Spiritual Enlightenment and its Stages – Drukama RadioTM Episode 14
This week Daishi talks with Eiani on the subject of spiritual enlightenment. What are the stages of enlightenment and how can we move beyond the binary mind? Why is it so important to have a teacher who has already achieved Realization?
Episode 14 Extract
Spiritual Enlightenment and its Stages
“It’s one of the most difficult questions for anyone to answer because there really is no way to put into words the feelings, the sensation, the perception, the change, when someone enters into what’s known as self-realization, nirvana, enlightenment etc… because it transcends the dual or binary aspect of the typical brain, the way we work. I mean, the brain functions from a position of on or off, ones and zeros. It’s truly a binary machine that’s used basically for our survival…”
~ Daishi Nagiyah
Drukama™ podcast extract – Ep14
Full Transcript of this Episode
Eiani: Hi everyone, and welcome to Drukama Radio™. I’m your co-host for today’s show. My name is Eiani, and we are very grateful to have Daishi with us today. How are you Daishi?
Daishi: I’m doing fantastic thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to having an interesting conversation with you.
Eiani: Yes, definitely an interesting conversation. Today, we are going to be talking about spiritual enlightenment and its stages. So, to start off with the most basic question, could you explain to us briefly, if possible:
What is spiritual enlightenment?
Daishi: And that is such a good question and it’s one of the most difficult questions for anyone to answer because there really isn’t a way to put into words the feeling-sensation, the perceptions that change when someone enters into what’s known as self-realization, nirvana, enlightenment etc, because it transcends the dual or binary aspect of the typical brain, the way we work. I mean the brain functions from a position of on or off, ones and zeros. It’s truly a binary machine. It’s a machine that’s used basically for our survival. It wants to know whether we should run or fight, whether we eat or reject, whether we attack or we hug. It’s telling us how to survive while the awareness is growing and evolving and becoming larger and more capable of running the machine on it’s own.
So it’s really working from a position of just black and white, up and down, left and right; and what we do on the spiritual path is we try to disengage or de-tangle from the unconscious process that’s happening there. And really this is the core of all suffering in humanity is the fact that we’re so unconsciously entangled in the vehicle, or the body mind, that we believe that the thoughts, the emotions, and the actions, and speech, and the macro-cosmic, or outside environment is truly us and our reality when in fact we’re merely riding around in this vehicle exploring and experiencing life.
And so enlightenment is the place, or nirvana, or moksha, or realization, or the higher mind, or the jiva-atman, it doesn’t matter what term or tradition we come from. The idea of that is that we burned away the unconscious entanglements to that process so that we realize we are not it, that it is a separate machine, that it is running on it’s own automatically and mostly unconsciously until we totally disengage from it. And when that happens, we seem to enter into a new kind of perception that is freed from the entanglements that cause illusion, ignorance, delusion, suffering, etc. And that’s why it’s such a magnificent, peaceful, radiant, and amazingly clear space to live within. And it’s also one of the reasons why it has been one of the few things that has carried through the history of mankind since the beginning and hasn’t changed.
In other words, generation after generation after generation this is something that has been pushed and pleaded for by everybody who has attained it, so that the rest of humanity goes after it because it’s the way that we become clear, and free, and unbiased, and compassionate, and impartial, and loving, and joyful, and so on.
Eiani: Why do we humans inherently aspire toward it? You know, seek it regardless of our origin?
Daishi: The first thing we have to understand is that regardless of tradition or culture, the path is the same; because each human being is made the same way. We’re all really duplicates. We have the same physiological bodies, same heart, same lungs, same spleens, same gallbladder, same liver, same stomach, same synaptic process in the brain. We have the same nervous system, we feel the same emotions, we all have the same thoughts; and over 15 years now plus, I’ve heard people tell me, you know, “I have the worst thoughts of any human being.” No, you don’t. You have the same thoughts as every human being because they’re all basically the same thoughts.
The brain works like it works, and it works the same way in each human being. It’s not your thoughts, they’re just thoughts. It’s not your emotions, they’re just reactions to the pieces of the mind that make up the moment-by-moment identity which tries to recreate itself; which is memories, and projections, and intellect, and egoic boundary, and all of these things that seems to be you that we inherently know unconsciously and intuitively are not us. And that causes us some problems.
So the moment we arrive in this world not knowing how we got here or why we’re here, we just sort of show up on a planet floating in the middle of nowhere, we look around and say, “Something’s not right. For some reason, I feel dissatisfied or uncomfortable within. And I’m seeking with the five senses,” that we know are limited in bandwidth, but we’re using those five senses to try to find an antidote to that dissatisfaction and we can’t find it. It’s not money, it’s not fame, it’s not power, it’s not control. Nothing ever satiates that problem inside, so eventually we find that human beings will just give up. Either they break down and say, “I’m done, I can’t solve this riddle,” or they find a teacher or a system and say, “Hey, maybe if I go the other direction, and I understand how I operate from the physiological brain and the physiological body, I can understand what’s going on.”
And that’s really what the spiritual path is at least in the beginning. And it gets more mystical as we go and the woo-woo comes in later, but that’s also, in my opinion, scientific once you understand it. But in the beginning, we’re just trying to figure out, “How does this thing operate? What’s going on here, and why is it causing so much chaos? And how come I can’t solve this problem out there? Why can’t I ever fix it with stuff? You know, I avert problems and I run to pleasures but it’s not helping me.” And it will never help you, and that’s why we see the greatest people in the world; the richest, most famous, most powerful, most controlling, most knowledgeable are never satisfied. It’s never enough and it never will be enough.
So inherently back to your original question, we have to end up here. We have to go within at some point. We will all eventually come to this place, it’s just a matter of how much do you want to suffer trying to find it out there as opposed to finally saying, “If I don’t solve it inside, it’s not going to be fixed outside, period. So let’s just do this.” And this is why we see generation after generation, more and more people coming to the path.
But the problem today is we’re in trouble, because without a doubt we have more comforts today than we’ve ever had in the history of mankind. We have more iPhones, computers, we have internet, instant access to people across the world. We can get a pizza in 15 minutes to any house, anywhere in the world. We can get steaks delivered to our house, I mean we lack very little.
So, this is a big problem because now we’re just gobbling it up. We’re gobbling the internet’s entertainment, and the food entertainment, the movie entertainment, and it’s never enough, it’s never enough. And at some point that’s going to just explode, and we’re going to hit that singularity point where we realize as a human race that this is the wrong direction, it’s not working. And it’s not that those things are bad, and I’ll stop my rant here to let you go on, but it’s not that those things are bad. It’s just that we’re not using them consciously. We’re not understanding the operation of the vehicle. And because of that, we’re causing destruction to ourselves, to our environment, and to the people around us.
Eiani: Why does practicing bring us closer to this realization and enlightenment, apart from this auto shell that we’re continuously building upon ourselves?
Daishi: This is the thing. My contention is that there is no path that is different than any other path, it’s just pieces and splinters of an authentic path that originally held as a universal truth. So there is one truth, and that’s that your inherent nature is already pristine and perfect. That’s not the problem. We’re not trying to build a better you inside, or a better light, or a better consciousness. The path is really about removing the insulation that stops you from perceiving it. And that comes in the form of karmic habit energy really.
So, the aggregates, or the mental faculties, or mental instruments that create moment-by-moment or every millisecond the restructuring of the self has become so habitually conditioned that you can’t find the true you behind the insulation, that you’re tied to the way that this process is working so deeply, that you’re kind of dragged along with it. And because of that, you cannot just intellectually decide to be free of it. You can’t just say, “Okay, I understand that the self is an illusion.
There’s no such thing as me in the terms of John Smith because that name was given to me by my mother or father, and all society and culture influenced everything that I learned as I grew up. And that’s made the person I am.” And even that person changes from moment-to-moment, so that’s not really a real thing. However, you can’t just say, “Alright I want to let that go.” You could try it, but it won’t work because there’s so much unconscious conditioning to that thing that we can’t find the deepest radiant clarity because of the noise it creates, because of the derivations and the iterations that are happening in the mind constantly.
So in the beginning, there was one path and it was about eliminating that insulation. And so what happens is you see that many slivered or splintered paths were taken from that main path, that whole path, and they became just hatha yoga, just dharani practices, just dhyani practices, just practices that revolve around breathing and pranayam, just practices that evolve pratyahara. So there are sections of this, saying, “Well here’s a way you could try to slow down the habit energy to the mind.” You know, you can walk slowly and be mindful or use samatha or vipassana or you can do certain hatha yoga techniques where your mind is stabilized, and as you do this it slowly eradicates the habit nature of the mind, and so on and so forth. But in truth there was one overriding principle path that encompassed all of them. It wasn’t splintered this way.
But when we went from one age to another, our level of connection to that through the ability to do that whole path was severely hampered. And you know they call that the Kali Yug, right, the age of darkness. But today, there is a way for people to take that whole path authentically and to move through it step-by-step in both theory and practice, and we’re proving that that’s possible by you and the hundreds of others that we’ve been working with privately before us coming out publicly with it, that is effective, that can happen quickly, and that does lead to results. But it requires authentic teaching and it requires teachers that have actually broken through, not just theoretically understood it and not just philosophically understood it, but have actually done it. And that’s the rare thing today, unfortunately, that we’re lacking.
Eiani: In that universal whole path, could you describe what are the stages of these spiritual enlightenments and why is it important to crystallize each of these steps or each of these practices or each of these attainments?
Daishi: Sure, there’s a misunderstanding I think. You know there used to be an argument between schools in China between sudden and gradual enlightenment. So you had one school that argued that enlightenment was immediate, it hit you from behind and it was boom, and you had another school that said you led up to it, right, it led, led, led, and then it hit you. They’re both correct. Stream hits you or this realizing pristine state does hit you from behind and it is a major change in the way you perceive reality because you completely disconnect from the illusory mind and presence becomes so overwhelmingly brilliant that you can say, “That was the knock on the back of the head and I did enter a state that was absolutely overwhelmingly joyful, blissful, and radiant.
However, there are also graduations to that state, and there is also deepening of that state. So we have ordinary awareness, which is just the awareness, the cognition that’s between your thoughts. That’s still very noisy. And then you have pristine awareness or extraordinary awareness which is where it’s become so prevalent that the thoughts, although they’re still there; the intellect, the memory, all the pieces of the identity are there, but you have worked through, using authentic practices, so deeply and pristinely to that awareness that it overrides all of that and there’s seemingly no noise. So there’s a graduation of the steps leading up to that realized point, and there’s a graduation of the steps afterwards that leads you from that streaming point, from that realized point, all the way to a liberated point. Literally at the end of that there is nothing left to hold you here in this reality and you’ve basically hacked the simulation and you’re free from it.
So all of those are graduations. All of those are stations. It isn’t just that you have one person that’s not enlightened and one person that is. You have one person that’s many steps toward that stream-entry realizing point and then many steps after that that lead up to the final point of the liberating mind, which is free from all unconscious entanglements completely. And so there are many degrees and stages in that and it’s not just one or the other as we see today in the way that it’s explained.
And I sort of liken it to: spirituality has become, thanks to the internet and not thanks to the internet, we have two problems there. One, it’s a benefit that it has given us the ability to look at spirituality and it’s been open to more people. On the other hand you have a bunch of practitioners who are trying to figure it out sharing ideas, and that’s not always a great idea. That’s sort of like if we wanted to go to the moon and we didn’t have any real astronauts at all, we were just kind of guessing. There may be some people that get in that shuttle and they’re in danger, right? We want to know that we have experts there that we just don’t shoot them to the moon and say, “Well, I think, you know, if you put enough TNT in the bottom it should explode you straight to the moon and hopefully you stay on course.” We want to know that there are people there that understand the process.
So having a teacher, and again I always say this, whether it is through us, whether you’re going to go through our process or you’re going to go through some other process, find somebody who has gone through it thoroughly and cleave to them, and let them teach you because you cannot do this process from within it. In other words, you can’t be entangled in your own unconscious and try to weave your way out. It’s sort of like just being dropped off in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a rowboat and saying, “Find Hawaii.” It’s not going to happen and you’re probably not going to make it to anywhere because you don’t have a compass, you don’t have guide, you’ve never been there before, and you need to know that you have somebody that has that process handled already. And so that’s really important.
So personally, as I’ve said before, I would like to sit on a hill. I don’t really have any desire to do any of this but there is a need for it. So because the need is so great we have to be helpful. And if we’re going to be on this planet we should be doing things that are helping each other find that kind of clarity.
And if you can’t find it with us, if you’re not interested in working with us on it, find somebody who has done it and cleave to them and have them teach you the process because it is a process. It’s not just being mindful. Being mindful is a great way to lose karma and habit energy but it’ slow. It’s going to take a long time. There are ways to speed that process up, and there is a methodical practice that goes behind it. Get with that and find that so you can see that there’s more to it than just, you know, presence.
Advaita Vedanta‘s schools today, the non-dual schools have taken Kashmir Shaivism and all sorts of other non-dual ideas and shrunk them down to just being present. And yes, that is a platform practice that must be used by a beginning student but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other things that need to be done in that process to help strengthen will and intention, and to make sure your aspiration is pointed in the right direction, and to make sure that the way in which you’re moving is proper, and every gradual step toward that stream-entry is refined and completely understood correctly by you and the teacher watching you. So those things are hyper-important and they must be understood thoroughly if we’re going to actually make it to that realized state and create a better world for everybody in terms of how they perceive each other and themselves.
Eiani: To make it a little bit clearer for our audience, you know, as you’ve described the current practice that we are providing altogether, could you describe what kind of tradition are we?
Are we kind of aggressive or soft? Could you, a little bit, go into a little about that so that they also have a better idea of what they can expect?
Daishi: Absolutely. So we are definitely the other end of the scale. We’re the most kind of aggressive path, right, we use the most aggressive energetic process. I mean, you’ve been to the retreats. We will do transmissions and empowerments. We have people having what you and many other people, who have actually come from authentic traditions seen as real shakti, real kundalini, real energy work. And I’ve had a lot of students who have come from 10, 20, 30 years of other practices, other traditions, ashrams, other lodges and schools, who have believed they’ve had shakti, when in fact they’ve come to us and seen that there is nothing like they thought. I mean, it was beyond. So, we are very aggressive.
We are not a school that’s really tailored for the person who just wants to come and learn how to sit. Right, like, “I just want to sit and be more focused, do better at work.” We’re the person who wants a mystical tradition, who really wants to dive in and move. They want to get somewhere fast. That’s really where we’re at that end of the scale.
For somebody who just wants to do some hatha yoga, stretch, become more pliable, be a little bit more concentrated, be a little more focused, attentive in life, then bikram yoga, you know, or go to some type of kundalini yoga, whatever they call those schools at the strip malls, go hang out there, relax, and at some point if that’s not enough and you feel like you need more, we may be the option.
So I’m saying straight in advance, we are a very radically fast school that moves in a very radical direction and we do things that are a little bit aggressive. That said, it doesn’t mean that a beginner couldn’t do it. We have people that have come to us, as you know, that have started the path fresh, or at least they believe they have. They may have done things in other lives they’re not aware of yet, but they come to this school and say, “I don’t understand mindstream, I don’t understand intention or will, I don’t understand most of these practices.” And we’ve helped them go from literally learning how to sit and doing basic pliability all the way through to learning very advanced no-tasting/one-tasting and samadhi-type processes that invoke energy within.
So we can handle the beginner, but really we want to take that beginner that’s very much inclined to move quickly, burn karma quickly and get away from the mind quickly and achieve realization fast. We’re not one of those schools that say, “You know, if you’re lucky in this lifetime or the other lifetime or a few lifetimes.” No, no, we’re talking about years here so buckle up. So we are definitely different in that regard.
You know that, everybody that we’ve done these shows with who has been with me for years knows that. But there are benefits and I’m not knocking any other system or school in any way because everyone who teaches even the most basic yoga, I mean blessings to them forever because that just introduces someone to the beginning of the path and gets them going on it. It’s a huge benefit to mankind, for womankind, to the entire planet, all sentient beings, it’s a beautiful thing. So there is no knocking any of that.
Even the teaching of just mindfulness to people who are just not ready to peek into anything deeper than that is absolutely, unbelievably beneficial and it’s an amazing thing that teachers would teach that just to begin with. But we’re not that. We go a little faster, a little stronger, a little harder. The only difference is we explain it in theory as you go step-by-step so that you’re well aware of what you’re doing, how it affects you short-term and long-term. And that is lacking. Normally it’s the teacher saying, “Just do this and listen to me and don’t ask questions.” We’re actually explaining, “Okay, this is how this helps you, this is why it helps you. This is how it helps you short-term, this how it helps you long-term.” And so you get a view of the whole path and can say, “Okay that kind of makes sense. I get it.” And you can move forward week-by-week-by-week. And I think that’s lacking today if we don’t have a good attention span in the younger generation today, and we have to take advantage of that by saying, “Listen, let’s take it week-by-week,” rather than, “here’s something you can do for six or eight months and come back to me.”
It’s just not going to happen today. So we have a style that allows you to go from day-to-day and that’s really important today and I think that’s what separates us. And the fact that I believe that we have the strongest set of teachers in the world, my personal opinion may be biased but I think that the people in our advanced group have come from decades of lineage experience from all sorts of different traditions and they have become students of the practice because it’s effective, it’s thorough, and there’s nothing else like it out there right now.
Eiani: One last question before we let you go.
Could you speak about the role of the teacher, the guru, the deity in the spiritual enlightenment of the student or the practitioner because I know that’s not a topic that’s generally mentioned, but also not known about much besides the teaching part?
Daishi: And it’s important. I had a teacher when I was seven years old. I spent ten years with my teacher on the floor, I had the utmost respect for my teacher, it was a different time. My teacher was like my father, and I understand that bonding that goes on between the teacher and the student. But you have got to understand. A true authentic teacher is really a servant. A true teacher looks at the practitioner as his child or her child. So the teacher doesn’t want anything. They don’t want any fame, they don’t want any glory, they don’t want any reward. The only thing they want is the student’s ability to rid themselves of suffering and ignorance. They want that child.. and I say child not in a demeaning way, I mean this could be an 80-year-old person, but they want that person to be free, clear, and happy. That is their ultimate goal. They could care less whether the practitioner ends up hating them, loving them, whether they get fame, notoriety, money, recognition, any of those things. It really doesn’t matter. An authentic teacher only cares about that child, his or her child, becoming clear, free, happy, and experiencing life the way they should, which is positive, and in a compassionate way, and in loving way, and in an impartial way.
And, you know, without the bias filters of the self, they really want to free that practitioner because they see that practitioner, again, as a child, as their child, and they see that child as someone that’s suffering and to them that’s terrible. And they just want to help them in any way. Why is that important? Because, again, if you haven’t gone through this process.. and it is difficult with rhythms trying to navigate your way through what we see as intelligences getting in the way of your success. You’re basically challenged at every step. If you don’t have someone there to guide you and protect you and watch out for you and to love you and care for you and who knows that process, the chance of you falling into it backwards is extremely rare. There are rumors and legends of people doing it in the past and I don’t doubt that, but for the common person, 99.9% of the people out there, they need help.
It’s like if I were to say, “I want to become the best brain surgeon in the world. I don’t want to learn from anybody, just give me some books and let me watch some YouTube videos.” I’m going to kill a lot of people. I may have a great intention, but I am not going to know what I’m doing until I get with several doctors and teachers and I go through several classes and I learn the ins and outs of that, even as an intern for many years.
And the same thing happens on the path. You have to have somebody that you know first of all, loves you, they care about you, and they’ll do anything for you. That’s important in a teacher, and an authentic teacher there’s no question, that’s always the case. But that they also have the knowledge and the experience to bring you to where you need to be. Unfortunately, again, today in our age, that is rare. We have a lot of teachers, but we don’t have a lot of stream-winners. We don’t have a lot of realized people that have actually gone through the process from start to finish. The ones that have seem to have fallen into it very quickly and aren’t really sure how to explain the full process. And then of course there are those that are authentic, brilliant, wonderful, and absolutely amazing. But they’re rare. They’re hard to find. And unfortunately there’s way more “teachers” that are teaching a path from regurgitated intellectual information rather than from a real compassionate loving position of actually earning that stream.
So that’s the trouble today, is to try to mitigate between those things. And that’s one of the reasons why I decided to come out publicly and try to help even if it’s one or two or three more people than we already have in the group. But in order to open those doors, and allow the rest of the people who want in to come in, we’ve had to figure out new ways of doing that and as you know, Eiani, as everyone who sits on with me has already for this show and who will in the future, our group is special.
Our group is one of the few groups in the world that is like a family through and through. We stick up for each other, we love each other, we do anything for each other, and that is hard to find. And I know they’re out there, there are some beautiful sanghas out there, but ours is very unique and unbelievably beautiful and that’s hard to find as well so just being introduced to that sangha, just learning the dharma correctly, just learning it from someone who has actually authentically achieved it, all of those things are so rare and special that, if you have access to it, you’re blessed. If it’s not through us then through someone else. Run for it, cleave to it, and get it done, because once you achieve it, nothing will ever be the same in your life again I promise.
Eiani: Yeah, that’s very beautiful. I have personally seen people in the retreats coming as strangers and going out as family. It’s a very beautiful [?]. But as you explained, I also understand that we are trying to build a new website running up and soon, and I know everybody is working very hard for it. Could you explain a little bit about that as well before we close up?
Daishi: Yeah, sure. I mean, thank god we have this team of unbelievably talented people because, again, I’m not good at anything. I really don’t have very many talents here, so without the team it wouldn’t be done. So it’s blessings to them, they’re unbelievable and I’m useless when it comes to this thing. Basically the only thing I’m good at is talking too much. So the team has put together a way for us to get the teachings out. It’s going to be basically a system where you can walk hand-in-hand, step-by-step through video, animated explanations of theory and practice and you go from to week to week from your home.
And if you want to be part of the forum group, you’re welcome to join that. If you want to be one-on-one with me, you’re welcome to have that opportunity. If you want to be one-on-one with other teachers in the group, you’re welcome to have that opportunity.
And you can learn so much, but really what it is it’s stepping you through the process one week after another as you progress further and further, breaking away the habit energies toward the illusory self and becoming more and more free until eventually you have a breakthrough. And when I say stream-entry everyone says, “Well realization is the point of the path.” And I tend to disagree.
Realization is like a black belt in martial arts and I have a 35 year history in martial arts and I always tell the students, “The black belt is the beginning of learning martial arts.” Stream-entry is where all the fun begins. Once you’ve let go of self, there are so many great ancillary things. Not only you can do for yourself, mystically and experience, but you can also help others in such a phenomenal way because you come from a place that doesn’t include the you. You’re only concerned with them. There isn’t you involved anymore. You don’t have to defend your stance, you don’t have to defend your ideas. You could just be open to their ideas, you could be open to their stance. You can help them feel better about where they’re coming from.
And we need more people like that on this planet. We need people on this planet that are willing to open up and be receptive and actually listen and actually have the ability to understand where others are coming from, and potentially help them evolve their own thought, their own emotional reactions, their own physical speech and macrocosmic environment. And hopefully through the subtle, loving, compassionate connection, that happens organically.
And so this is a process that helps us become that and this is one way to do it. Our process is one process, one way to do it. And again, if you don’t use that, find somewhere. Get with somebody. Find an authentic teacher that can lead you down that path and go for it because the rewards are immense and unbelievable, and when they’re achieved correctly and quickly, you’ll see that you can actually leave this world better than the way you found it. And I think every human being is responsible for doing that. So you’re welcome to come into our family. If you don’t feel connected to our family in any way or it doesn’t seem to fit you, no problem, but find it somewhere and please, for the sake of the world, let’s get closer, not farther away.
Eiani: That’s a beautiful way to close up. Thank you so so much for joining us for today’s show Daishi. I really appreciate it. It has been an excellent show.
Daishi: Thank you so much for being and I really appreciate… and sorry to interrupt but I want to make sure that I get this in here. You guys coming up and doing this is a huge thing. You take a lot of time out, you have to break away from work, family, and everything, so all the co-hosts, everybody that jumps on… I know we have three or four more in the next week that are coming on. You guys are really the heart and soul of this so appreciation should go to you, and the fans should be thankful to you. You guys put this together and make it happen, so bless you.
Eiani: Thank you as well so much Daishi. If you have any questions or comments about the show, please send us an email at email@example.com. Thank you for joining us for today’s show, and we’ll definitely look forward to seeing all of you next time.