Somehow, through the web, I stumbled upon this writer, Peter Holleran. He was writing, in quite a bit of detail about his understanding of how enlightenment comes to unfold. He talks about stages of development and purification, ripening, moments of realization, oscillations between clarity and falling back into our old patterns, etc., and how these patters occur across several traditions. The one piece that stood out for me was that when we do have our moments of realization – of Satori – it is possible for that enlightenment experience to only “flow into” the parts of our being that have been properly prepared or purified through practice. Here, quoting Paul Brunton, he says:
“The mystic may get his union with the higher self as the reward for his reverent devotion to it. But its light will shine down only into those parts of his being which were themselves active in the search for union. Although his union may be a permanent one, its consummation may still be only a partial one. If his intellect, for example, was inactive before the event, it will be unillumined after the event. This is why many mystics have attained their goal without a search for truth before it or a full knowledge of truth after it. The simple love for spiritual being brought them to it through their sheer intensity of ardour earning the divine Grace. he only gets the complete light, however, who is completely fitted for it with the whole of his being. If he is only partially fit, because only a part of his psyche has worked for the goal, then the utmost result will be a partial but permanent union with the soul, or else it will be marred by the inability to keep the union for longer than temporary periods.”
This isn’t the language I typically use, but the idea behind it really resonated with me. Upon further reflection, it shed some light on the Satipatthana Sutta’s broad set of practices. Breaking up the self into Body, Feelings, Mind, and Dhammas and then further breaking each into categories such as the 4 elements of the body, the clear comprehension of postures and movements and actions of the body, the worldly/unworldly pleasant/unpleasant/neutral feelings, the sense bases, and the aggregates– all of that, if practiced, could not help but provide a suitable ground for the realization of satori within one’s whole being.