The Journey of Enlightenment and The Illusion of All Knowing

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 3 weeks ago

This week Dr Demartini debunks the theory of “full enlightenment” and the illusion that someone’s learning is complete. He explains how and why it is wiser to follow a journey of continuous learning where you also live with holy curiosity.

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DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 3 weeks ago

You may notice that I have titled this editorial “Journey OF Enlightenment” instead of “Journey TO Enlightenment”. A subtle but powerful difference as a “journey to” implies a tangible destination ahead that can be reached and be complete. Whereas ‘journey of’ implies an ongoing and potentially infinite journey, one that has no end. Of course to many physical death may imply an end so learning may be finite and the degree of enlightenment only relative.

A living individual cannot become “fully enlightened” because learning cannot be completed.

In my earlier years, I actively pursued what I at the time thought to be a “more enlightened” state of mind.

I was fortunate or unfortunate enough to study under various Western and Eastern teachers and gurus, some of whom claimed and I innocently or naively believed to be living in a state of full enlightenment at the time.

I soon realized that I was livi

You may notice that I have titled this editorial “Journey OF Enlightenment” instead of “Journey TO Enlightenment”. A subtle but powerful difference as a “journey to” implies a tangible destination ahead that can be reached and be complete. Whereas ‘journey of’ implies an ongoing and potentially infinite journey, one that has no end. Of course to many physical death may imply an end so learning may be finite and the degree of enlightenment only relative.

A living individual cannot become “fully enlightened” because learning cannot be completed.

In my earlier years, I actively pursued what I at the time thought to be a “more enlightened” state of mind.

I was fortunate or unfortunate enough to study under various Western and Eastern teachers and gurus, some of whom claimed and I innocently or naively believed to be living in a state of full enlightenment at the time.

I soon realized that I was living in an illusion or fantasy and that I would be wise to think instead of individuals having MOMENTS of relative enlightenment on their journey through life. As Richard M. Bucke in his book Cosmic Consciousness stated that the most enlightened beings through history only had moments of relative enlightenment.

To use a playful analogy that I like to use when discussing enlightenment:

Think of some male Teacher or Yogi who would love to perceive (or whose more gullible followers would love to perceive) is “fully enlightened”.

He meditates in his home or ashram, which is located geographically at a certain latitude, longitude and altitude on Earth that rotates approximately a thousand miles an hour and completes one rotation in 24 hours. He does this 365 and a quarter times as it goes around the Sun 93 million miles or 1 astronomical unit away. From the perspective of the Sun, it's hard to even see the Earth without a telescope.

Now, from the Sun's position, travel a further 27,000 light-years to the center of the Milky Way, at the speed of light (186,000 miles a second x 86,400 seconds in a day x 365 and a quarter days, x 27,000). That’s how far the earth is from the center of the Milky Way.

From the center of the Milky Way looking out at our Sun with all the gas and dust, the earth is not even visible, never mind the Teacher or Yogi who perceives that he is enlightened!

If you move even further to the Virgo cluster, which is a clusters of galaxies, or maybe to the even more distant Laniakea Supercluster, or into the great fabric and web of the cosmos, the Earth becomes even more remote and infinitesimally small.

You will probably have difficulty comprehending the vastness of the observable universe; let alone the horizon beyond it.

When you look at it from that perspective, someone perceiving they are “fully enlightened” is likely to be speaking from a place of ignorance.

It is wiser to say that these great individuals have a “ relative awareness”.

Each and every teacher, preacher, or guru I have met that claimed to have a “universal consciousness” is still a human being with all traits just like you and me. 

They may have moments of brilliant awareness and enlightenment, but they're limited to what they know, which depends much on what they've read, learned, observed or experienced via their senses or the concepts that emerged abstractly within their minds.

It’s the same when people unwisely ask me, “When did you get enlightened?” There is no way that I perceive myself as being “fully enlightened”.

Instead, I'm a human being on a journey to learn as much as I can each day. I may have moments of relative awareness or enlightenment on a specific topic but I'm not in any way ‘fully enlightened’.

As such, I don't want to mislead anyone nor have people be misled by a fantasy of supernatural ‘all enlightenment’.

Although I have heard from some that they have known of or read about or supposedly met individuals that claimed to be fully enlightened. Upon further investigation of and actually meeting some of these individuals it was easily demonstrated they were simply human beings and greatly aware or relatively enlightened, and not some supernatural being that remained all-knowing and fully enlightened or living in total bliss.

I love what Albert Einstein said, "Never lose a holy curiosity."

It’s wiser in my opinion to continue on the journey of learning without thinking that you’re done, that your learning is complete, and that you are fully enlightened. That way you keep yourself open to learning and growing as you move through the days of your life.

Personally, I'd rather live in holy curiosity and continue to grow and know that no matter what I learn now, I will still learn something new that can expand my understanding tomorrow.

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I think  part of human fulfilment is learning – or the continued expansion of awareness.

If you perceive the learning process as complete, you’re more likely to minimize yourself relative to somebody you have exaggerated because you’ll assume they are at the top of their game and that their knowledge is greater or possibly even absolute. You’ll likely be ignorant to the infinite journey of unknowing they still need to unfold before them. A journey that could reveal at any time, a new insight to them that shows them that what they know is incomplete or even not so.

I don't think to compare yourself to others you imagine to be more or all aware or to finite your learning process is really wise or fair to you and may not fully aid you as a human being to self-actualize your life.

I think that it's wise to realize that collectively, we're all human beings with different values, different areas of inquiry, and different levels of awareness.

We can also assist others in their learning, or possibly mislead them because we're all continually learning. What we know today we may discover has been misinterpreted by us or is only a portion of the truth tomorrow.

Just because I or anyone else says something, doesn't mean it's the final or absolute universal truth. It’s my or their understanding at the time. As such, it may and probably will evolve.

This applies to each and every teacher, preacher and guru. It also applies to you.

It is therefore wise to learn to stand on the shoulders of those you can learn and grow from, without getting caught in the idea that you or they can ever be truly “done” or fully enlightened.

I often say that depression is a comparison of your current reality to a fantasy you have become partly addicted to. If you create a fantasy or false expectation that you can one day become “fully enlightened”, you ‘re more likely become caught in the pride/ego and shame/polarization process when you don’t reach your goal.

It is instead wiser to be willing to:

  • EXPAND your awareness and potential on a daily basis;
  • LEARN as much as you can; and
  • PRIORITIZE your learning.
  • Acknowledge the limits of your knowledge and specialty and keep growing it.

As long as you're green, you're growing, as soon as you ripen, you rot.

So don't ever think it's done and don't ever buy into the idea that somebody else is done, because that's an unrealistic expectation or even a delusion.

I think it's wise to:

  • Humble yourself and allow yourself to continue on a journey of enlightenment with moments of relative awareness along the journey.
  • Avoid exaggerating others you may perceive to be “fully enlightened” and minimize yourself in the process.
  • Honor yourself by knowing that  what you admire in other people, you have within yourself. In doing so, you are more likely to wake up those traits in yourself while also appreciating them for showing you something that you've disowned in yourself.

At the level of the broader perceiving ‘soul’ (or more objective and authentic self), nothing’s missing in your life. At the level of your narrower perceiving senses, things appear to be missing.

  The things that appear to be missing in you, are all the parts you're too proud or too humble to admit you have.

This is one of the key reasons why I teach the Breakthrough Experience , which is one of my signature programs. In this two-day program, I introduce the Demartini Method , which is a series of questions to help you become accountable and grounded instead of infatuated, resentful, proud or shamed and to help you be more objective more than subjectively biased.

In this state of more authentic balance, you can become more poised, present, empowered, purposeful and prioritized in life so you can keep focused on a journey of enlightenment, instead of thinking your journey is complete.

If you do have a relative moment of awareness or enlightenment, you are likely to not stay there for very long before moving onto your next new polarized or lopsided perception, where you are judging an event or action as either supporting or challenging, which provides you with yet another opportunity to learn and continue your growth.

Imagine the farthest reaches of the universe looking back at our earth and seeing somebody thinking they're “fully enlightened” and believing that they have nothing left to learn. 

I think that would be the height of folly.

It would be wiser to allow yourself to have a universal perspective, to continue to expand your learning, and to live with holy curiosity.

 In Conclusion:

  • An individual will not become “fully enlightened” because  learning can never be completed. As your knowing grows so will your unknown grow ever greater.
  • Each and every teacher, preacher or guru I have met that claimed to have a “universal consciousness” is still  a human being with both sides, they have every trait and they have more to learn.
  • Just because I say something, doesn't mean it's any form of absolute universal truth. It’s my understanding at the time. As such,  it likely to evolve as I learn.
  • As long as you're green, you're growing, as soon as you ripen, you rot. Stay curious, keep growing.
  • It would be wise to:
    • Study as much as you can.
    • Learn as many things as you can from as many people as you can.
    • Beware of the pitfalls of the illusion that learning can ever be “done”.
    • Live with holy curiosity by being willing to expand your awareness and potential on a daily basis.
    • Prioritize your learning, and select wisely.

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The Journey of Enlightenment and The Illusion of All Knowing

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