Enlightenment is the complete awareness of life without mental modifications. Enlightenment is the state of awareness we reach when our consciousness is one with infinity, with the infinite consciousness of life itself. Enlightenment is not a state of mind, although all states of mind are contained within it. It is the best of all things, the brightest of all lights. It is union with immortality, timelessness, and with the temporal, with all the myriad worlds, planes and things that simply can’t be put into words.

Enlightenment exists within everything. There is nothing that can be separate from enlightenment. But when I talk about enlightenment, when I discuss it with my students, I am referring to an experience, a journey—the journey to light. Enlightenment in this sense is a journey into cosmic consciousness—to be completely aware of eternity, to be aware not just of this moment or this world, but of timelessness, of space, of organic life and what lies beyond it.

Think of enlightenment as a journey. Today you woke up and anything can happen. You could live any type of life. You could be rich. You could be poor. You could be wise. You could be ignorant. It doesn’t really matter because no matter what happens, there is enlightenment. All the things you see that threaten you and make you afraid, all the things that you see that attract you, the things that you’re indifferent to or perhaps don’t even know about—they don’t really matter. Life is like a dream. It’s transient. For one moment, we’re in the stream of life. We’re awake. We’re having experiences. Then we’re asleep. It’s all washed away; at best it becomes a memory that fades. Death is a sleep and life is an awakening. And in each lifetime, we awaken to a different condition.

The wakefulness, the state of wakefulness that I refer to, that enlightened teachers refer to, is a condition of ecstasy, a condition of tremendous beauty, a permanent state of wakefulness that defies sleep. Sleep is dreams of another kind. Death—the experiences in the after-death plane, between lifetimes, between incarnations—is a different kind of dream which we forget upon waking to this life and this world.

Enlightenment is a journey, a journey into light, a journey into self-knowledge, a journey into beauty, reflection, awareness. The infinitude of being calls us to become conscious of itself. Now this might sound like a lot of euphoria to some. It might sound just like a lot of words, a rhapsody of words that don’t necessarily connect and aren’t practical. That is certainly not the case. To be conscious, to be aware of what you are aware of, is not something that you can defend or express. It simply is.

Yes, there’s the surface of life. There are the day-to-day activities of human beings, plants, animals, astral beings—the endless movements of creation. And then there’s nirvana. Nirvana is absolute ecstasy, absolute stillness, a presence—to be in the center of the mind of God, to be completely conscious, forever, of forever, to be in the timeless, misty realm, the nexus of all things. All universes, all intelligences, all cycles of being, come from it. And they go back to it. It sustains them; it holds them here. That’s the world of enlightenment. The day-to-day life we lead has nothing to do with enlightenment. We’re unaware of it. It’s just around the corner, and we don’t see it. It’s in front of us, and we don’t see it. We are it, and we don’t see it.

Enlightenment is happiness—happiness in the most profound and yet most simple sense. Enlightenment is, as I said before, a journey—a journey into cosmic consciousness. And meditation is the key to enlightenment. To meditate, to make your mind still and supremely aware, to penetrate the void, the essence, the substance, and go beyond both to what is referred to as the clear light of reality—clear in the sense that it doesn’t have a definite color; light in the sense that it’s not solid, yet it is, pure energy; reality in the sense that it is that which is most real, that which is actual, meaning it doesn’t change. It’s always here.

The pathway to enlightenment is your life. Each being is walking along that pathway, having experiences, gaining knowledge, learning by doing. What else is there to do? And their progression is beyond judgment. It just is. But then there’s the study of enlightenment. In other words, life is enlightenment, the great process of life, and we can say that everybody’s on their way to enlightenment or they all are enlightenment—and from a certain perspective that’s true. But then there’s the experience of enlightenment—to yoke your consciousness, to join yourself to immortality, to—in this very life—be very aware of what lies beyond the boundaries of cognitive perception, beyond the boundaries of thought, reflection and self-awareness as seen through the personality.

Why become enlightened? You know, why join the military? Why get married? Why cross the ocean? Why stay at home? Why stay single? Why avoid the army? It’s a personal choice. There’s something in a person that draws them to the light. It’s karma, ultimately. Karma is not a cop out. The word, as it’s frequently used, is a cop out. If you say something is your “karma,” that seems to free us from responsibility. If you say, “Well, this happened to me. I was born into this life, in this condition, or these things just happened to me because it’s my karma,” it’s as if you have nothing to do with it. Certainly there is chance. But that isn’t really the esoteric meaning of karma. The esoteric meaning of karma is that you are who you are, and you experience what you experience because of what you’ve done and what you’ve been.

Your karma is who you are today. Your karma is the sum total of your awareness field. Your awareness field is comprised of all the experiences that you’ve had in this life and all other lives. In this incarnation, you are born into the world with a certain karma. That is to say, at the moment of birth, you had a certain facility. One is potential, and one is immediately available. The karma of immediate availability is the wakefulness, the condition of your awareness field when you’re born. The karma of potentiality is what’s stored inside you from your past lives.

Just as you are today the experience and the product of everything that you’ve known and gone through in this lifetime, so, at the moment of birth you are the product of everything that’s occurred to you in every lifetime that you’ve had. But like an inheritance that you don’t come into until you’re perhaps 21, when you’re born you don’t necessarily have at your fingertips, at your control, everything that you are, everything that you’ve been in your past lives.

In the enlightenment cycle, attention is paid to bringing back the awareness field, the total you, from other lives. This does not simply mean the memory of experience past—that may or may not be helpful—but rather to draw on the internal power and intelligence, the knowledge, the wisdom that you’ve amassed in other lifetimes. And if you have amassed any siddha powers, to bring them back also because they can be quite useful on the journey to enlightenment. So to do this, meditation is the key that unlocks or opens the door. Meditation will bring back the powers and awareness of the past. And even more immediately, it’ll expand your consciousness today to places you’ve never been, to experiences that you’ve never had.

Meditation is the pathway to enlightenment. Meditation is to stop thought, to silence the mind, to move the ego aside and to simply be still, open, clear, bright and fully conscious. Meditation is not an active movement in a sense, not in its deeper sense. There is a sense of activity in the beginning of meditation. The shuttle astronauts are going into space. They have to blast off and there is a great amount of energy expended to get up into orbit or to get beyond the gravitational pull of the earth. Once they have done that, they shut the engines off. There’s no gravity, or they’ve achieved the orbit they desire and they simply coast. Then space will move them.

In meditation, in the world of enlightenment, you have to expend a certain amount of energy—gain it, conserve it, expend it—to place yourself into a high state of awareness or to get beyond all gravity, to get into the world of enlightenment, of samadhi. Once you’re there, you just let go. You’re absorbed in perfect, radiant light. And as you go into the light, into the planes of light which lie beyond the physical dimensions and the astral dimensions, as you enter what we call the causal dimensions or the planes of light, you will be purified, energized, and you will become wise.

Wisdom in the world of enlightenment is not something that you gain through conversation. A certain amount of instruction can be gained in conversation, but wisdom and enlightenment is something that you gain by making the mind still. You can make your mind still, when you’re alone, through the practice of meditation. If you learn some meditation techniques, you can quiet the mind; you can bring the kundalini up through the seven chakras and enter into various states of enlightened mind. If you meditate with a teacher who is enlightened, you can go higher, deeper. You can ride with them into stages of mind, into the nexus of the universe, that are perhaps not available to you at this time.

All of us have an aura, a body of energy, and that aura is linked to different planes of awareness. Some of us have the ability to access more planes of awareness than others because of our accomplishments in past lives, because of our practice in this life.

An enlightened teacher is someone who has an access not only to the astral dimensions but to the planes of light and beyond the planes of light to enlightenment itself, to nirvana. Nirvana is the highest, cleanest, purest and best of all things. And if you meditate with an enlightened teacher, if you sit with them and silence your mind as they go into nirvana, as they experience the clear light, the suchness, the thatness of perfect radiant oneness with all being, you will be, according to your lucidity, according to how well you meditate, able to travel with them. The pure power of their aura will bring you on a metaphysical journey into the world of perfection.

A teacher is really invaluable, as is personal practice. Each day you should meditate twice a day, in the morning and evening, and still your mind. A teacher will instruct you in chakra meditation, in how to silence the mind and raise the kundalini. A teacher will also instruct you in how to stabilize your energy field, increase it, decrease the loss of energy in your life—how to be balanced, how to have power and how to be wise and how to be funny, of course. It’s a testing process, really—a testing process with yourself and a testing process with your teacher.

The purpose of enlightenment is certainly not the teacher, nor is it you. It doesn’t have a purpose. Enlightenment simply exists, and if you would like to reach it, if you would like to attain it, if you would like to go beyond suffering, pain, frustration and the limited happiness that can be experienced in any form, then you need to journey to enlightenment. Individual practice is to meditate twice a day, and when you are not meditating to groom your mind, to eliminate hate, doubt, fear, anxiety, negative thoughts, emotions and stages of awareness that limit your consciousness, that bind you to a sense of self, of ego.

This is the practice of mindfulness, of monitoring your mind all day and all night. It’s enjoyable to just simply remove things that make you unhappy from your mind, to clarify your emotions and to lead a happy and productive life. Then you need to see your teacher, to sit in meditation with them, to take journeys with them to high energy places—places of power where it’s easier to meditate, where it’s easier to access higher dimensions. The relationship with a teacher is not really a relationship. A teacher of enlightenment is enlightened and they simply express enlightenment in their life by living. It’s the student’s responsibility and job to gain the teachings. It isn’t the teacher’s. The teacher’s job is just to be perfectly enlightened.

In this era, we’ve grown to have a sense that it is the responsibility of the teacher to cause the student to learn. We’ve placed the burden on the teacher. And certainly it is the responsibility of the teacher to have knowledge and to teach it, and communicate it intelligently and effectively. But it is not the responsibility of the enlightened teacher to bring the student to enlightenment. That may be true in the classroom—in algebra, in trigonometry, in computer science, in English, in art. I don’t know. Each teacher has their own philosophy in each school.

But in the world of enlightenment, it is not the responsibility of the teacher. It’s your responsibility. You’re the one that wants enlightenment, and you have to do what’s necessary to find it—enter into it. And to do that, you have to let go of everything. You have to let go of your ideas about enlightenment, your ideas about teachers and teachings, your ideas about yourself. You have to be responsible, conscious, and above all, earnest—not perfect, far from perfect. But you need to have a sincere, earnest interest in becoming one with the light, becoming fully conscious. And if you have that and you’re flexible, you’re accommodating, you’re willing to follow your teacher’s suggestions, then if your teacher is truly enlightened, if they have the power and the wisdom and the balance and the sense of humor necessary, you’ll make rapid progress into the world of enlightenment.

Enlightenment is something that is real. And as I said, enlightenment is a journey. It’s a journey through the ten thousand states of mind—a journey that is not accomplished in a single day or moment. Each time you meditate, you take the journey. Each time, you become more conscious, you love more, you feel more, you increase your depth. Each time, you gain a happier sense of what it is to live. Each time, you gain a little more control over your life. Each time, when you don’t, you don’t allow that to discourage you and cause you to give up—you become a little more enlightened.

Enlightenment is cumulative, in other words. You become a little more enlightened each day as you practice yoga and Buddhism. But simply having a teacher and doing what you call meditation will not necessarily bring you to enlightenment. You can sit and just space out and not meditate. A lot of people do that and they think they’re doing a wonderful meditation. You can become pompous and egotistical and think that you’re very important and think that is a spiritual achievement.

There is no such thing as spiritual achievement. While enlightenment—while people who are enlightened, fully enlightened—in this world are rare, it’s not an achievement. It’s not a belt ranking. It’s simply an awareness that’s intrinsic to all life that they have managed to gain or become conscious of. It’s certainly worthy of our respect because life is worthy of our respect. But to put them on a pedestal is a mistake. To undervalue them is also a mistake.

In other words, you have to come to the world of enlightenment with open hands, that is to say, not clenched in fists, without an agenda. You’ll have an agenda, of course, and you’ll have your fists clenched—that is to say, you’ll have expectations, ways you think it should work out, what you’re going to receive from the experience. You’ll have ideas about what you’ll do and what you won’t do. You can’t help but have those things. But what matters the most is that you have a sincere love of truth.

There is something in you that loves light and you are willing to side with that part of your being more than any other side, and you are willing to be patient and go through the training, to go through the enlightenment cycle. You’re not vain enough to think that you will necessarily become fully enlightened in this lifetime. It doesn’t really matter. There’s no time factor. Yet you would like to become as fully conscious as possible in this life, before death, because it makes life more enjoyable to be fully conscious, and also, in your next lifetime, you get that consciousness back. It returns to you, partially at the moment of birth and, as you are drawn back to meditation, fully.

It’s something that you can’t lose. In this lifetime, you can lose everything. You can amass a fortune and it can be lost. You can have a healthy body and it can get sick. People you love can leave you or experience misfortune, and they can die. Everything passes here. And when you leave this world, you lose the body that you’ve developed down at Gold’s Gym. You lose the mind that you’ve educated at the universities. You lose everyone and everything. But you don’t lose enlightenment or any spiritual knowledge that you’ve gained in this or any other lifetime. It’s inside you. It’s in potential. The answer is to bring it back, to become more conscious, more aware.

Enlightenment, as I said, is a journey. It’s a journey that’s made alone. It’s a journey that’s made with a teacher. It’s also a journey that’s made with friends, with other people who are practitioners, who are practitioners of yoga and Buddhism. As you meditate, it’s good to have people around you who are doing the same thing because you help each other not take it too seriously, and yet you can cause each other to be inspired by each other’s journeys.

Enlightenment is not about being political. It’s not a social club. Ashrams often turn into that, I know. And societies of enlightenment often just become cliques. They often just become places where there’s a hierarchy and a pecking order and not much enlightenment, but so what? That’s what those people are drawn to. They need, I guess, to go through those experiences. But that has nothing to do with enlightenment. Enlightenment is the experience of light. It’s something that you experience twice a day, when you meditate in the morning and evening. It’s something that you experience in between those times because in your meditation you open your awareness field to a higher degree of light, and then you experience that light and increase it through the practice of mindfulness throughout the day.

To be completely aware, to be beautifully conscious, is the journey to enlightenment, and there’s pain in it and there’s suffering and there’s frustration. But you already have those things, so it doesn’t really matter. But there’s ecstasy beyond comprehension. My suggestion, if you’re drawn to the world of enlightenment, if you’re interested in it, most of all, is to learn to meditate, not just to read a lot of books about it, not just to talk to people about it—those things are inspiring, perhaps. But the key to all enlightenment is to have personal experiences in the world of light. And all you need to do that is to meditate twice a day; to learn to practice mindfulness; to lead a simple, economical life; to work happily at whatever your tasks are and to use them to help you achieve perfection. And if you’re able to have a teacher, to be with that teacher, to follow their instructions to the letter, if not more so—about how to meditate, how to lead a balanced life, how to gain power, wisdom, to have a sense of humor—the things they show you.

And you must be accommodating with your teacher. It is not the job of the teacher—it is not their responsibility—to cause you to be enlightened. It is your responsibility to do that. And so your responsibility means that you have to have a sense of humor about your teacher and the impossible things they ask you to do. They seem impossible to you only because you haven’t done them. But the teacher will show you, if you’re a good student, if you’re patient—or maybe even if you’re a bad student and you’re impatient—how to increase your capacity to do things, how to do things that seem impossible. At five, it might have seemed impossible that someday you’d read and write and work and go to the university and do all the things you might do today. But you do them now, and it’s no big deal.

An enlightened teacher is someone who has powers, who has awareness fields and access to them, who can do things that would seem impossible to the average person. They can—I guess what you’d say—perform miracles, although the real miracle is that the gold light of enlightenment, the pure light, shines through them. And that isn’t their miracle. That’s the miracle of enlightenment that’s available to all of us.

With a teacher it’s necessary to be sensitive to their directions. Most of the time they won’t say much. They just walk around and they’re enlightened. And you have to be very still and silent to understand what they’re saying, that is to say, to see how they open the dimensions and to learn how to do that yourself. All the physical teachings, all the exoteric teachings, the things that can be discussed and explained, are only designed to give you the type of life that will allow you to practice the esoteric teachings. The exoteric or outer teachings show us different techniques and methods for achieving the kind of life that will allow us to enter into higher planes of awareness and become enlightened.

The esoteric or inner teachings, which only an enlightened teacher can deal with, are experiences in infinite awareness, experiences in infinite consciousness. They are the journey to enlightenment, the esoteric experiences, or the experience you will have with your teacher when they meditate and when, through the personal power of the kundalini, they empower you and lift you into higher dimensional plateaus, into fields of light. In other words, the esoteric teachings aren’t something that you can express. They are the experiences in the planes of light, in the causal realities. And you go to a teacher not just to learn the teachings of how to live a happy, balanced life and optimize the possibilities of having spiritual experiences, but if the teacher is really enlightened, simply being around them is a spiritual experience. And then your job is to go home and learn to meditate and achieve those states on your own. Go back and see them, and they’ll take you further, deeper, make more suggestions. And then you have to go back and be able to do those things on your own again.

A teacher is not someone who you have to have. That is to say, you don’t need them perpetually. You need them to show you how to get through the doorway, but once you get through the doorway, you’re on your own. Then you have to grow and experience enlightenment. And then you come back—if you want to go through a higher doorway—and so on and so on. Then they show you how to refine yourself until you’re able to enter into nirvana on your own. And then no more teacher. Guess what? Only enlightenment everywhere. At the beginning and the middle and the end of all things, there’s only perfection. And that’s the perfection of enlightenment that is nirvana. That is here. Right now.