The Path to Enlightenment

I’ve been reviewing some things just now, and they are fascinating. There are, according to Bhagavad Gita, 20 steps to enlightenment. That is there are 20 steps to attaining true knowledge and awareness.

1. Humility

No knowledge can be gained without humility! Not even the first step can be taken. “Humility” most of all, to me, means receptivity. We need to focus on being receptive to the knowledge and enlightenment that wants to fill us. When we are not humble we think we already know so much – and therefore we are not open to learning. We are not receptive. So keeping the mind and heart always open and receptive is the essential factor of humility which will usher us to the first stepping stone towards knowledge and enlightenment.

2. Sincerity

As a result of humility one attains the second stage of enlightenment: sincerity. When you are not humble you are afraid to been seen “naked” afraid to be seen for who and what you really are. And to hide these things about yourself you must be deceptive and insincere. So, to attain sincerity we must be humble. By humility we lose “hangups” about who and what we really are, and become happy and fully willing to reveal our true self to others plainly and directly.

This honesty will make one receptive towards truths. This ferries us forward to enlightenment.

3. Nonviolence

I find it very interesting that nonviolence results from sincerity! To be insincere we must hide ourselves by lying. To do so we will try to gain at the cost of others. This is “violence.” To take from another who is not willing to give to you is the essential quality of violence. It leads invariably to the physical acts we associate with this word. We violate others by cheating them as a result of being deceptive.

When, instead, we are sincere, we do not violate anyone. We are receptive to the honest truths – if someone does not wish to grant us something, we accept that. Thus violence ceases.

4. Patience

This frame of mind leads to the 4th stage of enlightenment: patience. When we become able to accept what others are naturally willing to give us, we develop patience.

A while ago I was really trying to figure out why I had such a lack of patience. Now I understand the cure for it. First of all, I must become more “non-violate” and let the world give what it wishes to give in its own due time. That is not possible until I become more thoroughly sincere. Because until that happens I will feel that I deserve more focus and attention than is honestly reasonable. And of course this sort of sincerity will not be possible without an increase in humility – or receptiveness. It all, always, goes back to receptiveness.

5. Simplicity

As a result of patience one becomes simple, the 5th stage of enlightenment. When one learns to wait calmly, one suddenly realizes that things are a lot more simple than they used to seem. There is no need to figure out how to milk some result from a situation or scheme to get something sooner than it is coming of its own accord. Life is very simple.

6. Respect

When we are not simple, we believe that all sorts of things are important. But finally, when we achieve sincerity, we realize that only true knowledge and enlightenment is important. Therefore we start to respect the universe herself, and we specifically start to respect those persons who are helping us in our progress towards enlightenment: our teachers and gurus.

7 – 10: Purity, Steadiness, Self-control, & Dispassion

Once we attain the 6th stage of enlightenment we get a true and deep respect for the teachers of spiritual evolution. We listen very receptively and sincerely to their teachings and thereby start to directly manifest classical physical symptoms of enlightenment. We become very clean as a result of our simplicity – purity of heart results from our respect for teachers. Purity means that something is “100%” – “pure olive oil” for example, has nothing else in it but the oil. No pits or pulp or what have you. By listening to teachers with true respect we become pure – filled only with our sincere interest in enlightened awareness. This purity means us steady of purpose. That steadiness of purpose bestows to us the ability for self-control.

Self-control means that we regain control of our passion. Currently our misunderstanding of the objects we see, taste, hear, touch and smell are what controls our passions. Men and women can easily be manipulated, for example, by the advertising industry, simply by placing specific images, sounds, smells, etc. into their perception. When we regain self-control the sense-objects lose their control over us and we become truly immune to such external manipulation of our passions.

11. Freedom from Ego

Currently it is our likes and dislikes for certain objects of touch, taste, sound, etc which actually define our self-concept – our ego. We identify ourselves based upon the types of objects which control us!!! Amazing isn’t it?

But when we regain self-control from those objects, they cease to define us, and thus illusory ego they have created dissolves. We do not become someone without identity, that is a misunderstanding of “freedom from ego”. If that were the case than there should be no further stages of evolution in enlightenment! But we are currently only at the 11th of 20. We become free from the false definition of our self as a result of gaining independence from the sense-objects.

12 – 15: Detachment

Without a false definition of the self all sorts of things immediately become crystal clear. First of all we attain the 12th level and realize that death always accompanies birth. We could not, out of fear of self-annihilation, truly understand this before we attained freedom from a false sense of ego based on physical objects.

Next we become truly detached – the 13th stage. We don’t even want anything in this world because we see everything constantly coming and going.

At the 14th stage we become detached even from the nearest and dearest, most subtle things – our own family and personal properties. Detachment does not mean dislike! Dislike is only the dark side of attachment! Detachment means that we see all people for what they really are – parts of the divine on a spiritual evolution towards enlightenment. not as persons who somehow “belong” to us under various family labels. Thus at this stage we dissolve all sense of having belonging.

At this point – we have nothing to gain or lose. We (and everyting) reveals itself simply and clearly as merely being what it is and nothing more or less. Therefore we become fearless at the 15th stage – unafraid to act. “Success” and “failure” become discarded illusions. All there is, is the will to help others – which transcends normal success and failure.

16-19. Divine Love and it’s quest.

Now truly divine love starts to blossom. We have nothing but the intent to help other beings. Thus we become open to true concept of deep love. Seeing beings as they truly are means to see their unity in Godhead. As a result of holding true love for others, the 16th stage of enlightenment starts us towards a journey of true love for Godhead.

This is followed by (17) a retreat into a place conducive for meditation. One wishes to enter a highetened state of awareness in which one can directly relate to Godhead. This leads to the  18th stage – where one avoids all other actions and pursues this meditative, heightened state more and more exclusively. In the 19th state, one persists in this quest without interruption at all.

20. Enlightenment

Finally there is full realization.

I hate to say it but I always see (in the world as well as in the mirror) people fancying themselves at various stages in this process. I think it best to realize that the very first step – true humility, true receptivity and openness to the ideas and energies of other people is the pre-requisite to all the other stages.

It is important also to note that each previous stage persists in the next. Thus in every single stage this sense of humility is there. And so to all the early stages, sincereity and non-violation of other people. These things are there up till and into the final enlightenment – and in fact they only deepen as one advances.

See also my old blog on: Gita 13a – Knowledge (of the Field) and Gita 13b – Acquiring Knowledge

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    1. According to what Krishna said on the subject it doesn’t look that way, nate. It looks like you cannot become free from ego till well after you have learned humility.

      Be sure you don’t try to be too cut and dry in how you understand this. Note that all the preceding qualities are included in the next. Freedom from ego includes humility, etc. So there is naturally an aspect of freedom from ego within humility itself.

      Actually i like the way I have broken it down. Before you can be free from ego you need to be RECEPTIVE – this is what humility amounts to in this context here. Before you can make ANY progress towards enlightenment you must be RECEPTIVE.

      Make sense?


  1. Thanks, it makes much more sense.
    When I was reading it I guess I missed the last paragraph. That is very similar to the way Thich Nhat Hanh explains the Eightfold Path. Each point, Right mindfulness,thinking, speech, etc are all intertwined and inseparable. To practice one you must practice all.


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