Enlightenment is not a state

The “enlightened” ego.

When I was 20 after practicing a lot of acceptance, meditation, and letting go I was able to experience a state of complete enlightenment where I was free from the past and future and where my full attention was in the now.

I went from having debilitating extreme social anxiety where I couldn’t leave the house or talk to anyone, spending days not moving at all, to a state where I had deep friendships, was very confident and calm, and brought joy with whoever I talked to.

I felt like I was myself for the first time in my life, and the more deeply I went into it, the stronger I felt this pure state of joy and peace.

Unfortunately it only lasted about 4 months before I regressed, and the regression happened quickly and badly.

I started becoming very anxious again and reverted back to my room. I dropped out of college and cut off contact with the outside world.

I thought I had “made it” but then the rug was swept under me.

From what I read from your site, it seems like I hadn’t fully awakened yet.

But it felt so fluid and lasted for quite a long time.

There was a period where I thought I was so good and “set for life” I didn’t feel like I needed to work on meditation anymore, I guess that’s where my downfall began.

Anyways it’s been about 4 years since then and I’m nearing 24 now.

I got close to getting back into that state a few months ago, but I started falling back again into anxiety and ego identification.

And I was really getting better too and feeling present and aware more often than not.

Shifting in and out of the present moment. Being comfortable around friends and girls more often.

But now I’m back in my room again and feel like I’m getting worse.

I think the reason I’m falling back again is because the ego noticed I was making a lot of progress and got scared it was at risk of dying, so it created intense fear to keep me stuck, fear of losing my identity.

Even when I try to meditate now I feel this fear, so I procrastinate and don’t do things that help me improve.

Maybe this is the root of why I regressed 4 years ago and why I’m regressing now.

My first questions is what happened when I was 20 to make me fall back?

And the bigger question I have is what do I do now?

I feel pretty stuck and worried, it’s difficult for me to meditate now even though not long ago I was making a lot of progress.

A part of me really wants to be in that state but another part of me is really fearful and afraid of losing its identity so how do I get past this?

Thanks.”

My reply:

Thank you for your question.

It’s the most common question I get so I thought I’d write one last post about this topic with links to similar articles that can be helpful as well for anyone in this situation.

You are far from being alone, there are countless of people who just like you had a spiritual awakening experience or opening and some people had it 20 years ago and they are still trying to get to the state you are describing in your email.

But that’s not the enlightened state, it’s not the awakening.

Enlightenment, or awakening, is not a “state”.

It’s actually a stateless state.

Unconditioned, uncontaminated, free from beliefs.

The only “states” there are, are the different levels (states) of ego consciousness.

And the denser and stronger the ego, the more fixed the state is, and the state is always conditioned, unfree.

When a person wakes up, it becomes free and “stateless”.

But oftentimes the ego takes ownership of the type of experiences you described and makes them “the enlightened state”, when in reality it’s all ego and has nothing to do with enlightenment at all.

And the chasing and searching for the “state” they believe is the enlightened state can last for years and even decades (sometimes a persons whole life), because it’s the ego who thinks that “that must be the enlightened state, I want that, I need to get there again, then I will be enlightened”.

So the person never wakes up, and the result is that the world only gets more and more “enlightened” ego’s.

You wrote:

When I was 20 after practicing a lot of acceptance, meditation, and letting go I was able to experience a state of complete enlightenment where I was free from the past and future and where my full attention was in the now.

.. Unfortunately it only lasted about 4 months before I regressed, and the regression happened quickly and badly.

I thought I had “made it” but then the rug was swept under me.

From what I read from your site, it seems like I hadn’t fully awakened yet.

But it felt so fluid and lasted for quite a long time.

There was a period where I thought I was so good and “set for life” I didn’t feel like I needed to work on meditation anymore, I guess that’s where my downfall began.

Anyways it’s been about 4 years since then and I’m nearing 24 now.

I got close to getting back into that state a few months ago, but I started falling back again into anxiety and ego identification.”

Yes, your ego thought it had ‘made it’.

This is very common, it happens to people all the time, and the spiritualized ego is the strongest ego there is (it’s so full of ideas and beliefs about everything) so many people never grow beyond the level of merely having experiences now and then.

This experience, or “state” that you experienced, happened 4 years ago and during those four years since the ego ‘lost the enlightened state’ (as it think it is), you (your ego) has been trying to ‘get there’ again.

This happens all the time to many people, you are far from being alone.

The difference between you and many others is that you are open and willing to admit that maybe that was not ‘it’ after all, that maybe you have been delusional in your thinking that you were actually enlightened, or awakened.

That’s a good thing, a very good thing, so let’s not waste another 4 years of your life in the pursuit of “the enlightened state”, which doesn’t even exist.

Because again, it’s not a “state”.

You wrote:

I thought I was so good and “set for life” I didn’t feel like I needed to work on meditation anymore, I guess that’s where my downfall began.

.. I got close to getting back into that state a few months ago, but I started falling back again into anxiety and ego identification.”

People get those experiences all the time, you can get them from meditation, but also from other things and they have nothing to do with awakening.

So the pursuit for those experiences is pointless in regards to the awakening process.

The reason you feel you’re regressing, or why you “regressed” 4 years ago, is because you didn’t work through your dark stuff (such as healing your anxiety and all that came with that) but instead you were trying to escape your issues by trying to be in a state that can never be permanent.

The reason why the experiences are fleeting (they come and go) is simply because of something that happens in the brain when you stimulate it with the help of meditation, music/chanting, breathing etc etc.

To think that you will be able to be in a constant cosmic orgasm kind of state forever and ever is a trap.

It’s the enlightenment trap for spiritualized ego’s.

The “goal” if you will, is for you to wake up and not to try to get into a “state”, but instead go for total freedom by having your goal be Truth (not experiences).

The freedom that comes from that is a freedom where you can enjoy your human nature as well as your “spiritual” essence, which actually are one and the same.

You wrote:

And I was really getting better too and feeling present and aware more often than not.

Shifting in and out of the present moment. Being comfortable around friends and girls more often.

But now I’m back in my room again and feel like I’m getting worse.

I think the reason I’m falling back again is because the ego noticed I was making a lot of progress and got scared it was at risk of dying, so it created intense fear to keep me stuck, fear of losing my identity.

Even when I try to meditate now I feel this fear, so I procrastinate and don’t do things that help me improve.”

It sounds like you were trying to, and succeeding for short periods of time, to avoid dealing with your stuff by forcing your attention on the present moment.

When the ego puts blinders on in order to not look either to left or right (past/future), that’s not freedom, that’s avoidance.

There clearly is something that needs to be worked through in your life, or be healed.

To only meditate in order to try to improve yourself is a way the ego hides and avoids the deeper issues that are now very strongly calling for your attention.

That’s why you can’t continue as before, it’s just not gonna work anymore. 

You need to work through your stuff, and that will then lead to improvement.

But to only focus on improvement (only the “good/positive stuff”) is nothing but the ego’s attempt to escape the real work, which is not so comfortable and fun (as it is to be in a “state of love and light”).

The darker stuff needs to get cleared out from your system.

Before you can move on in your awakening process this absolutely has to happen.

If you don’t do anything about it you will just have a spiritualized ego moving in and out of “states” that has nothing whatsoever to do with awakening and you will never really progress in your spiritual growth and evolution at all.

You’re getting worse (as you put it) because you need to heal your issues and not run from them or think that they will magically resolve themselves by meditation and mindfulness (or present moment awareness).

The reason you feel stuck between a rock and a hard place in your spiritual unfoldment where you’re not even able to meditate is because now Truth is demanding that you work things out on a real level of spirituality instead of the previous shallow level.

Now the real spiritual and inner work has to begin.

And in this process you will lose the old identity, and that is the fear.

But it’s not your fear, it’s the ego that is scared because now you’re starting to see that the one who have wanted to get enlightened is actually not you at all.

So the choice, or decision you have to make now, is whether or not you will surrender completely to the awakening process or not.

You can courageously choose to enter into your darkness and resolve whatever things there are that needs to be dealt with, or you can continue striving and struggling and trying to get into a state that only exist in the world of the false self (and that will always be fleeting).

The first path leads to freedom and progress, and the second one to even more struggle and stuckness (and time wasted).

Hope this was helpful to you and please feel very welcome to share any additional thoughts or questions in the comments below.

enlightenment state

♡♡♡

Here’s a few of my older articles (some are very old) that will be helpful to you as well:

What To Do After A Spiritual Awakening Experience?

How Do You Keep The Insights Alive?

How do I get my awakening back?

How Do I Get My Enlightenment Back?

Don’t Stop! Keep Looking! (Spiritual Awakening Process)

How The Search For Spiritual Highs Keeps Us Stuck In Ego-land (Endless Seeking For Experiences)

The biggest misunderstanding about spiritual awakening

Stuck In Non Duality and Advaita

Only The Brave Stay In The Awakening Process

When it feels like you’re losing your mind (Awakening Process)

Falling Back Into Duality (Spiritual Awakening Process)

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Comments

  1. Josh

    Thank you for your article Maria, you were 100% right, I realized a few weeks ago that the only way I could find freedom is to do the one thing I didn’t want to do, feel my fear, feel it fully even though it was very painful and unpleasant.

    That first step led to me letting go of all negative feelings, shame, grief, guilt I’ve been holding in my whole life.

    It was a painful and excruciating process at times, but the more I do it the more I’m seeing the real me. The gold that was always there under all the gunk.

    This whole time for the past 4 years I deluded myself into believing that thing I lost was a peak I was getting to, when in fact it was what I’ve always had underneath everything.

    I didn’t have full enlightenment back then, that was just my guilt and shame speaking.

    I was probably 60% of the way there and gave up, letting the negativity of my family drag me and bubble up the remaining negativity.

    The biggest thing I learned was that I have to go all the way, I can’t stop at 70% or 98%, I have to go all the way and let go of everything or the remaining grief will bubble up again into shame and hatred and I’ll be pulled into other people’s negativity again.

    Part of the guilt of not getting it the first time is the last thing I have to let go of right now, I still feel guilt over not getting it the first time and wasting 4 years, but I know that in it of itself is what’s stopping me from being free.

    Forgiveness is what I’m developing with this last strong emotion.

    I’m starting to get that I needed those 4 years to develop faith as part of my process. I didn’t have enough faith the first time.

    After all the pain and horrible emotions I’ve felt the past month, I feel more me than ever now, and I have near 100% faith in myself and that true freedom from suffering is here for me soon.

    Before I go back out into the world I know I have to release this last thing.

    I’m kind of afraid of what’s to come, if it’ll be everything I’ve ever wanted or what.

    It’s very rare to hear from someone who has reached enlightenment so I don’t really have anyone to talk to about what I’m going through. I didn’t realize how extremely rare it is to find someone who has made it all the way to freedom.

    Part of my worry is probably coming from my guilt saying why me?

    After all my fuckups and mistakes, why was I chosen for this? I know arguing or giving reasons for the guilt won’t help, I just have to feel it out and I’ll understand after.

    I think what chose me was my intense suffering, it was so bad I was willing to endure any pain to find freedom. Perhaps you were chosen for the same reason.

    I have a good feeling once I release what’s left I won’t need to ask these questions anymore.

    Thanks Maria.

  2. Great to hear from you Josh, and thank you for sharing so openly about your process, pain, and experiences.

    It will not only help you progress but also help others who read this who might have mistaken a spiritual awakening experience for the actual enlightenment or awakening.

    So many people have spiritual experiences and openings that they (their ego/false self) then think is the “Big Enlightenment”.

    So it’s great that you’ve seen this in yourself because now the real deep work can begin (that will lead to actual awakening).

    You wrote:

    “I realized a few weeks ago that the only way I could find freedom is to do the one thing I didn’t want to do, feel my fear, feel it fully even though it was very painful and unpleasant.”

    Yes, the work that needs to be done is many times the work that is unpleasant and sometimes even extremely painful.

    And this includes asking the questions that the ego doesn’t want to hear or ask.

    Here’s another old post that came to mind that you might like:

    https://mariaerving.com/ask-questions-the-ego-avoids

    When Truth is done with you, the you that you think you are now will not be the ‘you’ that is left.

    Awakening is not something that is added unto you, it’s more like a reduction (or removal) of ‘you’.

    It’s a process, but there is not really any ‘progress’ in the sense that you can tell “how awakened you are”.

    You are either awakened or you are not.

    There’s no measurement possible.

    I can tell where people are and where they are not, where and how the ego operates in their lives and so on, and I can also tell if it will take a long time or if they are more prone to faster progress (I need to use that word although it really doesn’t apply to the awakening process in reality).

    But the person can’t see that themselves. You can see the ego, but you can’t see the whole of it.

    The ego is the self that is unaware of itself and only when you wake up can you see this clearly – that’s when you see through the whole game of the ego and how it operates on all levels of consciousness.

    The “levels” are always conditioned, while awakening is unconditioned, it’s liberated consciousness, so it’s free and it sees that which is false with crystal clear clarity.

    So the discomfort you feel in this process is actually the key to your growth!

    You didn’t waste those 4 years, because it helped you develop faith which you didn’t have before (as you mentioned in your comment) and later even faith will fall away, it’s all part of the process, so it was not really a “waste”.

    It needed to happen that way, and you can see that now so appreciate the new insight you have about the things you went through.

    You’re in a different place within yourself now. Much more mature and willing to be 100% honest with yourself.

    But of course there is the reality that yes, the person who spend his or her life chasing spiritual highs is not really getting anywhere in terms of awakening, but at the same time that too is what it is.

    It’s in a way meant to happen (or not happen) that way, it’s just consciousness expressed in its various levels of being.

    Ignorance of who we are and the unwillingness to see through the false self just adds more and more delusion to the human consciousness and continues to repress its ability to expand and evolve beyond the level of beliefs.

    So forget about the 4 years that has passed and thank your lucky star that you’ve got to where you are today, and from this new place of awareness and insight – Move Forward.

    Don’t look back but steer all your awareness and attention on the Truth of this moment and its guidance on moving on from Here.

    Let go of what has been and all your previous ideas of enlightenment.

    You’re actually in a very good place Josh, a very, very good place 🙂

    From Here you will be able to actually grow and eventually wake up.

    You wrote:

    “I’m kind of afraid of what’s to come, if it’ll be everything I’ve ever wanted or what.”

    My response to that is that you can safely let go of every single thing you think enlightenment is, because it’s none of those things.

    You have absolutely no idea and can never have an idea about what it is or how it is etc, so you can just release the whole matter right now.

    Release the fear too, the whole shebang, and move forward from here where you are right now, because really, this moment right now is your whole life.

    The moment of Truth is Now, and it’s always Now.

    You wrote:

    “I don’t really have anyone to talk to about what I’m going through.”

    Stay tuned because shortly I’m going to announce news about my new membership site where I have included live video calls for members.

    The online meetings will be for members only where we will talk about all kinds of things like for example the awakening process but also other transformational processes in life (and much more, so stay tuned!).

    This might be something for you 🙂

    Then we can go deeper into all the things you mentioned and shared in your comment and any other things you’d like to talk about with someone who understands and that you can relate to.

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