What is Enlightenment?

H.W.L.Poonja, Popularly knows as Papaji

by Papaji

Find the best ways to quiet the mind. The instant that the mind is stilled there is meditation. This meditation has to be perennial, permanent - not just sitting for an hour a day. It does not mean chanting the thought, “I have to be free.” It means being centered in the Self which alone is true, all else is false.


All you have to do is to still the mind, which can be done in one of two ways: Through inquiry, which is suitable to a very few qualified people; or through yoga, which includes concentration, meditation and other practices. But first you need the capacity to discern the real from the unreal, to embrace what is real and to adhere to it. Reject what is unreal and false. Fascination with study, karma, pilgrimages, or dips in the holy waters will not help you. Learning all the Vedas, all the sutras, like a parrot is not going to help you. No gift, austerity or charity is going to help you.

More important than anything is the burning desire for freedom. This alone is enough. If you have this burning desire you will be led to satsang, which means to stay quiet, to still the mind, to bring it back to the center wherever it goes. Either do it by yourself or search for a perfected teacher, but do not go astray from the longing to be free.

When you go shopping you have free choice about what to buy, and you have this same freedom in selecting a teacher. In the supermarket you choose, "I don't want this, I don't want that; this is not good, that is not good." You have freedom of choice. No bargain can be struck. Your human life and enlightenment is on one hand, and wasting your life with someone incompetent to liberate you is on the other.

Someone came to see me saying, "I have gone to many teachers without finding enlightenment, and finally I found that my current Master himself is not enlightened. He has initiated me and now he is filling me with all kinds of fear. He says that if you leave the teacher you will have to go to hell. I met someone who told me to come here. I am here to be enlightened. My guru is very loving. He is not withholding anything from me. He teaches me with great love. He has taught me all the scriptures so that I know them by heart, but I am missing freedom. I have found that my mind is not free, it is not quiet; but now I know that I am on the right track, and in some way I am here to help my teacher. After enlightenment I will go and enlighten my teacher." I have never heard a student resolving to enlighten his teacher before!

If you are bent upon freedom, determined to win freedom in this span of life, this year, this month, today, now, you will have to make a choice. Anything will surface from the mind to sabotage you. Find the best ways to quiet the mind. The instant that the mind is stilled there is meditation. This meditation has to be perennial, permanent - not just sitting for an hour a day. It does not mean chanting the thought, “I have to be free.” It means being centered in the Self which alone is true, all else is false. There must be a very strong understanding in your mind. It is not difficult once you discover the ability to discern what is real from what is unreal. Pleasures of the senses may try to distract you, religions may promise you pleasures in heaven after life; but you will have to abandon all these things. Abandon studying any book; it does not help you. Open your own book now for the first time. Open your own book and keep quiet.

22 February, 1992

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Source: Reprinted with the kind permission of the Avadhuta Foundation.  The Avadhuta Foundation was established in 1993 to further the teachings of Sri H.W.L. Poonja, affectionately referred to as Papaji, and to make available the archives of Papaji’s talks in India. You may visit their website from here.