Enlightenment is not something that you become, it’s who you already are beneath layers of confusion. The experience of enlightenment is sustained conscious awareness of a Truth that exists before the illusion, irrespective of circumstance within the illusion – which is basically the absence of self-belief.
You are not separate from enlightenment, but every belief you uphold about who you think you are is creating mental noise that keeps your experience chaotic, heavy and serious.
Because each individual accumulates unique life experiences which have led to their present point of view, we are unwittingly led into the belief that this accumulation of life experience is who we are. Believing that we are this limited, separate self has us in constant self-assessment and conclusion about whether our behavior and choices are right or wrong, good or bad, loveable or unlovable.
We make the same assessments and conclusions about other people as well, and this consists of about 99% of the mental chatter that plays in the mind.
In order to find relief from the insane mind, many of us look to the world for self-improvement. When we encounter people who insist that there’s something wrong about us and that their method can make us right, we feel hopeful or doubtful as to whether their method will change us.
This is missing the point that there is no right and wrong in the first place. In reality, employing any method from this premise just creates more mental noise – the antithesis to enlightenment.
This is not to say that employing methods to invite enlightenment are right or wrong – but that no method is significant. Every method is meant for creative play – not as a means to an end.
When we get ‘serious’ about meditation, yoga, chanting, spiritual study, or any method, we are adding content to ‘who we think we are’ and creating a mental image of a person on a path to enlightenment.
Notwithstanding these mental projections, we are always being led toward the experience of enlightenment through the circumstances of our lives. In this way, even if we are not actively pursuing enlightenment, our life experience is constantly leading toward that experience.
Specifically, we travel through stages, or a series of experiences, until our accumulated beliefs cause so much suffering that we become willing to give them up. This ‘waking up’ is enlightenment. It can happen all of a sudden or incrementally over time.
Because awakening happens in the gaps between habitual mental commentary, everyone is Gifted with life circumstances that trigger minor to extreme shock and/or confusion – whatever is necessary to create those gaps. Said Gifts, are invitations to question who we think we are and to recognize the Truth that exists before belief.
Everything perceived is a message, and while no perception needs to be analyzed unless one finds it entertaining to do so, every perception can expose self-beliefs which we can choose to re-create or un-create in the present moment.
If one merely trades one belief for another, nothing has been resolved, but this is still along the path toward enlightenment. Eventually, circumstances will arise to help dissolve the newly formed belief; and when physical death comes, the beliefs still being held in awareness will be presented as reality in the next lifetime.
While methods are valuable to condition the mind into a preferred state of awareness, ultimately, stillness of mind (experience of nothingness) is enlightenment – which ‘happens’ when every belief (including every method) has become irrelevant.