5 Major Obstacles to Self-Realization & Enlightenment

Importance of God Realization

Obstacles to Spiritual Enlightenment

“Hitch your wagon to a star!” is a famous Ralph Waldo Emerson quote urging you to aim high and have soaring aspirations.  I would like you to actually raise the level of your aspirations even higher, I would like you to raise the level of your aim to the very highest achievement possible in life, I would prefer if you “Hitch your wagon to infinity!”  Why even settle for a star?

Before all the experts on non-duality start clamoring that there should be no purpose to life, you should not set goals, etc, let me say that if there is any purpose at all to life, then it is Self-Realization, or to put it another way, it is to find God.  Everything else is immature.

Major Obstacles to Self-Realization

So you must make the most of this chance.  No matter if you believe in reincarnation or not, this life is a golden opportunity to achieve this highest possible purpose of human life.  For those who believe reincarnation exists, you know how very precious and rare a human birth is, and for those who believe there is just one go around, well you certainly don’t want to waste this opportunity then for sure.  Either way, since you are here anyway, why not shoot for highest high.

In this article, I would like to discuss the 5 major obstacles that often prevent you from fulfilling this great journey to God Realization.

5 Major Obstacles to Self-Realization:

1. Ignorance:

By ignorance here I mean that folks are just not aware that they actually have an infinite, divine aspect which can be discovered and abided in.  I remember speaking to a close relative once, who was surprised that there were people today who had awakened to their Infinite nature and lived life from there. 

You don’t have to believe that there is an eternal aspect to your being, although doing so and clinging to that belief is a valid Advaita Vedanta technique for enlightenment, but what you have to consider is that there is this possibility, and then explore your inner walls to discover if there is any truth to this claim.

If you outright reject that such as aspect to your being exists, life does not care, it does not matter to anyone else, it only means you will miss the whole point of being born.

One other point I would like to make with regard to ignorance, has to do with the pursuit of wealth, power, fame, etc.  Without getting into a big debate regarding the Easterlin Paradox (the research that says, money cannot buy you happiness), I would like to point out that chasing these material pleasures can potentially make your dream world nicer, but they do little for you in terms of waking up to the Truth.

This waking up, or Self-Realization, is worth it because it means you are now finally free from delusion, and can fully express your true self and live the life you were meant to live.  So if you want to pursue just material pleasures, in lieu of Enlightenment, then please go ahead and do so, just understand that this is ignorant and only manipulation of a dream reality.

Just to be clear here, I am not against material gains, wealth, power, fame, etc, what I am saying is that if you just chase that, you will go through life asleep.  Also, one other secret I will share with you is that all these material rewards are likely to be yours anyway, if you truly walk the path to Enlightenment.  After all, who is more famous than Lord Jesus and Lord Buddha!

2. Compromising:

Just don’t do it.  Don’t settle.  I know life and society wears you down slowly.  Chipping away at your heart and soul.  The uncompromising attitude, fire and exuberance of youth is slowly smothered by the endless responsibilities and difficulties of life, but don’t give up. 

Research finds that men in their 40s and 50s, are quite prone to depression, and this is primarily because they are starting to feel that the great life they aspired to live, won’t be realized anymore.  They feel they must swallow the bitter pill of “reality” and practicality.  This is rubbish.  Remain inspired, keep going, fight, don’t settle.  Find ways to stay on course.  The only answer ever is God, everything else will fall into it’s right place when Self-Realization is the underlying theme of your life. Let this great work, light your way forward.

If you are young, choose wisely.  I hope you find great teachers who will guide you well, so that you don’t find yourself so mired in financial commitments and other responsibilities that you no longer have time to think about your divine nature.  You are blessed with abundant energy and death is far on the horizon, you have no excuse to not walk the walk.

3. Confusion:

Perhaps worse than the ignorant are the confused.  They really piss me off.  The confused are those who have health, know Self-Realization is the purpose of life, have food, clothing and shelter, but find excuses to run after other things endlessly.  What is wrong with you all?  Stop it.  At least the ignorant were clueless, they simply did not know better, but you do.  You know and yet you don’t do what is necessary.

At one point or another we all make this mistake. Sometimes repeatedly .  I know I have and when I do, I get mad at myself too.  What the hell am I doing?  Not doing my daily meditation, not doing my yoga, not staying aware from moment to moment.  What am I doing?  Blogging and working all the time.  It’s pathetic and I yell at myself and get back on the right path.  You must do the same, and if you need someone to yell at you, call me .

So confused means you lose sight of the fact that the true purpose of life, if any, is God Realization, Self-Realization, Enlightenment.  This must be the guiding force of your life.  Don’t worry, life will give you everything else you need, she is our mother, and she won’t abandon us.  You just keep your eye on finding Dad .

4. Laziness:

Perhaps I should categorize these folks with the confused, but I wanted to give them their very own space so they could feel truly pathetic.  The ignorant don’t know better, the confused are at least trying to build an empire or something, what in the world are you folks doing?

You know what is at stake, have time and health, but are just mindlessly wasting precious time.  There are a million forms of mindless entertainment to keep you drugged and serving the purpose that society wishes from you.  But from this you must break free.  Come on yaar (friend), make some effort, show some willpower, turn off the TV, stop browsing the web, the sports matches can wait, infuse some balance into your life.  Once you start to gather momentum and break the cycle of inertia you will be unstoppable, so let’s get going.

For more on this topic, here is an interesting read on how Zen views laziness: The True Meaning of Laziness.

5. Impatience:

It is unlikely that the highest achievement in life, is going to be easily accomplished by you overnight.  We are being trained to become quite an impatient and instant gratification society.  This can be easily seen not only in the use of medical drugs for muscle building, fat loss, pain, etc, but is also more subtly visible in relationships that today tend to skip romance all together and go straight to sex.

This attitude has spilled over into the spiritual arena as well, and I have written about this in the article, No Shortcuts to Enlightenment.  Essentially, the point here is that for Self-Realization, you will have to stay on the path for as long as it takes.  Another secret I would like to share with you here is that the path itself is really a lot of fun, Enlightenment is great, but so is the work leading up to it.


In the article, How to Discover Your Divine Nature, I wrote about how to recognize your Higher Self by experiencing an aspect of it.  The key to such awakening, is meditation and I want to stress that this is the real reason for human birth.  Although Enlightenment has absolutely no material value, without it life is absolutely useless.  If you don’t want to have lived such a meaningless life, you need to wake up and claim your birthright of knowing you and God are One.  Let’s get to it.


To get you started on meditation, you might want to sign up for the free online yoga and meditation classes offered here.  Also, here is the link to the Beginner’s Meditation Class.  If you are an advanced yogi or meditator, I challenge you to take a swing at the Silent Mind Meditation Technique.

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16 replies
  1. Shara Neshani
    Shara Neshani says:

    Anmol Mehta,

    Your writing is breath taking. What could be more joyous then writing about connecting with God. I also loved your quote of Emerson and opening words:

    “Hitch you wagon on a star!” I agree that “high soaring aspirations” as you beautifully put it are the only thing worth striving for. And creating a website on higher aspirations and stars is somthing you’ve done which I appreciate.

    I will share with you and your readers mine as well. Here is an article I published in a spiritual magazine. It is the first time I have ever published and just thought I’d share the upliftment.
    The link is- .
    I have also done radio and recordings with a spiritual master at
    the website- Much joy to you!!! And keep up the wonderful work you do!!

    Shara Neshani

  2. belle
    belle says:

    Anmol I would like to share what I have learnt. There are 9 Antarayas (obstacles) to self realization and Enlightenment.
    There are 9 Antarayas ( Obstacles)
    1.) VYADHI ( Illness, Disease,) Diet affects the health They say as the food so the body, and mind Asanas and Pranayamas ( Hathayoga) should be done regularly to keep yourself flexible and healthy, All four pillars are important, Yamas and Niyamas are very important, being the first 2 steps of yoga, Routines and Habits are to be watched.
    2.) STYANA (Mental Laziness, Procrastnation ) Leaving it till tomorrow is not good. Do it now.

    3.)SAMS’AYA ( Doubt) Don’t have doubts, whether this or that, Be sure
    4.) PRAMADA ( Negligence , Carelessness) If you are negligent, careless, you’ll not be able to move towards achievement of Goal.
    5.)ALASYA (Sloth Laziness) In Alasya the heaviness comes in to stop. You have to tell yourself not to be lazy.

    6.)A-VIRATI ( Failing to turn away from senses ) Avratti stop your temptations. This is the saddest state of mind.

    7.) BHRANTIDARS’ANA ( Wrong Views, Confusion of Philosophy ) e:g When you are in blissful state of meditation, one thinks this is the highest state of Yoga, which is a misconception, and it is a wrong knowledge.

    8.) A- LABDHA- BHUMIKATVA (Failing to gain a ground /level ) One may be in Samadhi but not be able to go deeper. One has to overcome above obstacles and should be able to maintain the state.You are not able to sustain at all and reach.. You are only trying to reach the state but slip back.

    9.) AN – AVASTHITATVANI ( Instability to maintain a ground ) Here you reach the state , but you are not able to maintain the state for a long time. One should be able to maintain the state for a long time.

    All these obstacles are because of Trigunas, Kleshas, and Chitta-Bhumis

  3. Parul
    Parul says:

    Well said Anmol, its true IGNORANCE is the biggest issue people are facing for their lives totally messed up today. I pray to Almighty for the ignorants to make them rise from the darkness towards bright light of spirituality…..

  4. Gayatri Vasudevan
    Gayatri Vasudevan says:

    What a wonderful site. Thanks so much. Its very inspiring and inspirational. I have been meditating for about a year now and have recently started incorporating some of the yoga poses from your site. Still waiting for a breakthrough!

  5. shobha
    shobha says:

    Thanks for inspiring us and giving a genle push. We all need it at times. I did my sets and meditation and intend to be regular in future.

  6. Kevin Boon
    Kevin Boon says:

    Well said. Compromising and confusion have been two stages I have had to overcome. By giving myself time to get truly centered (Meditation, Reflection, Journaling) I find that I can remind and bring myself back to what’s important.

  7. Kaushik
    Kaushik says:

    Hi Anmol,

    Nice reminders.

    The Buddha said we make two mistakes: not starting, and once we start, not keep going. I understand your point about laziness but I would add that effort and discipline are not required, just intention, and then Life simply knows what to do.


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