Enlightenment: Not Just For Guru’s Anymore
I read an article in Psychology Tomorrow Magazine online by Jeff Warren (you can check it out here) about whether science is ready to take enlightenment seriously, and it got me thinking. We’ve all seen Western societies adopt a new open-mindedness regarding yoga and meditation over the last decade or two. And, no doubt you’ve either experienced growth from these practices or know someone who describes some feeling of growth to you. Have you adopted the fact that these practices are assisting you on the path to Enlightenment or are you sticking with the Western definitions they were given in order to introduce them, mainly physical exercise and stress reduction?
The Eastern religions have been very gingerly introduced to Western populations and it was a wise decision. You will be hard-pressed to find any Buddhist teacher or book that does more than lightly touch on the subject of Enlightenment as a general principal. The West en-masse isn’t ready to absorb Enlightenment as a real transformation that can happen to real people right now. We are too skittish around new religious ideas to openly explore the oneness achieved by a journey to Enlightenment.
Through meditation, generally looked at as a stress reduction tool, there is an openness and mindfulness that is adopted as you grow stronger in your practice. Whether they expect it or not, people who meditate regularly eventually become aware that they are on a spiritual path of development. Practicing mindfulness and meditating can actually rewire the brain in subtle increments and continues to grow.
So, what about the world of Western science? The Psychology circles are taking more notice and more notes. They cannot deny that more of their research is revealing the shift. There is a new conference called Science and Nonduality that has been running for the last four years, which brings together philosophers and neuroscientists to discuss Consciousness and Enlightenment. If it truly is altering our brain, can we tangibly “see” it? Can we develop studies and ways of collecting evidence of the path to Enlightenment? There’s nothing yet, but I guarantee there are neuroscientists out there right now thinking on it. For those of us on the path that can feel and describe what is happening and changing in our lives, all those subtle nuances that feel like we’ve taken baby steps, you can’t deny you are gaining something from your practices.