Enlightenment versus Ascension


In the early years of my spiritual path, my goal was to attain enlightenment. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but it seemed to me that enlightenment was the only true way of finding peace in life. Years later, I came across the concept of ascension, which initially seemed similar to the idea of enlightenment.

However, the ascension process, which is essentially a never-ending process of self-development, seemed closer to the truth. In contrast, once a person achieved enlightenment, it seemed that this was the end of the path. But as I have come to find out, enlightenment is actually a part of the spiritual path of ascension.

Understanding Enlightenment

As I eventually found out, enlightenment is not the “ultimate goal”. Nor is enlightenment something that needs to be actively sought after. Instead, it is more of a change in consciousness that can and will occur while on the path of ascension. The achievement of enlightenment itself will not necessarily speed up the process of ascension, but it does give a person a much clearer understanding of reality.

If we were to think of life as a dream, enlightenment would be analogous to realizing that one is dreaming while still in the dream. The immediate effect of such a realization would be that one would no longer take life so seriously. Ironically, this enables people who have reached such a realization to enjoy life more.

Think for a moment how you feel when you realize you are dreaming while in a dream (or when you suddenly wake up from a dream). There is an immediate sense of relief when you realize “oh, it is just a dream”. Similarly, when a person experiences enlightenment in life, there is immediate relief. A person’s troubles don’t magically disappear; instead, a person no longer considers one’s troubles to be hardships.

Ascension is The Spiritual Path

One spiritual master once commented that “life is a dream with tasks”. In other words, we are not just dreaming because we “fell asleep”. Instead, we fell asleep on purpose in order to accomplish something. The purpose of life is spiritual development; another name for the process of spiritual development is “ascension”.

Sometimes, the term “ascension” is used to describe a specific event that can occur during the ascension process (which is obviously confusing). Used in this context, “ascension” is the event where the spirit voluntarily leaves the body before physical death would otherwise occur. This can occur when a spirit’s development has progressed to the point that no further development is necessary while physically incarnated on Earth. As previously mentioned however, it is not necessary to “ascend” (as opposed to staying with the physical body until natural death occurs).

In general, the process of ascension never ends. This might seem overwhelming in a dimension where time is linear, but possibly is not such a scary idea otherwise. The goal of the ascension process is for each spirit to reach the perfection of God. At first, this might actually seem blasphemous, but it must be kept in mind that – outside of the dualistic perspective – we are not actually separate from God.

If we were to map the entire ascension process to a scale of 1-100, the purification levels we as spirits are accomplishing on Earth are in the range of about 3-7. Spirits continue to reincarnate on this planet until “level 7” is reached, at which point they will continue their journeys on other worlds and other dimensions. Another way to look at it: once the hardships of Earth life no longer present a challenge to a spirit (due to that spirit’s development), the spirit is no longer required to continue the reincarnation process on Earth.

Forgetting Life’s Purpose

Ascension is the process of spiritual purification. Sometimes, ascension is thought of as “raising one’s vibrations”. But it might be more correct to say that ascension is the process of pulling the higher vibrations down to you. Or you could say that you are attuning your spiritual bodies to higher “frequencies”.

In theory, it’s possible to work solely on raising the spiritual body’s vibrations to high level, but that is not the point. The purpose of ascension is to purify the aspects of the self that are not currently vibrating at a high level. By focusing on the body’s overall vibrations alone, a person is simply overcompensating with the aspects of self that do not need purification. And this more or less defeats the purpose of incarnating on Earth.

The reason for incarnating into a physical body is to purify the aspects of self that need development. Incarnating into a human body is like using a microscope to zoom in on those negative aspects. But for us to be able to “zoom in”, we must temporarily forget our divine nature. And although this causes us a lot of pain, it comes with an advantage of making self-development much more efficient. But there is a big catch: forgetting our divine nature comes with the price that we forget what we came to Earth to accomplish.

Without remembering the purpose of life, people become ashamed of their “shortcomings” and try to hide them instead of working on improving them. The result is that the majority of people pretend to be perfect because they are afraid that they won’t be accepted for who they are. And because these pretenses take a lot of effort, people eventually become resentful towards those that they are trying to impress (which includes partners, family, and friends).

Starting the Self-Purification Process

The first step of self-purification is to realize that while nobody is perfect, everybody is pretending to be perfect anyway. This can be seen each time a person is “triggered” by certain events. Such triggers lead to resentment that can no longer be contained, which then leads to violent outbursts of one sort or another. And these outbursts lead to further shame, which repeats the cycle. To break the cycle, one must be willing to face the fear of dropping one’s mask, and potentially being rejected for who one truly is (at least temporarily in that moment).

The next step is to learn to accept yourself fully as you are now without any shame or judgement. This is not an easy thing to do, and can potentially take a long time to accomplish. But it is a necessary step towards self-purification.

The process of self-discovery is actually never-ending. But while it is ongoing, the process of purification can be initiated. At this stage, a person will learn to observe one’s “negative” behaviors without judgement in “real time”. In other words, if you do something that you would have later been ashamed of in the past, you will be able to immediately realize that as it is occurring. And each time it occurs, you state an intention for this behavior to change. What you are actually doing is requesting help from a higher source to help you correct your negative behavior. Such help is necessary as the ego alone is not capable of self-purification, but does play an integral part in the process.

Transcending the Negative Aspects

As we learn to accept our negative aspects, we will also learn to accept our negative emotions without judgment. In doing so, the emotions will not be ignored, but acknowledged. Note that being aware of negative emotions is not the same as acting out destructively on negative emotions. It is via awareness of our negativity that we can control our actions. Ignoring our negative emotions out of shame, on the other hand, leads to uncontrollable actions that will also make us further ashamed.

The process of self-purification is therefore one of liberation. By becoming aware of our negative aspects, we are able to transcend them, slowly but surely.  And as we release our negativity, our vibrations continue to rise, and our lives becoming less stressful and more peaceful.