What do you understand by Illumination? Can it be achieve or it just occur? Is it in the dominion of being or fetching? Can it be get communally or is it peculiar to an entity? Is it progressive being different from normal beings? Can, or to what extent, actions of the mind be construed as a form of illumination? Or, is illumination truly further than intelligence?
These are the questions of recurrent attitude and have never been responding definitively. Possibly, on the routine level, illumination is seeking fairly than finding, far less it is keeping and possessing.
We live in a methodical era but science and scientists have not liberal us much on illumination. Though, as Science advances, the difference between stuff and intelligence is becoming unclear and vague. And, illumination is increasingly being understood in terms of awareness rather than in terms of individual or collective attainment of the mind.
We speak of “liberal culture” or “open-minded personnel” but these idioms have very limited meaning and background. Illumination is coextensive with awareness which, like the Universe is ever mounting.
True amplification is a kind of self-consciousness, a religious accomplishment, afar the aspect of space and moment. And, the poets and saints have dared reach for a glimpse of that which lies beyond Time. T.S.Eliot has given his view in his Four Quartets:
“Time past and time present
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden Involved with past and future
Only through time is conquered.”
Is illumination more than awareness? How can such a state of being be constant? Words, after all, are spoken and written in moment and space and, hence, are unable of capturing and conveying the moment of total or widespread comprehension or moment of self- realization where time and the eternal interpenetrate leave the realizing self-configured into another pattern so that progressive experiences the lots.
Words move, music moves only on time; but that which is only living can only die. Words, after speech, reach in to the silence. [T.S. Eliot]
That is why the saints who enlightened ones do not speak about their illumination. That which is beyond space and time, cannot be put into words. Language is a creation of the Mind and Illumination remains beyond the Mind’s grasp.
We cannot, however, totally ignore the concept and view of Illumination that provided impulsion to “an intellectual movement and cultural atmosphere which developed in Western Europe during the seventeenth and reached its height in the eighteenth century”.
The name given to this movement was Enlightenment and its common element was a belief in the efficacy of Reason. Reason, according to Godwin, Descartes, Voltaire, Diderot, Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, would lead man to illuminate, that is, “The Light of Reason”. Kant, in his famous essay “What is Illumination” defined it as “the freedom of mankind from his self-caused state of minority.” In other words, Mind when fully developed makes Reason prevail or Universal Reason identical with “fully developed Mind”.
Associated to this “Light of Reason” or Eighteenth Century European Enlightenment is Deism that eschews all “exposed religions”, including Christianity. Deists’ rely on “universal human reason” for creating universal truths and values and for liberating the whole mankind from false and narrow beliefs.
In other ways, “there is a divinity, discoverable by reasoning from the formation to the creator, who approves all moral values and deserves our worship”. Alexander Pope, abandoning Catholicism, expressed the basic deistic theory in “The Universal Prayer”: “Father of all in every age, in every clime adorned by saint, by savage, and by sage, Jehovah, Jove or Lord.”
In Modern Western ritual Knowledge is correlate, if not identified with Realization till the Existentialists like Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Husserl, Merlau-Ponty, Karl Jaspers toward mid-twentieth century became concerned with the questions of positing the individual as a “conscious being” in the exceptional world. Absurdity rather than meaning they encountered in Existence that “precedes” Essence.
Therefore, one must make “right choices” in order to verify one’s individual existence which can at the most be a series or concatenation of alertness in moments of crisis. Kierkegaard questioned Reason and Reasoning and reversed Descartes’ proposition: “I think, therefore, I am” to “I am, therefore, I think”.
Existentialist Illumination is an expanding and heightening of disappointment with established standard and bourgeois existence of routine life where Nine to Five pattern of life has a dull, painkilling and wrong effect on an individual’s consciousness. Existentialist living stress individual and collective or historical perception and choices made often against one’s own crumb.
A kind of continued renewal of “being” in “acts of becoming” and “intense living”. Existentialists accentuate Experience moderately than Knowledge of awareness and progressive living which is a form of “lack of expectation” forcing an individual to formulate his own meaning in a ridiculous meaningless cosmos.
In both material and religious western traditions, however, Knowledge and Reason, ensuing from the development of the mind receive accent. Objective reality, infiltrate active mind to explanation and even perfection in history.
Christian Humanism and Scientific Method both rely on Knowledge: Science in the acts of discovery and invention, Christian Humanism in the form of good moral conduct and belief in the anthropocentricity or centrality of the Human Being in the Chain of Being.
Man is the Centre of the Universe and all things and beings, fish or fowl, birds or animal exist for Man’s enjoyment. But man, endowed as he is with a moral faculty, will prevail over his baser self, finally do well and not merely avoid evil.
All humanists, Christian or secular believe that Man shall triumph and the Nobel Prize Winner, novelist William Faulkner articulated their belief when he said that: “Man Shall Prevail”. Development of the Mind. In other sense means to Enlightenment for all mankind.
In the twentieth century new filament of thought made possible by mingling of races, civilizations and ethnicity have changed our view of Enlightenment. As early as 1725, Vico confronted the view about the “primitive man” which, according to him, was far away from “savage”; it had the characteristic of the “poetic perception” [sapiens poetical] and is not less but more enlightened than the so-called “lucid” or “cultured” man.
Only, the ‘primitive mind” comprehends reality by symbols, metaphors, myths instead of describing it in reasoned prose. Not the secrets of Physics but the anonymity of Metaphysics is the subjects of his exploration. Perception, conscious discourse, epiphany or “sudden spiritual manifestation” currently has become part of the academic.
Humanist accomplishments as tools of illumination. Yet, linguists and anthropologists such as Franz Boaz, Edward Sapir, and Levi-Strauss have made us aware that “human beings do not live in the intent globe alone or in the world of social activity as normally understood”.
Since Language has been created by Human Mind. One is an inmate of language. As the heading of Fredric Jameson’s book “The Prison-House of Language” suggest.
Along with these trends, we have the increasing visibility of Godmen. For example, Mahesh Yogi to Rajneesh developing method of meditation. Form of living and establishing Retreats and Ashrams for their followers or seekers of “Instant Nirvana” for the betterment of the world as there were only “miserable flock” everywhere.
But serious thinkers like Aldous Huxley, T.S. Eliot, Hermann Hesse have explored the traditions of the East, predominantly Zen and Indian traditions in which “darshan”, “exposure”, “self- surrender”, merging of smaller identity with the universal self-form part in various stages of Illumination.
In the Indian Tradition, Knowledge is a form of Ignorance rather than steps to the Tower of Illumination. An Enlightened Being shuts himself from the World of Mind and Senses and excels to a Reality where words are not valid. Peculiarity dissolves and moment becomes timeless as the drop becomes ocean when the rain falls over the vast seas. Earlier in Chinese traditions of Tao and Confucius highlight codes of moral conduct rather than the comprehension of the self or universal consciousness for becoming an enlightened person.
In the Vedanta and Upanishads, Hindu saints survey regions of Consciousness and described three stages of human awareness as “Awakening”, “Dreaming”, and “Deep Sleep”, summed up in the “eternal sound”- “AUM”. A totally aware, self-realized being is like a “being in yawning, dreamless sleep”, with no distinction between “Being” and “Nothing”.
But for most of us, only partial consciousness or “Awakening” or “Dreaming” is possible. A peek of all these stages of perception is possible through Meditation. But when the self returns to the work-a-day world, what happens to the enlightened practice? On this topic there are many interesting tales.
One of them is on a Chinese wood cutter who suddenly became famous for being a ‘realized soul’. People swarmed his hut and waited for him to come out duly in awe of the ‘Enlightened One’. The wood cutter came out with his axe and a piece of rope as usual -and looked somewhat surprised to see so many people at his door.
“Your Holiness, You have become a realized soul, you are The Enlightened One. So we have heard”.
“Maybe, but right now I am going to the forest for my daily work”, and he walked to the woods.
Siddhartha, who after that become Lord Buddha, the Enlightened One, laughed to his heart’s content when an elder from his own hometown asked him: “What knowledge did you gain after your tapas or long meditation and sacrament under the Bodhi Tree?” On this Gautuama Buddha replied: “Nothing that I did not know when I left Kapilvastu”.