The Stages of Self-Realization


If the memory of the enlightened being is wiped out, will that person still be enlightened?

—Bhushan Deo, India


Dear Bushan,

I’m am not sure why you are asking if “the memory of enlightened being is wiped out?” The process of enlightenment is an expansion of consciousness not a destruction of consciousness. The dissolution commonly assumed or described in the process of enlightenment is that with respect to the ego: the soul to the extent identified with the body and personality.

The dissolution of the ego is not a destruction of the ego’s memory. Rather, it is the dissolution of the self-identification with the body, the personality, and the subconscious with its memories and past actions of countless lives. But the psychic existence of those memories and actions of past lives remain in the Akasha, in the Infinite Consciousness.

There are actually two stages related to the soul’s final state: 1) enlightenment, and 2) liberation. Enlightenment refers to achieving what is called (there are many names): nirbikalpa samadhi. What this means, in brief, is that the soul has permanently achieved cosmic consciousness (Oneness) not just with the creation (including all thought) but with the Creator (Infinite Bliss-beyond and untouched by the creation).

But at that point, there still remains past karma: yes, memories of past actions in which the sense of ego-Doership was uppermost. While such a one (known as a jivan mukta) can no longer fall spiritually back into the delusion of ego, those past lives must now be purged of the memory of doership.

The jivan mukta lives now in eternity and may feel no particular compulsion to “work on” freeing those past lives; or, may wish to do so with great force. Some of that past karma, perhaps even much of that past karma, has to do with relationships with others. The jivan mukta may choose to work out that karma by helping such souls to advance spiritually. Or, Patanjali notes that such a one can even incarnate into multiple bodies to more quickly work things out from the past! (Weird, eh?)

After the soul has cleansed its memories of “doer-ship,” then such a one becomes a siddha, or param mukta: completely free.

In any case, distinctions aside, as the soul awakens, its consciousness expands. Nothing is lost in this process: only the attachment and self-identification with actions (including emotions, feelings, memories, etc.). OK?

Blessings and Joy to You!

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA