Contagion is the rapid spread of, unfortunately, a virus. Or of fear. Laughter is also contagious. So is enlightenment. That’s why I study and live with a yoga master — a Guru. She is enlightened. When I see her, learn from her and do the practices she teaches, I experience a taste of enlightenment. Everyone around her does.
How is enlightenment contagious? It’s similar to how moods are contagious. Spend time with a gloomy friend, and your mood will start to sink. Do you know someone who always looks on the bright side? They’ll have you putting on rose-colored glasses. Yet enlightenment is deeper than a transitory mood. It’s a blissful state of living your Divinity. Enlightened beings are saturated with bliss. Such a person is called God-intoxicated. They vibrate with bliss everywhere they are, whomever they are with, whatever they are doing. They’re like a tuning fork, emitting a pure tone of bliss. When you’re with them, you begin to vibrate with bliss too.
It’s not only yoga masters who are God-intoxicated. There are mystics and saints within every religious tradition, as well as outside of them. They know they are Divine and live from the depths of their beingness. I was raised Catholic, and I loved to read about saints. Most of them lived so long ago, I had the idea that saints only existed in the past. But enlightenment is available now. It’s a human capacity so it is always possible. Mystics and saints walk among us.
We call them holy. They are whole; they do not feel needy, limited or incomplete. They are not looking outside of themselves for something to make them feel good, or to make them feel fulfilled. Filled from the inside with the Light of Divinity, they radiate that light. It spills from them in the form of their words, their actions, their glances. When you spend time with them, or read about them, or even think about them, your state shifts. You experience your Inherent Divinity, which yoga calls the Self. A yogic text from more than a thousand years ago describes this:
lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham — Shiva Sutras, 1.18
Such a yogi, living in the bliss of Consciousness, is contagious. Everyone who comes into contact with him experiences a taste of enlightenment, according to their readiness.
— translation by Swami Nirmalananda
My Guru is a modern-day mystic. Gurudevi Nirmalananda is contagious with the bliss of Consciousness. Everyone who sees her, hears her or even thinks about her experiences a taste of enlightenment. And she offers more. She is a Satguru, which means she can awaken your inner knowing of your Self within you. The awakening is an initiation called Shaktipat.
Once you receive Shaktipat, you don’t have to settle for merely tasting enlightenment. Enlightenment is assured. In this tradition, the goal is called Self-Realization, because when you are enlightened you realize, “Oh, I’m the Self.” It’s not a startling, “drum-roll please” kind of moment, because you have always been the Self. You are never not Divine; you just don’t know it all the time. At least not yet.
Shaktipat gives you the ability to know all the time. Even though it gives you the ability, abiding in the bliss of your Self 24/7 is not instantaneous. You have to do your part. A process blossoms forth to clear the tensions and constrictions that block your radiance from shining forth all the time. Your most important practice to support the process is meditation.
When you do abide in the bliss of your Inherent Divinity, you will recognize everyone and everything as another form of that bliss. You will bring your bliss with you everywhere you go. Your bliss will uplift every loved one and every stranger. This can be your future. Enlightenment is not reserved for a few. This is the purpose for which every human is born. This is the purpose for which you were born: to be the one who is contagious with bliss.