"Enlightenment is a term that has been used for thousands of years, in traditions east and west, to refer to the most fully developed expression of human potential, far beyond the ordinary."—Craig Pearson, Ph.D.
by Linda Egenes, TM Magazine, issue 5
2 July 2012
Linda Egenes of Enlightenment Magazine asked Craig Pearson, Ph.D., the Executive Vice-President of Maharishi University of Management, who has spent many years researching the expression of higher states of consciousness in the writings of great philosophers, saints, scientists, artists, and writers, the following questions.
Enlightenment Magazine: Have you found experiences of the stages of higher human development described in literature throughout the world?
Dr. Pearson: Yes. With Maharishi’s framework of human development in mind, we can look back at records of human history, at the writings of saints and poets and philosophers and the texts of different religious traditions, and we recognize and more clearly understand these exalted experiences.
Enlightenment: Can you give some examples?
Dr. Pearson: The great English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), seems to have had experiences of transcending, the fourth state of consciousness, starting from boyhood and lasting throughout his life. For example, he describes:
When I have been all alone. . . . all at once, as it were, out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and this not a confused state, but the clearest, the surest of the sure . . . utterly beyond words. . . . It is no nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated with absolute clearness of mind. 
This next experience comes from Hakuin Zenji, also known as Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1769), one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddhism. Hakuin describes a state in which the silent calm of unbounded pure consciousness (which he calls “the spirit of the Way”) is maintained at all times, even while one is involved in dynamic activity—reminding us of the fifth state of consciousness, Cosmic Consciousness:
The spirit of the Way is never to be lost even for a single moment. . . . What is of absolute importance, is that the two states—activity and calm . . . must have the pure, unmixed, complete, and whole truth in the forefront. It must be such, indeed, that so that even if one were surrounded by a thousand or ten thousand people one would be as if one were dwelling alone in a wide open space of thousands of miles. . . . 
One last experience I’d like to share suggests Maharishi’s final stage of human development, Unity Consciousness. This experience was described by a woman who dropped her given name and became known as Peace Pilgrim (1908–1981), devoting the last decades of her life to speaking on the need for peace, crisscrossing America on foot seven times. She wrote:
I was out walking in the early morning. All of a sudden I felt very uplifted, more uplifted than I had ever been. I remember I knew timelessness and spacelessness and lightness. . . . The most important part of it was not the phenomena: the important part of it was the realization of the oneness of all creation. Not only all human beings—I knew before that all human beings are one. But now I knew also a oneness with the rest of creation. The creatures that walk the earth and the growing things of the earth. The air, the water, the earth itself. And, most wonderful of all, a oneness with that which permeates and binds all together and gives life to all. . . . 
I could give many more examples of such experiences of higher states of consciousness. The point is that experiences of these exalted levels of human development are natural and universal—and they can now be systematically cultivated through the technologies of consciousness Maharishi has brought to light from the ancient Vedic Tradition.
Enlightenment: So, Maharishi’s vision is that enlightenment doesn’t belong only to the great seers, it can be experienced by every person?
Dr. Pearson: Yes. All human beings have the natural ability to transcend, to dive within and experience the infinite sea of pure consciousness deep inside—and from there to rise to higher states of consciousness, to enlightenment, and realize their full potential. This, Maharishi emphasized, is the birthright of every human being, the destiny of everyone. And this is why he brought the Transcendental Meditation technique out of the Himalayas and made it available to everyone on earth.
You can read more about higher states of consciousness, as well Maharishi’s advanced program for enlightenment and world peace, the TM-Sidhi program, in Dr. Pearson’s book The Complete Book of Yogic Flying.
You can read more transcendental experiences of great people on Dr. Pearson’s blog.
Hallam Tennyson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson: A Memoir by his Son, Volume I (London: Macmillan, 1897), 320.
The Embossed Tea Kettle: Orate Gama and Other Works of Hakuin Zenji, trans. R.D.M. Shaw (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1963), 82.
Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, compiled by Friends of Peace Pilgrim (Santa Fe: Ocean Tree Books, 1983), 21–22.
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