Sunday, July 3, 2016

Enlightenment Is Not An Experience

I was watching a teacher streaming online talking to a gentleman who was very insistent on understanding. He was speaking of his search as this big lack in his life. The teacher kept insisting that he find the lack somewhere in his body. He said he didn't feel the lack in his body. His body was fine. The teacher then said that if he couldn't find the feeling in his body then he couldn't be helped.

I was really appalled at the teacher's response. This poor fellow was desperate, and he had a strong intellect. Instead of letting him know that the intellect was a not a problem, he was told that he was too intellectual. He was told he was stuck in his head.  There was no help for him if he didn't get out of his head.

This is really a travesty. I can tell you that the teacher has a big following online and is very entertaining. I don't doubt the teacher is in touch with the nondual perspective. But, the teaching is utterly unhelpful, and in fact damaging to this poor fellow.

I have done lots of group therapy and it was a tremendous relief to work through repressed feelings, but enlightenment isn't a feeling. Teachers espousing enlightenment as a feeling are wasting a seekers' time. I too have had a lot of mystical experiences. I have been in states of ecstasy and union with everything, but I can tell you they don't last. As James Swartz makes very clear, enlightenment is not a feeling, it is not an experience.

The major dividing line I experienced watching and visiting teachers was that all seemed to be coming from the same space, but some were helpful, and some were not. The unhelpful ones were entertaining, but frustrating at the same time. They kept saying that one needed to feel or experience something, but each had a different experience.

I finally decided that I needed to know for certain what I was looking for. I could see that the experiential enlightenment teachings got me nowhere. Even if I could duplicate, replicate, or induce a similar experience, there was no way to guarantee it lasting more than a minute or a few days.

The big question then became, what in the hell is enlightenment anyway? Who would know? In thinking about this I realized that I needed to go to the source of enlightenment. Where was the source? Well, it's far back in history in ancient India. That's where the original teaching and years of refinement happened. What was their definition?

When I went looking. I happened on the teaching of James Swartz. I was immediately tuned in. Here I found a teacher who knew what he was talking about. He wasn't espousing a feeling or any particular experience. He also did not say I needed any particular experience.

As I watched James' videos, he explained the teaching from beginning to end. He had the definition and the whole teaching. I had to use my intellect to understand what he was saying, but I didn't have to have any particular feeling. I didn't have to have any particular experience.

He explained that experiences could be useful, but they needed to be understood. In other words, what did the experience point to? What did the experience mean? This made experience a stepping stone, not the big bang. The bottom line was that enlightenment was an understanding, a knowing, and experiences where just a sideline.

What a relief to an intellectual like me. I didn't have to degrade myself for not having certain feelings. I didn't have to have a particular experience, I just had to understand. The more I watched his videos, the more I understood. And the more I understood, the more satisfaction I felt. Understanding was something I could grasp. The bottom line is that feelings and experiences are not transferable, but understanding, knowledge, can be conveyed. Not that there isn't work to be done, but it's not chasing experience or feelings. Believe me, I have feelings. Having the right feeling was not my issue. And it's not the issue regarding enlightenment. Knowledge and understanding are the key.

It took about a year for the knowledge to gel and come to fruition, but once I really understood and took it to heart, I realized the understanding. What a relief after many years to know I had found what I was looking for.

If you are out there chasing the enlightenment experience, please reconsider. Enlightenment is knowledge based. The knowledge creates understanding, and the understanding leads to realization. Ultimately it's really simple, but since we are hard wired with ignorance, it takes a teacher with knowledge, understanding, and a means of knowledge to produce results.

I am sure I would have realized sooner had I encountered James Swartz teachings sooner. Perhaps I wasn't ready until he appeared. I suspect that is true. If I can help someone else by pointing them to a teacher who has the ancient teachings under his belt, then this post will be of value.

James Swartz teaches the understanding of enlightenment from the Vedas. He doesn't tout his own experience. He isn't promoting himself, and he doesn't claim any new teaching. That humility alone makes him worth listening to.

I went searching for the origin of the enlightenment teachings. I went searching for understanding of the ancient original texts. When I found videos on line by an American who knew Sanskrit, and knew the ancient texts, and could teach them in English, I knew I was home. Worked for me. Thank you James! 

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