Mindfulness obtained through regular meditation is needed to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Peace and tranquility can be obtained through present-time awareness and intentional meditation that focuses the mind and the body on breaking its habitual instincts of clinging to pleasure and averting from pain. Spiritual enlightenment does not come easy. It takes a wholehearted dedication to peering into one’s soul and meeting suffering with compassion on a daily basis.
Spiritual Enlightenment & Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths
The four noble truths are the essence of Buddhism’s philosophy. These truths express the core of the Buddhist way of life through our clinging to impermanent states of being and material things which are incapable of gratifying ourselves and are ultimately painful and detrimental to lasting happiness.
The Four Noble Truths
- All existence is dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness).
We take stock of all the suffering experienced in our lives that have been caused due to our addiction to seeking pleasure for pleasure’s sake and pushing away pain whenever it enters our minds or bodies. The Buddha said that our lives are a constant struggle. We do not find ultimate happiness or contentment in our experiences. This is the central problem of our existence. Life is painful and frustrating. Things will not always be okay and we will not always be suffering. Pain and frustration are natural and cannot be avoided.
- The cause of dukkha is craving.
We search our souls for the causes and conditions that lead to addiction or suffering and instigate the process of completely letting go. Our natural tendency as humans is to blame our problems and struggles on outside factors or other people. However, the Buddha said that the real root of suffering is found in the mind itself. Our habits of grasping at or resisting things puts us at odds with the way life really is. The cause of suffering is our inability to do anything that is not familiar. Our attachment to the known causes much suffering for many of us.
- The relinquishment of dukkha comes with the cessation of craving.
We come to comprehend that recovery from addiction and/or suffering is possible. We take refuge in the present and realize that although we are the true cause of our suffering, we are also the ultimate solution. We cannot control people, places or things, but we can change how we react or respond to them. By ending our attachment to things and managing our expectations, we can avoid clinging to those negative attachments that we hold onto since we fear the unknown and are terrified of being alone.
- There is a path that leads from dukkha.
By starting down the Eightfold Path (to follow), we can recover from our old ways of living and thinking and achieve spiritual enlightenment if the proper steps are taken. We can change ourselves if that is our true intention. Meditation, mindfulness, and present-time awareness are crucial to ending our suffering. We stop fantasizing on how we want things to be and live with how they really are. We end our dwelling on the past because we are living in the present moment. We are not tripping out about the future because that is not here yet. Self-pity removed, we learn how to live life on life’s terms. By seeing things for what they really are, we find inner peace and happiness.
The four noble truths lay out the path we must take to end suffering in our lives and become spiritually enlightened. This Eightfold Path details the steps one must take to liberate oneself of everything that is holding them back. This summary of Buddhist practices shows the way to enlightenment and rebirth.
The Eightfold Path
The way we perceive the world. We must see things as they are, without any judgment or preconceived notions. Complete vision of reality. Understanding what is and what is not. Total commitment to transformation.
The right intention. Do no harm to anyone or anything. Do not manipulate. Keep intentions pure and right thoughts in front of mind. Act out of love and compassion and learn to let go of all that is holding you back.
Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean. Speak from your heart. Be open and honest with everyone, especially yourself. Right speech is truthful, clear, encouraging, and non-harmful.
We are not our mistakes. We are our actions. One’s actions must be disciplined. We cannot expect something that is not possible. One must accept reality and take the right actions to reflect that reality. Spiritual enlightenment and lasting peace may be achieved only if the proper actions are taken.
One must live the right life and do the best they can. Serve others and pay attention to detail. Exert full energy toward where you belong. Right livelihood is obtained by not exploiting others and doing the best for yourself. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
The right effort removes suffering by overcoming the struggles life will throw at you. Seeing things as they are gives us the peace and equanimity to be at ease. Full energy requires diligence in all that you do, devoting one’s endeavors to the path of transformation and healing.
Genuine mindfulness is remaining present in each and every moment. Living in that moment. One day at a time. Every minute, no matter how mundane. All that you do and the way that you do it matters. Complete awareness of your thoughts, emotions, other people, and reality must be undertaken on this path to enlightenment.
The right concentration can be practiced through regular meditation. One must focus inward on one’s self and soul, getting the mind off autopilot and remaining in the present moment. By disciplining one’s mind, one can stay in the here and now as opposed to jumping from the past, present, future or fantasy. Being fixed or absorbed on one thing at a time can sharpen the mind and bring one closer to their soul by elevating one’s consciousness and awareness.
How to Find Spiritual Enlightenment Daily
Meditation takes effort. It is called a practice for a reason. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be with it. A daily practice of meditation is ideal, but it is recommended to start slow and increase the time you meditate as you progress. Remember, it’s progress, not perfection.
Here are a few tips for how to train your mind to adopt meditation into your daily routine, embedding it into your everyday life. These are some pointers to help you along the way. It is not an easy task, but anyone can do it!
Find a quiet place free from noise and distraction. Be alone in a room or in some place where you can feel calm and collected as you close your eyes and practice your meditation. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and maintain an upright posture. Take deep breaths and focus on your breathing. Clear the mind of anything but the breath and once you are comfortable, repeat simple mantras, such as “May I be free from suffering” or “May I be at ease” or “May I be peaceful.” One may also attempt to scan the body from head to toe, removing any stress or tension from the body to aid in concentrating the mind on one single thought or phrase.
Remain unattached to anyone or anything. Clinging to pleasure for its own sake will bring only suffering and despair. You can still love someone, of course, but do not unnecessarily cling to them or believe you need them to be happy.
Concentrate. By improving one’s ability to focus the mind on a single point is not something we humans do naturally. Our brain is constantly churning and thinking about all kinds of things. Once you master the art of concentration, you will become a master of meditation by being comfortable with yourself and training the mind to be present and centered.
Be mindful. Present-awareness is key. This moment you are living in right now is the only reality that matters. Everything else your mind flutters to is a figment of your imagination. Right now is all one should concern oneself with. By worrying about the future or regretting what happened in the past, one will bring only negative emotions or unnecessary complications.
Meditate. Dedicate yourself to detaching from everything and concentrate on training your mind. Five to ten minutes a day to start. Then work your way up to thirty minutes a day with yourself or in a group. The more you practice, the smoother it becomes. Your life will change dramatically. Mastery of your thoughts and emotions will empower you to walk the Eightfold Path to enlightenment.
Be compassionate. The more you practice on yourself, the more you will meet pain with compassion rather than fear or resentment. By viewing states of mind and emotions as temporary and impermanent, one will obtain an unrivaled inner peace. Even the happiest of times in life will not last for too long. So don’t try to make it last forever. It can’t happen. By practicing compassion on a daily basis, you’ll be better off in so many ways.
How can one meditate successfully?
Meditation is a practice that anyone can undertake. To be successful, one must take it seriously and practice it diligently and regularly. An intention of enlightenment is not enough, one must wholly dedicate to becoming a better person by being mindful. This can be done through meditation and present-time awareness.
Here is a simple meditation exercise that is a perfect introduction to beginning meditation:
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes and start to take deep breaths to center and calm yourself.
Breathe naturally and count ten breaths, thinking about nothing other than the breath. Repeat three to five times.
Breathe deep into your soul and notice how your belly moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Drop your shoulders and remove any tension present in your body. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath.
Start small and try this meditation for three to five minutes to start, then work your way up to ten minutes and eventually thirty minutes or longer. Baby steps are fine. It will be difficult at first to maintain a concentrated meditative practice. But as stated previously, it will become effortless with time.
One more tip, download the Insight Timer meditation application on iTunes. It is free and includes both guided meditations and custom meditations with background music. You can also track your meditation schedule. More than 3.7 million meditators use this app.
What is enlightenment?
It is not easy to come up with a simple definition for enlightenment. There are many aspects of enlightenment, which complicate the definition. In describing enlightenment, concepts such as spiritual growth, spiritual development mindfulness, and spiritual awakening apply. But enlightenment is a process of recovery or personal realization that allows us to find out who we really are and being content with who we are and the world we inhabit. Many of us try to be someone else or act in a way we think society wants us to. However, enlightened individuals act true to their own self, their true nature. This is a profound spiritual experience that cannot be explained adequately. It can only be experienced.
Mindfulness meditation practice can help us let go of our attachments and live in the moment. Unattached. Present. Objective. Enlightenment is found through the journey of self-improvement and it cannot always be known when one has reached enlightenment. It depends on one’s own feeling and progress. It is in a way a subjective realization, but when one finds peace within one’s self, they have then found it.
A Deeper, More Meaningful Awareness
Practicing mindfulness meditations can develop unparalleled wisdom. Opening one’s eyes to the root causes of one’s suffering must be done if enlightenment is to be obtained. By taking refuge in the present, we can get in touch with ourselves and discover who we are and who we were meant to be.
By redirecting one’s thinking mind to the sensations of the body, we can be in the here and now while focusing our mind. Taking one’s attention back to the breath or the body is a practice to remember in the beginning stages of one’s meditation practice. By ignoring one’s scattered mind, one can stay present and find out why one suffers. In addition, by meditating on the body, one can gain insight into how impermanent our bodies are, as well as our emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Reflecting on the inevitability of death, we come to cherish life.
One must become aware of the causes of their suffering. By being mindful of our experience and its overall tone, we can delve into our relationship to seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Looking into this, one can discover why they stress and suffer. Being in the present moment and examining our relationship with ourselves and meeting our feelings with compassion allows us to find peace within ourselves.
Our minds are dangerous things. By being mindful, one pays close attention to its own states of mind and emotions. Investigating feelings allows one to recognize them for what they are without reacting to them. Non-reactivity is key. We must let positive or negative states of mind come and go without trying to get rid of them or hold onto them forever. Simply let them be. When one breaks free of one’s usual habits, one learns how to relate to one’s mind as opposed to from the mind.
Present-time experience must be paid attention to so we can recognize when suffering is present. By staying alert of peace or pain, one connects one’s self to all human experience. We crave pleasure, avert from pain, are restless, slothful, fearful, doubtful, and attached. However, by following the Four Noble Truths, embarking upon the Eightfold Path, and adhering to the seven factors of enlightenment (mindfulness, investigation, tranquility, equanimity, patience, rapture, and concentration), one can find peace and spiritual enlightenment.
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