Beware of ‘enlightment’ that requires
you to remain loyal to a single group

The is the second part of an extended series of explorations on “enlightenment” as a human experience. The first entry in this series may be found in the archives.

At the conclusion of Part One I said that the danger of this business of enlightenment is two-fold.  The first danger is thinking that there is something specific that you have to do in order go get there.  And that if you don’t do that, you can’t get there.  The second danger is thinking that your way to get there is the fastest, the best way to do it.

Now if you think that your way to get there is the fastest and best way, you are going to spend the rest of your life trying to convince me of that, because you believe that and you want to share this wonderful gift that you have gotten.

Many years ago I was approached by people in the est movement.   How many of you know what the est movement is?  Most of you do.  “est” was an acronym for the Erhard Seminar Trainings.  The name was always presented in lower case letters, because “est” is also a German word meaning ‘to be’.  So it was a happy coincidence.  And Werner Erhard created the Erhard Seminar Trainings.

The est movement was huge in the New Thought community in this country and around the world around 25 years ago or so.  And the people who were involved in the est movement were absolutely convinced that this was the fastest way to enlightenment.  You needed to take est!  And so they began recruiting people to take est and they became very engaged in the process.

It was almost an urgent matter with them.  And they couldn’t understand why you didn’t get the urgency.  If you didn’t get it, they would look at you and say, “You just don’t get it, do you?  You just don’t get it.”  They had found something that changed their whole life virtually overnight, and they wanted to give that to you, and they knew that this was the way.

There were many ways, they said.  This wasn’t the only way, but this was probably the best way.  Or certainly, if not the best way, among the fastest ways.

And I enrolled in the est program and I took est and I, too, became enlightened.  In fact, I became so enlightened that I realized that I did not need est to be enlightened—which really upset some of the est people, because they wanted me to take the next level and the next level and the next level.

You see, est was a program that had multitudinous levels. You could take level one, level two, level three—they had very fancy names for them.  And once you got in the program you could virtually never get out of it. I mean, not with grace. Not with ease. You had to almost extract yourself out of it. And if you did get out of it, you were made to feel by many of those who were inside of it that you had done something desperately sad. Not wrong, but very sad. Because you just didn’t “get it.”

If you really got how powerful est was you would have stayed in it forever and gone all the way to the top and become an est trainer.  Then you could train other people in how to become trainers by enrolling them in the est program.

What I realized was that my whole life could be caught up in the est program very quickly and very easily, doing virtually nothing else.  I actually met people in the est training and in the est program who did virtually nothing else but that.  They had literally turned their lives over to this process called est.

Now I want you to know that the process called est was very powerful and I could understand how people could become so attached to it, because it did change people’s lives. In fact, it was so powerful in my life, as I said, that I realized that I didn’t need est anymore — and probably never needed it. AND, having said that, it was very helpful to me in leading me to an understanding that I did not need it, or anything else outside of myself, to be fully Who I Really Am.

I don’t think some of est trainers intended it to be quite that powerful, because if everyone, after taking the basic est training, realized that they didn’t need est, there would be no more est training!

Some religions have the very same problem. They convince you of the wonder of God, but then when you get in touch with the wonder of God, you realize you don’t need the religion anymore. So some religions do whatever they can to hold you within the confines of membership, by telling you that only through the ways that the particular religion has established can you remain in the good graces of God.

All of this is natural. It’s understandable. Who wants to start of movement that convinces people you don’t need the movement? Yet this is the ultimate purpose of all religions and of all movements—or should be. With 7 billion humans on the earth, there are enough people to continue introducing the highest truth to, and one doesn’t, or shouldn’t, need to hang onto all the old members in order to create a power structure that supports itself in continuing itself.

This is the problem with most organizations and movements. They tend to need to be self-perpetuating. Yet, I repeat: the true purpose of every religion and every movement that would bring you to “enlightenment” should be to render itself obsolete, should it not?

Many years ago Paramahansa Yogananda gave birth to the Self-Realization Fellowship.  This is now back in the late 30’s or early 40’s, I don’t know the exact time, but it was somewhere in there.  When Paramahansa Yogananda, or Master, as he was called, came to America he brought with him a technique for self-realization, which was his phrase meaning enlightenment.  It was called self-realization.

When you realize who the Self, is you become enlightened.  And Master described himself as being enlightened.  And, by the way, he was enlightened.  He was enlightened because he said he was. I hate to break the spell that someone may be under, but to be enlightened is to say that you are.  It is quite as simple as that. And we will talk more about that as we move forward with this series of entries.

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  • mewabe

    All religions and spiritual movements stand as a shadow between us and the divine…a shadow we personally create and seek, because of a fear of direct communication or union.

    We can be inspired by another person’s words and ideas, temporarily and as needed, as a reminder, as confirmation. But to follow another is to loose the self.

    Yes, the purpose of any true teacher is to make him/herself obsolete as soon as possible, not to have people hanging on forever.

  • Rosanna

    Thank you Neale for this. Hugs

  • Marko

    So is there going to be a definition of enlightenment here? Or does it remain enigmatically undefinable?

    Or, just more discussion on it? Does it remain an elusive state we just can’t seem to reach, or do we take notes from those that are enlightened & find out what it is we are trying to reach.

    Is enlightenment the same as self actualization or self realization? Or, are there shades variations of these? Is having reached inner peace the same as enlightenment or just a step toward it.

    I ask ed James Twyman just a few short years ago if he felt enlightened? His answer was the same as when I many years earlier ask another spiritual teacher in Milwaukee if he reached inner peace.

    Their answers were the same. James said he did feel enlightened. That is, he felt so at certain times & not so in others. Moving in & out of it. My other teacher said the same for inner peace. He moved in & out of it.

    It then becomes a question of sustaining it for longer periods of time & staying in that state more consistently.

    I mentioned in another post here that for the last year I moved into more positive thoughts/feelings/experiences as the new majority. Waking uP, going to sleep & moving in the day at a positive deep level of appreciation very consistently. I still get angry & frustrated, but it’s very short lived.

    I would be fascinated to hear of others moving into this experience.

    I would love to hear how others define enlightenment.

    Magical sun drenched blessings,

  • mewabe

    My belief is that “enlightenment” is different and unique for every individual, and at every moment of the day, week, month and year, just like love, which also ebbs and flows.

    Do we strive to love according to a model, a definition, a step by step method, a practice or discipline?

    Hopefully not, hopefully we let love come of its own accord…hopefully we fall into love…we belong to love, love does not belong to us…the same happens with “enlightenment”.

    Do we seek to feel exactly the same, in love, at every moment, to love with the exact same intensity and the exact same frame of mind continually?

    Only that which is dead in unmovable and absolutely consistent.

    If enlightenment can be defined as some sort of awakening of the self, then we should remember that every self is absolutely unique, and so are its call to awakening, which can be anything and happen anywhere at anytime, particularly when all efforts and struggles to become “enlightened” have been relinquished.

  • Michael L.

    A little Tomorrow’s God,
    (God speaks),

    “Once you know you have a consciousness-that is, a part of you that is larger than you, that can separate Itself from the Little You and talk back to you-you are well on your way to discovering the truth of your being and stepping into enlightenment.

    You will soon understand that enlightenment is experienced by not seeking to experience it. One does not become enlightened because one wishes to. One becomes enlightened because one is. That is, you are already enlightened, and simply now become aware of it.

    It is awareness that we are talking about here. And now I will tell you a great secret. You cannot become aware of anything within yourself without seeing it outside of yourself, and you cannot become aware of anything outside of your self without see it within your self.”

    “Oh great a catch 22.”(Neale says.)

    “Not so. Both things can be done at once, and always are……………..pp54.

  • Inger Lise

    As Edgar Cayce have put it long time ago: “Know Thyself, to be Yourself, Yet One with The Whole.”
    Do not know if Edgar Cayce ever have told of him to be “enlightend” thou, otherwise of him to have had the access to the Akasha records(the universal consciousness, which is God/Christ/I Am-Consciousness).
    To me it seems to be the cause and effect in action….or, I am the own cause and effect….of the tide/tidals.

    And I am not belonging to any particular group anymore….I am surfing the waves.
    I am in the winds, in the flowers, in the birds, in the trees…etc.etc.etc.

  • Scott

    Hi all

    The first thing I would say is that any “method” is a barrier between you & what you are trying to achieve & must eventually be left behind.

    A “method” is only a tool, what happens if you are dependant on your tool & then you lose it?

    Meditation is a wonderful tool to create a connection to Divinity, but the purpose of meditation is to lead you to an experience that no longer requires the use of the method.

    The second point I would make is that all the words presented here & the ideas they contain are attemps to use form & structure to describe that which is formless & beyond discription & in the end can only be known through experience.

    I am not implying that what is written here has no value. Quite the contrary, if what you find here leads you the experience you seek, it has great value indeed. But it is important to remember that words, as a communication, are only pointers to something & can never be the equal of experience.

    So, what is enlightenment?

    When Buddah was asked “What is God?” his reply was “Nobel Silence”. In other words, thats something you will have to figure out yourself.

    Enlightenment is much the same, people can talk about it all they like, & sometimes what is said can help, but in the end it is something that can only be experienced.

    talk to you later


  • Laura Pringle

    The moving in and out of the feeling of being one with creator and all creation, the ebb and flow of serenity and angst, these realities that we can only experience in our physical bodies, are God’s gifts to us, AND our gifts to God. Why would God “make” it so tricky to remain in a perpetual state of awareness (of complete unity)- if God really desired that for us? I don’t think that is God’s goal.

    Enlightenment is simply, knowing and accepting your place in the world and in your existence, and being at peace with that, while remaining flexible enough to accept whatever change or adaptation comes along.

    I’ve always shied away from being a “joiner”, simply because needing to be a part of something, to me, shows a sense of feeling incomplete with your own understandings and consciousness. Once we feel NO need to improve, change, or modify ourselves, we accept our uniqueness as perfection in itself, THEN can we strive to spread this awareness to others, those who seek it out, or ask us for our input.

  • Inger Lise

    Scott and Laura agree with both.

    Experience is what is. No matter what others telling us, if of us do not have the own experience what is it all about then other than intellectual understanding ?

    But be careful with the word enlightenment if you asks me. Knowledge Yes, because knowledge will be Self-experienced.

  • mewabe

    Instead of attempting to define what enlightenment is for ourselves, we should perhaps define what it is not.

    It is my understanding that spiritual ignorance and suffering derive from a belief in separation (from our soul, from the physical universe of nature, from humans and other creatures, from the divine) and a subsequent experience of fear and alienation.

    It is also my understanding that union usually engenders bliss, rapture, ecstasy, joy. Sexual union produces joy, and it is said that spiritual union produces rapture.

    So the way seems very clear, does it not?

    Walk into oneness and let go, of everything, so you can BE everything.

  • mewabe

    To get back to the topic more specifically, Neale’s advice is very important, as too many people are willing to relinquish their own truth for the sake of belonging to a group, a community, a movement.

    This is NOT oneness, it is not union but SAMENESS, conformity and uniformity. Most people confuse the two (oneness and sameness), because they are trained, from childhood and by authority, to conform and believe that only uniformity can produce order, that creativity produces chaos (they are taught nature is chaos and civilization is order, the precise opposite of the truth).

    The concept of a form of “enlightenment” that would require a person to be loyal to a single group is an oxymoron, for to be loyal to group thinking forces a person, more often than not, to suppresses his or her individuality, the uniqueness of her or his soul, for the sake of agreement, under the pressure of conformity.

    When you suppress your soul, there is no way you can be enlightened, because YOU CAN’T EVEN BE.

    Such dynamics create monsters…such as cults. Many groups are cults, such as the military, society when under strong nationalist sentiments, and religions, as a cultist mentality arises when individual critical thinking is smothered by group pressure.

    Experiments have been conducted in the past that demonstrate the power of group pressure, and the fact that individuals often succumb to it even when they know the group is mistaken, they VOLUNTARILY betray their own truth because the group is such a powerful entity, by its mere presence.

  • Scott

    Hi all

    Clear as crystal for those who are ready my friend, & clear as mud for those who are not.

    I left a post for you in the “headline” article thread. talk to you later.


  • Erin/IAm

    A verrry long time ago, my Soul Sounds went nuts when presented with the expression, “A great leader is defined by how many great leaders they create.”

    This changed entirely the intent of the ‘mission’…This ‘enlightened’ me to the art of delegation…This totally squashed previous conditioned ideals of “If you want something done ‘right’, do it yourself”.

    A priceless tool, this expression. Proving many times thusfar, that Life is not about being or doing it ‘right’, but by opportuning others to become & reflect of their Personal Best…with the intent of continuing to pass such opportunity to another, and another, and another…

    Yes, some “get it”, and some don’t…Some become leaders, some great leaders, some have no desire to lead anything but a ‘normal’ life. All have places to be in the scenario…A great leader understands this…A great child guider knows this.

    Sooo…I will lay claim, by example & reflection, that I Am both an enlightened & an enlightener in a never-ending process of being each. And each & every one of All holds stake in such claim of an infallible mission…Giving freedom to Life.

    Love to All…In each, I See no less than Amazing. 🙂

  • Inger Lise

    ….and that`s all folks. All is said, all is done.
    God`s blessings.

  • Pat

    One of the ways that religions are self perpetuating is through the use of “sins.” For example the Catholic Church doesn’t really care if you masturbate, they just want you to feel bad about it and come back to them for forgiveness. When you backslide and doubt your faith, the fundamentalists just want you to come back and be born again. When you drink and dance, the Baptists just want you to come back to your church and repent.

    In all of these instances, what the “believer” gets is instant acceptance, instant forgiveness, instant unification with their ‘tribe.’ If there was no sin for which to be forgiven, would church attendance fall off even faster than it already is?

  • mewabe

    Religions are all about control…to keep people in line. That’s why they make such great partners for governments.

    Religious authorities and governments have love affairs, and the people get screwed.

    Where religion no longer exists, such as in China, the new dogma is inflexible ideology, and those who stray are seen as “heretics” and persecuted, in much the same way as under old time religious authorities (such as during the inquisition).

    The problem is, humans still behave like apes. A few dominant apes figure out clever schemes to dominate and control the other apes. And the other apes, being less aggressive or lazier, let themselves be controlled, and curiously then ask for more.

  • Lloyd

    Look around, organized religions are self destructing, falling apart and seen by the majority as false prophets. For decades religions have declined in membership and humanity now knows that the truth is not in organized religion but only found within the Self, Nature, and the Oneness of the Universal unconditional Love Energy that flows forth eternally. See the Catholic church falling apart? See the protestant religion continue to decay into a restrictive, abusive dictatorship that does not serve the highest good of the people they proclaim to serve, assist, teach etc.

    Want answers to the relationship of Creator/God to our existence, the only way to find them is to do the work Your Self. Listen to your own heartsong, and spend time honestly feeling the Love within your own heart, and find the courage to live this unconditional Love for yourself. Seek and it will be found, ask and it will be answered, and give and you will recieve. Namaste’

  • Sponge Bob

    Sir Neale,
    so we don’t need to buy all your books to be spiritual ?
    Is buying your one book enough..

    well just check out your advertisements you do the same as EST trainers do. !

    you show the people that they need your book to be happy,spiritual etc.

    Whereas Authors like Eckhart or Rhonda say that their all the books have the same thing written in different format, you don’t need to buy other if you have read and practiced one.

  • veronica brand

    Thankyou Neale for your ‘enlightened’ words on this subject! I did find your perspective made for eye opening reading.
    I wanted to add that perhaps these organisations want you to stay in them to recruit others so the world becomes enlightened ?
    Is this not their goal? Surely any religion or organisation’s ultimate goal is to convert the world so its a better place and that takes manpower .
    What do you think ?
    I am curious too about this

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