Do You Leave the Body When You Achieve Enlightenment?


I have somewhere heard and read that following spiritual path or attaining to enlightenment makes you leave your body. I have heard this, that many enlightened beings die immediately after enlightenment. Please help, I am a bit afraid hearing this as I am also on spiritual path, but not to die of course.

—Akansh , India


Dear Akansh,

The short answer is: it is not necessary to die physically in order to achieve enlightenment. Saint Paul, one of the earliest followers of Jesus Christ, said, “I die daily.” He meant that he “died” to his limited identity as a man with personal karma and personality, and he identified with his soul nature as an individualized expression of God.

Yogananda wrote a well-loved chant, “I am the Bubble,” and the words in part are:

Thou and I never apart.
Wave of the sea dissolve in the sea.
I am the bubble make me the sea.

So you see, we are all bubbles on the sea of God’s consciousness. The bubble is made of seawater. It is only from the perspective of the bubble that there is any separation. That is who we are in this world: rays of God’s infinite vibration, manifest for a time in our bodies and personalities to allow our soul to make spiritual progress toward enlightenment.

The light of God within us is the flame of our soul. Like jets on a gas burner which appear separate but have the same energy source below, each soul, although different-appearing in physical form, is an individual expression of the Infinite Source. Once the soul becomes fully aware of its oneness with God, which is enlightenment, there still remains the memory of this individual expression. It just does not define us.

Our time of physical death is determined by when our karma for this life is completed. The soul is deathless and continues reincarnating in a body so long as there is opportunity for spiritual growth by taking on a physical body. The purpose of our sojourn on this earth is to make great progress toward this destiny. Every experience that comes to us is individually designed by God to help us advance if we embrace the opportunity rather than resisting.

I encourage you to continue to explore the spiritual path, as it will allow you to express the highest and best version of yourself.

Many blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti