Can You Handle Enlightenment?

Karen Hannah, LPC*

Enlightenment is the state of permanent experiential identification with one’s higher self. This expanded awareness allows one to feel liberated and empowered, which can lead to either cosmic consciousness OR impaired judgment and chaos in the physical world. Enlightenment tends to be unsustainable for most human beings because it directly competes with the human survival instinct. Enlightenment does NOT support procreation, amassing fortunes, recognition, social acceptance, or popularity. Nor does it support any other human tendency for survival on an emotional, social, physical, or psychological level. However, many people seek it because it has become trendy, and social media channels have bestowed a special kind of feel-good aura upon it.

Individuals want to feel pleasure, to feel blissful. But enlightenment defies the individual self, it annihilates one’s personal sense of pleasure. Since there may be a good feeling associated with crossing the threshold, many people become so excited when they enter this new “room” that they believe it to be their destination…their Nirvana.  However, as time passes, they are bored and bouncing off the walls—just as they would in any “normal” situation. This is due to our attendant survival instinct. As we remain in our physical bodies, a gnawing urge to give attention to our physicality compels us, not unlike the force of gravity which keeps us on this planet, earth.

Many people will persist on the path toward enlightenment, while becoming better managers of their survival instincts, as they attune to their spiritual instinct. These instincts CAN work together, provided one practices great patience and develops deep understanding. However, the collaboration between the two is generally not smooth, but rather bumpy and unpredictable. Being on a spiritual path means that you keep going… and things that are familiar thus begin to drop off; things that were once important lose significance; relationships that were once warm and supportive may lack meaning… It is frightening to give in to enlightenment. For this reason, most people will rush back to the familiar, what was once relied upon to feel safe and pleasant. 

The path to enlightenment is just that: a path, not simply a novel, confined habitat in which we settle down. The path is unending, exhausting at times, exhilarating at others, and infinite. Why would someone choose this? You must answer this question elsewise you will not tolerate the discomfort of its groundlessness. 

Avoid the pitfalls of the journey, namely, getting trapped in the first room, the second room—and every room after that. It is in these rooms that self-deception breeds and our instincts may prompt us to act irrationally, in a manic manner. When this happens, we will be left to pick up the pieces of impaired judgment, retreating from the path, and seeking safety and sanity in our depressed and confined past state of being. 

Can you handle enlightenment?

*Guest contributor Karen Hannah (klhannahlpc[at] is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the creator of the Spherology therapeutic system.

Image by Syed Ahmad via Unsplash