Ever since I had known about Paramhansa Yogananda, I have always longed to be "enlightened." By "enlightenment" I do not mean in the usual intellectual sense, but as a state of "yoga" or union with one's higher Self, which is very much in tune with the truth and with the manifested creation we all dwell in. The kind of enlightenment I am writing about is a permanent happiness and fulfillment above and beyond the trials and tribulations of worldly existence. Enlightenment is a freedom from addiction and the enjoyment of a kind of emotional independence or nearly perfect maturity.

I am not saying or implying that I am enlightened as a "Buddha" or "Krishna" would be. I am far from perfect, and if I was perfect, why would I even bother aspiring to anything? However, I have been very interested in the subject for many, many years, and no doubt learned much about the higher yogas and everything that the task of achieving enlightenment implies in all my own serious and sincere "trial and error" attempts. I have fasted for days, lived on 100% raw food diets, been on long mountain retreats with dozens of other yogis, meditated the entire night until dawn outside in the cold non-stop, done yoga postures until I felt like a pretzel, been initiated by gurus into complex yogic exercises and various forms of meditation, and tried celibacy for as long as I could stand it.

So it seems very, very difficult at times, having to seemingly go against one's very own instincts, and practice hours and hours of sadhanna (yoga and meditation) every day which seemed to use up much more than just my spare time! No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much self-discipline I had, no matter how determined, I simply could not get anywhere. In fact, the only thing that changed was that my anxiety and depression (unfortunate tendencies of mine) gradually got worse! In the end I simply became too tired to do anything! I had to quit, otherwise there would not even be any time or energy left over for basic survival activities!

I really had to redefine where I was coming from, why I wanted "enlightenment" so badly and what it really meant to be "enlightened." I was coming from a state of desperate longing and a basic discontentment with my life and physical or earthly surroundings. I felt very limited, restricted by time, short on money, and especially limited by my body's needs and by my 100% frustrated emotional and psychological needs. It felt like I was an unwilling victim of life, and I often truly regretted being born into this side of "hell" where life on Earth definitely seemed to be at times.

"Enlightenment" as far as I was concerned, meant to be a way out of the drudgery and pain of physical existence or at least a novel perspective on life that would help me see things in a new light and gain answers to the numerous serous problems that had plagued me for years and made my life miserable. "Enlightenment" also meant having a lasting and reliable source of inner joy, bliss, guidance and love. I longed for a personal relationship with the Divine. I longed to find out whether Paramhansa Yogananda's "Divine Mother" really existed or not. Is there a part of ourselves that is immortal? Is there a life after death, and if so what it is like?

It has turned out that the kind of "enlightenment" I have been longing for requires far more elements than I ever imagined and its requirements far more complicated than I ever dreamed. Therefore I experimented with all that I learned and picked up from various sources, personal experiences, teachers, books, etc. I decided to start a journal and write down all I could regarding those aspects of yoga and meditation that worked for me. I even invented new ideas, ideals and techniques that seemed to finally provide some answers.

What I have learned so far includes the following very important principles:

1) Cultivation and redirection of sexual desire, and the expansion of sexual energy into absolute bliss, joy, inspiration and love. I have never been able to get anywhere without some form of celibacy! However simply stopping up all one's physical cravings would do more harm than good. One must carefully redirect the sexual energy upward through the spinal centers into an expanded bliss using adaptogenic herbs, short water fasts, infusion of body cells with prana (life force energy), and be sure one is eating at least one, complete, whole meal every day, otherwise this delicate process could get disrupted.

2) The diet and supplements taken must be perfect for the person. In order to succeed at yoga, one's metabolism must be optimized and balanced perfectly. The right supplements, the right herbs, the right food, and the right amount of daily water fasting, must be included every day so that when one sits down or simply pauses, one should feel absolutely relaxed and content. This "pleasant state" is absolutely essential just to begin yoga.

3) Don't go vegetarian if your metabolism can't handle it. Vegetarianism works fine for most yogis, however some still need to include "meat" such as sardines, salmon, turkey, and chicken, otherwise there could be some difficulties in many areas of one's life. Avoid red meat (pork, lamb, beef...) if possible.

4) Always include many raw nuts and seed such as almonds, pecans, peanuts, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seed; and enjoy plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, raw sauerkraut, vegetable juices, rice and beans, etc. Avoid cheese, fried food, bread, sweet desserts, dried fruit, or any flower products, because at best, these foods only take up room for more biologically valuable food, and at worse, can drain vital energy and lead to illness.

5) Know for sure that there is life after death and that the spirit is a real entity. Just having no doubt whatsoever about the reality of Spirit and that there is a universal, eternal justice changes everything in the way one feels, acts and behaves toward life. Life no longer seems like an utterly unfair and nonsensical "hell" but is rather an opportunity to learn from mistakes and grow toward becoming a finer and finer human being.

6) Know without a shadow of a doubt the oneness of all life! There is only one consciousness or one observer who lives in all sentient beings. One can love others unconditionally (very important), because one now knows that all people everywhere are simply aspects of one great Soul, which means one will have to experience eventually everything one does to another person. "Enlightenment" consists mainly of a constant state of unconditional love.

7) Meditate regularly by focusing all one's attention at one spot one inch inside the forehead (third eye) or heart center in middle of chest. Also learn how to deep relax and at least visualize the self leaving the physical body behind. Astral projection provides first hand proof that one is not the body. The body is only a physical vehicle to get around in and the physical brain is needed for the interpretation of all events within the physical dimensions of time and space. One's true nature is space, ecstasy, love, and knowledge all embedded within a unified, but location-free, "quantum" consciousness. Identify with consciousness instead of the physical body.

8) Drink loads of fresh (preferably ionized or alkalized) water between meals instead of snacking. Exercise regularly in an external, natural environment with intent to absorb as much prana as possible into every cell of the body. Also bathe or shower regularly to keep the skin pores open to finer energy, and try to wear only clean clothes everyday because old particles tend to block the absorption and enjoyment of prana.

"Enlightenment," as you can tell, is anything but simple to accomplish, but well worth all the trouble and difficulty once achieved. There are no short-cuts, however it is possible to discover and use more effective and direct methods. I follow all of the above steps and as a result am enjoying a lifestyle very similar to one who is considered "enlightened." However, I still am far from perfect, and have much more to accomplish. Discovery and growth is what makes life so exciting.

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The rest of his original articles and his free online book, Science of Wholeness I & II can be found here: http://www.wholejoy.com/wholeness/NEWS.html

Author's Bio: 

I was born in England, in the year of 1957. I studied horticulture, astronomy, art, psychology, world religions, biochemistry, nutritional healing, breatharianism, near-death experiences, soul travel, soul mates, yoga, spiritualism, the kundalini and mysticism.

Early in my life, I came down with severe anxiety, agoraphobia, depression and chronic fatigue. This horrible "dark night of the soul" caused profound problems in all areas of my life. Years later, I created a website to examine any possible natural cures for these conditions which have nearly always plagued me.

My main website is "Science of Wholeness" which I started in 2001 to investigate natural ways to connect with the reality of Spirit, prove the existence of the afterlife, and to publish much of my artwork and thoughts on the subject of philosophy, nature, the paranormal and the universe.

I am a spiritual truth seeker looking for wholeness, or the perfect inner joy and abundant health that we all long for. I have found much of that wholeness through advanced nutritional supplementation, meditation and transmutation of the lower chakra energies into a higher expression of joy and love.