Can enlightenment be achieved in this lifetime?
Q. After reading your book, it seems that enlightenment can indeed be achieved without total integration (in which a physical body becomes unnecessary). In other words, enlightenment is the recognition of who we are as Third Mind and living from this Truth, which could theoretically be achieved in this lifetime, based on our level of development. Is that right?
A. Different traditions have different ideas of what the equivalent of enlightenment is. In advaita vedanta, the goal is jnanam, or living knowledge, often described as self-realization. Nowadays, the popular spiritual interpretation of enlightenment is increased activation of kundalini energy. Some will say enlightenment is stabilization in a deeper knowledge. Some will say enlightenment is not about light at all, but rather about darkness. Others say enlightenment means the body will always be smiling. And on and on. The point is, the only reference point one has is the one they value. There is no independent expert, unless of course you confer the title of expert on a book, person, teaching, way of being, etc. This is why, in the book, I simultaneously describe the light of enlightenment and question it.
No person achieves what they are. They are already what they are. It is, in a way, the very opposite of achievement. The apparent achievement of enlightenment is actually the achievement of mystical or non-reasonable (by the standards of materialism) states. Enlighten-ment is not a -ment, it is -ing. Life is enlightening, always.
As the Second Mind, the very question of physicality vs. mentality disappears, so there is no physical vs mental to integrate–or we can say it is automatically integrated. The idea of this being one lifetime as opposed to another lifetime also diminishes and therefore integrates. There is simply supersaturated potentiality overflowing and precipitating as worlds.
As the Third Mind, there is no-thing that can be done and no-one to do it. There is no living in the world from the Third Mind per se. Only in self-illumining as the Second Mind can expression and living in any relatable sense be possible, just as only with the "bang" of the "Big Bang" can we even talk about a universe.
Theories about the development of enlightening across lifetimes are stories of experience along the axis of time–and they are valuable as such.
So the question really is: What is enlightenment to you?