Thursday, November 10, 2005


I thought I'd share with everyone the expectations I've had about enlightenment. These expectations led to what I'd like to call "spiritual frustration".

I imagined (and still do imagine) that all kinds of wonderful things will happen to me once I become enlightened. Some might seem silly, but I believe these expectations might get in my way of actually ever becoming enlightened.

I will list some of them here for you. While I am able to consciously be aware of them and actually list them on paper, I still seem to think something different is going to happen to me, though I don't know what it is. I expect somehow I'll feel differently.

I imagined that, while meditating, I'd see colorful swirling mists or lights, and hear heavenly sounds.

I thought, while meditating, that a divine hand would reach down and pull me out of my body in order to have an astral projection.

I had hoped I'd meet this wise teacher or guru, who would take me under his/her wing and lead me directly to enlightenment. I pictured in my mind someone magically touching my forehead and saying, "You are now enlightened.... yada yada yada.... You are now one of us."

I even thought I'd meet my wise teacher in dreamland. If he didn't exist in the physical realm, as so many have tried to tell me, then surely he must exist in the astral. I imagined my guide would speak to me and teach me things, passing his wisdom down to me.

Were these just the silly imaginings of a twenty-something girl? Was I over-romanticizing the idea of enlightenment?

Will I feel any different?

I know I need to get rid of my expectations if I plan on getting further down the path, but these expectations seem to stick to me like chewing gum.


Bad Habit Brota said...

I know where you're coming from considering that I've been there. I wouldn't be so bold as to advise you where to go from there, I can only tell you where I ended up, which is right here. I realized that on the spiritual journey that the only thing more important than the goal is how I got there. Let's face it, I don't really -know- where I'm going to end up, so I might as well start paying attention to where I am right now.

I guess it's a combination of "live in the now" and "the journey is more important than the destination".

RedBark said...


There is something to look forward to but as soon as you start looking forward you are not longer in the present, no longer working.

Never the less I will tell you what has happened to me in my limited experience.

Sometimes, in my better moments I can see that I am really here and that usually I am not. This is satisfying.

Satisfaction might not seem very interesting because we tend to imagine that we are already satisfied, at least most of the time. This simply is not true.

We are not satisfied and it is a good thing to be satisfied.

Another motivation to change is that one can sometimes see the difference between having real experiences and having imaginary experiences. When this is observed it is clear that it is much better have real experiences. It is quite like the difference between life and death.

Although awakening is a very big thing, and you will be glad you did it, for the most part you have to forget about results and imaginary pictures and try to be here now, always.

You are doing great! :)

George Breed said...

Stacey, these experiences you describe are called siddhi's. They are distractions, temptations to dive into the world of personal power. One can get lost in them for a long, long time. If they do appear, let them go on by.

No expectation. No clinging. Simply here.

Your body is a bookmark holding the present in timespace. Stay with it.

A time-honored and successful practice (though one may wish for something more glamorous) is to sit quietly with attention on the breath. This tames the mind.

Until the monkey mind is tamed, one bounces everywhere.

Rob said...

Perhaps trying to get rid of expectations is like trying to fight the ego. It can become a game in itself -and therefore a distraction from the real goal.

I need to develop a grateful acceptance of what is on offer at this particular moment. If nothing is on offer I have to be grateful for that too!

Eliyahu ben Avraham vaSarah said...

This post brings to mind a quote by Meher Baba, which I became familiar with due to its being quotes in the liner notes to Pete Townshend's Empty Glass album:

‘Desire for nothing except desirelessness, hope for nothing
except to rise above all hopes, want nothing and you will have everything’
- Meher Baba

Nondualreality said...

Hi Stacey,

Thanks for the comments over on my blog.. Looks like we both wrote about the same thing on the same day.

There seems to be a prevalent cultural spiritual myth about what enlightenment and spiritual experiences should be like, and what form the path should take. The question I have been asking myself of late is that when people say that they are after enlightenment, or to be spiritual, are they really saying they want these experiences.

Castor said...

It's more like:
You there, you'll do, you're done!

Pollux said...

If you're truly enlightened and believe me you must believe it,
it will manifest itself without
effort. Just believe and accept it as a fact. Making mistakes is part of being enlightened. Don't worry!

jbmoore said...

You will feel a warmth throughout your body. You will feel at peace. This is what happens when I meditate and become present. Someimes when driving into work, when the Sun is behind clouds and I can see rays of sunlight peeking through, my mind stills and I feel at peace and whole, a perfect moment.

Zen proverb:
Before enlightenment, carry water and chopping wood.
After enlightenment, carry water and chopping wood.

Nothing really changes but your perception of what really is.

RedBark said...

Hello JB,

I am enjoying your posts.

In my experience, in those better moments, my perception changes from perception turned off to perception turned on.

RedBark said...


Another advantage to being more awake is that one can see thoughts for what they are and let them go. This would eliminate the majority of our suffering. ie that portion which occurs in imagination.

charlie said...

who can get rid of expectations?

~ "You probably think you are reading this. I assure you, you are not. Reading is happening, but there is in no sense a 'you' doing it, and the 'you' you think you are most certainly does not exist. Welcome to All That Is." David Carse, in "Perfect Brilliant Stillness"

A fool said...

Wow, lots of comments here. I don't have the knowledge most people have ...

Only thing I can say is there still exist plenty of Enlightened Masters in this Kalyug who can do what you dream about - touch your head and make you en... but it's very very very hard to find them as they are hidden... God's will...

The only other way is through unmotivated meditation on His name over many births ... this meditation reigns in the expectations till one day comes when you won't expect anything ... even enlightenment ... but it will come to you ...

charlie hayes said...

Hi Charlie,

I guess no one is there to get rid of the expectations.

But, if reading is happening, then who or what is doing the reading that is happening? What causes the happening?
Dear Stacey,
YOU ARE what you seek
no thing
impersonal beingness
in a word - You!
(as That non-dual Awareness)



Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. I just checked out yours, and your "expectations"...which sound to me like sacred longing.

A book recommendation for you.

Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies for Modern Living by Sakyong Mipham

I'm with so many others making comments here...that I wouldn't presume to tell you "what's up" with the path that you yourself are on...but I will drop in your cap very simply that even with Buddhism there are different ideas about enlightenment. Some perspectives is that it is some kind of sudden flash of insight that suddenly alters your world and happiness or whatever rushes in and envelops you. Other perspectives suggest that it isn't anything of the kind...that it is a very methodical, pain-staking process with no short-cuts, no fast-food options...a gradual seeding of deeper insight, over time, with increased experience. And, perhaps it is both/and...different people, different leanings, different experience.

I wish you well and also recommend any of the writings of Pema Chodron or Cheri Huber, or one of my classical favorites, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior ( as in, peaceful warrior working toward enlightened society).

Deep Peace,


Aaron said...

Why do you want to be enlightened in the first place? Sure, the word "enlightened" has positive connotations, but as you've said, it may not end up being what you want it to be.

VINO said...

I go with the thought, "what is important is the journey than the destination".

VINO said...

I also like to add a interesting fact. In India we recently came up with lot of incidents where Police arrested Swamiji's or So called religious gurus who took advantage of these sort of people who sort enlightenment.

And most of those so called sages still have a lot of money pouring in their accounts from people from abroad thanking him for showing them the way to get enlightened.

These people are expert in oration and mesmerising people. But I think the best way is walking the road all by yourself.



H~ said...

I have a perspective that expectations create attatchments. However, they can sometimes be used for benefit upon ones path. For example, you hope a wise teacher or guru will take you in. This is an item that may do well to project out to the universe some. Self creating is a good thing. What one cannot do is become attached to results of the expectations. One must look at results from an observer space dispassionately. Keep true to your soul and all necessary expectations shall be met.

and Beard Seeing thoughts, or thought forms for what they are so as not to become attached is wisdom indeed.

Thom said...

After years of seeking enlightenment through study and meditation the frustrated student finally gave up the search...and suddenly understood.

Gretchen Coleman said...

Stacey - you have quite the gang of followers! It is really interesting to read everyone else's experiences.

In my experience, with enlightenment comes responsibility. Sure, seeking enlightenment is a personal journey. But once you have some understanding then you have a responsibility to stand under that and support it. The real purpose of being enlightened is to help your fellow man.

When you are "enlightened", then you understand God's purpose. When you understand God's purpose then you have a responsibility to contribute to that purpose - to serve it, so to speak.

Enlightenment is not about swirling mists and astral projections. Sensei teaches that many students get "drunk" on their new found abilities. Their egos have taken over. The truly enlightened quickly get past that drunken phase and learn to use their abilities for the greater good.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Lots of enlightened people in and out here.

Anonymous said...

Bright One,
It's time to disintegrate and fly away!

Anonymous said...

My Swift Brother,
It maybe time to leave but I wanna see the end.
Oh well, it ends well.

Anonymous said...

Hey kids,
Grow up! And beat it.

Zareba said...

The journey into being has begun.
The road is there and I must travel it
even though it be alone,
or maybe
it can only be traveled alone
even in the company of others,
or perhaps
the journey was begun long ago
and I have only been dallying
along the way.


gardenia said...

I have been a meditator for the past twelve years--really all of my life though have had an amazing Meditation Master for the past twelve years. Many of my meditations have been dramatic through the process of the Guru's grace. This has been such a blessing...

Many blessings to you! Keep meditating!

sync_ron_icity said...

Has anybody considered using a spirit guide?

I found mine here.

speck said...

The Buddha said, "If you see me on the path, kill me"

So yes, they are all distractions.