It is not widely known that there is only one Self and its nature is Consciousness or Awareness. It is generally believed that the consciousness of each being is unique. It is unique…if consciousness is defined as subjective events, thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams, desires, fantasies, etc. But subjective events…our experience…actually occur in formless impersonal Consciousness, the knowing principle. Because Consciousness/Awareness is the knowing principle it is commonly called ‘the light’ in spiritual literature. It is not the light that makes physical sight possible but it is that because of which physical light…and everything that exists…is known. It is uncreated and eternal. It pervades everything and is the innermost Self of every living being. Therefore every being is enlightened…in the light…by default. However, the proof of enlightenment lies neither in the intellectual affirmation of enlightenment nor in the claim of the experience of an enlightened state of consciousness, but in the hard and fast understanding that Awareness is one’s essential identity.
If this understanding has no effect on one’s behavior what use could it be…apart from some kind of egoic status-related feel good factor? Just as untold misery has been inflicted on the human race in the name of religion…whose ostensible purpose is to save the human race from itself…much suffering has been inflicted on the gullible at the hands of so called ‘enlightened’ beings.
Therefore a more rigorous definition of enlightenment is required. Whether or not you are ‘experiencing enlightenment’…which is hardly unique since there is only one Self and therefore the experience of everything is the experience of enlightenment or whether you intellectually claim to know that you are the Self, enlightenment is only enlightenment if it sets you free. What kind of freedom is it?
While a truly enlightened person moves among the objects and situations in the world like a normal person, he or she does not depend on objects or situations for his or her happiness. An ‘object’ is what is experienced and the Self, Awareness, is that to which experience presents itself. There are two categories of objects, gross and subtle. Gross objects include anything available to the senses, including one’s own body. Subtle objects are all states of mind: memories, feelings, emotions, intuitions, beliefs, opinions, dreams, desires, fears, fantasies, and relationships with people…absolutely any subjective experience that stands apart from one’s Self.
If an individual is free in this way, he or she will not be inclined to use or misuse others for his or her purposes. He or she need do nothing to ‘make a difference’ or to ‘save the world,’ two of our most cherished illusions; his or her very presence as a free being will act as an inspiration that will cause others to seek true freedom. And because the sense of incompleteness and inadequacy that arises from not knowing one's true nature is gone, he or she will not inflict suffering on others in the pursuit of his or her own happiness.
This quiz tests your Self knowledge. It cannot test your independence from objects. Self knowledge is indispensable because without it a person cannot stand free of objects. The freedom granted by Self knowledge does not have an immediate effect on one’s ability to withstand the push and pull of objects but if the knowledge is applied on a daily basis it will eventually lead to independence.
Is Self knowledge like pregnancy; one either is or isn’t pregnant? Yes and no. On one hand unless a person is one hundred percent certain about his or her nature and understands the implications of this understanding in terms of his or her relationship to objects, what use is it? On the other, even though the Self is simple non-dual Awareness and can be easily known because it is you, when the apparent reality…life…is taken into account, things are not so simple. If we take life into account…our bodies and minds and the world around us…Self knowledge becomes a multi-faceted body of knowledge. Remember, the Self is all there is so knowledge of the individual and the world is also Self knowledge. In this sense it is like any other developed body of objective knowledge…the more you know the better.
This quiz is not meant to validate or invalidate your Self knowledge although a preponderance of correct responses might suggest that you are enlightened while preponderance of incorrect answers might suggest the opposite. The purpose of the quiz is to test your ability to think from the Self’s point of view…which you will do if you are enlightened. It is possible to know that you are the Self and live free of objects and yet still be unable to articulate what you know. In this case the quiz might serve as an opportunity to refine your understanding and aid in self expression…which would be helpful were you inclined to communicate your vision to others.
A single right answer to certain questions may indicate enlightenment and a single wrong answer to other questions may indicate the opposite. Think carefully before you respond not only because there are a number of ‘trick’ questions but because the quiz was designed to test your thinking ability. The intellect is the subtlest aspect of the inner Self and what you know impacts mightily on how happily you live. Keep track of your answers and when you have completed the quiz click the ‘answers’ button at the bottom of the last page. In most cases I have explained the reasons why an answer is right or wrong. In some cases there are two or more right answers.
Although only you know whether or not you stand free from objects you can evaluate your score with reference to the following somewhat arbitrary benchmarks. Allow three points for each right answer. Above ninety you are not only fully enlightened you can consider yourself a sage, the most exalted category of the enlightened. Above eighty you can count yourself among the ordinary enlightened. From seventy to eighty consider yourself provisionally enlightened. From thirty to seventy you need a bit of work and below thirty it would probably be wise to look for another identity.