What are the Signs & Stages of enlightenment? Are there different stages of being enlightened? What are the signs of enlightenment?
You need not worry about it. There are no different stages. Enlightenment is only one, that’s all. Are there different types of emptiness? Emptiness is only one. But it can be for different purpose and the manifestations can be different.
The Shastras mention three types: Bala, Unmatta and Pishacha-vatt.
Bala means like a child. In Bala there is Sattvik predominance like a child, where one is playful, innocent, loving and connects with everybody.
Unmatta is as if one is intoxicated, when one does not care about everybody, and they are in their own world. People around them may be undergoing trouble and misery, but in Unmatta one will feel, “Never mind, let them undergo trouble. They will learn something through trouble”. They do not bother about others’ trouble at all because they think that anyway everybody is going to die ultimately. So what if someone is crying and dying and someone else is laughing and dying? It is the same thing for them.
They think that if someone is suffering, let them suffer because suffering also comes because of some Karma. They have nothing to do with anything around them. This is Unmatta – being in one’s own world, as if intoxicated.
The third is Pishacha-vatt, in which one is almost demonic. The Demonic type of people are those who just destroy everything. For them, new awakening, or new creation only comes out of destruction. There were some people who used to give such harsh punishments to their students to test them and try out if the disciples can really withstand those hardships on the path.
So the third kind is Pishacha-vatt, a different kind of enlightened people who tend to destroy everything. They say, “I have come to destroy everything”. They do not observe any rules. For them, if you want to smoke, you smoke; if you wish to drink (alcohol), you drink. You have no restrictions and can do anything. So this third type of enlightenment is the path through destruction (or destructive practices and beliefs). It is a dangerous path, where hardly a few people get anything out of it. Very few people are able to go through this (third) path.
You must have seen some people during the Kumbh Mela. They smoke the chillum (opium), they do drugs like marijuana. Just look at their bodies, their faces. These people think, “Oh! What is there to take from this world? Nothing can be gained from it. Anyway I will die. I am here on the planet only for a few years. I am as good as dead right now!” Such people have this attitude and tread this third kind of path. Only rarely do one or two people actually succeed to reach the goal through this path. There are others who only copy them.
There was a great saint in Maharashtra who used to smoke hookah. He was a great man and for him it didn’t matter, it did not affect him. But others around him would look and think, “Oh, our Gurudev is smoking hookah, let me also smoke hookah like him”.
These people will then suffer and get beaten up. There was another saint who used to drink alcohol but he would never once lose his awareness. He used to drink copious amounts of alcohol, not a little. But it would not affect him. A normal person cannot even think of drinking that much amount of alcohol. If you drink that much you would not be able to handle it. I personally do not have any experience in this area (Laughter), but what I have heard is that if someone consumes alcohol beyond a certain limit then they do not remain in control of themselves. They go to their own world. So these are different types of enlightenment.
Note – Its an excerpt of Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji’s Art of Living Satsang.