I'm sure we've all questioned things like the meaning of life and the truth behind the universe at some point. Things science in its traditional form can't answer. But how far have you ever tried to explore these answers? Probably not much.
As a seeker of Enlightenment, I am an explorer. I am driven by the urge to not just see, but truly understand the truth behind the universe around me. You may be wondering, what is true understanding? Let me break it down for you.
The Mind Vs Enlightenment
When we feel things through our five senses, our brain intercepts the information to help us make sense of it. However, having grown up with each of our particular experiences, the brain influences and brings bias to the information we receive. Hence, we are never able to sense things in their true form, but rather our minds' interpretation of them.
Enlightenment is about experiencing a true connection with everything around you, to the point where your mind no longer interferes with the way your body experiences them.
Enlightenment is oneness with the universe, it is when you truly break the barriers of your mind. It is the ultimate form of awareness.
I won't lie to you and say that seeking enlightenment is a piece of cake. It requires dedication, practice, and the desire to seek more than most of us are content with knowing. However, once you've overcome this contentment, you reach an amazing path that is unlike anything you've ever felt before. In fact, it is an endless journey, one often described as an "adventure of a lifetime."
I've been on this path for 15 years myself. Through various courses at the O&O Academy, located in Chitoor, Andhra Pradesh, I've been able to understand what enlightenment even is; and hence, how I should progress in my journey towards it.
The Ekam Enlightenment Festival
The Ekam Enlightenment Festival, held yearly by the O&O Academy, is one of the best places to learn more. I've attended this festival for the past two editions and found a supportive community led by knowledgeable guides.
Held from 15th to 21st of December, the main venue is Ekam (oneness), a meditation hall. This is one of the unique places where ley lines intersect; such spots are called "Powerhouses" amongst seekers.
In the 2019 edition, the Festival saw two batches of 2000 people attend. One of these batches was entirely composed of travellers from abroad, which goes to show how significant it really is.
In the festival, we attempt to reach different states of Enlightenment through various activities including meditation, transcendental yoga, guided breathing techniques, mandala and chakra dhyana, music and dance, contemplation, insight, and lectures. Depending on the state we seek, these can take place at any time, be it morning or 1 am at night.
Each year, five states of Enlightenment are focused upon. Almost everyone gets a glimpse at least one of these; depending upon how far you are in your journey, you may experience several states. I personally attained 'Tatvamasi', or Thou Are That.
In this Enlightened state, I felt wonderful; I felt bliss in its purest form, if you will. It's not entirely possible to put it into words, as our languages have limits to what they can express. However, I shall attempt, nonetheless.
Imagine your senses being reborn; suddenly, it feels like you are encountering the world for the first time, for you have never seen even the things most familiar to you in their true form. It feels like the world around you comes alive, and you are a part of the universal energy that flows through everything.
With a tenfold increase in my focus, I could distinctly make out each sound amongst the chatter and noise around me. After distinction, I could focus on each and experience them individually, but not necessarily in a serial manner.
As we walked back from Ekam, or the meditation hall, the ground under my feet felt alive. My footsteps were much lighter as I'd tread cautiously, more aware of it than I'd ever been. It felt as if the ground was alive.
Back at the dining area, as I began to eat, I soon discarded my spoon, aching to feel the food with my hands instead. It felt as if the food enjoyed my attention and touch as much as I enjoyed it. Ecstatic, I'd even talk to it from time to time, immersed in the experiences through each of my five senses, unfiltered.
These are just a few examples, but most importantly, I recognised the fact that everything in the universe is one. We are made from the same origin and return to the same place. Each object and being has a life, a truth of its own, that we seldom experience in our mundane lives.
Experiencing a state of enlightenment, even if only for a brief period of minutes or hours, profoundly changes your perception for the rest of your life. This phenomenon is so different from the lives we otherwise lead today that it is bound to have a huge impact. More than ever, I am motivated to learn more, explore more, and connect more with the universe.
Note: These are the experiences of Vijay Bhutada and have been adapted into a narrative format by Stan Rastogi.
Credits for Graphical Representations belong to Shivani Javeri.