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What Is Enlightenment?
Arlindo: Hi, Marcos. Enlightenment is nothing more than acquiring the right knowledge and firmly assimilating it: “I am the limitless, actionless, all-pervasive self.” Human jivas experience the world of objects through their mind (reflected consciousness). When the mind is relaxed and predominantly sattvic – free of excessive extroversion and dullness – it observes events, connects the dots and extracts some useful knowledge from the contact with objects. Perception and inference may produce helpful knowledge. Reflected consciousness in contact with objects/thoughts inevitably develops objective knowledge. But the limitless self is not an object of knowledge or experience. Therefore self-knowledge (enlightenment) is altogether a different kind of knowledge. It is the knowledge of the only knower there is as oneself, which comes about with the neutralization of self-ignorance.
Yes, the self can only be realized by knowledge because in its essential nature jiva is and has always been the self. Since jiva already is the self, only the knowledge “I am the limitless self” will correct the misapprehension “I am the limited jiva.” No epiphanies or experiences of the self will do the job, because self-ignorance can only be canceled by the firm assimilation of self-knowledge. Self-experience is to live from that platform rather them from the platform of the small, inadequate and limited jiva.
Marcos: I believe I have this self-knowledge, but only when my life situation is in good order. When life is good, I feel happy and my knowledge is present, but when circumstances change and I have bad experiences I feel frustrated and sad, and want to run away from my life.
Arlindo: It is all good, Marcos. It is natural to feel happier and more peaceful when Isvara delivers the result of actions we have desired and worked for. We live in the world and we need to comply with lots of demands – unless of course we stay in some ashram in India, which may or may not be the most intelligent move. ☺ As the knowledge of your true, essential and independent nature becomes firm (hard and fast), you will begin experiencing a sort of contentment and inner satisfaction, even when Isvara delivers to you undesired results.
With the actualization of self-knowledge, you will be able to take all pair of opposites as prasad (Isvara’s gifts). You feel happy and sad (up and down) because your karma yoga knowledge is not yet firm enough to immediately neutralize the feelings/thoughts of disappointment, frustration, failure, defeat, etc. It means that you could do some more work (contemplation) on the teachings of karma yoga (Isvara-knowledge).
~ Lots of love, Arlindo