What is enlightenment? I asked Adyashanti this question once and he said “It is being undivided.” Unfortunately, many people imagine enlightenment to be a state of having magic powers, continual bliss, and connection with other-dimensional beings. Some think of it as genius or having omniscience. I remember being told as a child that God knew everything and was everywhere, and this impression seems to be the way some look at enlightenment – as if it means becoming all-knowing, all-powerful, having control over everything. This would be an exciting possibility for an ego, and may encourage some people to seek enlightenment who are not well suited to it.
But what does it mean to be undivided? Could enlightenment or awakening to the Truth of our real nature have a result as simple as this? The ego’s way of being undivided might consider it as being one-pointed, determined and set in one way of looking at things, never allowing facts or feelings, or the needs of others to interfere with your set direction. But that is being narrowly one-sided, rather than living the undivided way of an awakened mind and heart.
I believe we come into life undivided. It is the state of openness to whatever arises. It is availability. It is a part of our cellular structure that naturally allows anything to happen. It is always within you but from your first experiences of pain or sorrow, and your first lessons of separation and identity, you formed a shell around this openness and became a character with opinions, demands, emotional upheavals and drives that you think of us as “me”. This “me” has fear and resistance to many aspects of the human experience and generates many problems and thoughts in a life. Of course this “me” can have lots of accomplishments and feel love and joy and be a positive force in the world as well. These options are usually thought of as free will – but since in the early years there is so much conditioning and shaping of identity – positive and negative — it is questionable just how free you are.
When a person’s True Nature awakens there is a sense within the body/mind of no boundary or border to the energy of the heart and mind, no separation from either form or space, and no argument with life as it is. We might call this clarity. Some have called it radiance. This openness into life as it is can be felt viscerally, at the core. It feels as if all identification with that “me” has fallen away and what remains is clear, at peace, sometimes kinestically flooded with love or bliss. This realization may look like an experience but it is more of a knowing of what always was and will be, even before birth, and after death.
There is no division in the True Nature. All division comes from the mind’s ideas about protection and separation. When events in your life seem threatening this need to create safety is a genuine response of the body and mind. The dimension we live in as humans has definite boundaries. We cannot fly off cliffs or stand in the middle of the highway and survive. We must have water and food and protection from the elements. As infants we need others to care for us and as emotional beings we crave love and community. Enlightenment does not remove these patterns that are part of our human imprinting. We are energies dancing as form and the form has specific limitations that the spirit does not
This is why no matter how deeply you have felt your True Nature you may at times have medical problems, you may sense waves of the suffering in others, you can feel loss as loved ones pass, and you may still have patterns of conditioning arise to be met and released. The difference is that when undivided you can have compassion for or perhaps even laugh at your human vulnerabilities because there is no one there who cares to judge them. And when the events in the world are troubling, you understand that human form by its limitations produces troubles and challenges, and if you feel an inclination to engage you can do it without attachment to results or acquiring new karmas (conditioning) to be worked through (the true meaning of karma yoga). You are unbounded formless consciousness living within the patterns and boundaries of energetic forms, imprinted with the uniqueness of your conditioning and DNA, and thus you are One and Undivided.