I’ve been seeking “truth” for my entire life. Over the years, I’ve found there are many ways to experience higher awareness and transcendent states of consciousness. Today we take a look at the three great Schools of Enlightenment.
I’ve given you some of this over the years, and today have rewritten the material to update some things and make other sections easier to understand.
Mostly we’re taught that we need to study “spiritual works” to find enlightenment. I’ve read countless books which brought me to a higher awareness, some written by so-called “spiritual” men and women, others by authors you might not associate with anything “spiritual.” I have found higher understanding and states of Being-ness reading Gandhi, HP Blavatsky, Ramana Maharshi, Emerson, the Dhammapada, Light On the Path, The Voice of the Silence, the works of Masters KH, Morya, DK and Arya Asanga, Thomas Merton, Leo Buscaglia, Jerry Jampolski, Louise Hay, and many others, as have countless millions before me.
I’ve also experienced higher awareness when reading about the newest breakthroughs in science, including solar and wind technologies, the miracles of Nature, and the discovery of ancient machines which still confound scientists to this day. I’ve also experienced moments of pure bliss and profound revelation when in the presence of certain types of art. There are many paths to enlightenment beyond just studying and practicing esoteric and exoteric philosophies and rituals.
So What is “Enlightenment” and “Higher Awareness?”
Just about everyone on Earth has been programmed to believe that the only truly “spiritual” disciplines are various forms of religion and philosophy. That includes a lot of “new age” thinking and practices. Everything else is seen to be “too materialistic” or “ego indulgence” in our limited, impermanent 4 dimensional reality, with few if any considered “spiritual” in the usual way that term is used. Of course this is an illusion born of separateness arising from the “compare and contrast” function of our lower mind, and has nothing to do with greater awareness and forms of “enlightenment.”
I have also heard the view that only the “non-dual” has any true spiritual validity or reality, and that all else exists in Maya, erroneously supposed to be the Great Illusion. This is an extremely narrow minded view of our Eternal Self and its possibilities of Self-realization, since the nature of the field we exist in is an all-pervasive Loving Wise Intelligent Radiance that is All-That-Is. It seems to me All-That-Is is the only reality we can be aware of, since it in fact includes All That Is, both seen and unseen.
If All-That-Is is the totality of our reality, then because there are infinite ways to discover All-That-Is, and many things to find within All-That-Is, then it seems there are infinite ways to expand our awareness of All-That-Is which can lead us to a vast direct experience of that greater field of Life/Light. Finding our direct connection to All-That-Is can be done in many ways, quite a few of which do not involve philosophy or religion.
Through our 5 senses and our minds, as well as our subtle senses, we discover elements of the infinite and eternal All-That-Is. Things must be sensed to be experienced, even if it does not involve the usual 5 senses. (If we didn’t have any sensory attention to our inner responses and changes, then how could we experience anything?) That would imply as we cultivate our ability to sense the infinite shadings of subtle experience, we can learn about those things which are beyond the 5 dense senses and the mind.
As an aside, what is it that registers subtle sensations and realizations beyond the 5 gross senses and the mind? It has been demonstrated countless times in countless ways that there is an Eternal Spirit we also call “consciousness” pervading All-That-Is. It is also accepted in both Eastern and Western philosophies and religions that we each “possess” (or ARE) an indwelling Spirit that “watches over” or inhabits our bodies, feelings, and minds as these vehicles evolve through life experiences.
Our individual Spark that is Spirit is never disconnected from the Great Spirit pervading All-That-Is. Describing the infinite ways individual Atma-Buddhi-Manas relates to Paramatma is a great thing to contemplate, but that subject is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that in the vast infinite awareness of All-That-Is we are all united in one vast awareness pervading our entire space-time continuum.
Through the experience of the Spirit We Are, we experience our eternal connectedness with the Omnipresent Spirit pervading All-That-Is. This is why ultimately none of us is separate from each other and the greater Life we all are together. What one experiences, those on the same “wavelength of consciousness” will also experience in some subtle way. It is why a person expressing a simple truth can find resonance from millions, even thousands of miles away. We are all united within the great vibration of Life.
The Three Great Schools of Enlightenment
All of this makes it clear that there are many pathways to Truth, and many ways to come to a direct experience of the Love, Wisdom, and/or Intelligence that we would describe as an “enlightened state of Being.” It was once stated by a Master of the Wisdom that there are 3 schools to Truth, and each has its own unique ways and means to their ends. They do not necessarily agree on the methods and goals, but each is an equally valid path to Truth.
These three “great schools” are Art, Science, and Philosophy (including religious forms purified of dogma and selfish intention.) Each has its own methods for coming to “enlightenment,” and each has its own way of defining an “enlightened view” within that school with its disciplines of Self-realization.
The School of Art
Art is as valid a pathway to Truth as philosophy or religion in purified forms. Art, in its sacred forms, awakens those who appreciate those forms to greater inspiration and possibilities of experience. Art allows us to merge in undifferentiated unity within the sound, or form, or expression of that art.
In art we find connectedness with subtle sensations beyond the usual gross forms. Art connects us with past, present, and future in the eternal Now. A photograph, painting, sculpture, dance, movie or song can uplift humanity and change the world for the better. There are an abundance of obvious examples.
The School of Science
Science is usually not regarded as a path to enlightenment, but in investigating the principles of the natural world, we unlock the keys to push the boundaries of our understanding and ability to create things that were previously unimaginable. It’s not that all scientific discoveries lead to a higher view and awareness, but science is a path to discover previously unknown worlds, and unlock the secrets of nature in ways which advance human evolution.
An example is when science pursued the discovery of the principles of light, it created a thing called “the laser.” This device can be used many ways, to cut through solid metal or give eyesight to the blind. Drugs that decrease suffering may help many to experience a pain-free body for the first time. And who could doubt the spiritual qualities of science helping those who once would have died miserable deaths to live to experience greater awareness of their oneness with All-That-Is, regardless of where, what, or how?
The Three Schools All Ultimately Work Together
From one point of view, these three schools overlap and blend in subtle ways that benefit the process of evolution itself. There is an art of art, a science of art, and a philosophy of art. There is an art of science, a science of science, and a philosophy of science. There is an art of philosophy, a science of philosophy, and a philosophy of philosophy. All of these ultimately work to bring all students in their respective schools to a greater connection to the Spirit that we all are together.
Obviously, we are not limited regardless of our approach to finding an enlightened life. At one point, we may absorb many philosophical texts as we learn “enlightenment through art.” We may have a scientific training leading us to higher understanding in the School of Philosophy. We may be artists exploring which brain centers are stimulated by light, sound, and color leading us and others to higher states of awareness. I have found there are many roads to home, and in the process of becoming a well rounded human being we must learn various arts, sciences, and philosophies as we grow into the truths of various stages of life and experience.
I have found the study of Astrology to be excellent in this regard, since there is a science of Astrology and a philosophy of Astrology which blend into the art of Astrology. As with everything, we must study to know, know to understand, and understand to judge, these being necessary for the unfolding higher awareness to “see whole.” Once we have mastered the knowledge of a thing, then we can find the doorways to the art of that thing.
Art, Science, and Philosophy. Three routes to enlightenment. Three routes to Truth. All work together for human evolution, moving it from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, and from death to Immortality.
Knowing and honoring the many paths to Truth and awareness could decrease much of the misunderstanding and conflict about what enlightenment really looks like. These are just a few things to consider in this time of radical polarization and “us versus them” thinking. A final thought – selfishness and exclusivity kill Truth, whereas goodwill, fellowship, and inclusivity further human evolution.
**By Robert Wilkinson