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My shot at explaining what enlightenment is

Discussion in 'Mind, Body & Spirit' started by Edwin, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    It's a long shot. I know I will fail miserably. But I have to try.

    Enlightenment.
    Everybody has heard of it, everybody has expectations of what it is.

    It's funny how I knew that I wanted to become enlightened, even before I even had a faint notion of what it was.
    I pictured myself free of worry, always calm and never angry. You know, a Zen master on a good day :cool:

    In a strange way, that has happened, and yet again, it hasn't.
    Am I enlightened ? I will stick with the same answer that the Dalai Lama gave when asked this question. No.
    I can never be enlightened.

    So, moving on, what is it like to be enlightened ?
    Enlightenment starts with a realization.
    The realization of I.
    It can be rationally explained, and that's what I will do right here, but don't expect to agree with me, or find instant enlightenment from reading this.
    So, let's start with a logical deduction of what is "I" and what isn't.
    First of all:

    The Body.
    All human beings have one.
    When we break an arm, we say "I broke my arm".
    As logical as this sounds, are we right to claim this body as our own ?
    There are clues that support my claim that we are not the body.
    Most people will be shocked at a certain age to find a wrinkle near their eye, to spot the first grey hair, to find their hairline receding ( lol ).
    The reason that you don't accept this aging is because of fear of death, but also because "you still feel like a young guy or gal".
    The body may age, but that doesn't change who you are essentially. Over the years, your mind will gain knowledge, but essentially the world is experienced the same way as when you were a child.
    And besides, everything that you can observe, can't be you. There is an observer, and an object to be observed.
    So, as long as you can observe it, it isn't you. Observation goes beyond your eyes. You can observe a sound, a touch, pain, heat, cold. Anything that can be experienced by the body, is observed.
    We are not exploring the observed, we are trying to find out who the observer is.

    Secondly:

    The Mind.
    Descartes used to say "I think, therefor I am".
    Let's find out if he is right...

    " I think ". We say it all the time. "I think so". But where do these thoughts come from ? According to our own claims, we think our own thoughts.
    Are we constantly busy forming sentences, until we have assembled a thought ?
    everybody in these forums meditate, so we actually know that thoughts come up and disappear by themselves, hence the "clouds analogy" of Michael in the free meditation course. Why should that be any different outside meditation ?
    Don't ALL thoughts come up by themselves ?
    And when they do, can't they be observed ?

    Anything that can be observed, can't be who you are.
    Now this poses a problem.
    I am not responsible for making the thoughts.
    But numerous thoughts arise with the word "I" in it.
    "I should have tried harder in school"
    "Why did I mess up that interview for the job I wanted ?"
    "I am the best athlete in the world"

    All these thoughts can also be observed. That means that I am not the "I" thought. Any thought that comes up stating something about "me" is obviously not made by me. A lie.
    And one that we have always believed. Especially because these thoughts are backed up by emotions that make us feel bad. No escaping the feeling, even if rationally you can explain to yourself how the thought is faulty, the emotion seems to pull you into a small depression.
    If not acting upon a thought, we seem to always act upon our emotion.
    Our emotion ?

    Wait a minute...

    Did we create that emotion ?
    Isn't this the same situation as with a thought ?
    We don't make the emotion ourself, or we would simply just feel happy all our life. Why not right ?

    So they come up as well. They can be observed.
    So, the emotion is not ours, and we are not the emotion.

    What's left ?

    No body, no mind, no emotion, nothing of this is who we are.

    So, who are we ?

    Wei Wu Wei said: "What we are looking for, is what is looking"

    How do you look at yourself ?
    And don't give me the mirror example. You are not looking at yourself in a mirror, you are looking at a reflection of yourself, and even that reflection is at best... well... mirrored :p

    How can a knife cut itself, how can a camera take a picture of itself ?

    That which is looking can't be observed, because we already are that.
    When trying to find this, all that you can "see" is nothing, and a feeling of space is experienced.

    And this is where the ineffability starts. Once you realize that the looking comes from nowhere, that "the looker" doesn't exist, this will shatter your self-image. What you always assumed to be the personality inside your body doesn't exist.
    All there is is nothing, and yet this nothing is looking.
    The funny thing about the word nothing is that we think of it as just that... "Nothing".
    But "Nothing" also is "Everything".
    What if in this world colors didn't exist, except the color blue. Everything just different shades of blue. We might know concepts like "Dark" or "light", but the color blue just wouldn't exist for us, because when everything is blue, nothing is.
    This is more plausible, because nothing can't be looking, but everything can. So, the world, the body, the mind, the emotions, all of it is what is looking. Nothing yet everything. Even tho you just lost yourself, you gained the world.

    All this makes your life a lot easyer, because why bother with the fake I that wants to feel guilty, angry, lonely ?
    When you know who is looking ( nothing ) the emotions and thoughts generated by the body are not meant for anybody. Who can be bothered with thoughts and feelings like guilt or remorse... when there is nobody to experience them ?
    There is just looking.

    This does provide calmness, it makes you like that Zen master on a good day most of the time.
    But there are also times when the Zen master would lash out at his students, making them feel bad, and generally behave painfully humanlike.
    If anyone would ask me "Don't you ever get angry anymore now that you are enlightened" I would have to say:
    No, I don't get angry, never did, I do experience anger tho, and sometimes I experience acting upon that anger as well. And I am not enlightened. There is no I you see, so who is there to be enlightened in the first place ?

    I is of the mind, and mind can't be enlightened, enlightenment happens when mind shuts its trap.

    What does it feel like ? Like a good meditation.
    You see, everybody who has meditated for a while, will have experienced this "state" during meditation.
    Enlightenment is the same. Observing thoughts and emotions without becoming attached to them, and even that is nonsense, because who is there to become attached to it in the first place ? And how do you attach to a thought or emotion, what is it in the first place, is a thought or emotion a thing ? does it have any solidity ?
    Just observe the thoughts and emotions like you have done all your life, because the "looker" has always been there.
    The "looker" doesn't age, the mind and body do, but your real Self, the "looker" or whatever you will call it, is timeless, making you feel like the same person as a kid and as an adult with grey hairs around your ears ( if not losing those very hairs before that haha ;) )

    So, conclusion: 24/7 meditation :) that is what enlightenment really is.

    At least I think it is :p
     
  2. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Yep, 24/7 sums it up nicely :)

    24/7 meditation is simply being aware that you, your wife, dog, cat, washing machines, fast-food, football, swimming, running, trees, grass, water, beer and so on constitute one inseparable life, that is pure awareness . Thought will never grasp any of that because thought is responsible for fragmenting awareness into all these words that create the illusion of separateness. Yet, once pure awareness is fully seen, it is realized as undeniably true.

    Every human seeks in one way or another, if you are seeking enlightenment, some spiritual searching may be necessary in order to realize that it is not necessary. If you allow your desire for the truth to burn up every false idea standing in the way of the realization that enlightenment is right now, “pure awareness”

    True enlightenment is the realization of no self. Thus, there is no self to search for or find the truth. There is only the truth, which is realized when the dream of a separate self dissolves and there is a realization that all there is, this utterly simple life, happening now.

    Yep, 24/7 sums it up nicely :)


    Peace :)
     
  3. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    I was hoping that there would be additions posted by those who also had this realization. Like you said, some do some spiritual searching for a few years, and some do it the easy way, you know, like experiencing 2 earthquakes within a year. Lucky bastard :rolleyes: !

    Thank you for your wonderful addition. I have tried to keep out the spiritual experience of it all, to keep the text clinical and somewhat scientific. This because I seem to always become obnoxiously lyrical about it. It is all just so beautiful !!! Karmoh, you wrote down exactly what I wanted to write, but couldn't !

    :cool:
     
  4. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Hi Edwin and Karmoh,

    Using as few words as possible... perhaps a short word picture of the path...

    Moving from "heard about" to "know" to "do" to "be".

    Soooo, in the context of the path chosen by this Soul... "being the prayer".

    Great explanations from both of you.

    Nothing but the best...

    Olmate
     
  5. Ramai

    Ramai Member

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  6. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    For me its an ongoing change, not a spectacular event (though id prefer the second one lol). This reminds me on a little map of reality i drawed a few days ago, i scanned it :)

    http://exec.at/map.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
  7. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Woooah, Pan, I think you've broken the forum with that picture. hehe!
     
  8. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    Yup guess so LOL
     
  9. Mr Monkey

    Mr Monkey Member

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    I tend to agree with Pan in his forum vandalizing post ;) :). For me, I can only see this type of thing (enlightenment) being a phased reduction in mental attachment to things (emotions/thoughts etc) combined with an increase in self-awareness. I know there has been fast transitions for some, but that has involved something of a mental snap (Jill Bolte Taylor/Eckhart Tolle) which would be hard to induce, but if it could be I’m sure they’d be a few people interested! I know people on this forum have had the “light goes on” moment, but that has always seemingly been after some reasonably long investigation into the self.

    Personally when I am fully “in the now” I can appreciate I am not my body, which is slightly strange but also nice at the same time. Also I know I am not my mind or emotions, as I can watch them try anything between subtly prodding/manipulating me or swirling around trying to get my full attention and buy-in.

    I’ve found my journey regarding enlightenment interesting, frustrating and rewarding. I have an underlying sense that theme is going to continue. I’m amazed the amount of times I’ll be thinking “I’ve got it, I understand this bit of it now!”. Only for my confidence to get punctured as people on the forum point out that I am buying into this thought/emotion. Either that or I’ve just got things totally a**e about face :D. Although that’s a positive thing to happen because if you can see you’re mistakes, you can learn from them :).

    I guess by saying “I’m on a journey” I may get a little smack as I know it should be “I’m already there” – but I can only be honest in how I perceive things. I guess I need to carry on my journey to (hopefully) realise that no journey was necessary.

    I remember Karmoh mentioning in one of his posts “I still oscillate, but the sense of separation is slowly dispersing” and this really struck me as that’s sort of how I feel. You move into “the now” for a while then before you know it the next time your in now you realise you mind has completely drawn you in since the time! :mad: :D

    Well onwards and upwards, an interesting read so thanks to all.

    PS: Nice post Ramai, I read/enjoyed the book - does the film live up to it?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011
  10. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    This forum is evolving in to a wonderful place :D

    Edwin. thank you for your kind words, but the pointers you post are the key. :)

    Mr Monkey. Oscillation is the beginning of the journey. Oscillation, which is still very prominent in the life I lead, comes from incorrectly believing that being here and now is about getting rid of appearances such as thoughts, emotions and experiences. To try and get rid of these things is a mistake, if that’s the goal, try lying in bed all day and do nothing, absolutely nothing, no movement, no toilet, no food, water, or entertainment. The now is not about escaping. It is about freedom in your everyday existence. :)

    Peace :)
     
  11. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Nothing like fighting your cat to dig the best poo hole in the garden to realise oneself :D
     
  12. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    ROFLMAO !!!

    I am still hoping that some forum members here will help by adding that to my post which makes it more clear.
    There is a rich source of wisdom present in these forums.
     
  13. Ramai

    Ramai Member

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    Every time something happened that took me out of my comfort zone, I felt that I was back to where I started. But was that so? Not really. Each experience brings a different understanding on how to rise above the challenges of life, erodes resistance and adds more “tools of wisdom” if you like. It’s a continuous process. We are never done; there is always more to experience, to feel, to understand.
    We eventually stop questioning and start to see the continuity and positivity of life. Acceptance and appreciation of change brings freedom. Doubt, confusion, and uncertainty still arise, but have less hold on us when we keep finding ourselves where we started from. Gradually we understand that the journey of life is not linear but more like a circle, you know – “the circle of life”.

    P.S – Mr Monkey - I haven’t read the book but the movie is awesome.
    Love,
    Ramai
     
  14. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Hi Edwin,

    I haven’t replied sooner, because as interesting as these threads are, (yet very deep to a simple mind as mine) I tend to feel uncertain of how I can contribute to them.

    Anyway, as you are asking for more input, I will try my best and hope I address what is actually being discussed :)

    I have owned a glass plate for about 20 years which has inscribed on it “The Serenity Prayer” and only in recent years has “the penny dropped” and I finally, really understand the powerful meaning of this.

    I think of all human beings as having a mind, body and spirit – The body and mind will one day die, some sooner than later. The spirit however, I believe to be constant and never ending.

    The mind, from my perspective is like a huge filing cabinet with endless files, filled with everything we have ever experienced and more importantly, every unique perspective we have made from each experience which creates our belief systems. Each filing system constantly throws up information at unbelievable speed, enabling us to automatically operate in our daily life without having to think how to do things, like getting dressed, eating, walking etc. This in itself is an amazing gift to operate as a human being.

    The downside to this, is that although this magnificent system can help us to function well and keep us safe, it also has many files which are detrimental to us and need to be deleted. I believe it is enlightening to realise this fact alone.

    The body is affected by these endless beliefs, emotions and perspectives and until we realise that these are not concrete, but can be changed, we resist anything that does not comply with them and cause suffering to ourselves.

    The mind and body are amazing gifts to be celebrated and enjoyed.

    And now the spirit…the unseen… the never-ending and constant part of us, which is part of the whole spirit (in my perspective) can often be ignored and starved. Some may not believe they have a spirit and some are simply unaware of it. I think when people are searching for something, but they don’t know what, or feel there is a void in their life which they don’t know how to fill, I think they have lost sight or awareness of their true being. I think many try to fill this void with buying things, doing things and/or distracting themselves (which will never fulfil the spirit)

    I believe becoming aware of our spirit/being, enables us to experience the peace and joy within and this is truly enlightening.

    I believe all three (mind, body and spirit) need nourishing.

    Then we can experience the many wonders of life. My perspective is that the spirit is never ending - it has created the body for a reason or purpose and given the mind the power to choose and change it’s way of thinking.

    How many lives have we/do we/will we experience?

    This is the one we have for now. There is so much to enjoy, experience, achieve and celebrate, as long as we do all things for the greater good of all.

    I wish you all an abundance of peace, joy and good food for the mind, body and spirit :) :) :)
     
  15. Hazelkay

    Hazelkay Member

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    Oscillation

    I have been pondering since Edwin's beautiful post and wondering how to put my take into words- (not that I claim to be enlightened!!).

    Karmoh's use of the word 'oscillation' provoked this effort.

    For me it is like a continuum of oscillation. There is the bright joy of very high frequency subtle oscillation full of peace and harmony and oneness which seems to be constantly there in the background, only needing to be visited. Then through to the soft pleasurable vibrations when good times seem to be happening and through to the harsh heavy vibrations when the body/mind is resisting a hard reality.

    It is happening more often that there is awareness of the continuous bright joy even when the predominant experience is further down the continuum.

    Watching this body/mind functioning is fascinating - what pops up out of the blue sometimes results in complete puzzlement as to where it came from..

    Hope this makes some sort of sense to someone!
    peace and joy:)
     
  16. Panthau

    Panthau Member

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    hehe discovering that theres no "i" implies, that no "one" could claim itself to be enlightened :D
     
  17. olmate

    olmate Member

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    Gradually we understand that the journey of life is not linear but more like a circle, you know – “the circle of life”.
    Ramai

    Today I read the quote "However far you travel, there's a horizon". That too sort of encapsulates the idea of enlightenment in that it is not a destination but a continual journey. Afterall, infinity has no boundary to bump into.

    Nothing but the best...

    Olmate
     
  18. M L K

    M L K Member

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    Your description resonates strongly with me, HazelKay. Had an experience yesterday -- not during meditation, per se -- of taking the time to "notice" a funk that had been weighing upon me during the morning. Suddenly I experienced the funk as a kind of blemish -- a small scab, actually -- upon my luminous subtle-energy field. Needless to say, the funk instantly became a trifling matter within that more expansive context. As I write this, it strikes me that it likely appeared as a scab (a rather repugnant image at first) because it was an outworking of an older injury, but I didn't need to know the history of it. The bare acknowledgement of funk-as-residue allowed it to move on.

    So yes, remembering and revisiting that (as you say) "high frequency subtle oscillation full of peace and harmony and oneness which seems to be constantly there in the background, only needing to be visited" is very meaningful to me.

    Best wishes to all, Margaret
     
  19. Midnight

    Midnight Member

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    I've debated for a while whether or not to post in this thread, simply because I wasn't really sure what I could say. Now I feel I know...

    Enlightenment is just a concept of the mind, but it is a necessary one to push you towards realizing that everything that you've been seeking has always been there, always in the background.

    Now I know a lot of spiritual "teachers" say things like this...that peace and joy are instantly accessible, all you have to do is access the now, and such. I used to feel that way, and I thought it was all such BS because it didn't work. I was looking at it the wrong way though, I wanted a method to use to feel good whenever I wanted.

    I don't believe you have to go through years of pain and suffering and practicing meditation to realize how simple it all really is though. Some people will realize it instantly, but I feel that number would be very few.

    It seems as if prepping the mind is a necessary stepping stone. If the mind wasn't prepped (what lots of people refer to as their spiritual journey) I think the mind wouldn't react very well at all to the truth. That's not to say that something bad would happen to YOU, but even when you realize that you're not the mind, you still observe it's happenings, and feel its feelings. The as of now massive ego is still there, and without the slight diminishing of it as time goes on, the process would not be gentle at all, I feel.

    Yet using time as an obstacle to "awakening" is also backwards. That's not to say that time should be rejected, but not relied upon or seen as a problem. And ego, "I" or self shouldn't be seen as a problem either. I guess what I'm trying to say is, everything, every method has its place, but it shall ultimately be left behind. Identification with it at least.

    It was hard to see life as an illusion for me, because I hadn't yet embraced life. Once you embrace life and don't reject anything about it, realize that boundaries are only concepts created by the mind as useful tools, but are not really there. You can definitely use your analytical mind as a tool to live everyday life, and you can use it fully. You can use this body for this world. But what you actually are cannot be figured out. The mind absolutely cannot know what you are, your mind cannot figure out awareness. Once you stop trying, everything makes sense...in a senseless way. All I know is, there came a point for me where I was pretty tired of all this spiritual stuff, and I wanted nothing to do with it anymore. I just wanted a normal life, and I felt like a had bit off much more than I could chew.

    The mind wanted to figure out everything, but that's only because it believed that there was a person that needed to figure out everything. There was no person, just the mind and body, and glorious life animating these things. I speak of all this like they are separate things, but they are not. All is one, and one is all. Form, formless, everything, nothing, life, death...they are all one. No sections. No divisions.

    Then I realized, that this lack of trying to figure out oneness, non-duality, separation, self-inquiry...the absence of this is how we naturally are. As children, we are just happy, but we don't know how to explain it. Sure, suppressed emotions have played a part, but when you identify with trying to cleanse yourself of them, you end up making your mind work harder to figure everything out, when the reality was, the perfect place to be is one where you're not figuring anything out. There's nothing to figure out. There's just life as it is. And that's normal.

    Holy crap, I just spent 20 minutes typing a big wall of nothing. I love you all!
     
  20. Karmoh

    Karmoh Member

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    Hi Midnight,


    Way to go, wonderful post :)

    You truly have seen and let go. Many taste this liberation everyday but quickly dismiss and slouch back to that which they think they know and can do, occasionally the brief glimpses of awareness resonates, those few will accept the invitation and see that the invitation is to let go of seeking even for that what is called enlightenment.This letting go is not about altering the way we live, it’s about finding who it is that lives

    Peace :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2011

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