Enlightened people have attained the spiritual state of liberation. That means they are consciously aware of their oneness with the infinite.
How Enlightened People Can Help You Spiritually
Freedom From the Ego
An unenlightened person identifies with the ego. It keeps you trapped on the surface of life in a false sense of separateness from everything you perceive. You are obsessed with endless desires and unaware of the deeper reality.
The spiritual journey is the process of freeing yourself from the ego’s control. The ego is formed by karma (or past conditioning). The dissolution of your past conditioning weakens and eventually destroys the ego, allowing you to attain liberation.
You have accrued a vast amount of karma during your many past incarnations. Without the intervention of an enlightened being it takes you much longer for you to find the spiritual path and dissolve your past conditioning.
Going Beyond Thought
The ego maintains control over your awareness through an endless stream of banal thoughts. Most people are so accustomed to thinking that they incorrectly believe that the divine is found through ideas (or spiritual beliefs).
Yet only by learning how to still the mind, and go beyond the limitations of thought, can you connect with the deeper reality. It is your constant contact with the deeper reality that gradually dissolves your past conditioning and enables you to make true spiritual progress.
Learning Spiritual Practices
A spiritual master will often give guidance in a particular spiritual practice that you can use to still the mind and connect with the deeper reality. Some examples of effective spiritual practices are kriya yoga, self-enquiry, or focusing on the present moment.
A useful spiritual practice is invaluable. Yet there is much more that a spiritual master can teach you.
Exposure to the Enlightened State
Simply by being exposed to a spiritual master’s energy (or enlightened presence) your own energetic body learns how to attune to the deeper reality.
You are exposed to a master’s enlightened presence when you are in his physical company, looking at his image, or reading his teachings. And that is why I’ve provided you this list of enlightened beings.
Types of Enlightened People
There are different types of enlightened people based on their level of spiritual responsibility. In my first book Into the Formless I categorize them as: world saviors, avatars, and realized souls.
A world savior incarnates periodically, every 700 to 1,400 years. He has the greatest spiritual responsibility to help all living beings draw closer to the divine. Some examples of world saviors are Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Meher Baba.
An avatar is born enlightened and is given a significant spiritual task, though not as vast as a world savior. Some examples of avatars are Babaji, the Dalai Lama, and Mother Meera.
A realized soul attains liberation during his lifetime. The level of spiritual responsibility varies among realized souls. Most can only help one other person attain liberation.
Some examples of realized souls are Paramahansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, and Nisargadatta.
How Many People are Enlightened?
Enlightenment is rare. There is a very small number of enlightened people. And only some of them are given the responsibility of being spiritual teachers and helping others to attain liberation.
According to Meher Baba there are only fifty-six spiritual masters alive on the planet at any one time. Forty-eight of them are unknown to the public. That means only eight people on the planet are enlightened and known to be spiritual teachers.
Unfortunately, the majority of people claiming to be enlightened are lying. A spiritual charlatan can manipulate a handful of people or even millions of people into believing they have attained liberation.
Why This List of Spiritual Masters is Accurate
It is common to find a list of enlightened people on someone’s website. But most people have not advanced far enough along the spiritual path to ascertain another person’s spiritual state. The best they can do is guess. They assume that just because a lot of people believe someone is enlightened that it must be true.
At the beginning of my spiritual journey I could not discern the spiritual state of those claiming to be enlightened. And the first person I meditated with on a regular basis turned out to be the worst kind of spiritual teacher. So take care and choose your spiritual teacher carefully.
Later I found my true spiritual path and received a great deal of assistance from Mother Meera, Meher Baba, and others. Through grace, I progressed along the path and eventually learned how to tell if a spiritual teacher is enlightened.
Now I don’t have to guess about someone’s spiritual state. And I’ve found that Meher Baba’s numbers are accurate. The number of living enlightened teachers is very small. I wish it were different. Each time I hear about a new spiritual teacher I research him only to be disappointed.
Which Enlightened People Are in This List
The following are the enlightened people that I recommend as spiritual teachers. They have helped me progress spiritually, and they can benefit you as well.
This list does not attempt to incorporate all the enlightened teachers throughout history. However, I have made a point of including all the living spiritual teachers who are actually enlightened. If a spiritual teacher is currently living and is not on this list, there is a good reason.
LIST OF ENLIGHTENED PEOPLE
- Anandamayi Ma
- Dalai Lama
- Eckhart Tolle
- Jesus Christ
- Lahiri Mahasaya
- Lakshmana Swamy
- Mathru Sri Sarada
- Meher Baba
- Mirra Alfassa
- Mother Meera
- Paramahansa Yogananda
- Ramana Maharshi
- Upasni Maharaj
DESCRIPTION OF EACH SPIRITUAL MASTER
Anandamayi Ma was a modern spiritual teacher who dropped the body in 1982.
In the photos of Anandamayi Ma, she is often absorbed in ecstatic bliss.
Her teachings emphasize walking the spiritual path in daily life. She did not emphasize a particular spiritual approach other making time each day to go within an communicate with the divine.
I can feel her subtle, still, and sweet enlightened presence while looking at her photos or reading her teachings. A seeker progresses A seeker can learn how to connect with the deeper reality by exposure to the ed to the energy of a spiritual master is a fast way for a seeker t
You can learn more about Anandamayi Ma, including her teachings and life history, at www.anandamayi.org.
Babaji is described in Paramahansa Yogananda’s book Autobiography of a Yogi.
Babaji is an immortal avatar. He maintains his physical form on earth and does not age.
Babaji helped Lahiri Mahasaya attain liberation, who then helped Sri Yukteswar attain liberation, who then helped Paramahansa Yogananda attain liberation.
According to Yogananda, simply repeating Babaji’s name brings a spiritual blessing.
Eckhart Tolle is one of the most popular spiritual teachers alive on the planet. And fortunately for us he is actually enlightened.
What a blessing Eckhart Tolle provides to so many people who are searching for the truth and don’t know where to turn. Eckhart Tolle is good place to start if you are dissatisfied with your spiritual progress and you feel that something is missing from the teachings you receive at your church, synagogue, or mosque.
Each enlightened being has a spiritual responsibility. And no doubt that Eckhart Tolle’s role, at least in part, is to start a large number of people on the true spiritual path. Meher Baba describes this as the point that a person begins to perceive the energetic plane of reality. Plainly speaking this means the point when you can perceive reality without the use of the physical senses.
Eckhart Tolle does a good job of teaching people how to perceive the energetic plane by focusing on the present moment, a zen spiritual practice. It is important to note that Eckhart Tolle attained liberation all of a sudden, without using a spiritual practice. So even thought he teaches people to focus on the now, he did not use that approach to attain liberation.
How can you learn more about Eckhart Tolle and his teachings?
Eckhart Tolle’s Books
I would suggest that any serious seeker read Tolle’s two most popular spiritual books: The Power of Now and A New Earth. Tolle narrates the books, so you will gain just as much by listening to them as reading them. His enlightened presence infuses the words on the page and the words that he speaks. And being exposed to an enlightened presence is far more important than understanding concepts.
By being exposed to an enlightened presence your energetic body will learn how to attune to it energetic plane of reality, and that is the true spiritual path. Concepts can at best point you to the deeper reality, and most often they keep you trapped within the limitations of the ego-controlled mind. And you will find that Eckhart Tolle returns to his important aspect of the spiritual journey repeatedly in his teachings.
Eckhart Tolle’s Videos
Eckhart Tolle has a subscription website that contain videos starting in 2007. Each month there is a longer main talk as well as shorter questions and answers with his student. I’ve watched all of the main talks he has given each month. The insights will give you guidance in how to interact with the world of maya while also being a seeker of truth. And more importantly they will teach you how to attune to the deeper reality.
There are many videos of Eckhart Tolle available online. Perhaps the best one to watch first is an interview with Eckhart Tolle he did toward the beginning of his teaching career. It is my favorite. Hopefully the link will still be active when you find this post.
Eckhart Tolle’s popularity has created a lot of copycat spiritual teachers. If you watch interviews with spiritual teachers you will notice a similarity between the story of how they supposedly attained liberation and the account Tolle provides of his actual enlightenment experience. That is because many fakers see Eckhart Tolle’s story and teaching style as something they can emulate in order to convince others that they too have attained liberation.
Jesus Christ was an incarnation of the world savior. Many Christians have drawn closer to the divine through the grace of Jesus Christ.
Looking at Jesus and His Teachings in a New Way
The life and spiritual teachings of Jesus are represented, at least in part, in the Holy Bible. And over the millennia a common understanding of Jesus teachings has developed that most Christians accept as true.
We are taught that faith is the goal of the Christian spiritual path. And we have to wait until we die before we can be with Jesus. Yet there is more to Jesus and his teachings.
How can you learn more about Jesus Christ and his teachings?
My Articles on Jesus
I have written several other posts about Jesus Christ and how important he has been to my spiritual journey.
In one of the posts I talk about the difference between Jesus and the man-made Christian religion. And I describe how each of us can learn how to create a deep internal connection with Jesus now. You don’t have to wait until you drop the physical body to feel his presence and grace.
In another post I talk about the love of Jesus Christ and how it can teach you how to go beyond the limitations of the thinking mind to experience the divine directly.
You can also read my favorite quotes from Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible.
Learning About Jesus From Other Enlightened People
I have learned a great deal about Jesus through the teachings of two enlightened masters: Paramahansa Yogananda and Eckhart Tolle.
My relationship with Jesus changed profoundly after reading Paramahansa Yogananda’s book The Second Coming of Christ. Yogananda was an enlightened spiritual teacher from India. He was not indoctrinated into the commonly held western ideas about Jesus and his teachings. And Yogananda’s enlightened state provides a unique insight in Jesus that is invaluable to any Christian.
Eckhart Tolle often talks about the deeper meaning of Jesus’ teachings that are often unknown or misinterpreted. For instance, when Jesus said, ” Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin” he was referring to the importance of living in the present moment.
Mathru Sri Sarada
Upansni Maharaj is one of five perfect masters that assisted Meher Baba incarnate into physical form and assume his spiritual responsibilities. The other four were Hazrat Babajan, Shirdi Sai Baba, Tajuddin Baba, and Narayan Maharaj, all of whom could be on this list of enlightened teachers.
You can learn more about the perfect masters by reading opening chapters of Lord Meher by Bhau Kalchuri. It describes the life story of each perfect master.
During a trip to India I visited the mahasamadhi shrines of Meher Baba, Upasni Maharaj, and Shirdi Sai Baba. I developed a strong internal connection with Meher Baba and Upasni Maharaj, which is why they are on this list.