Enlightenment does not mean you have to live like a pauper. It does not mean you have to subject yourself to a life of hardship and abstinence. On the contrary, to be enlightened means to live in the light of love, compassion and truthfulness. It means learning to live without reservations and inhibitions. I have seen many teachers and sadhus who teach renunciation and detachment, yet are deeply attached to their own ideas, agendas and possessions. I have met young monks from monasteries who visit restaurants and shops, eager to enjoy things they can't afford. Rather than begging or being a poor monk eyeing material comforts, it is far better to live in the world and be detached.

Your knowledge of rituals and the scriptures, the time you spend in places of worship, the money you raise for religious causes - such things, I am sorry to tell you, have absolutely no connection with God unless the heart is open to the Divine. Such acts will not even lead to an independent way of thinking, let alone enlightenment, unless you understand well that the objective of religious acts is to purify yourself and cultivate compassion ad gratitude. The more you get attached to a cause, religious or otherwise, the more you restrict your own freedom. The most inflexible people I have met are generally the most 'religious'. Religion is our creation. It is the middleman who over -promises and under-delivers and, what's the more, it rarely connects us to the right supplier.

Some scriptures say that this world is an illusion, or that after death there is a heaven and a hell. There may be an underlying substantive reality - the invisible essence in everything visible - but that does not make this world an illusion or unreal. The pleasure you experience during moments of intimacy, the joy you feel when your child smiles, the pleasure you get when you taste success, the high you experience when you attain your goal.... these may be temporary but they are not illusory. The satisfaction and nourishment we get from eating food is a temporary experience too, but we do not stop eating or decide to go in search of a miracle pill so we never have to eat again.

The world may be temporary but that does not make it unreal. Nothing is absolute or permanent, anyway. The reality is that everything in creation is in a state of constant transformation; everything is interconnected and interdependent. Wisdom speaks only to those who are open to the truth, and insight, it must come from within. I can only share my own learning.

Krishna, Christ, Buddha & Muhammad shared their knowledge and their truth with the world, but they did not invent the light bulb, create fire, or invent tools for agriculture. We owe our gratitude to the minds who gave us these gifts as much as we do to those who have imparted great spiritual truth to us. Are we to say one is better than the other? We need both spirituality and science. We depend on religion and theology because we have lost faith in ourselves and in our fellow humans. As a result, we need external pillars to support ourselves. Self-realization is removing yourself from that support structure. You no longer require the pillars; in fact, you become a pillar of divine love and light.

This is a precious life and all religions, for better or worse, are mere concepts. The sooner you wake up to this reality, the quicker you rise above them. But truth is not one size fits all. It's a personal matter, a private affair. Einstein found it in a laboratory. Buddha found it under a tree. Edison found it in a light bulb. Buddha found it under a tree. Edison found it in a light bulb. Socrates exemplified it by drinking hemlock and Christ exemplified it in the Cross. Bill Gates found it in Microsoft and Steve jobs found his in Apple. What is your truth?

The eternal truth is that you have the right to live your life to the fullest. Every moment. This is the least you deserve. The fact that you are breathing and living means nature wants you, life wants you. As long as you have a compassionate view and you are not hurting others, everything - well, almost everything - is okay. Listen to your inner voice. This voice is the purest voice you will ever know. Your truth is also the greatest religion, the highest God. A sense of fulfilment comes from walking your own path. For some it may be meditation, for others it may be music, dancing, painting, writing or reading. Find what makes you happy & pursue it.

I am not your traditional sadhu or a celibate monk. I am not a ritualistic priest or a rigid preacher either. I just am my own truth, bared before you, without any expectations or agenda, free for you to interpret as you like. I invite you to seek your own liberation by finding what matters to you and by living your life to the fullest. Rewrite your rules, redefine yourself. Don't let life slip you by. You are a master of infinite possibilities.

I have given you my truth. Go, discover yours.

Om Swami is a monk who lives in an ashram in the Himalayan foothills. In search of the truth, he renounced the world and went to the Himalayas, where he realized himself after practising intense meditation. Om Swami has a bachelor's degree in business and an MBA from Sydney, Australia.
Find his teachings on his blog