“…who actually has the abiding sense of alive peace that so-and-so describes enlightenment to be? Who has the abiding knowledge of what they truly are before form? I have many, many periods of dancing as that alive, fluid awareness, but I wonder, when does it become abiding?

“Am I wrongly equating enlightenment to be a constant state of self-awareness, is that not what abiding in the Self means? I thought full Awareness or Enlightenment is a sort of functional samadhi in which we go about our day doing our life chores but always in a state of bliss. I have seen myself slip in and out of samadhi, in and out of awareness during the day as my focus shifts from Being to the tasks of the day, and I wonder, am I somehow failing to live a fully enlightened life?”

You are not wrong in your idea re constant Awareness being a sign and symptom of enlightenment. Enlightenment is to be AtOne with Truth, which in Sanskrit is named Sat Chit Ananda, i.e., Being-Awareness-Bliss. That is God. Not God’s nature. God. And therefore, you as the Self as well. Guruji explains how you can know—by comparing the description of your experiences of “in and out of awareness” to the awareness of an enlightened being—that you haven’t quite yet been graced with the full enchilada.

Sw. Vandana

“Then there is a final obstacle known as the bliss sheath. Even though its name is bliss, still it is not the pure bliss of Atman. It is also a sheath, a transparent shackle. It is called bliss sheath because it is very near to the blissful Atman. The blissful Atman is covered by this thin veil called the anandamaya kosha. But do you know what kind of bliss this sheath brings? It is the bliss of sleep. Not of samadhi.

“In sleep, also, you forget the entire world. You forget your ego, you forget all the problems, etc. But when you return, all the problems are still there waiting for you. That is not the case in samadhi. So this bliss sheath is also to be transcended. In the bliss sheath, the ego rests every night (or whenever it sleeps). When that sloth is also transcended by purifying the consciousness—not by going beneath the consciousness but by going above the ego—that is superconsciousness. That is samadhi. Face to face with Reality. This Self is the illuminating principle. It is the Shining One in the city of nine doors, this body.

“While the soul encompassed by the five sheaths and the ego rests or is dreaming or is wakeful, it is operating in the causal, astral and physical dimensions, for the five sheaths constitute the three important bodies. The vital and food sheaths make the gross body or the physical. The mental and intellectual sheaths make the astral or subtle body. The bliss sheath makes the causal. So the soul, embodied with adjuncts and desires, encompassed by ego, operates the physical during the wakeful, operates the astral during the dream, operates the causal during the sleep.

“But when the soul with the ego and desires rests or moves in these triple states of consciousness, the Atman, Paramatma, Parabrahma, Soul of all the souls, the Self, never sleeps. It is always sitting in the heart as the silent witness. The course of the blood, keeping of the pulse, growth of the tissues, digestion of the food, continuance of the memory, nothing is stopped because of the presence of that silent witness. That alone is present during the deep sleep state. That alone gives the light for the ego to see the dream.

“What is the light with which the soul and the ego sees the dream? The eyes are closed. Is there a sun or a moon? That light is the silent witness. He operates as Taijasanama Bhagavan. And when a man comes back again to the physical, immediately memory continues, the egotistic identity with things external continues. By purification, the divine dream, the light of the Atman itself, as God, as Guru, can manifest in the dream and change the entire course of our lives.

“But when a man enters into that intuitive light of the Atman, then the triple walls of the three states are broken. Once you realize the truth, the light of the Atman dissolves all barriers. Even though there could be a thin ego for the maintenance of the world order and to finish the karma of the predestined body, you stay in that body as a witness and allow the body to operate the wakeful, dream, deep sleep states, etc., but there is no wall now. When the ego rests, you are not resting. You are conscious of the witness.

“Previously, you were conscious only of the body and when the body rested, you were not conscious. Now awareness continues in all three states of consciousness. Under all circumstances, there is no forgetfulness of the truth. So with that awareness, even though performing duties, you are not contaminated. Your works have no power to bind your soul again to bring you into the round of rebirth. An added charm to your personality, a luster to your face and eyes….”