Enlightenment is the realization of our true nature.
Ascension is the adjustment of our energies to a higher frequency so that the dimension of existence we’re currently aware of fades from our experience and we find ourselves experiencing on a new and higher plane.
Ascension happens within subplanes of a dimension as well as between dimensions. However, the word “Ascension” is usually reserved for ascension between dimensions. But we ascend within dimensions nonetheless. People are always ascending, except under exceptional circumstances.
What exceptional circumstances? Well, we chose this lifetime to descend, to come down from higher dimensions to assist our brothers and sisters on Earth to rise to a higher one. We’re the leaven in the loaf. The work of starseeds and lightworkers raises the vibration of the whole planet.
Enlightenment is usually the mechanism that causes Ascension. In our case, if we chose to leave the body, we’d return to our native dimensions as a matter of course. The experience of enlightenment wouldn’t be needed, apparently, for our return to our original estate as angels.
In the Third Dimension, enlightenment usually consists of the seeing of the Light of the One (or the Form of the One) in more and more refined ways. First it’s a discrete and brilliant Light (the Child), then the Light in all creation (the Mother) and then the Light that transcends creation (the Father).
But it doesn’t have to be the seeing of a Light. It could also be a vision of a form of God. Or it could be an experience in consciousness, without any kind of vision.
Since these three stages of enlightenment have been the most common throughout the ages, I’d like to look at each stage, if you’d permit me.
The first stage occurs when the kundalini reaches the fourth chakra. A bright, discrete Light is seen. Christians call this the Son of God and the Christ. Hindus call it the Atman and the Self. It is the Light of our true nature. Hindus call the experience spiritual awakening and Buddhists stream entering.
Jan Ruusbroec describes it here:
“In the abyss of this darkness in which the loving spirit has died to itself, God’s revelation and eternal life have their origin, for in this darkness an incomprehensible light is born and shines forth; this is the Son of God, in whom a person becomes able to see and to contemplate eternal life.” (1)
Why contemplate eternal life? Because meditating on the sight of the Light causes it to expand, as we’ll see below. The end of its expansion is “eternal life” in the sense that we need not be reborn. That would be establishment in the Fifth Dimension. We always were alive and always will be but we needn’t be reborn from now on.
“It is Christ, the light of truth, who says, ‘See,’ and it is through him that we are able to see, for he is the light of the Father, without which there is no light in heaven or on earth. (2)
When we meditate on this discrete light we’ve seen, it expands and leads to the next stage of enlightenment.
The next stage occurs when the kundalini reaches the sixth chakra. That same Light expands to fill all of creation. Christians call it the vision of the Holy Spirit; Hindus, of Shakti, the Divine Mother. It’s also called cosmic consciousness and savikalpa samadhi (or samadhi while seeing form).
Here’s Wordsworth describing the experience of it.
“‘Such was the Boy — but for the growing Youth
What soul was his, when, from the naked top
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light!
“He looked —
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
And ocean’s liquid mass, in gladness lay
Far and wide the clouds were touched,
And in their silent faces could he read
“Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank
The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form,
All melted into him; they swallowed up
His animal being; in them did he live,
And by them did he live; they were his life”. (3)
Sri Ramakrishna describes the seeing of a divine form rather than a Light. He points out that we remain in the domain of dualism throughout the experience.
“Then comes the sixth plane, corresponding to the centre known as Ajna. This centre is located between the eyebrows and it has a lotus with two petals. When the Kundalini reaches it, the aspirant sees the form of God. But still there remains a slight barrier between the devotee and God. It is like a light inside a lantern. You may think you have touched the light, but in reality you cannot because of the barrier of glass.” (4)
The next stage of enlightenment, when the kundalini reaches the seventh chakra, sees the Light transcend creation. We “see” the formless or the transcendental. It’s the first transcendental vision of what Christians call the Father and what Hindus call Brahman. It sees us leave the domain of dualism and enter the domain of unitive consciousness; what used to be called the “nondual state.”
Jan Ruusbroec describes it here:
“There follows a third kind of experience, namely, that we feel ourselves to be one with God, for by means of our transformation in God we feel ourselves to be swallowed up in the groundless abyss of our eternal blessedness, in which we can never discover any difference between ourselves and God. This is the highest of all our experiences and can be experienced in no other way than by our being immersed in love.” (5)
Sri Ramakrishna describes it here:
“Last of all is the seventh plane, which, according to Tantra, is the centre of the thousand-petalled lotus. When the Kundalini arrives there, the aspirant goes into samadhi. In that lotus dwells Satchidananda Siva, the Absolute. There Kundalini, the awakened Power, unites with Siva. This is known as the union of Siva and Sakti.” (6)
It is the first “seeing” of the formless God.
This is not the end of the journey. For most of us, Sahaja Samadhi is, when the kundalini reaches the heart. It involves a permanent heart opening and is liberation from birth and death. That happens, according to the Divine Mother, sometime after we enter the Fifth Dimension, not right away.
Now we see why the Trinity is so important: because we’re set the task in life of realizing while still in the body the Light of the Child, the Mother and the Father, or of the Atman, Shakti and Brahman. The purpose of life is knowing our true nature and that true nature is God. We realize our true nature, in successive stairsteps, by realizing each level of the Trinity.
Interestingly, Jesus through John Smallman once called Ascension a “return once more to your natural state of Oneness with your Source.” (7) That’s a pretty good definition of Sahaja, in my view because Sahaja means our “natural state of being.”
Sri Ramana Maharshi describes it here:
“[The] Heart is the seat of Jnanam [wisdom] as well as of the granthi (knot of ignorance). It is represented in the physical body by a hole smaller than the smallest pin-point, which is always shut. When the mind drops down in Kevalya Nirvikalpa [samadhi], it opens but shuts again after it. When sahaja [nirvikalpa samadhi] is attained it opens for good.” (7)
“The Sahaja Nirvikalpa is permanent and in it lies liberation from rebirths.” (8)
So this is the stairway to heaven. Why heaven? Because “heaven” is the Christian word for the Fifth Dimension. The Fifth Dimension is one step on Jacob’s Ladder of consciousness and we are the angels who’ve descended it and are mounting it again.
Of levels loftier than Sahaja, we know little.
(1) John Ruusbroec in James A. Wiseman, John Ruusbroec. The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works. New York, etc.: Paulist Press, 1985, 147. [Hereafter JR.]
(2) Ibid., 74.
(3) William Wordsworth in Marghanita Laski, Ecstacy in Secular and Religious Experiences. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1961, 399.
(4) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 499-500. [Hereafter GSR.]
(5) John Ruusbroec in JR, 176.
(6) GSR, 499.
(7) Ramana Maharshi, S.S. Cohen, Guru Ramana. Memories and Notes. 6th edition. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1993, 96.
(8) Ibid., 88.