Q: Enlightenment is a state which may never be achievable unless enlightenment is something that has not been understood by a person. Please explain what spiritual enlightenment is.
Cohen: Spiritual enlightenment is the direct realisation that at the deepest level of reality prior to the time-process one has never been born, has never entered the stream of time and therefore is always free from anything and everything that has ever happened in time. This realisation reveals to us that our true nature is eternal, indestructible and ever liberated. This is the perennial truth of Vedanta.
Q: You differentiate between both traditional enlightenment and new enlightenment, or Evolutionary Enlightenment. What is the difference?
Cohen: I described my understanding of traditional Enlightenment in the answer to the previous question. The "new" Enlightenment I refer to reveals itself when we awaken to the evolutionary impulse, the energy and intelligence that created the universe and is creating it right now. The evolutionary impulse is the human experience of creativity that we experience at a biological level, at a cultural level, and at a spiritual level. The urge to create new life, the inspiration towards innovation in all fields of human endeavour and finally the spiritual impulse, the drive towards consciousness itself is all evolution in action. When we recognize this, it changes everything. We understand that the ultimate reason for this human incarnation is to consciously create the future as that same energy and intelligence that compelled the universe to exist in the first place.
Q: You claim to have found a new source of emotional, psychological, and spiritual liberation that easily exists within anyone's reach how is one to develop the eyes to recognize it and the heart to desire it?
Cohen: Yes, I have! I call this the Authentic Self. When we awaken to the evolutionary Impulse that I was just describing, we experience a liberated, ecstatic urgency that is utterly free from ego, fear and self-concern. In this evolutionarily awakened state of consciousness, the entire story of our Egos has vanished and now all we want to do is create the most beautiful future imaginable totally unencumbered by the past! The most miraculous part of this is, that your Authentic Self and my Authentic Self are always already free... We only have to discover this for ourselves.
Q: Your theory is at odds with what people call the "circle of life" and many believe in it. You assert that modern science and cosmology reveal that time does not move in predictable cycles, returning to the same point but is in fact, a linear process. What brings you to this conclusion?
Cohen: Western Science discovered that the universe had a definite beginning in time 13.7 billion years ago. That profound discovery presents what I believe is a compelling argument against what many of the ancient texts both eastern and western tell us about our origins. Also, when the perennial truth of ancient mysticism embraces the explosive discoveries of western science, a truly modern understanding of spirituality/enlightenment reveals itself. In this way, we can bring forward the most important discoveries of the ancient Rishis without needing to believe some of the outdated beliefs about nature, reality and the universe that they were actually wrong about. For example, the Buddha himself claimed that the world is flat. That's what people believed in those days. In the old testament, it is claimed that God created the universe in only seven days. Now we know for sure, it took a lot longer than that!
Q: What are the spiritual methods one can familiarise themselves with to negotiate this world which for most people seems negative, cruel and violent?
Cohen: The most important methods to cultivate wisdom and deep understanding are the perennial practices of deep meditation and profound contemplation. With meditation, we need to learn how to let go of the mind in the way that all the great masters have continuously described to us. As long as we are slaves of the mind, we will never see anything clearly and we will always be overwhelmed by the presence of the world, the body and our minds.
Learning how to practice deep contemplation enables us to see and understand reality in all its endless complexity from a position of greater and greater objectivity. The pursuit of objectivity is the pursuit of clarity. Clarity makes it possible for us to make enlightened choices in this crazy world we find ourselves in.
( With inputs from IANS )