The following is an excerpt from the wonderful new book, Let Your Soul Sing: Enlightenment is for Everyone by Ann Purcell.
“This is the glory of the nature of the Self. Having come back home, the traveler finds peace. The intensity of happiness is beyond the superlative. The bliss of this state eliminates the possibility of any sorrow, great or small… This state of self-sufficiency leaves one steadfast in oneself, fulfilled in eternal contentment.” — Maharishi
I’ll never forget my first meditation. I felt so still and peaceful, yet I felt a heightened alertness as well. It was probably the longest I had ever sat still—quiet and settled—in my whole life; it was only 20 minutes! Afterwards, I felt a huge weight had been lifted from me. It dawned on me that I had found something I had been looking for my whole life without even knowing I was searching for something. Immediately I knew I had come home.
Up to this point my whole life had been social. I was always surrounded by people; rarely was I ever able to be alone unless I was reading a book or watching TV. I thought it was amazing that I could sit by myself and meditate and actually enjoy it. It seemed like a miracle.
Over the next months, I noticed many changes taking place within me. First of all, I began to focus on my schoolwork. I was the type of student who only did well if I liked my teacher and the course. I was quite an expert at getting out of homework or doing just the bare minimum to pass. I was definitely someone who slipped through the cracks as far as my high school education was concerned. I am sure I must have had ADD—Attention Deficit Disorder—because I felt so restless in class and always avoided doing my homework. After learning the Transcendental Meditation technique, I started regularly going to the library in Oxford to study. I loved the silence and would stay for hours. Believe me, this was a dramatic change!
I also noticed that I started to become more aware of my surroundings, especially of nature. The outdoors took on a vibrant transparency, and I began to notice details and textures in the leaves, grass, and trees. The sweet fragrance of flowers became more apparent. The freshness after a gentle rainfall enlivened all of my senses. I began to feel connected with my environment and, most of all, I felt the beauty of nature stir my emotions. Something inside me started to sing with the joy of life. My soul began to sing from within itself.
The following poem by 13th century Sufi master Hafiz expresses my experience of transcendental Being waking up inside me:
“ What is this precious love and laughter
Budding in our hearts?
It is the glorious sound
Of a soul waking up!”
Another change I noticed was that I began to feel at home—more comfortable and natural—in any situation, because I was feeling more at home with my Self.
In a poem I wrote years after learning TM, I recalled that early experience of “coming home.”
The first time I transcended
I had finally come home.
My long search suddenly ended
walking down many long roads.
My home is a silent place—
a dark vast vibrant sphere.
A place that everyday I embrace,
its warm security beyond fear.
With time I began to explore
the different sparkling rooms
and sank deeper into a crystal core,
sweet like roses in bloom.
Now I own this cosmic dwelling
as my universal, divine abode.
Here love is ever swelling
within itself, love continually unfolds.
Everywhere is now my home,
as my silent Self is everywhere.
I feel blessed in this sacred dome
in which every breath is a prayer.
Enlightenment—Is It Possible?
“What is important is the alternation of the Transcendental Meditation technique with daily activity. Rest and activity—this is the way to grow to enlightenment—to live life free from suffering, to live life in bliss consciousness.” —Maharishi
“Know thyself,” the inscription at the ancient temple of the Oracle of Delphi in Greece, has been the advice given by the wise to people throughout the ages.
As Shakespeare famously stated in Hamlet, “to thine own self be true.”
A verse in the Tao Te Ching says:
“He who knows others is wise.
He who knows himself is enlightened.”
“Know thyself” does not mean only knowing the superficial level of your own personality—the small self. It means knowing the transcendental, universal value of your “big” Self. It is important to remember that knowing yourself is not an intellectual endeavor but mainly an experiential reality. Maharishi was fond of the expression “knowing by Being.” You know yourself fully by becoming that universal, unbounded value of the transcendent. As Mundaka Upanishad (1.1.3) says, “Know that by knowing which nothing else remains to be known.”
Enlightenment may still sound very far-fetched, idealistic, and fanciful, but there are millions of meditators around the world who have been regularly practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique and are enjoying concrete experiences of higher states of consciousness. They also experience more support of nature and that life flows more effortlessly.
Maharishi once said that enlightenment is the birthright of everyone and that three basic things accelerate the growth of enlightenment:
• First and foremost, be regular in the practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs.
• Maintain a regular, balanced daily routine with proper rest at night.
• Eat wholesome, pure organic foods and drink pure water.
It is important to take care of the body for overall health and well-being, which also facilitates clearer experiences of the growth of enlightenment. Maharishi points out that the path to enlightenment is a pathless path because there is nowhere to go. We simply experience the quiet level of our Self that is already there. It is just a matter of opening our awareness and experiencing that silent level. Enlightenment means being stabilized in the light of your transcendental, unbounded, blissful Self in daily life. It is the natural, all-time state of Being of everyone; we just need to wake up to it.
Another point Maharishi emphasized is that enlightenment is not something to wait for in the future—you should enjoy the unfoldment of it every day. To answer the question in the title of this chapter, “Enlightenment—Is It Possible?” Yes, enlightenment not only is possible; it is the birthright of everyone born on this earth!
©2012 Ann Purcell. All rights reserved.
Ann Purcell is the author of Let Your Soul Sing—Enlightenment is for Everyone.