The Enlightenment Cycle

Enlightenment is the complete awareness of life without any mental modifications. It is perfect light, light that has always existed, exists now and will always exist. It’s the light that exists beyond darkness. It’s the core and the center of all things, and it’s in all things and beyond all things.

Enlightenment is a state of consciousness, I suppose. It’s a way of talking about it. It’s something that we attain—if we attain things.

There’s a mountain. I’d like to climb to the top of it. There’s something very beautiful, very wonderful on top of it—so I hope. I climb up the mountain and when I reach the top, I have a view. If there’s something wonderful there, I’ve found it—if that’s what attainment is. The mountain of enlightenment, of course, is inside of us. It’s inside of our mind. And we’re climbing that mountain every day. Our life is that mountain.

The mountain is complicated. It has a lot of sides, a lot of paths. We can traverse them. We can go up the mountain, down the mountain, around the mountain, forever, and never reach the top. The top is enlightenment—the complete awareness of life without any mental modifications, the highest viewpoint. Not the best, but the highest unobstructed view. And if that’s your interest, if you seek enlightenment, then the practice of meditation is the pathway to enlightenment, along with the practice of mindfulness. These are the two things that we do in Buddhism to become enlightened.

Enlightenment exists in everything. Enlightenment is everything. It’s around everything, it’s through everything and it’s beyond everything. It sounds more complicated than it is, actually. If you want to experience enlightenment in a simple way, all you have to do is stop your thoughts. When there is no thought in the mind, no thought of no thought, when the mind is quiet and it rests but is fully alert, we experience a little bit of enlightenment. A little light will filter in.

Our thoughts, our desires, emotions, angers, fears, loves, hates—these are clouds that come between us and the light of the sun. When those things stop, when thought goes away, and fear and anxiety, alienation, depression, even hope—even hope—then when these things clear away, there’s light, perfect light, an all-encompassing light. That’s a word that I use for it. I don’t know of a better word in English. Maybe we could say an ecstatic light, a light that is encompassing of all things—God, knowledge, purity, truth. But light is good enough for me. I think it suffices.

Enlightenment exists within you. And as I said, there’s this mountain that we’re climbing every day. How’s your climb going? It’s uphill. If you’re going towards enlightenment, and if it seems like it’s very easy and it’s downhill, then you’re probably going towards enlightenment, too.

Awareness is infinite. And I want you to understand that enlightenment is not something that is attained or reached by a select few. I mean, obviously it is attained or reached by a select few, in that very few people seem to attain it or reach it. But that’s not because it’s incredibly hard. It’s just not incredibly popular.

What’s so hard about being happy? What’s so hard about giving up fear, giving up hate, giving up anxiety? It would seem to me that these are very sensible things to do—to be happy forever, to see beyond this cosmic dream that we call life and see other dreams of the cosmos, dimensions of mind, of time, space and things beyond that.

To go to the very center of the mind of God, to be that, to become aware of our infiniteness, is the goal of Buddhism—one of the goals. Along the way, to be as kind to others as possible without thinking that we’re particularly wonderful because we are, perhaps, kind. To transcend our identity, in other words, to go beyond ego, to become conscious of life in constantly new ways, as is life conscious of itself in constantly new ways.

To get through all this rhetoric, let’s say that the process of becoming enlightenment itself is simply a process of getting out of the way—if enlightenment is there, if it exists, which of course it does. Take my word for it. It’s something incredible, better than you can possibly imagine, fabulous beyond comprehension, ecstatic beyond wonder, beautiful beyond seeing and understanding. And if it’s already there inside us and all things, all we have to do is get something out of the way that’s causing us not to see and experience that—and that’s us. It sounds silly, but it’s true.

Our limited way of perceiving things, of perceiving life; the way that we think of ourselves, think of others, think of the world; the karmic patterns that we’ve evolved in all these countless lifetimes we’ve passed through and in this life; the very way that we collate information, process it and experience it; the information of life, of living, perception—the study of enlightenment, that is to say, that which we go through to become enlightened, is really a reorganization of our perceptual body or our perceptual field. We learn to see life more directly and more clearly.

You’re driving a car. You’re trying to see where you’re going, but if the windshield is really dirty, it’s hard. If it’s completely opaque, you can’t see at all. We need to have a clear windshield to see where we’re going. The light is already there. It’s all-present. It’s perfect. It’s enlightenment. But something is obscuring the window, the view, the mirror of self-reflection.

As they say sometimes in Zen Buddhism, there’s a little speck of dust on the mirror, and that’s us—our personality, our view, our loves, our hates, our desires, our self-importance, our self-pity—ourselves. Or perhaps a deeper self is that light that’s on the other side of this being we conceive of ourselves to be, what we experience.

In Buddhism, we meditate. We make our mind quiet by learning to focus on the chakras, release internal energy that we call kundalini, and bring ourselves into clear and high states of consciousness. We go up on top of the mountain or as high as we can get. When we’re on top of the mountain, we look around and we gain a new view of things. Then we come down a little bit and we lead our daily lives. But we don’t quite come down as far as we were before. And then we climb up a little higher in our next meditation and then we come down again, not quite as far as before. Gradually we go up to the top of the mountain of enlightenment.

Well, there isn’t really a top. It’s sort of like the Himalayas. Once you get way up to the top of one, you see that there are a lot more mountains up top, and there are more ranges to climb, and they seem to go on forever, as far as the horizon, and that’s good enough for me.

Enlightenment is endless. There’s no end to it. There’s no beginning to it. It’s perfect. It goes on forever. It’s part of you. It’s part of me. It’s part of everything. And that perception, if it gives you joy, is there for you to have—if you learn to meditate, if you practice mindfulness, which is simply learning to be in very happy and positive states of mind when you’re not actually sitting and meditating—it’s a kind of a moving meditation. When your life becomes clear and pure, like clear and pure water, like the snow in the Himalayas, like the wind, when your mind is clear and your view of life is unobstructed, then you’ll be at peace with yourself. You’ll be happy.

Enlightenment is not just again, a little burst of light. It means that your mind has become one with the universe, with all things. And it’s not as if you think of a lot of things simultaneously because you’d be thinking, wouldn’t you? It’s not as if you’d be reflecting on some deep inner truth or having a conversation with God or Goddess or something like that. Not really. I mean, you can do that, I guess. But true enlightenment is beyond words to express.

I’m just suggesting, as others have, that there’s something perfect on the other side of pain and limitation and frustration, and that’s life—in an unmodified form. It’s what we come out of; it’s what we return to. And you don’t have to be in so much pain if you meditate. As a matter of fact, you can experience ecstasy.

Life still hurts at times—hurts to have a body at times, hurts to be born, hurts to live, hurts to die. But it can also be ecstasy beyond comprehension. And people who practice meditation correctly—who follow the pathway to enlightenment, who learn to love and not hate, who learn to control themselves and go beyond personality to something more perfect—know that ecstasy. You can know that ecstasy. It’s inside of you. It’s inside all things. It’s everywhere and nowhere. It’s one of those Buddhist riddles. We like riddles in Buddhism.

As an enlightened teacher of Buddhism, I’d like to welcome you to the pathway to enlightenment. I’d like to encourage you, based upon my own personal experience and the personal experience of countless others, to meditate—to be more positive, to engage in the practice of meditation, to learn how to do this wonderful thing, to make your mind still in a crazy world, where everybody’s at war with everybody and certainly with ourselves. I’d like you to learn to be happy and to see things more brightly.

You don’t have to. You can be miserable, if it’s your prerogative. You can make others suffer, if it’s your prerogative, and that’ll cause you to suffer more. Or you can say, “Wait a minute,” you know, “Hold on. Press the pause button.” Let’s think about this or not think about it, as the case may be. You’re just going to die and be reborn and die and be reborn forever. And just as changing to a new city doesn’t necessarily change your life that much—because all cities are really about the same, because wherever you go there you are—changing incarnations doesn’t change that much.

What’s the rush? What changes something is identity. When we change our identity, when we expand our view of ourselves, when we recode the way the structures of our mind work, that’s what Buddhism really is—it’s a redefinition. We rework the mind. We believe that the mind is not something that’s solid. It’s like water. It’s fluid. When you place water in a container, it takes a shape. If I place it in a round glass, it’ll be round, in a rectangular glass, it’ll be rectangular. We feel that the mind is like water and it takes whatever shape we put it in, and its current shape is our personality, our view of the world, which has grown about from our experiences in this and past lives. If we change its shape, then the mind will change shape. If we change the view we have of existence, then everything changes.

And meditation and mindfulness, just those two simple things, will do that, gradually, a little at a time—maybe not so gradually, maybe sometimes in leaps and bounds. It varies from day to day. It depends on how deeply you meditate, how intensely you practice mindfulness, how happy you want to be. And it’s entirely up to you. That’s the beauty of life, in my opinion. We can’t necessarily always help what happens to us. We’re born into poverty, we’re born into wealth, we’re born into something in the middle. But we can do something about our condition.

Sometimes we can’t even do anything about our social condition, but we can do something about our condition, our condition of light. We can meditate and practice mindfulness. We can do it in a mansion, we can do it in a jail cell, we can do it in mediocrity. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we gain control of our mind. We can’t always control the circumstances of our lives. We try as best we can. But what we can do is gain control of our mind and direct it towards that all-perfect light within ourselves.

Now, becoming enlightened doesn’t mean everything works out your way. I mean, some people have dime-store definitions of enlightenment, and they think, “Oh, well, if I become enlightened that means I’ll get everything I want.” Untrue. It means you won’t want anything. It means that you will be happy, and if things go your way, you’re happy, and if things don’t, you’re happy. That doesn’t mean you’re a moron who doesn’t care. It means you’re in a state of understanding, you have the depth where you see yourself in an incarnate body going through time and space in the lifetime, and at the same time, you’re beyond all this—not spaced out, rather conscious.

It makes the colors more vivid, the moments of life more important, and at the same time, the immediacy of the pain is not as important, really, because we see eternity. The transient arises and falls. All things end. New things begin. And we have the perspective of eternity to view that from, and so when things don’t work out, we can accept that joyfully, quietly, sometimes with laughter.

When things don’t work out, we can accept it. When they do, we can celebrate that too. Because our happiness is not dependent upon what occurs to us every day, physically, in the world, or the changes our physical body undergoes. Our happiness comes from within, our experience of endless stages of consciousness, of ecstasy, of bliss, of brightness, of beauty, of love—things that are within us. If we meditate, we become conscious of these things. We climb the mountain a little higher. We see life a little more truly perhaps. We clear the window a little bit better so we can see where we’re going, and maybe sometimes that makes things more beautiful—certainly more accurate.

I would encourage you to become enlightened, to follow the pathway to enlightenment, to learn to meditate, to practice mindfulness; and not to really care what anybody thinks about you, including yourself, unless it’s very positive.

You know, I’ve been teaching meditation and Buddhism for many, many lifetimes, and in this lifetime, for many, many years. And I’ve learned a few things—I don’t think a lot of things, but a few things. One of the things that I’ve learned is that most people don’t care much about enlightenment and the truth. You know, they’d rather watch the Home Shopping Network, and maybe that’s another kind of enlightenment and truth. But you might, and it really doesn’t matter if anybody else cares. If you’re the only person who cares in the world, then that matters the world for you, and you should find yourself a teacher of enlightenment.

True teachers of enlightenment are hard to find. The popular ones, of course, usually aren’t enlightened because how could they be? They just tell people what they want to hear. The unpopular ones usually are because they tell you the truth, and who wants to hear that? Not the people who watch the Home Shopping Network, no offense to the Home Shopping Network intended, because in the world of interactive, multi-media highways, we’re all traveling somewhere interactively and we’re all shopping for something. And what are we shopping for? Our dreams, our hopes, our ambitions for ourselves, for those we love, the demise of those we don’t care about, you know, these little scenarios we play out endlessly in our mind—it just doesn’t matter. I mean it does, of course, at one moment, and then we look somewhere else like a child does after they’ve been crying and they lost their toy, and suddenly they’ve forgotten and they’re happy in a new moment. Well, that’s life.

But consistency is nice, I think, personally. I like to be consistently happy. I like to be consistently more aware and more conscious of the truth. That’s just my particular bent. And what I like about Buddhism and meditation and being enlightened, which is an endless process, by the way, is that it gives me that consistency. It’s not somebody’s belief that they want to force upon me for their reasons or for their fears—they had to believe in this—or their fantasies. I don’t really care about all that. I just want to know.

I want to know what are the limits, if there are any. What can I do with this thing called life? Why is everybody so unhappy? Are there other options? If there are, I want to exercise them, and I do. Which is why I began the study so many lifetimes ago, and I teach meditation and the pathway to enlightenment because I know that there are other people who—like I did a long time ago and continue to do today, of course—want to climb that mountain to the highest light. And since there were others a long time ago who were kind enough to give me a hard time and allow me to study with them, I try and express the same Buddhist courtesy by teaching others a little bit about the short path to enlightenment, Tantric Buddhism. So, meditation and mindfulness. These are the things that we are interested in—how to go beyond pain, fear and limitation, how to experience that brightness.

Well, a few hints. Begin by meditating. Meditation means that each day you sit for a period of time and you don’t move your body. Sit nice and still. Sit up straight. You practice a meditation technique, at least to start with. This usually involves focusing on something, taking your mind and focusing on a chakra, an energy center in your body, or sometimes something external, visually, with your eyes open. Some people use mantras—words they repeat in their mind or out loud. Some people do visualizations, where they hold an image in their mind. Some focus on their breathing. There are lots of ways to do it, but the effect is the same. It makes the mind quiet. I personally recommend meditating on the chakras. That’s the short path method.

You sit for 15 minutes—maybe in the beginning, after a while, half an hour, 45 minutes, an hour—and you focus, as a teacher of meditation will instruct you. And if you can do it once a day, that’s great. If you can do it twice, that’s fabulous.

Read books that inspire you about meditation, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, any “ism” you want. If they’re clear, they should all say the same thing. They should direct you towards that which is the highest and the brightest and the most beautiful—enlightenment. And whatever inspires you to do that morning meditation or evening meditation, or to practice mindfulness during the day, is good. I don’t care what it’s called, who wrote it, whether they’re popular or unpopular, known or unknown. If it works for you, that’s good—if it gets you to meditate.

Now, reading books about enlightenment does not make you enlightened at all. You can read all the books about all the lives of the Buddhas and everyone’s wonderful perceptions, and that won’t make you enlightened. You have to meditate yourself. You can read about weight lifting or track or swimming; that reading won’t produce the effect. It’ll take you on a mental journey perhaps. It might get you to start, but Buddha’s point is true. In order to become enlightened, you need to meditate. And it’s fun. It’s really not hard. I mean, I suppose it’s hard, but isn’t it harder to be unhappy and in pain than to be happy and in ecstasy?

Self-knowledge, I guess, is hard. But I think pain is harder, personally. I think to be hopeless is very hard. I think to die without hope or to live without hope is very hard. To just burn out, to give up just because things don’t go your way, to assume that there’s no God, no infinite light, I mean, I think that’s pretty petty, personally. I’ve felt that way at times. I think we all have. We get frustrated. But when you meditate each day, you go beyond that. You get renewed. All this wonderful energy unlocks inside you, from deep within you, and flows through your body and mind and renews you. It gives you the ability to fight again, to believe again, to love again and to climb the mountain a little bit higher, to get a new view.

That’s what really renews us, isn’t it? When we just suddenly break through those barriers, those limitations, when we do something we’ve never done that’s wonderful. Then energy floods us and our consciousness is lifted. And that’s what meditation is, and if meditation is not doing that for you—if you practice—now, you’re not meditating. You’re sitting, thinking, spacing out and wasting your time. When you walk away from a meditation session, you should feel better. You should feel more optimistic. You should be brighter.

In the beginning, you won’t be completely consistent, it’s true. You’re learning a new art. The first day you start to study a language, you can’t speak it. But you might learn one word, and that’s a start. And it’s fun to learn a new language, and it’s fun to learn to meditate, and it’s fun to feel better and to be hopeful and to be wiser than we’ve been before.

Meditation doesn’t work if you don’t do it. The main thing is to meditate. And at first you may be sporadic. You’ll just get up and meditate once in a while. But if you like it, you’ll come back to it and it will become a regular practice—and if you don’t, well, it’s not your time yet.

Mindfulness is a little different. It simply means that as we go through the day, at least initially, we learn to gain control of our mind, our emotions. When we could get angry, we don’t because anger burns up a lot of energy, and we feel tired and exhausted and it doesn’t make other people feel any better. We learn to conserve energy in a variety of simple and complicated ways that we learn in Buddhist practice so that throughout the day, we’re in a nicer state of mind. We feel happy. We’re just, you know, we’re not totally burned out at the end of the day. And if we are, we sit down and meditate, and we climb the mountain a little higher, and all that washes away, and we feel better than perhaps we felt all day, and even in our morning meditation.

Life is a circle, you know—that’s what we believe as Buddhists—or a series of circles that are all existing simultaneously, and we move around the circle for a while, and if we know how, if we’re skillful in meditation, we can get into another circle and move around that. We move around these silly circles forever throughout eternity, and we’re all those circles, and there is emptiness within them and beyond them. And right now we’re somewhere in the circumference of the circle—looking across, looking behind us, having just passed through something, going towards something.

Enlightenment is a circle, different circle. Meditation brings us to that circle. Eventually, it brings us to the center of it. Eventually, we become enlightenment itself, somewhere down the line.

Meditation is a bright, hopeful practice in which we learn to make our mind quiet so that the infinite, perfect light of enlightenment can flow through us. It awakens us to life. And we can have lived many years and many lifetimes and think we’ve seen it all, and what a foolish thought because we can’t have seen it all—we can hardly have seen any of it since it goes on forever. Life that is; enlightenment is endless.

There’s something new at every moment, in every moment. But if we’re in the same state of mind, well then, we just self-reflect. We just see our self in that moment, and things are dull and kind of gray and kind of boring, which means that we’re not very awakened, are we? On the other hand, if at every moment the world is bright and shining—which it truly is, by the way—then we’re in a steady stream of light. We’re on the pathway to enlightenment.

Meditation and the practice of mindfulness over a period of time will help you to live in the states of brightness. Having a good teacher is very important because the practice is quite complicated, as it gets—as you get further along—it becomes very sophisticated. A good teacher will empower you, yell at you, not tell you what you want to hear, tell you the truth about how to meditate, how to get your act together, how to get organized, how to develop yourself fully, how to control yourself, how to have a more positive image and then move beyond that image to perfection. Good teachers are not known for telling you what you want to hear, and consequently they’re rarely popular because they tend to offend people on a regular basis by their mere presence on earth, it seems.

Because people don’t really want to know the truth. The truth is that you’re all dead in the future, everything that you do has no point, and all of the achievements of the human race are meaningless. That’s the truth. If you don’t think so, go visit Egypt sometime or ancient Greece, and look at all those wonderful edifices that are just burned-out stone now. Museumware. And yet, and yet, and yet, enlightenment is part of that. Ah, we’re back to Buddhist mysteries, Buddhist fun. Enlightenment is part of it.

Those moments were beautiful, I guess, when they were doing all that. But they pass. They’re transient. And none of this matters a bit. Yet, of course it matters at that moment. We try and be mindful of the moment, this moment in incarnation, in awareness, where we’re alive and experiencing whatever life is putting before us and putting us in and through. And we try to be bright and positive and understand it, but it’s fleeting.

Nothing lasts. Youth fades. Flowers fade. Passion fades. But life itself goes on forever. And when you know that, you figure, “Well I might as well learn how to deal with this life thing since it’s gonna go on forever; since I live forever in one lifetime or another in one body or another, I might as well learn to do it right because it will be better for me.” I mean, I think that’s an intelligent way for you to look at things. And so meditation is something that, when you learn to do it in this life, of course, that knowledge will accompany you to your next life and so on and so forth.

What you gain in internal knowledge goes from one lifetime to another. It’s not wasted. Unlike those stone edifices that will fade, your internal knowledge will stay with you from one incarnation to another. It comes back; it’s like an inheritance.

You remember. You’re drawn back to the pathway to enlightenment, to meditation, and when you begin to meditate your past life knowledge returns to you. Your achievements, if that’s what we want to call them, that place you got to on the mountain before, you gradually work your way back up to it, or rapidly. Then you continue from there and go forward into the world of light and enlightenment and brightness—beyond pain, beyond frustration, beyond illusion—there’s perfect light, an all-perfect light that no one has a monopoly on.

But meditation is the pathway to enlightenment, and I would encourage you to follow that pathway as far as you can, into ecstasy.