Defining Enlightenment

‘Saint Augustine’ (detail) – Philippe de Champaigne, 1645 – Wikimedia


A thunderclap under the clear blue sky
All beings on earth open their eyes;
Everything under heaven bows together;
Mount Sumeru leaps up and dances
~ Wumen Huikai (enlightenment poem)


The words for the discovery of our true nature — like enlightenment, realisation, awakening, liberation, etc — are all very significant. They all point to truth and have numerous things to say. Take ‘enlightenment’ for instance. Its original signification is ‘to shine’ or ‘to make luminous’. So to enlighten means to put the light on. It means to cease being distracted by all that is objective in our experience and doesn’t define us truly, and make what is already and absolutely ours here and now apparent. It doesn’t mean to achieve, to reach, to attain, to get something new. Where did we get this idea from? But let’s be very cautious here: to make luminous — does this even require a doing? Why should we have anything to do when the light is already fully on? So to be enlightened is really more a matter of noticing what is already here, and that we have missed due to a pathological phenomenon of blindness. We are too occupied with a thousand things, worried, concerned, busy with this and that, distracted, ambitious, desiring, grasping, expecting, and god only knows what else we have in mind to so successfully avoid seeing the patently obvious. Our true reality and identity as consciousness is already present, luminous and shining in every corner of our experience and we are blind to it. That’s where the word ‘realisation’ comes in.


An essay exploring the signification of enlightenment… (READ MORE…)


Wei Wu Wei

‘Hotei in a Boat’ – Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1769) – Yale University Art Gallery – Wikimedia


When could I have been born,
I who am the conceiver of time itself?
Where could I live,
I who conceive the space wherein all things extend?
How could I die,
I who conceive the birth, life, and death of all things,
I who, conceiving, cannot be conceived?

~ Wei Wu Wei (Posthumous Pieces)


You may have sometime come across the name ‘Wei Wu Wei’ while reading or researching, and you have thought that it referred to an exotic and remote Zen master of ancient China. Well, you couldn’t have been more wrong. For this is the pen name of a British aristocrat and writer of the last century. His name: Terence James Stannus Gray, who was born in 1895 and died in 1986, the very same years as J. Krishnamurti. ‘Wu Wei’ is nevertheless a Taoist term which literally means ‘effortless action’ or ‘action that is non-action’, and was chosen by the author for the meaning it carries. Regarding his name, the writer explains in the preface of his book ‘Fingers Pointing Towards The Moon’: “What is a name? […] Is not a name essentially — the name of an ego? But the Self, the Principal, the I-Reality has no name. […] If the nameless builders of the Taj Mahal, of Chartres, of Rheims, of a hundred cathedral symphonies, knew that — and avoided the solecism of attributing to their own egos the works that were created through their instrumentality — may not even a jotter-down of passing metaphysical notions know it also?” He continued: “But in case you should still wonder who is responsible for this book I do not know how to do better than to inscribe the words




Why are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 per cent
Of everything you think,
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself —
And there isn’t one
~ (‘Ask The Awakened’)


Discover the rich and insightful nondual writing of Wei Wu Wei… (READ MORE…)


The Fountain of Dark Silence

‘Above the eternal tranquility’ – Isaac Levitan, 1894 – WikiArt


There is a fountain inside you.
Don’t walk around
with an empty bucket
~ Rumi


Dorothy Walters is my newly invited guest on ‘The Dawn Within’. The ‘fountain’ refers here to this deep source at the core of our being, this “fountain of dark silence”, as Dorothy wrote in one of her poems. Dorothy experienced a profound Kundalini awakening in 1981, at the age of 53, which she described as “God moving through your body”, “the Beloved within“, “the goddess above all other goddesses”, or a “relentless agony of ascent”. This was her first expression of the ‘fountain inside’, a fountain of bliss in which she dipped again and again until, as she beautifully expresses in one poem:

“… nothing is left of us
but a fine ash
at the core
and then that, too, melting
to a nothingness,
a no place,
only a marker
where a somebody,
a something
once was.”
(Marrow of Flame)

Profoundly transformed by her experience, Dorothy began writing numerous spontaneous poems which are the direct expressions of the beauty and freshness of this inexhaustible source. They have been gathered in her website “Kundalini Splendor”, and in her numerous books.

Dorothy spent most of her youth as a lover of language and books. She took a PhD in English and American literature and taught both classical and contemporary literature at university. She had a life-long interest in some of the great poets and philosophers like W.B. Yeats, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and later on Rumi, Hafiz, Mirabai and Kabir, which had a deep influence on her poetry. She also helped to found one of the earlier women’s studies programs in the U. S. and directed it for many years. She continues sharing and writing on the subject of Kundalini awakening to this day. After an extended residence in San Francisco, Dorothy now lives and writes in Colorado. I have selected here a few of her poems, which are like the “raw honey of God”. I hope you will enjoy…


Turn me to gold.”
~ Kabir


Preparing to Meet the Goddess

Do not think of her
unless you are prepared
to be driven to your limits,
to rush forth from yourself
like a ritual bowl overflowing
with sacramental wine.

Do not summon her image
unless you are ready to be blinded,
to stand in the flash
of a center exploding,
yourself shattering into the landscape,
wavering bits of bark and water.

Do not speak her name
until you have said good-bye
to all your familiar trinkets –
your mirrors, your bracelets,
your childhood adorations –
From now on you are nothing,
a ghost sighing at the window,
a voice singing under water.

(from ‘Unmasking the Rose’)


Discover more of Dorothy Walter’s beautiful poems… (READ MORE…)


The Last Truth

9DF6C27B-1BF6-4BED-949F-40F4B6360333 man had left his village in search of enlightenment. After many long years, from hardship to hardship, he had become a vagabond, a pariah in our towns. One evening, he landed in a dense forest. He made a fire and thought of everything he had seen, lived and understood: pieces of light, of truth… but nothing like an awakening. He was a little discouraged when he heard a bird singing at the top of a tree: “I have the last truth, I have the last truth. It is for whoever will come and get it…”.

The man then began to climb to the top of this tree. Climbing was difficult and dangerous. As he climbed towards this last truth, he had to fight against vertigo. He was guided by the song of the bird without ever seeing it. He finally reached the summit and, bathing in a sumptuous golden light, he saw the sun set, the stars appear but no bird. However, the voice, coming out of nowhere and everywhere at the same time, said to him: “You came to receive a last truth, so receive it and leave to offer it to everyone who will believe you.”

At that moment all his questions were changed into answers and his answers into questions. The light became shadow and from the shadow was born light. All these pieces of scattered truths came together to form a whole, new, multiple truth. So his last truth became his first. His heart began to smile and his smile began to say the words of his heart. Then, without descending from the tree, awake and light, he was able to continue his way by riding some winds of wild wisdom.

Since then, this tree of passage, of metamorphosis, which was a wild tea tree, is venerated. Some of us offer or receive some of its leaves, attentive to everything that, in the golden glow of a cup, they could tell or sing to us, sensitive to any call.





Text found in my computer attic, source unknown
(Translated from French by Alain Joly)

Photo by Carol Brandt



Carol Brandt Photography

Other articles from the category ‘Shreds of Infinity


The Meeting

I come as an orphan to you, moist with love.
I come without refuge to you, giver of sacred rest.
I come a fallen man to you, uplifter of all.
I come undone by disease to you, the perfect physician.
I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine.
Do with me whatever you will
~ Jagannātha (Ganga Lahari)


FDB86CAA-FA77-4C31-8866-289AB1AC3D00enares – a strange and beautiful city, the most religious city of all, so entrancing, so mysterious. Pierre had often heard of this town, and now he was already treading its soil. Many people had advised him that it’s not a place to linger in. “You will be assailed by the rickshaws, the hoteliers, the merchants…”, said the tourist guides. So he was on his guard that morning, on leaving the station, and was preparing to fight hard with the hawkers and profiteers of all kinds. It was six o’clock in the morning and a beautiful day beckoned.

His anxiety was soon dispelled. Everything seemed strangely calm and serene. There wasn’t here this traditional turmoil of Indian cities, nor the famous dust that envelops every city with a gray and dirty halo. An incredible clarity illumined the landscape. Oh! Of course! One had to endure, as everywhere else in this country, the innumerable calls of the rickshaw drivers, or the greedy shopkeepers. Gazes were as intense as everywhere else in India, students as curious, children as mischievous, cows as nonchalant, dogs wandering everywhere. Everything was so marvelously the same as the rest of India, and yet Benares was not a place like any other.

A short story, that tells of an unexpected meeting (READ MORE…)


Blown Out

We continue our series of texts or essays on different subjects of spiritual interest. The question here is about ‘having a spiritual experience’, and delving into the nature of what is called ‘awakening’…


There is a safe place in view of all, but difficult of approach,
where there is no old age nor death, no pain nor disease.
It is what is called nirvāṇa, or freedom from pain, or perfection;
it is the safe, happy, and quiet place which the great sages reach.
That is the eternal place, in view of all, but difficult of approach.

~ Uttaradhyana Sutra, 81-4 (Buddhism)


Nothing much, really. Something just like peeking out of the window. But let’s not be overly disdainful, for this can bend the course of a life and change it in a profound way. To have a spiritual experience is a blessing, a call, maybe a rehearsal for the final dissolution. It leaves you puzzled, wanting to understand, and above all, searching to have it again in the future. It can be just a flavour suddenly lingering at the back of your mind, or a spectacular awakening, or anything in between. In all cases, you meet something new, that is outside any known experience, and yet has a familiar flame, like an old forgotten memory. Above all, peace, love, and happiness are attached to it. It is the DNA of any genuine experience, its vital core, and what makes it so desirable. After all, do we want anything in life but a lasting happiness? It can last for seconds, minutes, or days. It comes as a grace, unexpected, uninvited. One important characteristic is that it fades away, finally disappears. Otherwise we wouldn’t call it an ‘experience’. A spiritual experience is an awakening that failed.

An essay to delve into the nature of Awakening (READ MORE…)