What Is “Enlightenment” (of the “Spiritual” Variety)?
The idea of enlightenment is like a disease in the spiritual world, in the communities, offline and on. An infection. It infects the mind: thinking one can become enlightened, wanting to be enlightened (liberated, awakened, whatever word you use), thinking it will solve all one's problems; see some teacher figure as enlightened, wondering, talking and gossiping about what teachers is more or less than another, who is not enlightened, how dare they say they are enlightened... on and on it goes... and it's all based in a false premise, a falsehood.
I saw it in an instant: "I will never be enlightened." Boom. And, one second later: "And neither will anyone else". I will never become enlightened as a person, and will or can can anyone else. It's just not possible.
Seeing that was the end of it.
Thank God for that! Phew (wiping one's brow). Done with that. Wipe one's hands of it all and move on. Feeling lighter, freer.
People do not become enlightened. Bodies do not become enlightened. There is no becoming and no person.
Focus on the message, not the messenger. That's what's important. That's what will liberate you from you.
Zero - Enlightenment and the Extinction of "Me"
DOING AWAY with the I-notion is the same as not desiring the personal attainment of enlightenment.
Not desiring that (the "last desire," the "last barrier") is "having it," for "having it" is in any case merely being rid of that which concealed what is forever that which alone we are.
Therefore not desiring personal attainment of that is at the same time the elimination of the I-notion which constitutes its concealment.
The idea of liberation automatically inhibits the simple realisation that we are free.
Note: Free, we are not number One, the first of all our objects, but Zero-their universal and Absolute Subject. This is illustrated by the famous "TENTH MAN" story.
– Wei Wu Wei, All Else Is Bondage
Illumination means the realization that Illumination is not something to be attained.
– Hui Hai
Now what does this mean? Let's unpack this ...
I've found it difficult to explain to people at times — unless they've already "seen it" — they come back with various quick mental and emotional reactions, objections, as they hear it through an interpretation from the mental state, from what they think they heard, and all the spiritual beliefs, ideas accumulated from hearing and reading that had added to the brain computer, and who they think and feel they are —memory in other words— rather than true listening or true "seeing" or knowing. Stuck on various ideas and beliefs about enlightenment, teachers, masters, saints, gurus, sages, prophets, whatever characters they imagine ... that awareness is some kind of higher state to attain for a person.
Or, being highly self-centered themselves, they see it as all narcissistic, uncaring, or New Age bullshit and self-seeking. That's how it looks through an ego-lens. You see from where you are looking from.
Yes, in this "dream" there appear to be bodies or persons who are more "clear" or whatever – more directly coming from Love, from the universal and impersonal – but you are looking from the outside. That is all completely besides the point. The point is, your "own" absolute subjectivity (that you do not own, by the way. Nor do any "masters". We are all humbly servants, as it were: no one and no thing). Who or what is the dreamer, or the dreaming? That is what you want to "know". It is what you "really" are.
What you Are
What you are is Enlightenment itSelf. Timeless. We are all absolutely equal in this. Characters in the dream. Some characters act like alarm clocks, and are placed in positions of alarming-ment. We call them teachers or speakers or writers or whatever.
You could say "Enlightenment itSelf un-people's itSelf, is un-selfing itSelf". This would be a little more accurate than saying "people become enlightened", or are enlightened.
It’s completely ordinary “awareness”: on a character action level, there is simply less identification and attachment to all the passing stuff. Or less and less. It's no longer front page news. This induces quiet and going easier in life.
Patterns of reactions may still come up, to varying degrees, but they cannot affect what you are. The Unborn, as the old Zen master Bankei put it, is eternally Unborn. Yes pours out every instant, its assurance. If we only have ears to hear and eyes to see.
What about All the Sheit? What Are The Requirements for the Enlightened State?
Are there saints and sages that have shed all the "stuff", and don't I have to do that first?
Has anyone completely rid themselves of these patterns? Not that I have seen.
And, more fundamentally, there are no requirement necessary to be what you are. That is revolutionary. That is what Ramana Maharshi was trying to tell us. And he was saying we are ready to hear it. Are you?
It seems like a lifelong journey – not to get there, but to be here. Even The greatest "teachers" I've known still have their sheit, their stuff, their "yoga" to deal with, in things like relationships. I have only heard about, but never met, any "pure" beings, as far as the human appearance goes (to differentiate from the impersonal message that comes through the instrument). This world could be seen as some kind of school, dualistically speaking.
In any case, the point is, it doesn't matter: you are what you are. Eternal. And why worry about "others", to compare or to see as a template, anyway? What are they? Who cares, and why? It's ultimately a distraction. Just focus on the Truth, being honest with yourself, in the deepest part of your being; focus on what you really are and what's true, and beautiful and what Love really is. Always. Until it's absolutely clear. Not an effort. Easier or smoother, or lighter, overall. There will always be moments of "wow, that seems intense. What this about!?" Life is a wonder.
Knowing what you really are, life get better and better, more harmonious, more serendipitous... life is friendlier. Not a threat, not something to fear. Less worries. It's like a side effect, since this is not the goal (that is the realm of self-help, ego): not personal happiness, which comes and goes very quickly, but something real and "solid", that never goes away, is always true. Then "the Unborn manages everything perfectly".
It does not mean you become a teacher – that is a misnomer (unless the shoe fits, by natural design and temperament, and calling to that kind of service, and a love of that activity...), or sit up on a hill in a lotus posture, or that you have no worldly problems to solve with the body and living – the car still needs repair and you still need to go to a doctor, and the girlfriend still changes her mind all the time. But it all is grist for the mill of seeing it's not you, and letting go of more and more fears or expectations or whatever is in the way of knowing what you are.
The things of the world are merely seen as in their place. "Render unto Caesar what is due Caesar, and unto God what is due God."...
Cast the Concept of Enlightenment (and Awakening) Onto the Fire
Perhaps the concept of enlightenment or awakening should never have been introduced into the culture. It is unfortunate. But from another perspective, it is fortunate in the big picture: by pursuing such a notion to its end, burning the rope until it’s gone as it were, one (hopefully, eventually) sees that one had it all backwards. Then you, will see, have the insight – a very final one – that you will never become enlightened as a person, nor will anyone else. It is simply is not possible.
The word or concept of "liberation" is a bit better. The opposite is bondage, which is a description of our condition – and that we can understand better!
And in seeing what we are not – all these temporary things like reactions and habits and fears, passing – and in deconstructing the beliefs we've taken on — that there is a someone, a long-lasting, separate, independent entity – sometimes by careful reasoning and examination (if you are lucky, with the help of a teacher) — there is a possibility of seeing from what we truly are: seeing itSelf. Which doth not passeth. Except that it passeth understanding. We cannot see seeing, but we can see.
What is the opposite of "enlightenment"? Endarkenment? If you shine a light in the dark, there is no more darkness. It was never an object in the first place.
To put it into non-duality language: a seemingly separate entity, that never existed in the first place, in this mental activity of attempting to get out of itself and become something through time (which also is an appearance in what you are, not ultimately objectively real), is doing nothing but maintaining itself as a seemingly independent separate real existing entity (in time and space, with attendant causality and will), when in reality it’s just an activity, a movement of so-called “mind”. and in fact, the mind doesn't really exist,except as this temporary movement of waves. The little self is a fiction that appears in Reality-Consciousness, and has no power if it’s own. It’s just like a puppet, or a cart being pulled by the horse of Reality, not the other way around.
Phew, that’s a lot of words and rather technical or philosophical.
The cart was put in front of the horse, basically. Now it’s seen where it should go, and where it’s always been, and will be.
Being does not change, but what appears in Being does.
People do not become enlightened because there is no becoming and there are no people. Funny, isn't it.
There is neither creation nor destruction, neither destiny nor free will, neither path nor achievement.
This is the final truth.
– Ramana Maharshi
A glimpse of reality will “ring” the bodymind, can be experienced as bliss, joy, euphoria, light, openness, a sense of the infinite, beauty, truth, etc… but as far as a passing experience, it is only an experience: it might then be “owned” or claimed by the mind, the small sense of self. Then there will likely be attempt to “have it” again, this experience, this feeling; or there could be the sense that one has lost it, is not feeling it.
Enlightenment as a glimpse of reality is not an experience or a feeling. It is a non-experience experience. The mind cannot have it or grasp it or own it, except as a memory of light, peace, whatever. And yet, paradoxically, it is what we are.
This memory has a resonance, which can be a good light post, but it will never be the same twice, never step in the same spot in the river of Life, will never be the same experience. You cannot reproduce it. This is its nature. In fact, it’s better not to try, and to “forget” it in a sense.
A memory is not enlightenment. Enlightenment is not an experience per se. It is a non-experience experience. It is your nature, already, indeed, but not as the illusion you take yourself to be. Enlightenment will not and cannot be what you think it is. Your real Self is never and cannot be what you think it is. What to do? (Stop thinking? That doesn’t work either, as I’ve written about). There is nothing you can do. That’s the point. Neither trying or trying to not try, will work either.
Some teachers will say things along the lines of “you are already enlightened – what you are by nature, intrinsically is enlightenment itself.” Meaning, Consciousness is all there is, really, and you are That. How could you not be?
And this is true, if heard correctly. But, unfortunately, it gets interpreted by the mind as “I am enlightened”, or usually, as, I need to be in that state, to have that, be like them – with the hidden assumption of going along for the ride, meaning I the body, the ego, the personality, the human, the appearance of a character. In other words, I or me the thought and feeling of separation, of being special, a sense of a long-lasting independent entity.
And that’s not what is meant at all. But what can I say? As Wei Wu Wei put it:
...each dreamer can only awaken from his own dream, from the dream in which he himself participated as "himself," for even if his "liv-ing" friends appeared in his dream they did so only as his objects—which is as he happened to visualise them. "Others," therefore, are nothing but our objects; as we know them they are not entities in their own right, and they only appear to be such each as dreamer of his own dream, that is subjectively.
Awakened, however, each dreamer finds that he was the apparent subject of all the objects in his late dream of "liv-ing," but now is still not an entity-for he no longer exists as an object except in the "living"-dream of "others." He is the pure unconditioned subjectivity by means of which he was dreamed, as all other apparently sentient beings are dreamed, and whose apparent sentiency is nothing but that.
– All Else is Bondage, p.60
The word “consciousness” too is interpreted by the mind computer – "falls on the ear of the listening mind" – and misinterpreted as an object, an image, or something to use or have.
Even if enlightenment and consciousness are described in terms of the experiences, and a careful definition of the whole situation, it will get interpreted by the selfing machinery, the self-centered program, and therefore misinterpreted.
So let's talk about liberation and bondage, if we want...
In any case, it's easier to define or see what it is by what is not. Thus "non-duality."
It's not about feelings or experiences, but what those appear in, which can never be known as an object of experience.
Peace is what you are.