Unfortunately, the answer to ‘How long does it take to get enlightened’ depends on who you talk to. And there are many differing answers. So, even if there was a ‘correct answer’ it would be lost in all the apparent confusion.
And because there are so many conflicting answers, it must lead us to the conclusion that there is no ‘one answer that fits all.’
In this post, I’ll share different thoughts on how long it takes to get enlightened…. because that is the question you have asked. However, before we get there, shouldn’t we make sure we are talking about the same thing?
So, before continuing, please take a moment to consider what you think enlightenment is?
How Long Does It Take To Get Enlightened?
Some people seem to achieve spontaneous enlightenment, while others spend their whole lives seeking and never attain it. Traditional Zen training teaches it takes 20 years. Others preach the number of 10,000 hours of meditation. The Buddha searched for 6 years and then sat in meditation for 49 days before becoming enlightened. And the bible tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is already within us….. and that means that it can take ‘NO-TIME’ TO GET WHAT WE ALREADY POSSESS!
What Is Enlightenment?
I asked you ‘what you think enlightenment is’ because there seems to be a lot of misconception about what happens when we become enlightened.
Therefore, we should figure out if we are talking about the same thing before you decide how much of a hurry you are in to get there…. because, maybe, just maybe, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be?
Many people have the misunderstanding that becoming enlightened will be an end to all their problems. They seek it for the selfish reasons of wanting to live in unending bliss, happiness, and peace.
This desire is coming from their ego-mind, they’re wanting to have fewer problems and live a better life….. and there is nothing wrong with this, however, that’s not enlightenment!
Enlightenment is not living in eternal bliss. And it’s not being ‘reunited’ with God. After all, you are already ONE with God, so how can you ‘unify’ with that which you already are? The “I AM.”
Instead, you just need to realize that which you already are, or ‘BE-COME’ (not seek, not go out and get, not fight/struggle/compete for…. but BE-COME that which you already are.
And if this is what you are after, you just have to choose to remember that “I AM” in every moment. If you can live this as your truth, it WILL become your reality as the veil of illusion (separation) dissolves.
……. the mental noise, the confusion, and all the doubts that have kept you from the truth of your divinity will surely disband….. until only clear light remains…. THAT WHICH YOU ARE.
How Long Does it Take to Get Enlightened?
Enlightenment or ‘Self-Realizion’ doesn’t take time…. ‘It takes KNOWING.’ There are no set steps along the way where 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = enlightenment.
Therefore, it can take forever, or no time….. both are true.
However, when we believe that we must progress from this stage to the next, overcome obstacles, and grow spiritually, we are TRYING to become enlightened….. and in doing so, we are getting in our own way.
DOING more in the mistaken belief that we are somehow ‘not yet worthy to receive the elusive goal we seek’ implies that we feel we are not yet adequate to receive the prize…..
Sadhguru is a spiritual teacher whose opinion I respect, and this is what he has to say about how long it takes to get enlightened:
“It takes time because you do not give in all at once; you give in by installments. So whether you want to go by small installments and take 100 lifetimes, or you want to do it today is your choice. How long it takes simply depends on how intense is your longing to know.
“If you can casually ask ‘what happens after death? What is the source of my creation,’ that means you do not know the immensity of the question. If you want to know the truth like some entertainment, it will not happen.
If you want it in such a way that that is all you want, then it is just a moment away, because what you want to know is within you. What is within you cannot be denied to you by anybody except yourself. So, you just have to get yourself out of the way. Either you go in installments or you just go once.”
It will take us as long as we take, and that is the gift that ‘life is’ for our eternal souls. And the truth is that our soul is in no hurry to end this experience, this game, this particular life.
Will Meditation Help Me To Become Enlightened More Quickly?
I’ve written quite a few posts about different aspects of meditation recently. And based on the research and my twenty-five-plus years of personal experience, there are no absolutes that suit everyone when it comes to meditation.
However, that’s not a bad thing! Because isn’t that the way of life? We all like different foods, learn in different ways, prefer different environments, and enjoy different movies…. We are all unique, and therefore it stands to reason that there is never going to be a single answer.
Many spiritual traditions teach that meditation is the shortest path to enlightenment. Many believe that it’s a state in which one can permanently experience peace while remaining alert.
However, peace is only possible when a person reconciles the opposites within, (the dualistic nature of all things) and sees things as they are, and has no attachment to anything ‘things as is.’ They know that the way things have been, the way things are, and the way things will be IS ALL OK!
And meditation is a great tool for helping us to come to this important realization. It helps us remain centered and balanced in all things, and through this, we realize that no matter how life unfolds there is never any reason to lose our cool.
“Buddhists who are convinced that there is such a thing as enlightenment and that they have the potential to realise it, and who are following the path to that realization, give little time to speculating on how long it will take. Seven days, seven months, seven years, seven lifetimes – however long it takes, there is no alternative route.”
What does this mean for you and the way you live your life?
It means that I don’t know how long it will take you to reach enlightenment, and neither do you.
And the harder you try to figure it out, the more bogged down in confusion you are going to become.
Therefore, the only wise and sensible thing to do is to get on with living your life in a way that aligns with your soul’s desires…… and if you do, you will, one day, sooner or later, find that you have ‘accidentally’ become enlightened.