What is Enlightenment?

I would like to share a little about my views on the nature of enlightenment. Let me offer an alternative perspective on this subject as well as welcome any suggestions, opinions and questions. If you consider a possibility that all you know about your life is based on the memories containing some ostensible facts about you, it will seem to be somewhat similar to whatever you may know about your dreams, which is also based on your memories. Some of the memories about your life may be corroborated by others, which is supposed to make that information more objective; however, we all know about social agreements and how much they support some ubiquitous stereotypes that are really far from being “objective reality,” i.e. judgments made from any religious perspective.

Just contemplating on whatever you know about your life versus what others know about it may provide you with some entertaining revelations as to the falsehood of other people’s perceptions of your real nature. Indeed, most of us cover up various aspects of our personal histories and pretend to be more presentable in order to secure others’ acceptance and approval. This forms what I call “personality mask” that many people wear for so long that they even forget that they wear it. Some have more than one mask, which allow them to play several different roles – kind of like wearing different hats: spouse, partner, parent, employee, boss, student, churchgoer, patriot, etc.

The inside of the mask is the layered with a special material called “identity” that allows you to choose which mask to put on when you feel like identifying with a certain mode of being or the role you are supposed to play. What is fascinating about this identity stuff is that it was not even made to fit your face but was rather imposed onto you by others in the positions of authority or temporary influence. Perhaps, a certain label, like a nickname, happened to be more or less matching on one particular occasion or during some period in your life and then it stuck around to become an inseparable part of your mask. You know when to introduce yourself by that nickname or otherwise represent yourself using the appropriate mask by tuning into the sense of identity associated with it. When others perceive you with that mask on, they may even comment on the qualities of your “personality” they perceive looking at the mask. That could contribute to making you believe that those are really your qualities, thus solidifying the mask and making you feel as though your personality is what you are.

After some contemplation, people tend to acknowledge that whatever they know about themselves (which is usually derived from the words of other people) is just a tiny tip of the iceberg, while the rest of the iceberg represents what they do not know about themselves. Well, if we consider that the mask of personality is that known part of the iceberg, than enlightenment may be the process of discovering and identifying with the deeper, greater part of your being that sustains and supports the existence of the little tip visible to others. Alas, many of us get so used to relating to the masks of everyone around us that we forget that there is much more to each and every one of us. Being able to shift your attention from the superficial appearance of a person you are relating to in any given moment can create an opportunity for enlightenment of that person, since he or she may begin to relate to and embody his or her inner nature instead of the superficial mask. We should really begin this process with ourselves by learning to relate to our own inner nature, which is the deepest part of every one of us, since we are all one underwater. Therefore, enlightenment may be also understood as self-realization of the inherent oneness of everything and everyone in the dream called life.

That is right; since our knowledge about life is based on the same mechanism of memory that allows us to remember our dreams, than the fine line between the two states of consciousness quickly disappears under scrutiny. Moreover, few people would doubt nowadays that everything in this world is made of energy – just like everything in our dreams is made of nothing else than the energy of consciousness. The true nature of things is one and the same in both of these worlds suggesting that they are not really two but one dream world, however tangible and realistic everything appears in it. Some might say that the only distinction is that we can tell that we were dreaming upon awakening, whilst we often have no such ability in our daily lives. Well, we actually do have an uncanny ability to recognize that we are dreaming during the night dreams, which is called lucidity or becoming lucid in the dream. This same ability to be awake to the true nature of dream-like reality of our daily lives is what I call enlightenment or spiritual awakening. Since we all tend to fall asleep even after the most profound awakenings, enlightenment has to be an on-going process rather than a final destination of the spiritual journey.

Spontaneous enlightenment

About the author

Lama Somananda Tantrapa is the holder of the lineage of Qi Dao that has been fostered in his clan for 27 generations since 1224 AD.  He has over 30 years of experience in Qi Dao and other internal martial arts.  After pioneering Qi Dao Coaching in 2000, he has provided wellness, peak performance and life coaching to hundreds of clients from all walks of life.  His coaching has inspired many professional athletes, speakers, dancers, singers, writers and actors to open up to the infinite source of power that exists within everyone. 

            Lama Tantrapa authored the book and DVD entitled “Qi Dao – Tibetan Shamanic Qigong.”  Being an avid speaker and presenter, he appeared on many radio and TV programs in the US, Guam and abroad.  He currently serves on the NQA Board of Directors. For more information about Qi Dao Coaching, workshops, retreats, and long-distance learning opportunities, visit www.qidao.org.

One thought on “What is Enlightenment?

  1. Enlightenment is like returning to a world where you relate fully to. A world where you belong. Where you can feel at home with freedom. A world where you can only begin. In relevance with our world, enlightenment allows us to see the beautiful spirits that reside in our earthly bodies and with this comes all the powers and abilites one has in the spirit world.

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