by Leonard Jacobson: Answer, There are a number of levels from which I can respond to your question…
The first is to say that enlightenment is the awakened state of Being. When all thoughts have stopped and you are in a state of deep inner silence, which is profoundly peaceful and still, you are in the enlightened state. You are so fully present with everything around you that separation largely dissolves and you experience Oneness. You feel the Presence of God or the Divine within you and within everything around you.
It is profoundly blissful. A deep inner knowing arises and yet you are in silence. You come to know yourself as love. Profound insights and revelations sometimes emerge out of the silence. Spontaneous healings can occur.
This awakened state is the natural state of your Being. It is the truth of who you are. It is ever present within you. It is just that most of the time, you are so involved in the world of the thinking mind and the past and future that you are largely unaware of it.
At the deepest level of enlightenment, or Presence, all separation dissolves completely. The personal dimension of you disappears. There is no sense of your self in the past or the future. There is no sense of life outside of the present moment. You have become utterly absorbed into Oneness and the mystery of existence in the moment.
However, you cannot function in the world at this level. You would need a team of caretakers to take care of you. I recommend a softer version of enlightenment — one that allows you to function in the world in an enlightened and balanced way.
This means that you are fundamentally grounded in the present moment, but the world of time is available to you. You are in the world but not of the world. You have a sense of the past and future, but you are not identified with it in any way. You know that only this moment is the truth of life.
Enlightenment is also a process.
Each time you allow repressed feelings, thoughts and memories to emerge from the darkness of your unconscious mind into the light of awakened consciousness, you bring more light into your life and your Being. As you continue with this process of liberating yourself from the wounds and traumas of the past, you will gradually become enlightened, which simply means that there is nothing left in the darkness of the unconscious mind.