Spiritual enlightenment is one of the most elusive ideas in our lives. Nobody actually knows what it is, apart from a few people who are indeed enlightened. We don’t know who they are, as we don’t know what enlightenment is, and whether those people are honest or not, after all. If they are truly enlightened, they don’t talk about it, as there is no need for that, or it’s simply indescribable.
We could even say that every attempt to explain enlightenment or talk about it is rude or presumptuous. Maybe it is, but sometimes we simply are too curious and bold to do such things.
Nonetheless, if we want to talk about enlightenment, we have to define it in the first place. It’s not an easy task, however, and in this article I will use two sources: enlightenment as considered by some of the eastern spiritual traditions (as western traditions can have a completely different understanding of this term), and spiritual symbolism that can be found in modern physics.
If we want to talk about enlightenment, we have to define it in the first place.
The idea of spiritual enlightenment is present in all of the eastern spiritual traditions. The main four of them are Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Jainism, which offer these terms:
Although differing greatly in their views on enlightenment and one’s supposed path to it, these ancient spiritual traditions seem to agree upon this: enlightenment is a permanent, irreversible state of highest happiness, perfect stillness, inner freedom, liberation from suffering and rebirth, and realization of the highest truth.
Ancient spiritual traditions seem to agree upon this: enlightenment is a permanent, irreversible state of highest happiness, perfect stillness, inner freedom, liberation from suffering and rebirth, and realization of the highest truth.
Stages of Becoming Enlightened
In my opinion, it is not possible to distinguish any levels of enlightenment itself, as it is the final stage of awakening, the absolute liberation (whatever that means) and as such unequivocal and definite.
However, as there are many paths leading to it, there are numerous stages leading to that state, too. For example, in Theravada Buddhism, there are four stages of enlightenment. In this case, I would re-formulate this overview as the stages to enlightenment, except the fourth stage, which refers to the attributes of an enlightened human being.
These stages represent signposts on the gradual path of expansion of consciousness that leads toward the final goal, liberation.
Some spiritual traditions, however, like Zen Buddhism or Dzogchen, have a rapid or sudden approach to attaining enlightenment. Through their practices, they are trying to swiftly leave the mind behind and realize the Truth. While that approach is simpler and seemingly faster, it has its traps and may easily lead to a false sense of enlightenment.
 Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_enlightenment
Some spiritual traditions, however, like Zen Buddhism or Dzogchen, have a rapid or sudden approach to attaining enlightenment.
There are also people, for whom the spiritual work is not necessary for achieving the final liberation. These relatively rare individuals apparently have mysterious inherent abilities and pre-conditions for attaining enlightenment. They usually achieve liberation suddenly, with little or no effort at all.
Here is an amazing story of Eckhart Tolle’s awakening:
“One night not long after my twenty-ninth birthday, I woke up in the early hours with a feeling of absolute dread. (…) ‘I cannot live with myself any longer.’ This was the thought that kept repeating itself in my mind. Then suddenly I became aware of what a peculiar thought it was. ‘Am I one or two? If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with.’ ‘Maybe,’ I thought, ‘only one of them is real.’ I was so stunned by this strange realization that my mind stopped. I was fully conscious, but there were no more thoughts. Then I felt drawn into what seemed like a vortex of energy. It was a slow movement at first and then accelerated. I was gripped by an intense fear, and my body started to shake. I heard the words ‘resist nothing,’ as if spoken inside my chest. I could feel myself being sucked into a void. It felt as if the void was inside myself rather than outside. Suddenly, there was no more fear, and I let myself fall into that void. I have no recollection of what happened after that.
I was awakened by the chirping of a bird outside the window. I had never heard such a sound before. My eyes were still closed, and I saw the image of a precious diamond. Yes, if a diamond could make a sound, this is what it would be like. I opened my eyes. The first light of dawn was filtering through the curtains. Without any thought, I felt, I knew, that there is infinitely more to light than we realize. That soft luminosity filtering through the curtains was love itself. Tears came into my eyes. I got up and walked around the room. I recognized the room, and yet I knew that I had never truly seen it before. Everything was fresh and pristine, as if it had just come into existence. I picked up things, a pencil, an empty bottle, marveling at the beauty and aliveness of it all. That day I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born into this world.
Nebo D. Lukovich
Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you. - Rumi
All concepts and ideas described in this article are based on the holographic principle as the premise. Here’s why.
A new theory in modern physics says that we are living in the holographic universe. It’s a mathematical idea examined thoroughly in string theory. According to it, we are 3D projections of a 2D reality right at the outermost edges of our universe. The theory is yet to be confirmed, but recent astronomical observations can be even better explained by the holographic model than by the standard cosmological model.
This leads us to the holographic paradigm itself, which is obviously entering the realm of science. Although the cosmological holographic model doesn’t focus on human scale, our individual reality could consequently be a hologram itself. More on holographic principle and its consequences to our lives you can find at this page. Nevertheless, if we apply the holographic view on our individual lives, it becomes clear that we must take absolute responsibility for our existence. That view tells us that everything around us is simply a mirrored image of our inner being. I would add here, the symbolical image.
 See article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_principle
Honestly, my whole life absolutely confirms this idea. When you take the full responsibility for your life, you will soon see that everything around you is indeed a mirrored image of yourself. You are the only one who is in charge of your life, and that’s the most beautiful thing in the whole picture.
As we are parts of the universal hologram, everything around us tells us some important story about ourselves. What’s also important to know is that those stories are always conveying their messages in some sort of symbolical form.
That’s why we can find the deep symbolism in quantum physics and relativity. Moreover, those symbolic parallels to our everyday life can give us very practical and valuable advice.
Through symbolism, the quantum world tells us about the foundations of our existence as conscious beings and gives us some important clues on possible solutions to fundamental questions of our existence.
On huge scales, we have astronomy and cosmology. Relativity is also mostly seen as a part of physics that describes the inner workings of the universe at large scales. All of them are telling us about the bigger picture of our lives – about God, Good and Evil, about our personality, other human beings and other important big ingredients of life.
Now, let’s take a look at some of these thought-provoking insights.
Symbolism in astronomy
Space-time and energy
On big scales, the Universe consists of four main ingredients: space, time, matter and energy. Modern physics teaches us that space and time constitute one four-dimensional continuum called space-time, while matter and energy are also one entity – we can call it simply energy.
What is space-time? It’s a background of the whole stage. It’s the womb of energy and its countless forms. It symbolizes the Source, the primal foundation of consciousness and all its experiences.
On the other hand, energy symbolizes consciousness. Its denser form – matter or mass – symbolizes limited (localized) consciousness, while pure energy – or light – symbolizes unlimited, or all-pervading consciousness.
Stars and solar systems
Perhaps the most prominent features of the cosmos are stars. While the Milky Way galaxy can represent the whole humanity, stars can symbolize individual human souls. They are generators of light itself. Moreover, stars maintain innumerable life forms on their planets. They are also symbols of Good, Light and Joy.
Our solar system represents human personality. Consequently, planets, planetoids, asteroids, comets and all other sorts of celestial bodies that lurk around within the system – they symbolize innumerable parts of the human personality. In accordance with that, the well-known fact in psychology is that every personality consists of countless “bigger” or “smaller” parts or aspects. Each part has its own life, orbits around the sun, or has a specific “purpose.” The planets, asteroids and other bodies are frequently colliding with each other or ejecting the other bodies from their previous orbits, even from the entire solar system. This happens all the time with our own aspects of personality, too. They are often mutually discordant, clashing with each other, bringing us numerous troubles and failures in that way.
It’s interesting that the vast majority of stars are parts of binary star systems. Sometimes there are even more than two stars in a single system. Those stars, although normally very different in their size and type, are almost eternally tied to each other.
Stars are giving us a strong symbolic spiritual message: our souls are the sources of consciousness, very longevous, but still mortal. Our personalities, clustered around their souls, are stable only if all of their parts are settled within stable positions, in mutual harmony.
If the core of our being – the soul – is mortal, then what is immortal? Light. It is generated mostly by stars, but it’s not dependent on them. It's immortal and omnipresent. So, also in this symbolism, light represents our consciousness.
In ancient times, our souls were often born with their twin counterparts (as within the binary star systems). In most of these cases, our so-called twin-flames (or soul mates) are very different from us, yet are we linked by destiny.
However, you will see later that we can learn more on the nature of twin-flames from the quantum physics symbolism.
There is a pretty strict rule in the stellar world: the more massive a star, the shorter its life. Translated to our symbolic language, our souls have inherent egoistic inclinations.
Mass symbolizes human ego and its characteristic traits, such as pride, vanity, laziness, procrastination, limited perception, etc. Nevertheless, without their huge mass, stars wouldn’t be able to ignite the thermonuclear reaction within themselves, which is the source of their heat and light. Accordingly, ego is necessary for living in this world; it definitely has some important functions for our survival in this world – thinking, classifying data, prioritizing, and much more.
The majority of stars are the so-called red dwarfs, the least massive type of stars. But they live very, very long – for over 100 billion years. They die off slowly, transforming and swelling into the “red giants” and eventually disappearing, leaving a small “corpses” behind – the “white dwarfs.”
On the other hand, if a star is very massive, being, for example, the “blue giant” star, its radiation (emitted heat and light) will be extremely high, but the lifespan will be much shorter – even “only” a few million years. And if the star is sufficiently massive, it’ll eventually die through a huge explosion, as a supernova. What happens with its remnants – the dense core? It may become a neutron star, an extremely dense and hot “corpse,” or something even worse – a black hole.
This symbolism says: people with a “big ego” will eventually achieve a dramatic enlightenment (“supernova explosion”), but will also leave some dangerous remnants or deeds behind (“neutron star” or “black hole”). Also, people with a “small” ego will have many incarnations but eventually are not likely to achieve any dramatic enlightenment– they will attain the final liberation gradually and peacefully.
What are the opposites to stars? The black holes. They are the celestial bodies so massive that they suck in all matter in their vicinity. Even light itself cannot escape if it passes the purported “event horizon,” the ultimate dead zone radius. Black holes are the ultimate monsters. In our story of spiritual symbolism, they could represent the ultimate ego, vampires or the evil principle itself.
Nevertheless, every black hole also has its beginning and end. After eating all matter in its neighborhood, the black hole will eventually disappear through the purported “Hawking radiation.”
However, without black holes, galaxies wouldn’t exist at all. Being located in the galaxies’ cores, supermassive black holes are their gravitational foundations. Therefore, without black holes, there wouldn’t be any new-born stars that can be born only in galaxies. We wouldn’t be here after all.
Practical, symbolic meaning of black holes would be this: too much pride, egoism and vanity can eventually lead to forming a psychological vampire that sucks out life energy from people around him. However, without the dark side of human nature, humanity wouldn’t exist at all. Ultimately, it has a positive role to us: it’s forcing us to stick together, to grow and mature up into a better version of ourselves.
Time as the measure of limitation of consciousness
The theory of relativity undoubtedly says: massless entities (such as light) do not experience time at all. Conversely, if a massive body approaches the speed of light, the passage of time gets ever slower.
Symbolically speaking, when someone is fully conscious, time goes very slowly for them. When someone acquires absolute consciousness, time stops for them. Space does exist, but only in a form of four-dimensional continuum of space-time, experienced all at once, simultaneously and totally. The individual (if we can call them that way whatsoever) is infinite, omniscient, eternal and omnipresent. One could say – the “individual” becomes God Himself.
On the other hand, if a person is totally unconscious, time is infinite for them. When someone gets unconscious, either through sleep without dreams or in a comma, they instantaneously pass through time, into the future when they get on their feet, conscious again. They virtually jump into the future.
The one who is enlightened experiences omniscience, omnipresence, and timelessness.
Quantum physics’ symbolism
Quantum physics is probably the least intuitively understood branch of science, not only by ordinary people but physicists themselves. The natural phenomena observed on that level are so strange and fascinating, that they are the source of endless inspiration for both science and mysticism. Although the things and events at this level to our senses seem blurred and warped somehow, the quantum theory is one of the most accurate and successful scientific theories yet!
Double-slit experiment and the observer’s role
Subatomic particles’ behavior apparently depends on the presence of an observer. It has been proven by the astonishing Double-slit experiment, countless times. In short, the experiment involved shooting quantum particles through a couple of narrow slits, then examining where they hit the wall on the other side. It was revealed that the particles, when not being watched by any human eye (through a measuring device), formed an ‘interference pattern’ on the wall, just like a wave would do. But when scientists watched which particular slit the particles passed through, their trajectories changed and instead formed clumps on the wall, just like real particles would do.
The quantum particles changed their behavior depending on the existence of an observer. We can reformulate this conclusion to its most basic level: consciousness somehow subtly influences matter, at least at the subatomic level.
Is there such an influence on the macroscopic scale? Many quantum physicists think so. The so-called “Copenhagen interpretation” of the double-slit experiment’s results indicate this: in every single moment of our conscious existence we are “collapsing the quantum wave function” and choosing only one of the myriad possible universes that lie ahead of us.
Therefore, we are not some passive experiencers of reality. On the contrary, we are actively choosing our reality ahead and making it real. Still, all those possible lines of time are real in a sense, we could say, as “potential realities.” And these potential realities can be real to other conscious beings.
The double-slit experiment tells us, both directly and symbolically, that we are the creators of our individual realities.
The “Quantum entanglement” phenomenon, said by Albert Einstein to be a kind of “spooky action at a distance,” has marked the first real proof of the inherent, interconnected properties of subatomic particles. The experimental data involved separating two photons from one another—both of which came from the same parent group of particles, originally—and stimulating only one of them to watch what reaction came from the other. Surprisingly, the unstimulated photon would mimic the actions of its partner, maintaining an identical quantum state... as though they’d never been separated at all.
 See article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement
For example, if one photon was influenced by a measurement and forced to change its quantum state (i.e. spin), the other photon would simultaneously change its spin the same way, no matter their distance, regardless of the speed of light limitations. And that’s said to be the case with all other quantum systems.
This phenomenon is a perfect example of the so-called quantum nonlocality. It can be described as the apparent ability of particles to instantaneously “know” about each other’s state, irrespective of the distance between them.
So, what does that suggest for all of us, considering that all particles in this universe were originally part of the same “one system,” starting with the Big Bang? The majority of the particles were separated and may have since lost their mutual entanglement, yes, but the notion still exists that virtually everything may still be profoundly linked. Could that not prove that we all are, too?
The “Quantum tunneling” phenomenon is being observed when a particle tunnels through a barrier that it otherwise could not pass through from the point of view of classical physics. Tunneling is, in fact, the consequence of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and the wave–particle duality of matter.
This behavior of subatomic particles corresponds to some Sci-Fi concepts, such as teleportation or paranormal curiosities like bi-location and also teleportation.
Moreover, the quantum tunneling phenomenon teaches us how to behave in our everyday life, when we face an obstacle. Sometimes it will be enough just to be persistent, wait calmly and, to our surprise, we will pass through the barrier.
Two types of elementary particles
The main features of the quantum world are fields and particles. In fact, every sub-atomic particle is an excitation or fluctuation of its own field, which is omnipresent. We could say that every particle is a sort of “condensed” energy. However, there are two main types of elementary particles in the quantum world: the massive and the massless particles, i.e. those with the “rest mass” and those without it.
Massless particles are always traveling at the speed of light. That’s the only possibility for them. That also means that they do not “experience” time. Moreover, they are omnipresent, as space (as we know it) do not exist for them. That reminds us of God or absolute consciousness.
Mass is not an inherent, mysterious feature of an elementary particle. It’s a property given by the Higgs field. It gives mass to every massive particle, from the “outside.” It’s a kind of a dense “soup” through which all massive particles must pass along their ways. This reminds us of our existence – full of various obstacles, with a very limited and unstable consciousness.
On the other hand, massless particles, like photons (quanta of light), for some reason, are not impeded by the Higgs field. (That reason is well-known in physics and I’ll jump on it later on.)
Regardless the elementary particles’ responsiveness to the Higgs field, all of them are traveling at the speed of light. The only difference between the massive and massless particles is that the massive ones are impeded by the Higgs field. Although still traveling at the speed of light, they are actually “oscillating” at the speed of light within tiny boundaries all around them, imposed by the Higgs field.
As said above, according to the equations of Einstein’s relativistic physics, all particles traveling at the speed of light don’t “experience” time and space. From their “point of view,” they are everywhere, and the lifespan of the whole existence is within their “now.” In a way, photons have no speed at all.
In our symbolic language, light symbolizes God’s presence. It is the symbol of perfectly enlightened people.
Unlike the elementary particles, which do not consist of any sub-particles, complex systems like protons, neutrons, atoms or molecules are always impeded by the Higgs field plus by all four elementary forces of nature. So, we are too.
The role of Higgs field
Let us assume that we are genuinely symbolized by the massive elementary particle. It’s impeded by the Higgs field. How can we transform ourselves into the light? How to avoid the hampering effect of the Higgs field? Answers to these questions might be very important because they could give us some invaluable clues how to “become” light, i.e. how to acquire the final liberation, Nirvana, or whatever you call it.
Modern physics says that a specific type of polarization of particles is the main reason why some of them have mass and some don’t.
“They (massless and massive elementary particles) are the same, really. All particles are fundamentally massless. Those with a rest mass acquire it only via a constant interaction with a field which provides the energy measured as the rest mass.” - Matus Marko, https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-relation-between-a-massless-particle-and-particles-with-mass/answer/Matus-Marko?srid=ueliZ
“There is a fundamental difference between a massless and massive vector boson which is the number of polarizations that the particle has. Massless vector bosons only have two polarizations (transverse) which is why polarizers on sunglasses work the way they do. Massive vector bosons have three polarizations, the two transverse and a longitudinal. (…) The Higgs boson can only give three vector bosons mass.” - Jay Wacker, https://www.quora.com/Does-the-Higgs-Boson-give-photons-mass/answer/Jay-Wacker?srid=ueliZ
The massless particle, since it doesn’t have the longitudinal polarization, cannot “go back and forth,” since it would have to accelerate and decelerate.
Practical directions to liberation
There are two ways of converting the massive particle into a massless one: either through annihilation with its anti-particle or through the elimination of its longitudinal polarization. The former is happening all the time in nature, as well in scientific laboratories and colliders, while the latter is purely theoretical, at the moment.
Still, both approaches are inherently the same. Through merging with its anti-matter counterpart, the particle cancels out its polarization and consequently transforms into light.
If we translate this symbolism into a meaningful advice for our spiritual life, we would have to integrate with our anti-persona. What would that mean?
Does it mean that we need to re-unite with our soul-mate (or twin-flame)? Well, not really, although in the outer world that might help, if the person is really the twin-flame. But then again, the real solution is to remove the inner roots of our limitations. Deep inside our souls, there are particular polarities that are actively obstructing us to attain our natural state – absolute freedom. We have to accept and embrace the unconscious, “dark” part of our being, the “shadow self.” We also need to fully accept the opposite sex within us. We have to reintegrate all other fundamental, yet deeply hidden polarities of our personality (many of them you can find in my book “Deep Personal Transformation,” downloadable for free on Amazon.com, at this address).
However, if we reintegrated these polarities, wouldn’t we still have some “mass”? As the majority of the mass of complex entities, such as protons, neutrons, and atoms, comes from other basic interactions (strong nuclear force, electromagnetic force), wouldn’t we still have almost the same “heaviness” in everyday life?
According to this symbolism, no. If we had an imaginary situation of converting, for example, a quark into a photon, neither the strong nuclear nor electromagnetic force could exert any influence on that photon anymore. So, the particle would have become completely free. Meaning, when we reintegrate all polarities, we will achieve the liberation, we’ll get enlightened.
Easier said than done. Even after passing through the whole list of inner polarities that we are aware of, many of them will still be hidden from our sight. Hence, we need a comprehensive approach to our transformation. We need to continue with the work, to encompass many other types of inner obstacles, i.e. to deal with habits, limiting beliefs, negative rules, fears and other emotions, decisions, subpersonalities, etc. Being reintegrated one by one, these aspects of our being will allow us to become aware of many more subtle polarities that we hadn’t been conscious of before. And through the reintegration work itself, we will be naturally merging many of these polarities, too.
We can now conclude that the secret to liberation lies in merging the opposites within us.
We all want liberation in some way, whether we are theists or atheists, religious or not, inclined to science or not… We all need to be happy and to free ourselves from suffering. There are countless paths to that goal, but all of them must encompass a direct or indirect work on ourselves. Dealing with numerous parts of our being, like traumas from the past, bad habits, negative beliefs, fear, anger, sorrow…is inevitable if we really want the enlightenment.
This inner work is difficult, yet inspirational, sometimes even humorous. But we must be persistent. We can work with these parts directly, using many psychological or spiritual techniques, or indirectly, by determinedly focusing on our True nature (the pure consciousness or God, if you like), through meditation sittings, mindfulness or prayers.
All of these approaches are legitimate. However, each of them might be suitable for a particular type of people and their personalities. Yet, I firmly believe that we can help each other in that process. That’s crucial. I didn’t mention love in this text, but it’s present throughout it, even within the “cold equations” of mathematics or physics.
I also believe that there are so many hidden messages yet to be discovered in quantum physics or relativity, worth of our “symbolic translation” into many valuable pieces of spiritual advice. If you find any additional symbol that could help people in their spiritual or psychological transformation, not only within these scientific fields but also in other branches of human thought, please make a comment and share with us!
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