Spiritual teachings on enlightenment speak to the nature of the Self in phenomenological terms. In other words, enlightenment teachings encourage the spiritual seeker to investigate the nature of their own Self. Enlightenment is not theoretical, but based on our direct experience of nature of our own Self.
There are two important modes of enlightenment teachings: one is the engagement in spiritual life and spiritual teachings; the other is mindfulness and meditation. Both practices encourage a movement from outer worldly life (Samsara) toward inner Self-awareness.
Mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware. Mindfulness offers direct sense and awareness of Being and Becoming. Mindfulness is developed through various practices, such as: contemplation of the nature of the deity, Self-inquiry, or awareness of the eternal light and love in the heart. Mindfulness can also entail an inquiry into the nature of our own Self as free from the egoic modes of consciousness, such as “me” and “mine”
Spiritual Life emerges through contemplation of the spiritual teachings. We develop a living and meaningful relationship to the truth of the Self through participation in Spiritual Life. Working with spiritual teachings encourages a relation to the eternal truth of our own Self. Spiritual teachings encourage Spiritual Life, as relationship with the inner sense of Self and archetypal forms that emerge therein.
Archetypes are found within all spiritual teachings. They appear in sacred texts, myths, parables, and arts. Archetypes emerge spontaneously within dreams, imagination, meditation and visions as well. Working with the spiritual nature of the archetypes encourages the spiritual seeker to clarify and realize the real nature of the archetypal form. To the dedicated spiritual aspirant, the forms may present the eternal truth of the Self, often coincident with the inner sense of light, love, and joy. One might say that the various archetypal forms present subtle facets or aspects of the Eternal. These facets in turn guide us beyond varied aspects toward an experiential center, as emergent Self-awareness.
The movement from outer worldly life to inner spiritual life is a psychical transition which is not always easy for those steeped in Western ideology. This is in part because we are an outward oriented culture.
Carl Jung works with the movement from outer-life to inner-life, which he called introversion. This movement encourages a process of transformation. The symbols and images which arise from the depths of the Self spontaneously transform the psyche, leading toward the integration and wholeness of the Self.
Jung felt that symbols and archetypes guide the process of Self-realization, and are ‘inherited.’ While this may in part be true, it is not the whole understanding. The Upanishads (ancient texts of Vedanta) show that symbols are an expression of the Self-arising and Self-luminous nature of Being. Understanding this notion takes the spiritual seeker toward the horizon of enlightenment, readying the personality for realization of the truth and profundity of the Self.