Enlightenment Is Totally Normal: Here’s Why

By Deepak Chopra, MD

In surprising ways the notion of enlightenment is important in everyday life. In the West the word “enlightenment” remains fuzzy, and most people would consider it exotic, foreign, difficult to reach, and reserved only for people with strong spiritual motivation and tremendous self-discipline.

If all of these assumptions are wrong, everything surrounding enlightenment would have to shift. In fact each of these assumptions occupies a spectrum. There are yogic teachings that require strong motivation and enormous discipline, but there are also paths to enlightenment that are much easier, and these fit everyday lifestyles quite well.

If you clear away all your assumptions, the path to enlightenment consists of something you are already familiar with: personal growth. If you make choices that further your evolution every day, no matter how casual or focused you are about it, you are heading towards enlightenment. We should also adapt the word “enlightenment” to fit the modern secular world, and the best way to do that is to think in terms of consciousness. There are 12 milestones in consciousness that mark the state of enlightenment, And since these are on a sliding scale, you can move toward each milestone at your own pace. In fact, the more enjoyable and effortless your path is, the likelier you are to stay on it.

Here are the 12 milestones, first expressed as the final goal, second as the direction to take in order to make progress.

1. Shift in the sense of self

If you were enlightened, you would sense yourself as unbounded Being without ego.

To make progress, you favor simple awareness, meaning that you rest easily in being yourself, as much as possible setting aside ego.

2. Emotional changes

If you were enlightened, you would experience a steady state of bliss. The ups and downs of emotion, both positive and negative, will have vanished.

To make progress, you diminish the emotional drama in your life.

3. Changes in thought

If you were enlightened, your thoughts would be functional, serving to move you towards correct decision-making.

To make progress, you don’t worry and overthink things. You let yourself be guided by positive thoughts and intuition. You turn away negative thoughts without acting on them.

4. Shift in perception

If you were enlightened, you would perceive the physical world as a manifestation of consciousness constantly in the process of creation.

To make progress, you focus on becoming more aware of the creative intelligence that flows through you and the entire creation.

5. Shift in memory

If you were enlightened, you would have little need for memory, because your awareness is in the now.

To make progress, you focus on the present moment. If memories come up to warn you or make you afraid, you let them pass with as little notice as possible.

6. Insight

If you were enlightened, all of creation would speak to you, giving you insight into anything you wanted to know.

To make progress, you rely on what is going on “in here” as a guide to be trusted.

7. Intuition

If you were enlightened, intuition comes as easily as thought and is always reliable.

To make progress, you begin to trust inner impulses by how they feel. Intuition becomes the test of right thinking.

8. Vision

If you were enlightened, your vision of life has been fulfilled, whatever this vision might be. You live the reality of your own truth.

To make progress, you choose a vision that inspires you and keep your attention on it every day.

9. Creativity

If you were enlightened, you would view reality as a flow of creative intelligence at every level.

To make progress, you seek a creative outlet that brings you a sense of joy and fulfillment.

10. Flow

If you were enlightened, any event, inner or outer, is part of the same flow of consciousness.

To make progress, be more allowing and accepting; let situations play themselves out with less interference; and stop being a source of resistance to others and their ideas.

11. Bliss

If you were enlightened, bliss would be a steady state either in the forefront or the background of your mind.

To make progress, actively find ways to experience joy at least once a day. Realize that bliss is the doorway to expanded awareness and higher consciousness.

12. Fear of death

If you were enlightened, there would be no fear of death.

To make progress, meditate in order to experience silent awareness as your true home, not the physical body.

This list sketches in the primary changes that occur on the way to enlightenment, but they have the advantage here and now of improving everyday life. In the Vedic wisdom of India, existence is founded on pure bliss-consciousness, which in turn makes enlightenment the most normal state of awareness. We don’t realize this because we are caught up in obstacles of ego, desire, anxiety, self-involvement, self-judgment, anger, envy, fear of death, and other mind-made obstacles of collectively known as Vrittis, which distort your vision of who you truly are, which is a conscious agent through whom bliss and creativity flow naturally and effortlessly.

DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com

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