The Experience of Enlightenment excerpted From Autobiography of a Yogi
What is this enlightenment? We are told the experience cannot be described in words. It is like trying to describe the color blue or the taste of sweetness. It has been dubbed ineffable bliss, indescribable and beyond words. We know we contain the Atmic spirit within us yet our consciousness is normally centered in the lower realms of mind, emotions, and sensations. In our normal waking state we are aware that our bodies are feeling hungry, tired, hot or cold. Emotionally we may be angry, sad, envious, depressed, or happy.
Mentally we are thinking, analyzing, remembering, comparing. Even if body, mind and emotions are relatively quiet, we still have the limiting blinders of the egoic awareness of name and form, “I am so and so, I am X years old, I live in this city, I like these things, I dislike these other things”. The experience of enlightenment occurs when the awareness is raised far above the lower sheaths, beyond the normal self centric awareness into the pure realm of the Atma which has its home in the vast Ocean of Existence, Knowledge, Bliss from which it was projected. The consciousness then shifts from the individual droplet to the vast oceanic awareness that has no center, no limits, no boundaries. We can get some idea of Enlightenment from the accounts of the sages who have experienced the Ultimate Reality before us.
Master spoke caressingly, comfortingly. His calm gaze was unfathomable. “Your heart’s desire shall be fulfilled”. I was bewildered. He struck gently on my chest above the heart.
My body became immovably rooted. breath was drawn out of my lungs. Soul and mind instantly lost their physical bondage and streamed out like a fluid light from my every pore. The flesh was as though dead; yet in my intense awareness I knew that never before had I been fully alive. My sense of identity was no longer narrowly confined to a body but embraced the circumambient atoms. People on distant streets seemed to be moving gently over my own remote periphery. The roots of plants and trees appeared through a dim transparency of the soil; I discerned the inward flow of their sap.
The whole vicinity lay bare before me. My ordinary frontal vision was now changed to a vast spherical sight, simultaneously all-perceptive. Through the back of my head I saw men strolling far down Rai Ghat Lane, and noticed also a white cow that was leisurely approaching. When she reached the open ashram gate, I observed her as though with my two physical eyes. After she had passed through the brick wall of the courtyard, I saw her clearly still.
All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures. My body, Master’s, the pillared courtyard, the furniture and floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated, until all melted into a luminescent sea; even as sugar crystals, thrown into a glass of water, dissolve after being shaken. The unifying light alternated with materializations of forms, the metamorphoses revealing the law of cause and effect in creation. An oceanic joy broke upon calm endless shores of my soul. The Spirit of God, I realized is exhaustless bliss; His body is countless tissues of light. A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns, continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems, tenuous nebulae, and the floating universes. The entire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afar at night, glimmered within the infinitude of my being.
The divine dispersion of rays poured from an Eternal Source, blazing into galaxies, transfigured with ineffable auras. Again and again I saw the creative beams condense into constellations, then resolve into sheets of transparent flame. By rhythmic reversion, sextillion worlds passed into diaphanous luster, then fire became firmament. Blissful amrita, nectar of immortality, pulsated through me with a quicksilver like fluidity. The creative voice of God I heard resounding as Aum, the vibration of the Cosmic Motor.
Suddenly the breath returned to my lungs. With a disappointment almost unbearable, I realized that my infinite immensity was lost. Once more I was limited to the humiliating cage of a body, not easily accommodative to the Spirit. Like a prodigal child I had run away from my macrocosmic home and had imprisoned myself in a narrow microcosm.
Later master explained “It is the Spirit of God that actively sustains every form and force in the universe; yet He is transcendental and aloof in the blissful uncreated void beyond the world of vibratory phenomena. Those who have attained Self-realization on earth live a similar twofold existence. Conscientiously performing their work in the world, they are yet immersed in an inward beautitude”