Episode 74: What Does Enlightenment Feel Like? with Christiane Michelberger

Mindful practices like meditation and yoga help alleviate suffering and brings a sense of inner peace.  Ultimately these practices can lead us to awakening, where we realize our infinite selves.  This state is obviously desirable but have you ever wondered what enlightenment really feels like?  Do you get inducted to this higher state with a big golden light and a choir of angels like in the movies? What does it mean when somebody has "awakened"? Also, how do you function in everyday society when you realize that everything is just an illusion?? 

In this episode, Christiane Michelberger patiently answers these questions for us. This was an ultra mind blowing conversation! there were so many times where I was left speechless as I tried to wrap my head around new ideas. I found my self say “whaaaaaat…” and “huh” a lot. Clearly I’m not enlightened yet! But I do have a clear understanding of what it means to be in that state - in Christiane’s words “constant stillness, peace and a subtle hum of love-joy”. The key to getting there is also very simple. We just need to open our eyes and realize that realize that there is no separate self. We are all one, interconnected, boundless being whose natural state is love and bliss. As Christiane described it, it’s like a fish looking for water that finally realizes it’s in the ocean.

As with many teachings of wisdom, the simplest ones are the most profound. Also the most complex to execute (like how in the teachings of the Tao they say that the Tao that can be named is not the Tao. Seriously, whaaaaat? Then how do you know it’s the Tao?! If you know, you know).

A little more about Christiane and why she’s the person we want to be hearing from….

Christiane has been on the path of awakening for 40 years. As a young physician, she realized her own morality when a motorcyclist was rushed into the ER. Unfortunately the injuries were fatal and the patient couldn’t be saved. It was a poignant moment as Christiane realized that patient was just as young as her. This spurred the question: Who am I? From there, Christiane dedicated her life to looking deeper in the nature of things. She studied with Zen Masters, Indian Gurus and Buddhist teachers. Today, she guides others toward their own awakening. We also get to hear Christiane’s full story including how she faced her own morality again when she was diagnosed with cancer just a few years ago.

Key Nuggets:

  • For Christiane, she uses a feeling of “sweet love” as her inner compass to guide her

  •  The 10 Fetters was created by the Buddha. 

    • The fetters are what binds us to suffering. They are all the layers of assumptions that cover what we experience.

    • Working through the fetters brings you toward enlightenment. It’s meant to shift you.

    • It’s all very simple, you just need to ask yourself: are you experiencing this or thinking it?  Is there wanting or not wanting?

1. Illusion of the self:  The sense of “I” vs “you”

2. Doubt about the teachings

 3. Belief in rites & rituals

4. Pushing and pulling experiences to feel better (wanting more pleasure and less pain). There is no wanting or not wanting.  When you live in full equanimity, then you experience true contentment

5. To be against others. Results in reactions (ex. Road rage, getting upset at children).

6. Attachment to material things

7. Attachment to the immaterial

8.  Comparing

9. Distracted, restless mind

10. Not knowing. Ignorance.

 

  • When you awaken, you see things for what they are.  It’s like you were a fish in the ocean looking for water.  

  • When awakened, we truly realize that there is no separate self.  There is no “I”. And then you experience this constant stillness, peace and a subtle hum of love-joy.  It’s not totally nothingness.  It’s very full. Experience without words.

  • We need to move between absolute and relative. In other words, you can’t live in a state of enlightenment all the time. It’s more like flowing in and out of it so that you can also function in normal human society.

  •  “purpose” and “meaning” is something that we grasp b/c we have not awakened

  •  The truth is really quite simple: There are no boundaries between you and everything else.  Is everything then perceived or not?  There is no “self”, there is nothing…well, not nothing. There’s love and peace and bliss.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

Always follow your gut feeling about whether something is right for you or not. When you find yourself reasoning why this is the right thing to do - it's not right.    Somehow we will always meet the experiences that are required at that point.  Once you’re ready, the lessons will come.

 What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?

Do not believe anything anybody says, not even the Buddha, Jesus, Nisargadatta or whoever. Never take something as being true if you have not found it to be true in your own first-hand experience. Be an explorer, not a believer. Only by exploring and walking the path yourself, transformation happens. 

Links:

If you have any questions for Christiane  or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.findingawakening.com

Facebook: @findingawakening