In my article of What is Enlightenment I have put forward some explanations and questions of what is generally understood by the term ‘enlightenment’. Many people think that enlightenment is the goal, the end of a spiritual path, and all too often practitioners have have reached that state, simply stay at that level. However there is much more to understand and to attain for the human being here on Earth. It is important to understand the process to enlightenment, but is also important to understand that the human being, and that includes you, can achieve much more than that. It gives you a clearer understanding that as a human being we can transform ourselves as True Divine beings right here on Earth in our physical bodies. Few people attain enlightenment, and fewer are able to go beyond that state. However it is important that you start to learn about the possibilities that each of us have in ourselves, and that at one time we will achieve. It might take many lifetimes, but the work starts right now.
There have been sages who have described their own practices and attainments that went beyond the common state of enlightenment. Enlightenment is usually seen as a way ‘upward’, often neglecting the physical body. In some traditions the physical body is seen as a burden, as something vile, something to be left behind. But some sages have shown, by their own attainments, that even the physical body can be transformed and made immortal. This is not an egocentric desire to avoid death, but rather a profound transformation into another state of being by the penetration of divine energy into every cell of the physical body. According to Sri Aurobindo (1972-1950), physical immortality might become a future stage in humanity’s evolution.
Sri Aurobindo began his mediation practice with emptying the mind of all thoughts. After he reached this profound state of silence, he started looking at the world as being composed of empty shadows, empty forms without true substance. The thoughtless state was experienced as the only reality, “an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom”. It is a state rarely attained, and usually referred to as Nirvana, or liberation, and the final goal of many traditions.
However Aurobindo discovered that this was only the beginning of a whole new path. He was living in that state of Nirvana day and night, when that state started to modify itself, and disappear into a what he calls a greater ‘Super-consciousness’ from above. From that perspective he saw that the so-called illusion of the world (from his first mediation states) was only a small surface phenomenon behind which was an immense Divine Reality that manifested itself in the heart of everything that had seemed at first just a shadow world. He saw the traditional state of Nirvana as the end of a lower path through the lower nature and the beginning of a Higher Evolution.
He also discovered that, while continuously staying in the Silent Brahman Consciousness, he started to speak, write and act not from the thinking mind, but from the Divine source above the ‘brainmind’. He termed that source, or state of consciousness, the’Supramental Consciousness (that is, above the mind).
But one cannot ascend if one does not deal with what holds one back, that is, all the dark and heavy stuff in one’s unconscious: fear, desires, pain, distortions. Aurobindo discovered that in the Supramental Consciousness he would experience peace, Love beauty etc, but these were all separate experiences. This separation is caused by the limitations the human being has. The more the Supramental Consciousness descends into the lower mental planes, the more it must divide its unity and become fragmented. Therefore the subconscious must be cleansed of all those limiting habits of life.
Thus, when Aurobindo had reached the upper level of the Supramental Consciousness, he also dug into the depth of his subconscious of his physical being until he reached the bottom of the pit, the ‘inconscient’ matter and experienced illumination in the cells of his body.
Being in the Supramental Consciousness he experienced a kind of golden dust. This is very interesting as the attainment of Gold (not the physical gold of course) was a key component in Western Alchemy. In Greek mythology Zeus, the father-god comes down in a golden rain to impregnate Danaë (whose name means Wisdom). Zeus stands for the Supramental Consciousness which is, by way of speaking, the father of all other, lower states of consciousness. Danaë is the soul that experiences the descend of the Supramental Consciousness. In the yogic tradition this corresponds to Soruba Samadhi, wherein the Divine descends, merges with and transforms the spiritual, intellectual, mental, vital and physical bodies.
Aurobindo describes this golden dust as follows: “There was this impression of power, of warmth, of gold: it was not fluid, it was like a glow of dust. And each one of these things (they cannot be called particles nor fragments, not even points, unless one takes ‘point’ in the mathematical sense, a point which does not take up space) it was like vivid gold, a warm gold dust – one cannot say it was brilliant, one cannot say it was dark, nor was it made out of light as we understand it: a crowd of tiny little points of gold, nothing but that. I would have said that they touched my eyes, my face. And with a formidable power. At the same time a feeling of plentitude, the peace of all power. It was rich, it was all full. It was movement at its fastest, infinitely more rapid that anything one can imagine, and at the same time it was absolute peace, perfect tranquility.” “It gives the feeling of perfect immobility. It is absolute indescribable, but it is this which is the Origin and the Support of the whole terrestrial evolution.”
Thus far, Aurobindo understood that complete transformation of the human being cannot be accomplished by the mind, on which so many disciplines focus. The mind, the vital forces and the physical nature of a human are just too limited. Only an increasingly conscious surrender to the Divine Forces above can bring about the transformation. It is important to understand this does not mean a surrender to certain spiritual beings or divinities, or beings who present themselves as such. We are talking about the Divine itself which is present in each one of us.
If we want to have a total transformation of our human being, we need to transform the limitations of the mental, vital and physical body. The physical body in particular has been regarded in many traditions as an obstacle, a heavy weight to be neglected or discarded for a full dissolution of the individual into the Supreme Divine. Nevertheless it is possible, and it has been attained by certain yogis, to transform even the physical body by having the Supreme Divine descend into the physical body. All the qualities of the Divine Spirit will then manifest itself in the physical body: immortality, malleability, lightness, beauty, luminosity and bliss. The physical body as we understand it will take on a new state of being. All of its parts, like the heart, lungs, blood circulation etc, will be replaced by different modes of vibration, centers of conscious energy. The body will be a concentrated energy form which obeys the will of the person.
Aurobindo did not engage in the last step of transformation of the physical body, as he discovered that it also implies the transformation of a collective burden of humanity, because there is a collective resistance of the subconscious and of the inconsient matter. He thought that it could only be possible if there was a minimum transformation by all. Later on he admitted that certain Siddhas (perfect masters) had attained the full transformation of the physical body. In 1950 Aurobindu attained mahasamadhi, the conscious exit from the body.