s a predictable first step — once given the freedom to do so, that first illuminating moment when one realizes that the door to the jail cell is no longer locked, some just run out, never look back and never stop running. They stay in perpetual resistance to being held down and controlled by indoctrinated beliefs that make no logical sense to them. But what of spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment? Ahhhh, that’s the baby, lying there in a puddle of water struggling for each breath after it’s been tossed out and abandoned. Ask any atheist or agnostic about spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment and they’ll tell you that “it’s all a crock of bs”. They “believe in the here-now”. Happiness is to be created by each individual on their own terms in whatever way they desire. And for them, if it serves them, let it be. Not everyone desires spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment. Some are content with just being here, with being alive. And in a way that kind of state of being is an enviable one.
But what about those of us who do long for something more? Once we recognize that the door to the cell is no longer locked, must we too run and never look back? Freeing ourselves of religion and the suffocating false beliefs and illogical assumptions of them does not necessarily imply that we no longer desire true spiritual fulfillment. The fact of the matter is that religion and spiritual fulfillment CAN go hand in hand. But one just doesn’t necessarily equal the other, nor is one required for the other, and vice versa. They are entirely separate animals. Moreso than most religious folks would care to admit. That is why the idea of spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment is so rarely brought up in religious circles.
In fact, after decades of study, research and practice, one begins to realize that though spiritual fulfillment is quite possible through the practice of any one of the numerous world religions that dominate human consciousness at this time or any other time throughout our history, it may be easier to achieve withOUT the practice of a religion at all. For a myriad of reasons. As noted above, spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment is NOT necessarily the number one goal of the world’s major religions in the first place. Some of them freely admit this. Their goal instead is to offer such things in an alleged afterlife.
One also realizes eventually along the path that almost everything that has ever been written about the nature of “god’ or divinity or enlightenment is made up. Especially the stuff of religion. A good rule of thumb: whoever wrote it most likely made it up. Or they’re simply passing on ideas that someone else made up. Many claim that they’re simply acting as a vessel for a “god”, that everything they’ve written was not only divinely inspired, but actually written BY a god. By THE God. It’s an astounding reality when you step away from it for a moment. That an entire race of beings can become so indoctrinated by a belief that they can accept such an outlandish claim. Especially when you sit down and actually read the things that this God supposedly wrote.
Another good rule of thumb: if you know more about the mechanics of the universe than a God who claimed to write through humans, chances are no such thing happened. And such is the case with the sacred writings of the so called “holy books” of all the world’s major religions. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, a holy book of both the Christian and Jewish faith has TWO known authors, two different stories of the “creation of the world” story, two different stories of Noah and the Ark, etc etc. (Yes, of course there’s a possibility that “God wrote through” two different humans, telling the same story, just in case one of them died before they finished publishing. But let’s not speak of possibilities here.) The simple truth is that we all now know more than God supposedly did just two-thousand years ago. And the same goes for the Bagadvagita, the Hindu holy book. That’s an even more outlandish story. Flying monkeys and talking elephants. And the same goes for The Qu’ran. Talk about man creating god and then projecting his own culture and its beliefs onto this god in order to exert power over others. That book is a veritable dictionary entry for man-made religious mumbo jumbo. But so too are the rest of the so called holy books of the world’s major religions. None are exempt from the ridiculous factor. Except for one.
The Tao Te Ching. But by most people’s accounts this is no longer a sacred book of one of the major religions of the world. Perhaps it’s too intelligent. Too rationale. Too modest. Too non-fiction to be considered “truth” by religious people. (irony deliberate). It doesn’t claim to know everything or to be able to solve all the worlds problems. But it is one hell of an intelligent work. Definitely the most sacred, deep, and truthful. And at one time Taoism was considered a world religion. Now it’s shoved into the “non-theist camp” along with Buddhism. For whatever reason most people consider religion to equate “believing in a God”. Though that’s not true either. Scientology is allowed to be called a religion for God’s sake. There’s another one of those red flags.
This idea that a god wrote holy books through human hands may fly for some… indeed we all know deeply religious people; many who I respect and admire greatly. There is a strong desire in human consciousness to believe in a force or entity more powerful than us — it is a temptation that we all succumb to in our weakest moments — AND to be told what to do and what to believe. It is certainly easier than figuring these things out for ourselves. (There’s real work involved in that.) So throw them a book and tell them “god wrote it” and they’ll come running. They’ll devour it. The “Holy Bible” is the best selling book of all time in the history of the human race. There is a logical practical reason for this, as noted above. But what are they running to? What are they devouring? Is it true spiritual fulfillment? Is it enlightenment? Or is it simply the promise of rewards at a later date? In the afterlife? Or is it simple comfort? Belonging to something bigger? A sense of community? A pat on the back with an implied message that “you’re alright, you’re a good person because you believe”. These are powerful motivators. So powerful in fact that they can lead someone off the path of spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment and smack into a church pew every Sunday.
Many will tell you that true spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment isn’t possible in this life. Some will be very religious. Some will be atheists. They will be highly skeptical if you relay to them that you believe that YOU’VE experienced it yourself. For whatever reason, there seems to be a belief floating around, quite solidly, in mass consciousness that “enlightenment is hard”. Why? Perhaps because life was so hard for we humans for so long… (consider how recent this current stage of peace, freedom and ease of the modern world is in the very long history of humankind…) Or perhaps it’s because the major religions of the world have pounded it into consciousness with such persistence for so long that people started to believe it. If spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment is hard, then we need a religion to get there. Along with that need comes a dependance on that religion
Consider for a moment how Tibetan Buddhists for example believe that they must “give up all material possessions and pleasures and isolate themselves from the rest of society and meditate for hours everyday for years” in order to achieve enlightenment. This of course is a ridiculous notion. Completely made up. By someone, human, at some point in history. And then passed down and perpetuated through the ages by others. Not a bit of truth to it. And yet millions adhere to this belief. The same is true for Sikhs. They even go so far as to change their name. Many sects of Hinduism such as Krishna devotees have similar beliefs. They give up literally everything material for the promise of spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment.
This is not to say that it doesn’t work. It may work. It may not. But it does illustrate how solidly this belief that “enlightenment is difficult to achieve” is planted in mass consciousness. People tell themselves that because enlightenment is so difficult to achieve, if I go to great lengths to achieve it and sacrifice a lot, then surely I may possibly achieve it. When all along it’s right in front of them. In front of all of us. More on that in a few. But first…
Let us remember, regardless of who it is that is telling us that “spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment is hard to achieve” or what they are or where they come from, it doesn’t matter. Because, again, that’s just their belief. And one person’s beliefs have nothing to do with another’s. They’re not applicable. Not relevant. Entirely unimportant. That’s an important something to recognize and never forget. Maybe the most important. Many of us on planet earth are free to believe whatever we want to religiously. But some still are not afforded that liberty. Regardless of what position one is in — because of where they live or how they were raised — it is still just as important to remember: no one can tell another what the truth is regarding spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment. It’s all bullshit unless it rings true to YOU. Some may have to fake it. Just to stay alive. Think modern day Islamic societies, (not all of them), where religious beliefs are forced upon their citizens whether they like it or not. Or think The Middle Ages or The Dark Ages, where professing to not being a Christian meant torture, imprisonment or death.
The greatest irony of them all is that a few hundred years before that, the exact same people who were torturing others for NOT being Christian — the Roman Empire disguised as “the catholic church” and all it’s minions, Spain for instance — were doing the exact opposite: torturing and murdering others for BEING a Christian. If that doesn’t open one’s eyes and shed light on just how full of shit the whole system is, then nothing will. Let them be. Enlightenment is not their thing. Being told what to do and doing it in order to feel good about themselves is more important to these individuals than spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment. Walk away and wish them peace and a good life.
The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all magic formula to spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment. No spell or incantation, no prayer or ritual, no practice or meditation that is foolproof if you only do it properly and do it long enough. Anyone on the path who is honest with themselves will attest to this in a quiet moment of vulnerable peace and truthfulness. Spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment is up to each individual. It may look and feel a little different to each of us. Each may come to it from a slightly different path. But in the bigger picture it always seems to vibrate the same message and generate the same general ideas: unconditional love, peace, acceptance, tolerance and compassion for others… a knowing that all is well, that time is relative, that we are all one, all part of the same thing, whatever that may be, that we are all made of the same stuff, all here for a purpose and yet no purpose. The infinite all that is. The I Am of the I Am. Here before it all. Still here. Here after it’s all gone. Creation embodied. Living breathing pulsating vibrating creation energy. This is the stuff of enlightenment. But usually not the stuff of religion. That’s an odd conundrum.
No matter where a person comes from and how they got there, every attempt to recount what true spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment is, sounds and feels relatively the same. It’s uncanny but also refreshing. No matter what time period they lived in or what culture they existed in. Some include a “god” — some form of divinity — in their telling of it; some don’t. Some choose instead to believe that “we are all God”. Most do actually. That God is both separate from us and yet we are all a part of It, a piece of it; tiny fractional particles of some kind of divinity, a “divine force”. This is what has been recounted by those who have sought true spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment. Almost always the same. And usually quite removed from anything that remotely resembles the major religions of the world. It seems there is a wide chasm between spiritual fulfillment and religion or even what religion portends to offer.
Again, not to dismiss the possibility of the two going hand in hand. Certainly possible. I personally have experienced moments of pure spiritually fulfilling bliss and enlightenment through a variety of ways. More often than not, I did NOT have these experiences through the “study” of spiritual material or religious works, nor through the practicing of religion per se. The first few were from mind enhancing drugs, or hallucinogens; LSD, mushrooms, etc. An easy way to access those areas of the brain where such experiences seem to take place, granted. Soon after, I longed to have the same experiences without the use of medicinals, for I felt that if it were possible with the use of said chemicals then it should also be possible without them. If not, then perhaps it wasn’t really enlightenment at all, but just a momentary mental state created by a drug. Let’s face it, cocaine, heroine, marijuana and many pharmaceuticals can also create within the human mind relative states of “bliss”. Not necessarily “enlightenment” per se, that’s for sure. But some very groovy feelings. So off I ventured looking for an even purer, cleaner, truer enlightenment.
The next few times I had the experience of what I would genuinely refer to as “enlightenment” was while using the Avatar tools, after a few days of being on an Avatar Course. No hallucinogens or mind altering drugs. No chemicals. Just a profound desire to achieve enlightenment — as in I really wanted “it” and I was willing to do whatever it takes — and a willingness to be as open minded and vulnerable as one possibly could, like bamboo as opposed to oak. These experiences were even more “spiritually fulfilling” and powerful than the ones I experienced previously, more enlightening. Cleaner. Those experiences of enlightenment that we have on hallucinogens seem to open our hearts and minds to the possibilities of these states, of this knowledge, this knowing. But when we come down, as the drug slowly withdraws from our system, though we never forget what we experienced, it is difficult to hang onto that state of being. It becomes a memory. Rather than a way of being. With Avatar, I have found that simply using the tools and given the right environment I could achieve that state of being repeatedly.
The next time I experienced true spiritual fulfillment or enlightenment — and perhaps the most powerful experience thus far in my life — was actually in a church. (Yes, shock… Tell me about it. I was the last person in the world to expect that.) It was certainly not what I was expecting. By then I had already developed the ability of discerning the difference between intuition and mind chatter, and made it a practice to always listen to my intuition. I was told to go in a church as I was walking by it. So I did. I sat there for a few minutes, looking around, admiring the architecture, at first a totally intellectual experience. All from the mind. Within minutes I felt chills all over my body, a state of pure bliss, of feeling more love, more beloved, than I ever have before. It was ecstasy. (Better than the drug Ecstasy. Much better… truly. And I don’t say that lightly.) A voice whispered in my ear, “This is how much God loves you Ed. God loves you so so much…” This went on for quite a while. The same words, over and over, slightly different wording, but the same intention. Ten minutes or more. I bathed in it. I was not scared. I was enraptured, in heaven. In love. Filled with joy. Tears slowly streamed from my eyes. There was no denying it. This was a truly supernatural enlightenment experience. A few minutes later I came to realize that I had been sitting there for a half hour or more — I probably looked ridiculous to any onlookers — my head was bowed, drooling slightly, tears pouring down my cheeks.
I had many more spiritually fulfilling enlightenment experiences after that in that same location, hearing voices — not really voices as much as messages. There is just something special there. God speaks. His presence is there. It’s an otherworldly experience. One no one who occasions the place takes lightly. This is why I have always contended that those who do not believe in God or a Divine Force or enlightenment or anything else supernatural feel this way because they simply have not had any experiences like this. They have every right not to believe. They’ve never had any to believe. They’re trapped in their mind. Attempting to think it through. Never realizing that enlightenment is not a think-it thing. It’s a feel-it thing. One can’t think their way to enlightenment. Book reading may be interesting. But it doesn’t get us anywhere. You’d have a better shot at experiencing true enlightenment from sitting on a hilltop in a beautiful locale for a few minutes or hours and just meditating on the nature of the universe than you would from reading a book. This is why I don’t blame those who don’t believe; never judge them. They’re simply acting on what they know.
But I’ll tell you this. If one desires to experience enlightenment, it is possible. And chances are, they will. If one longs to know God, to know the nature of the Divine, it is possible. And chances are, they will. Because it is. It’s an isness. I sometimes wonder if not all things are possible, if not all things that the mind can conceive are a potential isness. If we just allow them to be. After all, it is we who are creating what we are experiencing. Long for Divinity enough and there’s a good chance that you’ll take actions to one day experience it. You’ll create the belief and through that, the experience.