There are many stories of sages and prophets reaching enlightenment after going to the edge of existence in a search for something. With the ever growing population, there are probably more people now seeking enlightenment, than populated the earth in days gone by. Some seek in a desperate search, some in a calm relaxed manner and some seem to have already found it without any real effort. I have meditated pretty extensively on the subject of enlightenment and found myself now asking the question is enlightenment a permanent state?
Siddhārtha Gautama sat under the bodhi tree for 40 days in mediation, in this time he reflected on his existence and experience of life, to determine its truth. After this extended period he finally arrived at a place of Enlightenment and this is when he became the Buddha- the founder of what we now call Buddhism.
Jesus (or Esus) went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. During this time, he was tempted by Satan with hedonism (hunger / satisfaction), egoism (spectacular throw / might) and materialism (kingdoms / wealth). Jesus managed to resist the temptation and fully realise himself as the lord and saviour and come to a state of enlightenment.
Muhammad sat praying and fasting in the cave for 40 days. By the end of which he was gifted with the teachings of Allah and named the prophet to spread the teachings of Islam.
The first thing to note here is the repetition of the number 40; 40 days was also the amount of time Moses spent in the mountains when he received the 10 commandments. It is not just in religion though- in mystic thought, 40 days symbolize an ascent to a higher level otherwise know as a spiritual awakening. It is said to fully know someone you must spend 40 days in their company. In alchemy 40 days are recommended for purification. The Mayans, the Ancient Egyptians and many other cultures used to measure time and space in blocks of 40 days.
But I digress from the 40 days subject and return to the original question- Is enlightenment a permanent state? It would be interesting to see the days, weeks, months and years following Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and Moses- maybe they were tough, maybe they had a long period of integrating what they had seen, maybe that moment of enlightenment was just that- a moment, and in returning to the reality of life it could have been a struggle to implement what they had seen.
Maybe enlightenment is something we all reach at different stages in our lives, think of a complex subject that you just could not understand no matter how many times it was explained, studied or examined- and then almost out of nowhere it just makes sense. That is you becoming enlightened in a specific subject, and something we all experience in different levels. Maybe enlightenment is not the pinnacle it is often made out to be, but a series of realisations that happen over time in stages.
Yes- there are levels to enlightenment, and a 6 year old finally making sense of a math problem and realising yourself as a prophet vary greatly, but maybe this realisation for the prophets mentioned was their realisation. This could be the same realisation an artist makes when they finally discover who they are at the very core of their soul or that of any person who finally fully realises themselves in their purest form (even if it is in the most simplistic of paths). Does this mean that once we arrive at this place our problems disappear? No! But that we are at the start of the next stage of a journey that really has no end.
Personally I think reaching enlightenment is easy, staying there is the hard part! Please share this article! Much love to you!
IMAGE CREDIT:popaukropa / 123RF Stock Photo
I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here