THE MYTH OF PERSONAL ENLIGHTENMENT
In all the stories about enlightenment, there comes a point where something happens and in an instant the monk is deeply enlightened. From that point on we imagine the “happily ever after” monk serenely floating around on a cloud of bliss.
The reality is that even the most awakened teachers on the planet today still live in the world, raise families, get sick and run out of milk.
Awakening doesn’t make all your problems disappear and it is not like a beautiful painting that you can acquire and hang on your wall to admire.
The initial experience of awakening , like falling in love, can be blissful, ecstatic and even transcendent. But the day-to-day experience of enlightenment, like marriage, is more like everyday life, where there are sunny days and there are windy and stormy ones.
WHAT DOES AWAKENING LOOKS LIKE?
AdiShankara, the famous Indian sannyasin (wandering ascetic), claimed that somebody who is enlightened would show no obvious sign or mark of a holy man. He also went on to say that the enlightened one could appear as a wise man or as a fool. He can seem feeble of mind or be a king. He can be quiet and relaxed or he can be a leader of men. He may be insulted by all or honoured by all. He may even be ignored.
Arthur Osborne, who chronicled the life of India’s renowned sage Ramana Maharshi, spent a long time in the Ramana ashram and wrote many books about Ramana. In one of those books, he claimed that even those who are completely awakened may not be noticeable in the slightest, and that Ramana himself was not seen as awakened until he started to share his knowledge with others and they began to look to him as a guru.
Someone who is awake may not say, “I have awakened.” They may not claim anything at all, because when somebody is truly enlightened, they no longer believe in the concept of a separate “I”. They know that what they are is no-thing. This is not a total absence of anything at all but a no-thing that is full of everything. When this no-thing recognizes itself, this is what is sometimes called awakening.
IT’S THE OCEAN THAT REALIZES ITSELF IN YOU
You are the ocean, yet you have believed yourself to be just one of its waves. As a wave, yes you are limited. You are born and you will suffer death, crashing against the shore, never to be seen again. We call these waves “consciousness” and they contain your entire life story and yet they are limited expressions of what you are. The reality is that you are actually the ocean itself, the very source of all waves. When the wave is no longer interesting , there is the opportunity to step back and notice your infinite presence as the ocean.
Realization is not about you, the wave, realizing it is the ocean. The ocean realizes itself in you and reveals itself to have never been just a wave. Nothing changes except the falling away of a false belief.
THE PRACTICE OF INSTANT PRESENCE
In this practice, from the book Instant Presence –Allow Natural Meditation to Happen by Enza Vita, we simply rest in a natural, effortless way without manipulations or strategies.
We take a break from making anything happen or not happen. We are not trying to be anything or anyone, nor attempting to change or accomplish anything. We are just resting in what is happening moment by moment.
At first, we may only be able to rest in this aware presence for a few seconds before we are distracted by thoughts. Every time you get distracted, simply bring the attention back toward awareness itself.
Relax into this aware presence many times throughout the day, during formal sitting meditation or while you are doing chores around the house, taking a walk or any time you think about it. Continue to be aware of this aware presence, which is your real Self, and soon the distractions will be a thing of the past.