This blog is Written by Wesley Milliman for HushYoga.
It is important not to think of enlightenment in the same way that we think of other goals in life. We will never receive a Ph.D. in enlightenment. It is not the end result of any methodology. In fact, enlightenment has nothing to do with our ideas or concepts or past experiences. It is not the realization of some grand and loftly utopia that we have created in our mind about an earthly paradise.
To some extent, life is like a sunset or a rainbow; it is exquisitely beautiful in its impermanent nature. Knowing that life is extremely short and precious, we sometimes get carried away with the desire to discover some underlying meaning. To worry about life being meaningful is a little like worrying about insomnia. The more we worry, the more sleep escapes us. In the end, it is often best to forget about our grandiose ideas.
Many people have resigned themselves to the fact that they will not become enlightened in this lifetime; they think that all will be well in some vague, distant future. As long as we are convinced that enlightenment is not something attainable now, it cannot help us to overcome our anxiety and misery. It is like a starving person sitting in front of some very delicious food and looking around for something to eat.
The truth is that enlightenment is attainable here and now. It is something extraordinary that ordinary people can witness. It is nothing more than waking up from a dreamlike sleep to the reality of what is true. When we awaken from our fabricated dream of life, love and joy blossom. This new awareness gives us the confidence that we need to override all forms of imagined insecurity. This truth is both beautiful and unsettling.
A good description of enlightenment would be that it is a state of consciousness where we do not have anything to lose or to gain in this or any other world. It is the groundless ground, the place where there is no longer any fabricated refuge. This might not sound very enticing, yet it is the most amazing miracle that a human being can witness. Quite simply, enlightenment is directly seeing the truth of what is without the mind’s distortions.
Enlightenment is a spiritual awakening, and it can happen to anyone at any time, because it is not bound by any culture. It is potentially available to everyone as our universal birthright. Enlightenment is the realization of love, freedom, joy, and peace of mind; it is everything our heart longs for, yet it is not, technically speaking, a religious phenomenon. It is the act of reclaiming our original innocence without delusion.
The world that we must transcend is the world that our mind has constructed. This self-created world is filled with problems, with lots of drama, lots of stories, lots of suffering. We all have a desire to transcend that world, and many people get into spiritual practices for that reason. We want to go beyond the world of sorrow, confusion, and limitation, even though now and then there are some fun moments.
We all want to be free. We all want to alleviate this ongoing sense of being confused, lost, and engaged in an endless struggle. If we do have a desire to go beyond this world of heartache and limitation, we must remember that the world we are trying to transcend is actually a projection of our own hopes and fears. It is a provisional state of consciousness constructed by our ego.
In deep meditation, we can reach a point where we can clearly recognize that our previous notions of reality are nothing more than a conglomeration of concepts, beliefs, thoughts, and memories. In that extraordinary realization, everything we believe to be true vanishes. We suddenly realize that we have been watching a movie, a dreamlike show that we have created. If we want to realize what true reality is, we simply have to let go of this alternate version of reality. We must drop this conceptual burden that the mind has created, as it were.
The highest level of meditation is transcendent wisdom, or prajnaparamita. It is a state of pure awareness, a state of luminous consciousness, a state of wisdom in which all notions of reality have been dissolved. Meditation is the art of simply sitting in silence. Sitting means just that, just sit, just rest, just be. Let everything be as it is. When we know how to let everything just be as it is, then we no longer have to act like some kind of divine terminator attempting to destroy the world of delusion and sorrow. The world of delusion and sorrow is already falling apart and dissappearing on its own. We only need to look with a clear mind and a pure heart. It sounds simple, but it is also very subtle. We just need to let everything be as it is. Once we do that, we know everything. We have unlocked the secret to enlightenment. We merely have to sit and let the world of ideas, concepts, and sorrow dissolve on its own.
In that spirit of inquiry, sometimes rather big openings happen. Sometimes all resistance just falls away, and we suddenly feel that nothing is blocking our consciousness. Suddenly, the mind stops fabricating its version of reality. In that undeluded ground of consciousness, we will find true wisdom, and our awakened mind will discover a timeless truth.