Other than the normal state of un-awakened ignorance (of the existence of a dimension of awareness and consciousness beyond the mind) – the single biggest stumbling block to "enlightenment"/awareness is the state of seeking.
It is often the most sincere, the most devout, the most dedicated who are the most stuck – in many cases almost as a badge of honour (and I say this respectfully and lovingly) – seeking truth, seeking God, seeking enlightenment, seeking nirvana, seeking deeper understanding and growth.
I have known, watched and observed numerous sincere and committed people in the Buddhist and Christian traditions (which I am most familiar with) stay stuck in this "state of seeking".
I have seen and heard experienced dedicated meditators talk about enlightenment as something to be achieved in future lifetimes, I have seen and heard countless devout Christians seek God as anywhere but here now inside themselves.
What is overlooked is that "the state of seeking" is just exactly that – seeking.
Seeking means that we don’t have it – it’s over there – up there – out there – ahead of me – away from me – in the future – separate from me - anywhere in fact but HERE NOW.
The same applies to the many of us who would not view ourselves as on a spiritual quest but are nevertheless seeking self-improvement and self-development.
Aside from the realisation that ultimately there is no "self" to "improve" - and the only way to "develop" or "improve" is without the self – there is nothing of truth that we can find anywhere but NOW right here in this present moment.
The rest is illusion – or not lasting – and is at best just a "temporary fix" until we face the next set of problems and we "discover" that we need more “"improvement" or "development".
Stuck in transcendence
I am sure you are familiar with the description of some religious or spiritual people as so "heavenly minded they are no earthly use".
There is – especially in Buddhist and eastern spiritual traditions – the misguided notion that the great spiritually developed people remain in advanced states of transcendence and higher planes of consciousness.
It is true that in some traditions they have and do remain in this condition for long periods of time – but usually as a preparation to rejoin and engage with and help the rest of us.
All those who have been of service to humanity – obvious and notable examples being Jesus, Buddha and the Prophet – have been totally engaged with the everyday practicalities of life.
The true value of mindfulness and transcendent states is the ability and capacity to use them interchangeably as is most appropriate and resourceful as the present moment requires.
Or to put it another way, mindfulness is to act with deep self-awareness to provide the truly adaptive response.
The following articles develop and support the main themes and should be read in conjunction with the main pages under the relevant theme. Please see: