By Enza Vita
Some people feel that they have to have a big bang enlightenment for it to be real; one second you are normal, and then suddenly it is like we walk through a gate and are awakened never to walk back through that gate again.
These people are always looking for that door and are obsessed with gurus and holy men, past and present, who claim to have found the door and crossed through it. We want to know their story, how they did it, and what we have to do for this same wonderful thing to happen to us.
Thinking that something has to happen for us to become enlightened keeps our mind on the lookout for that one more life-changing experience or event, one more confirmation, one more reason to stay in the drama of a limited, separate, un-enlightened self that needs to get something in order to be whole once again.
The courage to be what we are
Like looking for the glasses perched on top of our head or the car keys in our pockets, we have a hard time discovering our true self because it’s hiding inside us. It is us.
Our brain is like a telephone switchboard with every wire plugged into a set of beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. If we are a spiritual seeker, one of those wires goes straight into a bundle called “spiritual enlightenment” along with things like “time” “effort” “practices” “fireworks” etc.
In our journey to spiritual enlightenment, as we re-examine our thoughts, beliefs and expectations, we may start to question the usefulness of some of these connections and we may start pulling out a plug here and there (or we jerk a bunch of them with wild abandon) and try to re-plug them somewhere else.
But we need to pull the plug and resist the temptation to re-plug into what we’d rather believe. Unplugging all the wires, is what getting ready to cross the Gateless Gate is all about. Without wire support, concepts, beliefs and illusions quietly turn to dust and what they previously hid is then revealed.
Who Am I?
Contemplate the thought, “I am not enlightened yet,” and really examine what that I is referring to. Who is that I? We live our whole life focusing on all the stuff happening to the entity we believe ourselves to be without ever stopping to ask the obvious questions, “Is that me? Is that entity who I truly am?”
By the word “me” I am not referring to your thought/feelings but to the deep beingness that has been with us since we were children, that has never left us, no matter what has happened on the surface of our life.
When we ask ourselves the question Who am I? we immediately notice a vast space of not knowing.
Stop there. Go no further. Allow the answer to reveal itself. If we just continue to pursue the question rather than paying attention to what is actually there, thoughts and ideas will continue to flood in to try to fill that unknowingness. The mind seeks always to fill in the space with ideas, concepts, and imaginings but we can never find the answer in the realm of the mind because our true self is not a concept but that which contains all concepts.
As we gain experience with this, we stop rushing to fill the gap. We will no longer try to fill the space and the mind becomes clearer, and like a still lake allowing the reflection of the moon to be seen, it allow us to actually directly realize the presence/awareness that is the ground of our being, the place where happiness, fulfilment, and meaning are found.
We then realize by direct experience, not intellectual knowing, that it’s not really about a separate entity becoming enlightened; it’s about rediscovering our already enlightened presence right here and now.
All we are looking for is awareness, and we are already that. It is awareness that is reading these words. Pure presence/awareness is shining through our eyes right now and hearing through our ears right now. It is as simple as that.
What is Spiritual Enlightenment?
Enlightenment is the direct seeing that this entity we believe ourselves to be has its roots in something infinitely vast, and that this entity is not separate from that vastness, the source, the absolute. In fact the entity doesn’t have a life apart from it.
The entity, the shadow, is just a conglomerate of thoughts, a fictional entity in the grand story of existence. The entity is like a shadow of the real and without the real there would be no shadow.
And so, no person can become enlightened because no such person exists. There is only awareness, enlightened seeing, and enlightened beingness.
Enlightenment is realising we do not need to be enlightened because we already are this ordinary aware open presence at our core, right now. When we realize this, the search is over.
About the author: Enza Vita is the author of Instant Presence: Allow Natural Meditation to Happen (Watkins, May 2017, £10.99) Enza is also the publisher and editor of InnerSelf newspaper and website, and the founder and director of the MahaShanti Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to spiritual awakening. She has distilled over 40 years of spiritual exploration into a modern, practical and authentic spirituality that engages with the universal teaching underlying all religions.