AWARENESS comes from the separation of THOUGHT and SENSE-OF-SELF and the realisation you are not your thoughts. Awareness helps break the identification and the investment of self in thought.
ENLIGHTENMENT is a step beyond awareness and can only come from acceptance of the Ego and its madness in other people. This is often more challenging, because other people are outside your control or influence. You might find yourself trying to help sufferers discover the path to enlightenment so as to enrich their own lives, but this can easily become Ego servicing for you if you’re not careful.
Ego-madness comes from strongly held beliefs and opinions (all of which are THOUGHTS) regarding religious, political, and social inclinations, particularly taken from the Ego’s view that it (you) are in sole possession of THE FACTS, THE TRUTH. Sufferers may find themselves thinking and saying “I am right, you are wrong”, “you’re being fooled”, “you’re foolish”, “you just don’t get it”,” you’re not as educated/intelligent as me” or things to that effect.
The Egoic mind is clever, it attempts to find points of difference to forge SEPARATION between “me” and the “other”, or collectively, “us” versus “them”, in its effort to raise the SELF above, or lower the OTHER below, both designed to increase your SENSE OF SELF.
On the flip side, the Ego also ATTACHES to people, possessions, ideas, thoughts, beliefs and values, bringing them into your sense of self. “The more I have the more I am” is its core belief. So the “I” easily becomes the “us”, and the dysfunction in the “us” can be much more destructive when the collective-self forges separation with the collective-other.
To see proof the Ego’s compulsion for separation and attachment, just look at the countless wars that have ever existed, a “us” versus “them” narrative is carried in all of them.
So Enlightenment becomes your SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, acceptance that the Ego is as it is in the world. The moment you become fearful or upset with other people’s Ego; their lack of clarity, lack of understanding, stubbornness, or whatever the issue is, you know your own Ego is at work.
You can only point to the truth, and hope those that are ready to see it do so.
For more about spirituality check out our spirituality and wellbeing guide.