What makes an individual who has attained enlightenment different from a person who is not pursuing or active on the path to achieving enlightenment? How would a person become aware that it was something that existed that they wanted to pursue? What makes enlightenment desirable to have and what would be the steps it would take to achieve it? How might it change a person during the pursuit on the path and how would it fulfill their life upon achieving?
To begin to answer some of these questions regarding enlightenment, we can refer to Elkhart Tolle and his clarification of spirituality and depth of awareness. He speaks of a field of awareness.
The phrase focuses on the state of awareness that expands beyond the thinking mind, and that unifies the mind, the body, the surrounding world and the peers around us all. Connecting this state of awareness in terms of enlightenment, an individual would need to allow for and possess the ability to maintain a sense of emptiness. This void is necessary in order to have no preconceptions and to surrender to vulnerability in order to have an open mind unfettered by complications of previous knowledge or experiences. This awareness isn't something that takes effort or, "becomes something", rather than knowledge or perception of the situation or fact that you know is attainable. Present awareness means understanding you are here, but it also has the meanings that you will let stress go, your time may pass by slowly, you notice things and feelings that were invisible in the recent past and you start to listen and comprehend in new ways. Enlightenment means you are all, you have clarity, you understand that you are what you see, hear and touch, you are your thoughts, you are patient and calm, and you are connected to everything.
When you think about enlightenment as something that can be desirable to have, you begin by describing it as the realization and understanding of completely seeing through the ego. When you long and seek for material possession or satisfaction of a want or possibly something the mind has convinced the body it needs, we open ourself up to possible disappointment. When we believe the ego, we suffer and seek, so enlightenment is also the end to suffering and seeking which also means that it is an end to needing anything as in an end to the necessity of attachments. Without becoming enlightened, we don't know who we are or what we are supposed to do, so enlightenment will take us out of the ignorance of the material nature we are born into.
In training the mind and body through discipline in the quest for enlightenment through physical training , mental exercises and spiritual connections, fundamental changes happen within an individual. Energy distribution may adjust, internal ebb and flow will adapt to circumstances and the person's inherent center becomes reset and fine tuned, making it easier to control the survival instinct, intuition and responses.
Buddha's seven factors of enlightenment happen to be Mindfulness, Investigation, Energy and Effort, Joy, Concentration, Tranquility and Equanimity. These factors tie in to a saying of Lao Tzu, "in the pursuit of knowledge every day something is added, just as in the pursuit of enlightenment every day something is dropped".
The process of enlightenment is one of clearing the mind to make it possible to put aside inborn traits of ego that may prevent transcendence. If a person is diligent, flexible and unhindered in their practices, once the process starts it is hard to stop since it is a natural biological need to be motivated in seeking expansion and growth. Once started, and an individual is open to higher awareness, the subconscious will continuously seek to further awaken.
It is important to have a clear understanding of enlightenment as an achievable state of being. The pursuit of the path to elevated awareness requires the desire, the tools, discipline and erasing of pride and preconceptions. There should be an expectation of a multitude of transitions while on the path and patience is absolutely mandatory for success. To the person who seeks and acquires a state of enlightenment, the world in front of them becomes an open arena of opportunity and clarity.