Question: What is the difference between you and me?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The difference is – I don’t see or feel any difference but you do!
I can never get tired of listening to beings describing their Self realization experience (or Enlightenment experience). What is beautiful is how this experience can dawn on any human being truly irrespective of his/her race, religion, age etc.
What is fascinating is how each person rather struggles to verbalize his/her experience. And every description, although pointing to the same experience of dissolution of boundaries/limitedness of individuality, is so absolutely unique.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art Of Living Foundation and one of the most astonishing Spiritual Masters in the world today, describes it thus – “Enlightenment is an experiential journey from being somebody to being nobody to being everybody”. Sri Sri continues “It is like a wave realizing that it is in fact an Ocean. Is the wave ever separate from the Ocean? Does it even have it’s own existence outside the Ocean?”.
Sri Sri, along with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and a few other popular Spiritual Masters – whose love for this Existence is so unconditional – have the ability to transmit this experience to “qualified” beings. “Qualified” here does NOT mean physical-strength or intellectual or religious-training qualification (more on this “qualification” in another post).
One of the most beautiful definitions of Enlightenment came to me from Scott Rabalais. Scott, an American who has little idea about Hinduism (proving again how Self-Realization is beyond cultural, religious identities), puts it : The term “enlightenment” refers to the experience of Oneness, that is, going beyond the experience of the small or limited self (or going beyond the experience of the normal “I”-ness that all ordinary beings experience every waking moment). It is the dropping of the self-imposed boundaries that separate the identity of one’s individuality with all else. Indeed, with such dissolution of boundaries, one’s identity, paradoxically, becomes the All-in-All. Interestingly, even the concept of “identity” falls by the wayside in pure awareness of “enlightenment”. It is coming to know who we are on a deeper level or an expanded basis.
What [Swami Nithyananda] calls “360-degree” awareness, I experienced as existing in an ocean of life. Not only am I a drop of water, I am far, far more — the ocean itself. Thus, the “I” (or the normal “I”-ness) is only a small, limited part of the vastness and infinity of the ocean of existence. In becoming the ocean, I am not only the individual “drop” but the infinite and collective number of drops in the vastness of the ocean. While this may not be an exact analogy, it may serve the point in indicating the loss of the “drop” identity (or loss of the normal “I”-ness identity) to become the ocean and all the properties of the ocean.
When this expansion of awareness occurs, one’s reverence for life also expands. Indeed, one becomes that which has been seen, in a more limited awareness, as apart from one’s self. [Swami Nithyananda] mentions about being unable to harm or kill (or judge) another and this is so because the “another” is now viewed (actually experienced) as one’s own self, as one is completely identified with all of life. One feels far more and far more deeply now, as if one can empathize with any living creature that walks the earth or flies above it — or swims in its oceans! There is even a strong compassion for Mother Earth herself as a living being, not just a big rock in space serving our every want and need. The ground we walk upon becomes far more sacred in our perceptions.
Many of us live in a world that is nearly completely ignorant of what is possible through self-awareness. Instead, it is caught up in the trappings of the mind/ego, that is, the conquest for more — more money, more fame, more possessions and on and on. While I would not judge this as being “wrong” nor would I state that having any of these conditions is somehow in error, I would state that there lies within us a far greater reality and experience, one where all the money, fame and possessions in the world simply pale in comparison to.
It is Who We Are, and it is our Divine right to claim it. It is as much ourselves as our own breath.
What is also interesting is how they keep reiterating again and again that every human being is “capable” of attaining this state, simply because Enlightenment is not an achievement, it is a home-coming, absolute-homecoming as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation, puts it. This is the Ultimate-Identity of every being, every atom, every inch of space in this Universe.
As Linda Johnsen puts it – “Finding something that you never lost, that you can never lose, because it is You!”.
Although most “rational” minded people understandably attribute this experience to a drug “high” 🙂 , the clarity, authenticity and the humility with which these beings narrate the experience is convincing enough for me.
Below are a couple of beautiful narrations of this experience of Enlightenment.
Both the videos are “must-watch” videos for sincere spiritual seekers. It is not necessary to believe what is being said. Just listening with an open-mind, and with complete awareness is good enough.
First one is from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. He is amazingly eloquent in his description of the experience. Here is the gist of what he tells:
- Till that moment (before Enlightenment) I thought “This is me and that is somebody else”. For the first time I did not know which is me and which is not me. Suddenly what was me was just all over the Universe.
- If you can actually experience people around you as yourself, then nobody needs to teach you to love and care, because caring for what you experience as yourself is very natural. This (caring for yourself) is ingrained in the very nature of the Existence.
- Every human being is equally capable of experiencing this state. No one human being is better endowed than the other.
- Boundary of sensation expanded from the outer skin to the whole Universe.
The second narration of the experience is by the controversial Swami Nithyananda (this was in fact the first experience that I heard). His accent might be difficult to understand. When I first heard this talk, I was simply blown away. It was an “Yes! I got it!” – it just cleared up so many things in my mind. The gist of his narration is:
- I felt very clearly, experienced that I am not only alive inside my skin, I am alive outside my skin also. I am alive in the plants, trees, rocks, animals, other human beings, mother Earth, the Sun, the moon, everything and everyone.
- Complete acceptance of life as it is happens only when you experience that you are not just alive inside your skin, but you are alive inside every skin.
- Anybody who goes through this experience, his identification with his gender, race, religion, culture, nationality, even his species disappears. His love for all life becomes unconditional because from his perspective – everything and everyone is himself, no other exists.
- Words like “I”, “you”, “he”, “she”, “it”, “we”, “us”, “them” do not have any real meaning anymore after the experience. For example, you do not say “I” to your hand or leg. These words are now merely used for the sake of language.
The third narration is by Shri Bhagawan (also known as Kalki Bhagwan). His beautiful narration approaches the description of Enlightenment (Mukti) from a very unique angle.
Sadhguru’s talk (15 minutes)
Swami Nithyananda’s experience (6 minutes):
Shri Kalki Bhagawan’s narration (5 minutes):