There is a discussion on the Google listserve that raise intersting points
[i:43d54b8e6f]'A cessation of mentation as a result of intense concentration _may_ be
a precursor to Awakening in some "accidental" enlightenment
experiences (e.g. Eckhart Tolle's, or John Wren-Lewis'), or in some
very thorough systematic approaches (like the Theravada), but it is
not Awakening itself: or, put it this way, it isn't a _necessary_
precursor to Awakening. In fact, Awakening is a BREAK in any form of
samadhi-like concentration (taking "samadhi" in its lesser meaning -
for it can also mean the Result itself, in some systems). It's at
complete right angles to anything you've ever experienced or imagined.
(I say this based on your writings - you may be playing a game of some
sort, but I am responding to your words as they stand.)
It's like this: if you fix your gaze, the saccades (the little
jerkings about) that your eyes constantly unconsciously make cease,
and because the visual system normally sees things by noticing
borders, edges and differences, the visual system "whites out". (This
fact is taken advantage of in some Daoist practices, and some Dzogchen
Longde practices, if I'm not mistaken - right Namdrol?)
Since the whole mental system works in an analogous way, by noticing
differences, I believe something analogous may happen if the _whole
mental system_ is "frozen" in a concentrative state - it ceases to
experience anything at all. BUT THAT IS NOT AWAKENING.'[/i:43d54b8e6f](from)
Getting back to the practical issues:
All consuming bliss is survivable if you have someone to support you, (Ramana Maharshi had someone who brought food to him in his cave and took him in for medical care when he got sick).
In all these guru legends, they rarely talk about the family members who supported these people--or who were abandoned by them. Too often the focus is on the marvellous wisdom of the guru, but nothing is said about whether his or her family or friends had to pay a price supporting that person.
(One of the few who ever gave full credit to his family for saving his life was Gopi Krishna. Krishna was incapacitated for many years by a cripplling mental and physical ailment that befell him as a result of his strenuous yoga practice. He describes the kind of nursing care he needed from his wife, and tells how his father went mentally off balance from yoga practice and reduced his family to poverty. It was G Krishna's mother who took over the family and her son pays her full tribute--all this and more in [i:43d54b8e6f]'Living with Kundalini' [/i:43d54b8e6f]by Gopi Krishna)
Without a support system, an enlightenment experience of the kind Tolle describes could leave us homeless. The social welfare network is not as good as it was, back in the 1960s.
If enlightenment means someone else has to be your caregiver, and for an extended period of time, that's a little scary--and seekers need to know about that. And they'd better find out if their family or friends are willing to be their caretakers.
The older traditions warn us that realizing enlightenment is only the start. All kinds of deep reaction patterns still linger in one's body and central nervous system, along with social biases and traumas one has incurred while growing up.
You can have valid enlightenment and then still have to do lots of intentional work to extend that new found awareness into these blind spots and neuroses. This process takes time and cannot be rushed. And everybody needs a different approach--no one method works for everyone.
Agehananda Bharati in his book [i:43d54b8e6f]The Light at the Center: Context and Pretext of Modern Mysticism[/i:43d54b8e6f], interviewed many people who had had enlightenment experiences. Bharati had had a number of 'zero experiences' himself. He reported that enlightenment does NOT automatically endow a person with infallibility and it doesnt automatically heal pre-existing neurosis or educational deficits. As Bharati put it, if you're a nice or a mean person before enlightenment, your temperament will remain nice or mean afterwards. Enlightenment doesnt automatically cure people of sexism, phobias, nor does it give superhuman powers.
In India, Bharati met people who assumed he knew higher mathematics just because he was a renunciate monk, and, presumably enlightened. Time and again, Bharati had to tell them that was nonsense, enlightenment doesnt make you infallible, any more than mastering the piano or some other fine art. He'd still have to take classes and do the homework if he wanted to learn calculus.