Awakening the Enlightenment Drive 

To support our community in this year’s theme of the instincts, this blog post is adapted from the content of Runaway Realization by A.H. Almaas.

“The enlightenment drive is enlightenment expressing itself as a drive. It is true nature in its freedom expressing itself as the drive to make enlightenment manifest. It is true nature in its freedom arising within us as a particular maturation of our soul.”

 -A.H. Almaas
Runaway Realization

From the beginning of our lives, we are driven by powerful inner forces — biologically wired survival instincts that are crucial for our physical existence and well-being. These necessary and powerful drives permeate our feelings, attitudes, and actions. They are expressions of the life force as it differentiates into various arenas of life, such as skills and functionality. In a recent blog series on the social, sexual, and survival instincts, we explored the importance of understanding the nature of these instincts so that we may untwist the reflexive primitive energies to enable the life giving and life loving nature of these drives to align with our spiritual nature.

Living in the world then can be an expression of our deepest nature as we move through time and space from the timelessness of spirit in the precious vessel of the physical body. The clarification and updating of these primitive drives pave the way for body and spiritual presence to be in harmonious union.

The survival, sexual and social drives are the first step in our human development necessary for human life at its most basic level. There is a particular maturation of the soul that involves the awakening of the fourth drive, the enlightenment drive. Although similar to the instinctual drives, with similar energies and intelligence, the enlightenment drive is not completely biological. Its aim is about the quality of inner experience. We may recognize the enlightenment drive as the religious drive, the longing for God or divine union, the desire for enlightenment or truth, or the love of discovering the secrets of existence, what life is all about. We can think of it as the source of our love and longing for liberation.

At the beginning of the path, the enlightenment drive appears to us as our commitment to and interest in practice, as our devotion to and love for the truth and for reality. As our practice matures, not only do we have various openings, insights, and experiences but also we begin to recognize that the arising of the experiences of true nature is what undergirds our practice—not only what motivates it, but also what guides it, and even generates it.

This is a natural drive that we all have that can wake up at some point. For many people, it hasn’t awakened. Mostly, it functions unconsciously insofar as everybody wants to be happy and everybody wants to improve their life. When this drive toward freedom functions consciously, it appears as the recognition that what is at stake in our lives is the quality of our inner experience, the realization of our inherent beingness, the awakening of our spiritual nature. When we recognize this truth, the enlightenment drive has awakened.

For many people, the first stirrings of the enlightenment drive occur in the head center when they learn about the idea that there is such a thing as enlightenment — the possibility of a spiritual life and experience — and are interested or motivated to pursue spiritual practice.

However, if the heart is not involved in the drive toward truth, then the enlightenment drive doesn’t have adequate juice or fuel. When the drive wakes up in the heart center, it appears as love, compassion, and the irresistible passion for the truth of inner life. We experience this as love for truth, love for God, love for reality, or as compassion for the suffering of ourselves and others and the desire to do something about it, the recognition of the need to wake up, to be real, to make a difference.

To move beyond the realms of ideas and feelings and into those of action and direct down-to-earth engagement, the soul will need to mature so that the enlightenment drive begins to express itself through the belly center. This is the center of grounding in actual life, the center of action, where we live and actualize our ideas and feelings.

When the enlightenment drive awakens in the belly center, we are naturally and spontaneously oriented toward practice. The instinctual drives—the social, the sexual, and the survival—also originate in the belly center. These powerful forces move you without your even having to consciously think of doing or willingly participate in doing. You just do it because the drive comes directly from the belly center, the center of action. It is the same with the enlightenment drive: When the drive toward truth and practice comes from the belly center, you simply do it. The drive toward liberation becomes direct, natural, and immediate.

We have seen that the enlightenment drive can manifest through all three centers and, specifically, as continual practice in its expression through the belly center. As we recognize the truth of this drive, we learn to work on the instinctual drives and harmonize them into the enlightenment drive.

As the soul matures, this dynamic force appears as the drive within us to go toward greater actualization of that nature, to bring that nature forward and display it in full consciousness, in full awareness. True nature has inherent in it the drive to reveal itself in our experience. This dynamic force is the enlightenment drive—the drive toward enlightenment, toward freedom, toward liberation, toward awakening, toward reality, toward truth, toward the genuineness and authenticity that is the truth of Being.

Being fully in the world as our True Nature requires integration of our spiritual and physical as one divine unified being. The body can become more open and sensitive to the spiritual dimensions to develop its potential to become the Divine vessel of life in the world. Then there is no split between spiritual realization and the physical body. It is a potential step in our evolution for the functioning of our natural inner state to complete itself through the corporeal window.

“The enlightenment drive embodies and expresses enlightenment itself, true nature itself—in its fullness, in its clarity, in its freedom, in its emptiness.”

-A.H. Almaas, Runaway Realization

Learn More in Instinctual Alchemy, a free webinar about harmonizing your instincts to support your realization with Diamond Approach teachers Linda Krier and Jessica Britt

Join us for a critical, timely, and new teaching on the powerful synergy between body, instincts, and spirituality that allows us to be more authentically available to life in the modern world. Register for this free webinar here.

Scroll to Top