How do People Become Enlightened? (There is no one path fits all)
First of all, there is no one path fits all, as each person is different with their own karma and dharma. All paths lead to enlightenment, just like all roads lead to Rome.
Throughout human history, all different spiritual practices and religions, there are people who have become enlightened: Buddha (Buddhism), Jesus (Christian), Rumi (Sufism), RamaKrishna (Tantra), Osho (Ecletic with a main focus on Tantra), Shamans from various traditions, mystics from various traditions, and also modern people with no previous contact of spirituality such as Eckhart Tolle…
And all these people became enlightened by doing very different things. Buddha, by abandoned all his kingdom, strenuous seeking and by sitting under the Bodhi tree for a very long time; Rumi by dancing and whirling ecstatically continuously for 36 hours; some Shamans by doing strict dieta and drinking ayahuasca…
It is very obvious that enlightened people became enlightened through all sorts of paths and all different means (or no means, it just happened), and all these people are from different parts of the world, from different cultures and backgrounds.
So it seems there is really no one set plan for people to become enlightened, except when you are here, you know it (again, it is not the “you” who “know”).
Below are lists of enlightened people and how they became enlightened.
I will also summarise some below.
1) Eckhart Tolle
Born in Germany in 1948. He has been living for a long time in England and is now living in Canada. He is probably the most known living enlightened person in the world. He reached world fame with his book “The Power of Now” that became a New York Times bestseller after his appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Eckhart Tolle is one of the few people who came to enlightenment without any previous contact with spirituality. One day, out of deepest depression he said to himself: "I don't want to live with me any more". Suddenly the thought appeared: "Who is the I that I don't want to live with any more? Apparently there are two..." and enlightenment happened. After that he spent two years on park benches in London and enjoyed the peace that he perceived everywhere.
“Master of masters”. His discipline before enlightenment was legendary. Osho would wake up at 3 in the morning to meditate for hours as the world slept. He cultivated his mind by reading thousands of books. His body was made strong by swimming in the river hours each day. He ate and drank only as the yogis eat and drink. Physically strong, mentally keen, spiritually aware and highly self-controlled. The perfect vessel for enlightenment.
At the age of 21, he experienced the Truth of who he was. His first reaction? A great big belly laugh. He could not believe that the thing he spent his life searching for was within him all along. The irony!
3) Ramana Maharshi
The master teacher about “Self-inquiry” - who is the “I”?
It was about six weeks before I left Madurai for good that the great change in my life took place. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room on the first floor of my uncle’s house. I seldom had any sickness and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent fear of death overtook me…
His first awakening experience came when he met a Christian mystics. This would culminate into a long journey that would ultimately end at the feet of his true guru, Papaji (desciple of Ramana Maharshi). Papaji helped Mooji cross the threshold into a permanently enlightened state. And his teaching is about self-inquiry (the method taught by Ramana Maharshi), pointing the illusion of the ego in contrast of the permanent consciousness.
Also one of the most well-known enlightened people in the world today.
One afternoon, I rode up Chamundi Hill in Mysore city and went to a particular rock – a huge rock which was my usual place – and sat there with my eyes open. After a few minutes, I didn’t know where I was. Till that moment, like most people, I always thought this is me and that is someone else. But for the first time I did not know what is me and what is not me. What was me was spread all over the place. I thought this madness lasted for 5 to 10 minutes but when I came back to my normal way of being, four-and-a-half hours had passed. I was sitting right there, fully conscious, eyes open.
Disciple of Papaji.
The moment I looked into Papaji’s eyes, I recognized the whole cosmos existed there. There was a force and clarity that literally and metaphorically stopped me in my tracks. He took me by the shoulders, and he gently shook me and said, “Don’t miss this chance. Who knows when it will come again.”
Disciple of Osho. Toyar is Israeli who in 1993 came to the Ashram of Osho where he melted with the spirit of Osho (Osho then didn't live any more). He then traveled through the Himalaya where, in December 1999, his experience of Awakening and One-ness happened. In 2000 he founded a spiritual village called "Pacha Mama" in Costa Rica.
Disciple of Osho.
it all started with this seven days ultimatum
my body started to get very very hot…i was getting high fever
and continuously sweating…moaning in high fever in my sleep
the next day the body started to get ice cold
to shiver and shiver…my teeth chattering
it was all strange…
Australian. She had her first awakening with 16 while she was raped. In her death struggle she realized that the man raping her is pure love. From that moment on he refrained from her.
Palestinian itinerant preacher who lived from 3 BC - 31 AD. Beside Buddha, he is the one who caused the most waves in the history of mankind. It is speculated that more than half of the statements in the Bible are not said by him, but rather had been put into his mouth. Jesus apparently could perform so called "miracles". He died the martyr's death on the cross for his teachings. His message is the least understood message of all enlightened people. His succession organization made just a codex of behavior out of it. The companions surrounding him where drastically overestimated by his succession organization. Neither his mother Maria, nor the apostles nor Paul were enlightened. When Jesus speaks about "Kingdom of God" or "Kingdom of Heaven" he speaks about enlightenment. (“The Kingdom of God is within you")
11) Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 to 1986: He is an enlightened person for whom the theosophical organization "The Order of the Star" was founded in 1911, of which he was designated to be the spiritual leader. One of the people who expected the imminent reappearance of the World Teacher was Charles Webster Leadbeater, then an influential Theosophist and occultist. In 1909 he "discovered" Jiddu Krishnamurti, an adolescent Indian boy, who he proclaimed as the most suitable candidate for the "vehicle" of the World Teacher. Following his "discovery", Krishnamurti was taken under the wing of the Theosophical Society, and was extensively groomed in preparation for his expected mission. Krishnamurti dissolved the organization in 1929 with his famous speech, where he stated: "enlightenment cannot be organized, enlightenment is a pathless land".