Is Enlightenment Possible?
When we started out on the spiritual path, most of us had a sense that an extraordinary spiritual transformation was possibleâ€”a radical realignment at the deepest levels of our being that would not only liberate us from personal suffering but would infuse our life with a sacred, cosmic sense of meaning, purpose and wholeness.
Yet after years or even decades of working on ourselves with mixed results, many of us have begun to doubt whether that initial intuition of our higher potential was more fantasy than reality.
I want you to know that the highest possibility you’ve glimpsed, the most glorious potential you’ve sensed is not a figment of your imagination but a real living possibility.
And even more than that is possible.
It is possible for life to make perfect sense. It’s possible for your life to make perfect sense.
It’s possible to come into such profound alignment with the moral and spiritual axis of the universe that every moment of your life is a walk in grace, and that you know without any doubt that you are in the right place at the right time.
It’s possible, in other words, for all existential tension to disappear, and to live with unwavering conviction in the inherent goodness of the life process.
It’s possible to awaken so deeply to the divine evolutionary impulse at the heart of existence that we know we are living our lives in service to the highest calling there is. And in this knowing, to discover an unimaginable and abiding liberation from the suffering of the confused, neurotic, separate sense of self.
What Iâ€™m saying is that it’s possible to be truly free.
Iâ€™ll be the first to acknowledge that I’m speaking about a completely different kind of human life than most of us have ever encountered.
This is not simply about “being in the now” or “loving and accepting what is in every moment.”
It is not about simply learning to connect with and trust in a â€śhigher powerâ€ť to guide us through lifeâ€™s challenges.
Nor is it about simply accessing a more expansive state of awareness or being able to stand back and abide as the â€świtnessâ€ť of all that arises.
All of these are good experiences to have and important capacities to cultivate. But I’m speaking about something more.
I’m pointing to authentic spiritual awakening in which the ego has been radically overridden by the Ultimate principle, by the creative force of the cosmos, by what the Buddha called “the roar of the timeless beyond.”
It’s a life in which our endless quest for self-fulfillment has been replaced by a passion to give our heart and soul to the awakening and upliftment of all of life, to bringing the Sacred into manifestation in this world.
In this ultimate submission to and alignment with the Absolute, the human being becomes a living, breathing force for higher evolution.
And this changes our relationship to being alive in unimaginable ways.
Experientially, we find ourselves in a state of profound receptivity and openness. A deep and abiding simplicity pervades our life, and an ongoing sense of flow permeates every moment.
We have let go of identification with the mind, abandoned any attachment to the self, enabling us to live as a transparent, vibrant vessel for the Infinite.
Amidst this profound openness, there is remarkable mental clarity at times, but there is no clinging on to that clarity. Insights come and go, but there is the knowledge that “I can’t hold onto any of this,” and so there is no grasping on to certainty.
But in moments when clarity is needed, it miraculously appears, integrating all of our knowledge and lived experience in a flash of intuitive knowing.
Spiritual experiences come and go, too, but there is no longer any clinging to ecstasy, bliss or love. We have discovered the source of all these things, and so feel no compulsion to cling to them.
More importantly, and contrary to popular belief, we awaken to a profound awareness of what we might call the heart of the cosmos. We feel, in a sense, for the Whole of Life.
We feel the pain of the whole and the joy of the whole as our own pain and our own joy. We become a seeing, sensing, feeling organ of the whole.
And at the center of our being is a burning passion for evolution and transformation, a calling to transform the world into an expression of the divinity we have discovered.
All of this may sound very big and beyond reach, but I want to make it clear that this is not a pipe dream drawn from ancient books. This is what it’s really like. This is really what’s possible for a human lifeâ€”for your lifeâ€”to become.
Now, just because it’s possible to awaken to this radically different kind of life does not mean that it’s easy. Indeed, what I’m describing is without question the most challenging endeavor a human being can undertake.
We have to recognize that, even if we feel deeply that we want to surrender to the Divine, to be an agent of evolution, there is a big part of us that wants nothing to do with that. A part of us that desperately wants to maintain control, to keep our life small and manageable.
So, if we want our life to change that profoundly, we have to come to terms with what we’re doing here. That means cultivating a clear and unwavering intention to bring our life into alignment with this higher order weâ€™ve tasted.
Cultivating this kind of intention requires a 24/7 commitment, but you can begin this inquiry by engaging the following exercises on a daily basis. Any of these exercises can be engaged as a silent contemplation, as a journal exercise, or as a dialogue with a trusted spiritual friend.
- Every morning, before you do anything else, take fifteen minutes and contemplate what you are really living for. Ask yourself: what is the most important thing in life? What is of ultimate significance? And what do I need to do to align with thatâ€”to be an expression of that in the world? Don’t simply ask these questions with your mind. Ask them with your whole being, as if your life depended on it.
- Then, every evening, take another fifteen minutes, and again ask yourself: What is the most important thing in life? What is of ultimate significance? How did I live my day? Did I do everything I could to live in accord with the deepest truth I know? To align with a higher purpose? Where could I have given more?
- Ask yourself: What would I need to give up or let go of to be able to align with the evolutionary impulse? To be a vessel for a greater intelligence and power in this world? What is in the way of me stepping into full surrender to and partnership with the creative force of the Cosmos? When will I be ready to leave that behind?
The spiritual path has always been about surrender. But the truth is that in this evolutionary awakening, this integral enlightenment, there is a further goal, which is the willingness to not only surrender to the divine principle, but to step up and take full responsibility for its manifestation and expression in the world.
In the end, we realize that the very power we’ve surrendered to is also our truest self, and that it needs us to fully embody that, to dare to be a creative agent of evolution, to align our own being with it so completely that we become the conscious choosing aspect of the Evolutionary Impulse itself.
In this radical realignment at the core of our being, we begin incarnating the divine and we give our every breath to making that divinity known and fully expressed in this world.
In this unconditional stand, we discover our final liberation from attachment, even as we passionately give everything to transforming the world into an expression of the sacred.
When enough of us learn to live in this way, we will have Heaven on Earth.
The Key to Evolving Beyond Ego â€” How to Make the Change that Changes Everything
Learn more about Craig’s upcoming nine-week course:
Integral Enlightenment: Awakening to an Evolutionary Relationship to Life
About Craig Hamilton
Craig Hamilton is a pioneer in the emerging field of evolutionary spirituality and a leading voice in the movement for conscious evolution. As the guiding force behind Integral Enlightenment, Craig offers spiritual guidance and teachings to a growing international community spanning 50 countries around the world.
His introductory and advanced courses have more than 6,000 graduates to date. These courses are designed to support people who are committed to evolving themselves and our culture, yearn to make their greatest contribution, and seek to develop themselves to embrace this calling.
To provide effective support for these pioneers, Craig created the Academy for Evolutionaries, offering practical spiritual tools and training that are in step with our times and informed by an up-to-date understanding of the human condition. In this unique training ground, Craig brings together core insights and approaches based on decades of on-the-ground research at the leading edge of spiritual practice and inquiry.
Craigâ€™s programs integrate decades of intensive spiritual practice with insights gleaned during his eight years as Senior Editor of the award winning What Is Enlightenment? magazine.
Craigâ€™s work is highly acclaimed by thought leaders and spiritual teachers ranging from Ken Wilber, Michael Beckwith, and Barbara Marx Hubbard to Don Beck and Jean Houston, among many others. He is a founding member of Ken Wilberâ€™s Integral Institute, a member of Deepak Chopraâ€™s Evolutionary Leaders Forum, and was a participant in the Synthesis Dialogues, a 35-person interdisciplinary think tank presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.