What is Enlightenment?


Paramahamsa Nithyananda’s first spiritual experience can be aptly expressed by a beautiful verse from the Shiva Sutras – “Feeling the cosmos as a translucent, ever-living presence”. It was only after his first enlightenment experience that he felt something very different in him which he had never felt before. When his first experience happened, Nithyananda was only about twelve years old – a child. One day, he was sitting on The Coral Rock at the foothills of Arunachala and playfully trying a simple meditation technique given to him by an enlightened master, Annamalai Swamigal. He was intensely observing and intensely present in the moment. Generally, for any spiritual experience to happen, two things are required. One is to be completely open and available to the surroundings and second is the presence of an intense spiritual energy field. Sometimes even if a person is open, they may not be in the energy field and so, the first cracking of the coconut may not happen, since this is a most difficult job. Fortunately Nithyananda had the energy field of the spiritual incubator Arunachala, and was attracted to the beauty of that hill. Normally, when people see a hill or a river or an ocean everyday, they take it for granted, but that did not happen with him. He was continuously open and available, in the sense that every single glance of the hill was seen with fresh eyes and an open mind.

During the Poornima (full moon day), Nithyananda was sitting on the coral rock. It was after sunset and before the raising of the moon. There was an intense and vivid silence around him. Nithyananda was playfully experimenting with the simple technique of trying to find the source of his thoughts. As he was doing this, first the understanding happened to him that he is not solid as he always thought. The body and mind are not solid. They are just liquid, porous, and empty. One can go in and come out. One can get out or get in. Anything can be done. The first truth he experienced was that he is an empty, porous being.

Secondly, he slowly observed that his eyes have closed because of the deep silence. Next, he noticed that something opened up inside him which is beyond his two eyes. The moment that happened, he was not only able to see what was in front of him, but also all around him in a three-sixty degree vision! It was not just seeing, he also felt that everything was a part of him. With closed eyes one can see only their inner space, they can feel it. But Nithyananda felt that the idea of a boundary or a border was completely broken down and he could see everything around him, including all the eight directions, above and below. As alive as one can feel inside their body, that same life, that same presence he experienced with everything around him. He intensely felt that he was present in everything. For a few hours, he did not even remember his body.

Slowly and vaguely, he started remembering his body in the same way as one would remember their body in a dream. Nithyananda managed to come down from the rock and talked to Mataji Kuppammal (Vibhudhaananda Mataji), who was one of his first inspirations, and told her what had happened. She felt his hands and saw the energy there. She laughed and said that he was not possessed by a ghost, he was possessed by God! She encouraged and took care of him. However, even after two days, the experience or ability to see all three sixty degrees was very strong in him and did not go away.

One who can feel the cosmos as a translucent, ever-living presence will have tremendous intelligence and will know exactly how to connect. Living in the present moment passionately, intensely and with a feeling that it is their last moment is what can help one achieve this experience.

Taken from Nithyananda’s Shiva Sutra Discourse series in Montclair, California, USA in 2007