Enlightenment is very misunderstood. Like most things spiritual, it is mired in dogma.  For most people, it seems to be stuck in an old paradigm somewhere between ancient eastern mysticism and new age spirituality.

The fact is, enlightenment is not a religion or even a set of practices. It’s not a place or an outcome. No group has a claim to it. There are many paths to achieving it. There is not a right or a wrong way to experience enlightenment.

Enlightenment is essentially a paradigm shift. It is simply a perspective or an inner knowing that once attained, changes your entire reality for the better. Often described as an awakening, enlightenment is a completely different understanding of the world.

I define enlightenment as the recognition that the source of life within you is the source of life within everyone and everything. We are all one thing expressing itself with infinite variety.

Personally, I’m not a Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jew or any other religion. I found religion to be mired in dogma and accidentally or purposefully designed to limit one’s experience rather than expand.

While I have a cursory understanding of most religions, none of those philosophies appealed to me. Driven by the volition to reach the ultimate states of happiness and peace, I used my curiosity, creativity and will to achieve my objective. I had many, many teachers. It was a long slow path. Ultimately I had to synthesize my experiences into a system to be able to reproduce them for my own students.

Over the last 20 years, I developed The Rapid Enlightenment Process. It is a system specifically designed to create the enlightened state by recontextualizing dogma; beliefs you hold on to about reality that are unprovable.  

I call my students Spiritual Hooligans because they love to challenge the rules about what it means to be spiritual. There are no rules. Rules limit you. Dogma is just a made up story. If you are going to make things up, you might as well make things up that work for you rather then limit you.

Using The Rapid Enlightenment Process, my students and I have put the following myths about enlightenment to the test.

Myth #1: You can’t be a normal person and be enlightened

Many people worry that they are going to become a weirdo and be ostracized by their friends and family. Actually, the opposite happens. As you achieve higher and higher states of enlightenment, you become a magnet for good. The people in your life begin seeking you out and wanting to be in your presence. It’s really positive for all the people around you.

Myth #2: You must give everything up to be enlightened

One of the most common myths about being enlightened is that you must renounce the world and give up all your possessions. This is simply not true. You can have it all. There are no rules. Any rule you can think of, we would put to the test and challenge.

It’s very simple: when you recognize that we are all one thing expressing itself with infinite variety, you naturally accept and appreciate everyone and everything. There’s nothing to give up.

Of course, you will naturally rise above and stop participating in degrading people, situations, and environments. There will be a whole host of things you do in your current life that no longer make any sense. But that will be an effortless release. You don’t need to give it all up for enlightenment.

Myth #3: You must dress, walk and talk like a spiritual person. Wear symbols, gems or crystals etc.

Symbols, gems, crystals, and clothes don’t help or take away from your enlightenment. I’m sure there are certain things that make you feel good about clothes and crystals etc. That’s more about personal preference and aesthetic, than creating a state of pervasive peace.

I love the spiritual symbols and swag as much as the next guy. Some things are strengthening and uplifting and others are degrading. There is something about certain images, symbols, crystals etc. that make me smile and feel good.

I love the Spiritual Hooligan logo that Kristen created for me. Crystals, jewelry, idols, and clothing had nothing to do with removing my attachments to imaginary benefits and giving way to an enlightened state. Yet, they are nice reminders of what I’m committed to.

When you say things like, “I just know my abundance is coming. I am wearing all my crystals, I put my sacred-healing lavender oils on this morning, mercury is out of retrograde and new clients are coming, I can feel it,” you are trying to be optimistic. But the context that your capabilities are dependent on those illusive outside forces debilitates you.

Myth #4: You must chant, make specific finger signs or have special mantras to be enlightened

These are disciplines, structures, and processes created by eastern religions to assist the student in achieving enlightenment.

Unfortunately, none of these disciplines will create your enlightened state. Only an enlightened teacher can invoke that state in you. There’s no harm in doing them. If they make you feel good, do it. Enlightenment is a reconsideration of your entire existence and it’s possible that certain disciplines will reinforce that for you, but they aren’t necessary. You can find your own way of reinforcing the enlightened perspectives.

Like I said above, I’m not a Buddhist or Hindu. Of course, I appreciate the structure and the intent of the chanting based religions. I have never chanted on purpose, other than trying to sound like I know what Deva Premal (amazing recording artist) is saying. As a musician, I love the way chanting sounds and I’ve used it in several of my own recordings.

It’s apparent to me that chants are very high conscious ideas. The Rapid Enlightenment Process demonstrates that most chants represent phase one enlightenment, which is very uplifting.

I get the premise that if you chant an enlightened perspective over and over, it will change you. It appears to be valuable to millions of people. Seems like a really, really slow path. I prefer rapid enlightenment.

Myth #5: You have to spend time in an ashram to enlighten

Hey! If you can find an enlightened teacher who sits in an ashram, then you are in luck! I never did that. I’ve been in the presence of five enlightened teachers who were at various stages of their enlightenment. None of them in an ashram. It still worked for me.

I’ve supported many of my students in achieving that state and most of the time we were in my house or in a hotel somewhere in the world. It’s pretty fun to go into an enlightened state in the middle of Manhattan. Spiritual Hooligans!!

Myth #6: To enlighten, you have to be into eastern mysticism

Eastern mysticism and religion don’t have the franchise on enlightenment. Once you achieve the state, it becomes evident that enlightenment is a set of perspectives that all high-minded people aspire to.

When you see that we are all one thing expressing itself with infinite variety, you naturally become devoted to kindness, appreciation, willingness, flexibility, and acceptance of all people and things. The Asian cultures are not the only ones committed to those basic principles of being a citizen of the planet.

Myth #7: You need to meditate all the time to be enlightened

Meditation has its place in the process. But it’s not a means to an end. If you are devoted to enlightenment, then you will probably be drawn to meditation.

Meditation can be profound. I highly recommend you spend as much time as you can meditating. It feels so good when your mind is silent and infinity presents itself to you. As you achieve higher and higher states, you will be drawn to the silence.

That said, no meditation is required for achieving enlightenment. It’s helpful in maintaining your enlightenment but not necessary either.

Just make sure when you do, you avoid teachers and techniques that invoke the perspective of pre-enlightened states vs. fully enlightened states. Many meditations that got you where you are, become degrading when you enlighten.

Myth #8: Enlightenment is only for the special few

This was true in the past. But something has changed in the consciousness and capacity of human beings. My mentor, Dr. Hawkins, noted a change in consciousness in 1986. As you listen to the teachers of today, they will all tell you that we are “awakening” as a species. I agree with that sentiment.

My teachers assisted me in getting there. I’m just a normal guy who use to have a mohawk when he was a kid. I’ve personally assisted people in achieving and maintaining an enlightened state. My process is getting more and more predictable and effective. The evidence demonstrates that enlightenment is going to become prevalent in our society over the next few decades.

Myth #9: You can’t be enlightened and materially successful

This is a myth. Being enlightened simply means you know that we are all one thing expressing itself with infinite variety. You recognize that the difference between you and everything you experience is your perception.

When you “know” that, you have incredible courage and tenacity. You don’t get stopped by irrational fears projected by The Drunk Monkey (my name for negative mind chatter).

Many of my enlightened students have achieved far more success since becoming enlightened than ever before.

Not all people push to be more successful when they achieve enlightenment. Some of my students go the opposite direction after realizing that all their desires for success were simply attachments and illusions. They simplify and enjoy their life.

The only predictable outcome is profound levels of peace and certainty.

Myth #10: Once you are enlightened, you are eternally at peace

Peace and certainty may be the predictable outcome but that doesn’t mean they are 24/7. I remember being a little taken back when some of my teachers would have temper tantrums. It happens.

I was living in a fairy tale that said, “Once you are enlightened, you are now perfect and no longer human.”  Wrong. You still have a body. You still have a nervous system. You still have old emotional triggers that come up.

The difference is you have the inner knowing that these triggers all stem from the illusion that you are finite, vulnerable, and important, or that life is important and that you must try to survive.

In your enlightened state, you realize that nothing matters. When you get triggered, and you will, you have to develop the skills of getting back to your oneness state. With practice, you can even out the ups and downs.

The benefits of living in an enlightened state far outweigh the time and effort it takes to get there. Navigating today’s complex world is far easier when you know you are infinite and you can see people are just doing what they are doing. You see that you have preferences, but you’ve released your attachments to things being a certain way.

When you recognize that the source of life within you is the source of life within everyone and everything and that we are all one thing expressing itself with infinite variety, then you are free to do, be, and have whatever life you desire.

In the end, I encourage you to start busting these myths in your own life and discover for yourself that being in an enlightened state is a very practical way to live.