Have you ever felt like what you see before you in life, the way of being the world has shown you so far, just isn’t enough . . . like there’s something missing? Are you searching for something more—reading books, attending seminars, hiking mountains? Have you been chasing after something that seems just beyond your grasp?
This feeling is the first level of awareness on the way to true enlightenment.
Enlightenment is a pretty big word. What I mean by enlightenment is
a visceral knowing that you have divine energy within you that is a part of the creative, life energy in all that exists. You know this not only through an awakening you have or information you learn from another person, but through expressing it in your thoughts, words, and actions. Your awareness is wide and deep enough to encompass all Truth, and you naturally act in a way that is good for others as well as yourself because you know that these two are not separate.
Ultimately, at the highest level of awareness, the pure energy that is your true essence leaves the body. This essence is often called the soul, which is anchored in your body and imbues it with life,. Upon leaving, the soul returns to its origin, the source of life, or the force, energy, and sentience that makes existence possible. This returning is not simply death as we most often think of it. Most of the time, death is an experience that is out of our control. When you are enlightened, you have the ability to choose whether your soul stays with your body or not. Your soul can return to its origin without any help from someone else. I call the returning of the soul to its origin Chunhwa
There are nine steps your awareness passes through to reach the ultimate enlightenment. The first three are very active. If you pass through these three steps one by one solidly, you are less likely to have ups and downs and setbacks later. The remaining steps will occur if you keep going without giving up.
1) Initial Awareness
- You feel the transcience of the material world and decide to live for the development of your soul.
2) Determinate Awareness
- You firmly make up your mind to dedicate your life to developing your body, mind, and spirit until you fully realize and experience the harmony of the universe. However, at this stage, your body is not yet under your control. If your determination ever falters, you have not yet achieved Determinate Awareness.
3) Right Awareness
- Your soul becomes revived and you start to act according to its wishes. You find the right energy practice
and perform it diligently, apply energy principles to your life, and render services to other people. With your persistent and consistent practice, you achieve greater physical, mental, and emotional well-being. You create new and better habits. The act of rendering services is a way to practice virtues discreetly. You need to do it in such a way that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Then you can reach the state in which all sense of honor is gone, leaving no trace. That is the completion of Right Awareness.
4) Bright Awareness
- You become bright, as if you were glowing from within. At this stage, you understand the nature of things without the aid of knowledge. This step is called the “first enlightenment.” It’s when your soul begins to grow. Now you can live your life completely according to universal laws. You not only have visions of enlightenment
, but your actions are consistent with your speech. Bright Awareness has only ben reached if you can remain in this state in the midst of everyday life. Although you may experience special moments of bright awareness during deep meditation, they may retreat in the face of the harsh realities of the world. Being able to express wisdom only in words is also not enough. It must show in your actions.
5) Holy Awareness
- Now your soul is in its prime. You may have unusual abilities that can appear miraculous. People are surprised and become attracted to you. Depending on what you try to do, you may develop followers. At this step, you have to be careful not to become corrupted by the desire for fame or other material rewards.
6) Non-thought Awareness
- Your special abilities are hidden and your thoughts disappear. You forget your own merits and depart from attachment. Often in Holy Awareness and Non-thought Awareness, you don’t realize that you’ve reached those steps. Your soul is perfected at this stage, and corruption is not possible at this point. Now you possess the knowledge and ability for your soul to return to its origin. You remain at a place of complete nothingness. At this step, you need to decide whether you will return to the origin or stay in your body to help others.
7) Brilliant Awareness
- Your soul blossoms into maturity at this step. This is enlightenment in the truest sense. You are able to awaken the world with just the Truth. People at this step are called saints. You accept a mission to save the soul. You can see the other people’s soul and whether they are ready to begin the process of enlightenment. You are conscious of the void and the cosmos at all times. Great compassion is always expressed within you.
8) Command Awareness
- Great wisdom is opened in and through you to save the world.
9) Return of the Soul to Its Origin
- Your soul is completely perfected and becomes one with the true nature of the cosmos, the orignal place of universal life.
Making up your mind to attain enlightenment and diligently engaging in an energy practice
, applying energy principles to your life, and serving others are the key elements for moving through these nine steps. Together, practice, living, and rendering services is genuine spiritual practice.
As you can see, enlightenment is not something you can embody by meditating in the mountains, although you can get glimpses of it from that. Enlightenment is something you live. While going through these nine steps, you need to take care of your physical needs of food, shelter, and clothing without depending on others, and you clear old acts and energy by doing good works and following your conscience. You can receive a sense of enlightenment through meditation or by receiving the words and energy of a teacher
. However, you cannot fully possess everything you receive until you express it in your own way and circulate it back out to the world.