Again I’m not a spiritual teacher or an enlightened person (something I have to keep saying over and over again) so I have to watch that I don’t cross the line, perhaps emboldened by my ego or a desire for fame or some other siren song. I can only say what I see as being there for me and make no claims to being somehow far-seeing or wise or any other nonsense.
We have to be mature enough to be able to have these discussions without somehow reading more into them than is appropriate. These are just my observations. And I have no desire to be anyone’s spiritual teacher. I just like to write.
(1) To Be Enlightened Doesn’t Necessarily Mean to Be Complete
First of all, what does it mean to be complete? Well, for me it means that one has reached a point where the desires for things and experiences have quieted down such that they no longer primarily motivate a person when he or she arises in the morning or goes about his or her business. One is no longer driven by desire.
Enlightenment and completion are not necessarily related. One can be enlightened to an advanced state and still hanker after worldly things. That’s the reason why so many gurus fall. They’re enlightened – no one doubts it – but they still hanker after money, sex and power. The phenomenon surprises and dismays many people, no one more than that person’s devotee. But it’s real nonetheless.
I followed an Indian guru – an avatar – for twenty-five years, only to find out that he was a heinous child molester. When that knowledge broke upon the scene, I was devastated. Though it had been going on for years, I was totally unaware of it. As were millions of others.
Another guru was a peerless expositor of spiritual matters who, it turned out, was violent towards his followers and sold himself for money. And a third, who also considered himself an avatar, was being sexually inappropriate, breaking up marriages, and so on.
So one can be enlightened but not complete. And in fact many spiritual gurus seem unaware of that fact, surprising as it may seem.
Completion allows more concentration because one is not constantly being pulled back and forth by the desires. But the work to be done to achieve enlightenment, whatever that may be (and I’m not qualified to comment on it), still needs to be done, whether by our own spiritual practice or by way of Ascension.
I attended 23 enlightenment intensives (EIs) and each one was about creating a laser beam through the obscurities, that would bring on enlightenment. I would get into arguments with the teacher because I did not use EIs that way. I was using them as a platform to get rid of the vasanas or habit patterns that thrust a person back into automatic ways of responding to things.
I had had many, many spiritual experiences but none of them lasted because the vasanas would erupt again and “endarken” or overwhelm me. So I wanted to spend the rest of my life attending to the vasanas and reaching a point of completion with them (not the same as the completion I’m referring to here; a much more advanced stage).
He thought that was not a correct use of the practice. I thought it was a very appropriate use of it. And now years later I realize the fruit of that investment: I feel complete. And I am happier at that outcome than I would have been at any number of temporary spiritual experiences.
(2) Liberation does not Result Until One Has Completely Cleared Oneself of One’s Vasanas
We tend to think of enlightenment as an end-all and be-all. But it has to go hand-in-hand with completion to result in liberation. Perhaps I can quote Ramana Maharshi on the subject because he is for me the expert on the matter.
“Only one who is free from all the latent tendencies (vasanas) is a Sage.” (1)
“In kevala nirvikalpa samadhi (2) one is not free from vasanas and does not, therefore, attain mukti. …
“Even though one practices kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted out the vasanas, he will not attain salvation.” (3)
Some people are not convinced by seeing a statement from only one sage so let me share what Mata Amritanandamayi and Sage Vasistha say on the subject as well.
Ammachi: “The sun gets concealed by the clouds. In a like manner, God is concealed by the vasanas. He becomes visible when the dirt of latent tendencies [is] removed.” (4)
Vasistha: “Moksa or liberation is the total abandonment of all vasanas or mental conditioning, without the least reserve.” (5)
So the vasanas have to be cleared before liberation takes place. And in fact this clearance is being promoted by the increase in energies as a result of what AAM calls the Transition, this month. That’s why so many people may be finding themselves reactivated – the energies are flushing the vasanas up.
(3) Completion is Usually not Final
My feeling complete doesn’t mean I’ve completely cleared my vasanas. I haven’t. More may come up tomorrow. It just means I feel restful and peaceful between onsets or eruptions of vasanas, which one teacher calls “sleeping volcanoes.” (Remember that vasanas cannot be completed until they arise. Until then the “volcanoes” are “sleeping.”)
I’m only complete with the day-to-day earthly desires. So I can expect to be incomplete tomorrow and I have no illusions about it.
As far as I can see, the individual is composed of layer upon layer upon layer and we may make a statement that applies when we’re cognizant of what layer is presenting itself today and then events may occur that bring the next layer up.
The statement “I am complete” from me feels correct at this layer. But some incredible or huge event may occur tomorrow that releases a Larsen B shelf of a vasana and I’m back being incomplete again.
I recognize myself as having reached a stable place where the normal earthly desires are no longer routinely playing upon me day by day. I now have space and can make a few more decisions than perhaps some others, without my choices being completely determined or dictated by my desires.
I’d like to be completely finished with my vasanas and will work towards that goal but vasanas run deep. To say I’m finally complete with them would be the kind of false position that I think only a braggart would assume. “I’m finished with my vasanas.” I’d suspect anyone who said that.
If I had experienced Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi, perhaps even the seeds of ego might be consumed and all vasanas cleansed from me once and for all; I don’t know. But at my present state of rather normal beingness, I have no illusions that I’ve somehow reached that final point. I’m sure I haven’t.
(4) Completion Does Not Say What’s Next
Completion doesn’t lay out, indicate or foretell what’s next any more than turning the key on the ignition says where we intend to drive. That remains up to us.
I think I’m correct in saying it does position us to make the basic spiritual movement in life. That movement is away from the “world” (and I’ll explain what I mean by that in a moment) and towards God.
Incompletion is the state of hankering after what the “world” offers – money, sex, power, experiences, fame, you name it. Completion is feeling freed up enough from that hankering that one is able to choose what one wishes to involve oneself in rather than feeling inescapably drawn to it from craving and aversion. Our cravings no longer dictate our choices.
By “world” I mean anything that competes for our attention with God, the divine qualities, etc. – anything that’s inconsistent with loving God or takes away from our ability to love God. If I can do a thing and still love God, wonderful. Feeding the poor is something I can do and still love God. Stealing from my neighbor is not something I can do and still love God – apparently. I feel blocked from loving God when I steal from my neighbor. Why I don’t know. Perhaps God has set it up that way.
Past completion, what comes next seems to me a matter of choice. In my case what comes next is no different than what’s come before. I signed on to assist with Ascension by writing whatever I can and that doesn’t change. But I do feel ever more peaceful and that’s a boon.
(5) Completion is What We’re Aiming for in This Time of Transition
As the energies rise, what comes up to our attention is any vasana, feeling state, or other phenomenon that presents a barrier to our acceptance and integration of the new energies. And these vasanas come up not by accident at this time. They come up for us to re-experience and complete. I know some people who are feeling ancient griefs, others disappointment, still others reminders of ancient battles and things gone wrong. This is bound to come up as the energies rise as they’re doing now.
The trick is not to identify with them and think they’re related to the present time. They’re just sets of feelings that are coming up in us; they aren’t who we are. And chances are they aren’t related to the present time but to a time long ago. A large literature has been written on how to flatten a vasana, which can be found under “10. Ascension – On Processing Vasanas” in the righthand column of this site. I realize that it’s a little hard to get the hang of the upset clearing process by reading about it, but I’m afraid it’s all we have – from this writer anyways.
There are also Enlightenment Intensives around and some teachers who deal with completing vasanas. But there’s also very little time any more for doing courses, etc. If one simply remembers to be with and observe the feeling states coming up, ask the mind to tell you what earlier incident these feelings are connected to, and then experience through to completion the feelings associated with whatever situation the mind identifies as the source of the feelings, one may be able complete these troublesome vasanas and unwanted conditions.
When one has completed them, one knows it by feeling peaceful, neutral, restful – until the next one is triggered.
So that’s a little more on completion vs. enlightenment and the nature of completion itself. Gosh, I hope this is helpful because, with the energies rising as they are, we’re in the thick of it. My heart goes out to anyone feeling the onset of unwanted conditions at this time of maximum personal and social change.
(1) Sri Ramana Maharshi, Spiritual Instruction of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Eighth Edition. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1974, Chapter 2, Question 26.
(2) Seventh-chakra enlightenment or Brahmajnana (God-Realization), during which the heart opens temporarily and the closes again. In Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi, which I think happens when the kundalini goes past the crown chakra and returns to the spiritual heart or hridayam, results in a permanent heart opening and therefore liberation from the need to be reborn.
(3) Sri Ramana Maharshi, Ramananda Swarnagiri, Crumbs from His Table. http://www.ramana-maharshi.org. Downloaded 10 September 2005, n.p.
(4) Mata Amritanandamayi, Awaken, Children! Vallicakavu, India: Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust, I, 45.
(5) Sage Vasistha in Venkatesananda, Swami, ed., The Concise Yoga Vasistha. Albany: State University of New York, 1984, 5.