October 3, 2023
Ask Deepak

What does enlightenment look like?.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.


“Dear Deepak sir, you say spiritual awakening is about living the joy of life in the world we are in right now. 

It is about freedom, creative expression, strength, love, happiness and wisdom. 

This is meant to be lived in your body, in the present, in the shared smiles with loved ones. 

Once you rediscover how wonderful it is to be spiritually awake and alive in your life, you will be happy to fully re-inhabit your body, senses and mind.

I have a question about this, if you, please. 

If we consider the lives of three enlightened people of modern India – Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Papaji: while Ramana renounced the world, Nisargadatta and Papaji did not, all three advised to live in the world while walking the spiritual path. 

All three had different personalities. 

Nisargadatta yelled a lot at his disciples, whereas Ramana was gentle, whereas Papaji was always laughing. 

While Papaji and Ramana meditated long hours (Ramana meditated all day before enlightenment), Nisargadatta perhaps did not meditate so many hours and he says even one hour of meditation could be sufficient. 

The point I am making is that while generally speaking your advice about sharing smiles with loved ones could be right for most people, at different times different personalities need to act differently at different phases of the spiritual journey.

These days, I don’t want to talk to anyone. 

I don’t share laughs and smiles. 

I stay away from people. 

Also, I have no interest in any movies, entertainment, etc. these days. 

I want to do my work well, do physical exercise, and the rest of the time I just want to do meditation for as many hours as possible. 

The reason is that when I meditate for long hours, I am able to connect with witness – that part of me which is witnessing my personal consciousness, thinking and experiences in a detached manner. 

And when that happens, there is peace, strength, and joy from within. 

But when I start talking even though I can watch my breath all the time while talking and listening, I don’t feel that strength, peace, joy and detachment because I lose connection with the witness. 

In addition, I find it tough to relate with people who are not deeply focused on waking up, I feel they are just children playing with toys, and enlightened people can give peace to these kids fascinated by toys of materialism just by their presence. 

What good could I do to these kids with my presence. 

Anyway, I just have dry, polite/humble, to-the-point conversations with people when needed.

So maybe that is how I should be in this phase of a spiritual journey and later maybe I would feel like sharing smiles and laughs or maybe later my personality could be like Nisargadatta where I am a giver but not necessarily laughing, smiling?

As Nisargadatta used to say “What I told to him (a specific person who asked him a question) is not for you to use” yet his book “I Am That” is for everybody to use, so even though this particular advice you gave was useful to everyone, for me, perhaps, a different response is needed? Thank you, Sir.”


Please keep in mind that the answer you referenced was in response to a person whose sensitivity to daily interactions was overwhelming her, and she didn’t understand how to engage spiritually with the world without losing herself. 

Her vision of spirituality left her weak and so disconnected that she was unable to process experience and distinguish herself from the room she was in. 

My message was tailored to her situation and I emphasized an integrated vision of spirituality because that is what I felt she needed to hear.

Your situation is quite different because you are still socially interacting, working and exercising effectively, but yet you feel a strong detachment and pull to inner silence and the witness self.

You are reluctant to engage more with the world because you lose the experience of the witness self when you do. 

And you believe you can have a stronger spiritual effect on others with your quiet presence. 

That is fine.

You are right that there are different personalities and expressions of enlightenment.

I would only say that the experience of the witness going away when you speak or engage with others is only the initial phase of awakening. 

Once the silent witness is stronger and permanently established, its influence is not diminished at all by activity. 

Just the opposite, at that point, your speech and actions will have a more profound impact on those around you than your silent influence alone. 

Furthermore, fully functioning self-realization requires a certain degree of interaction and engagement with the world to make it work in life. 

After all, the purpose of a life of enlightenment is to live, not withdraw from life. 

Once the awakened self can withstand the world and function in it, then and only then can you proceed to higher states of enlightenment.

 All the enlightened masters you mentioned,  Ramana, Papaji and Maharaj are perfect examples of those who were fully awake and present to the totality of life. 

Even though they had different personalities filtering that consciousness, they still displayed their “freedom, creative expression, strength, love, happiness and wisdom” in their own distinct ways.



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