What is the difference between one who is enlightened and one who is not?
There is no difference. Everybody is enlightened. Realizing this is all it takes.
So that is all? Is that what I have been reading books for so many years?
We like to be busy: doing things, improving ourselves and solving problems. We like to set goals and attempt to reach them. This habit we also apply to our quest for freedom and that initially gives insights and some inner space.
But one day you realize that through your process, progress and ‘working-on-it’, you are actually abandoning yourself. That what you are longing for is already what you are. Do not deny this any longer.
Essentially there is nothing to acquire, self-realization is beyond any domain of attaining or doing.
What is it then?
It is a revelation, a realization of the undividable, all pervading mystery. It is a shift of perspective, a shift from ‘I’ to ‘Thou’. Your point of reference evaporates and you are no longer anchored in ‘I’, but in the heart of all.
Then what happens to ‘I’?
You realize that ‘I’ is an assumption, an idea, the first idea from which all ideas sprout. ‘I’ has never been. It is only imagined.
‘I’, the root of all delusion and suffering, is an imagined separation from totality. We have come to see ourselves as an aspect of life, but we are life itself. The ensuing loneliness and constant craving push more and more people into a journey to search for the missing part, whereas all it takes is a shift of perspective.
What is the difference once you have made the shift?
You don’t make this shift. This shift comes about when you no longer interfere. In this shift, I cannot continue. I simply dissolves and your being comes to rest in All.
How does one function when I dissolves?
You come to live your best life, where all your qualities are fully blossoming. Nothing needs to be censored, avoided or suppressed any more. You are simply present, simply aware. There is no more fight and no more fear.
Then what makes the difference?
‘I’ is the difference. All difference is an outcome of comparison. You always need ‘two’ in order to compare. ‘I’ is the point of reference from where you measure and compare. All your ideas are determined by the point of view from where you look. So everybody is always right, because what you perceive is related to the position from which you look. Once this standpoint dissolves, your view becomes wide open and ideas become objects to play with.
What does this mean?
‘I’ is our entrance into the world, to knowledge and time. We define everything based on this assumption and all thoughts, ideas and opinions flow from it. At the same time, ‘I’ is also the entrance to the open mystery of the fulfilled heart, the kingdom of One, your true home.
Living this mystery, resting in yourself, results in a different quality of perception. It is an open presence where the need for compulsive commentary is erased. When this painful sense of separation and loneliness evaporates and when you are no longer ruled by the craving standpoint of deprivation, your life becomes soft, light and joyful. You are merged with all and everything. You allow everything, and nothing needs to be protected anymore.
Isn’t that everyone’s desire?
One would think so. And many do enter upon the great inner journey. But what happens when fear comes? Will you be impressed and will fear define and dominate your decisions? Are you willing to feel everything? Is freedom what you want, more than anything? Do you allow love everywhere and to permeate you totally? Are you prepared to be nobody? You need very strong legs to be able to carry nothing.
What do you mean by that?
By experiencing, feeling and thinking, we realize that we are, that we are alive. We look for stimuli all the time in an attempt to reassure ourselves and keep non-being at a distance. But one day you will come face to face with emptiness, with nothing and that can be frightening. We associate ‘nothing’ with not being there any more, with death. This, however, is a big misunderstanding: nothing is an idea!
Emptiness is being without ideas, or seeing the transparency of absolutely every idea. It is the dying of the imaginary reality of ‘I’. What dies in awakening is not you, but ignorance. What dies is death.
And what about life?
This emptiness fills itself with the fullness of life, with everything. You live as life itself and you realise that life does not need any support from any idea or conclusion. You are pure presence, without beginning, end, boundary or centre.
Interpretation, projection and identification are no longer needed. This immediacy, living the mystery, is the direct experience. This is very intimate and, at the same time, very profound.
Is it then that all pain and suffering are gone?
Pain is part of life; everybody has to deal with it. Suffering is another thing; it is either identification with pain or resistance against it. Neither identification nor resistance remains, once you have been opened to the full and open expanse of life, just as it is.
Simply allow what you experience and come to see that, essentially, you are unaffected by what you feel or what you think.
How neatly the Mahasiddha Tilopa put this one thousand years ago, when he said to his disciple Naropa: “You are not bound by what you are perceiving, but by what you are clinging to. So cut your clinging Naropa!” And when you are trained in not clinging, not much is needed to awaken to the realization that you have never been bound and that there is nobody who lets go.
What a relief, home at last, doubtlessly resting in the liberating realization never having been away from yourself.