I’ve been in contact with a researcher that runs MRI’s on people’s brains that are high level meditators. He suggested, after hearing about my state of mind that a guy by the name of “Gary Weber” taught from a similar background. I looked him up and while it was hard to get at what he believes and experienced, finally I found something.
If Gary is speaking about this from a first-hand perspective – he is right on target. All of this jives with my experiences and current state. It was really nice to see it put into words like this, different from my own, and yet nearly perfectly aligned with my ideas, experiences.
Apologies to Gary in advance for copy/pasting a large chunk of his free ebook! Here is Gary’s website (click).
What will awakening/Self-realization/enlightenment be like?
There is much confusion as to what you can expect after awakening. It is critical to remember that enlightenment is not an experience, no matter how ecstatic or sublime it might have been, nor how many you have had. If it has come and gone, it was an experience like so many others. In fact, an ecstatic spiritual experience may create such an intense longing for its regeneration, as it did in my case, that it becomes a great burden and an obstacle to true awakening.
In my case, the page turned totally unexpectedly while doing a yoga posture that had been done literally thousands of times before. I went into the posture one way, and came out of it completely transformed. There was no blinding flash of light, no choir of angels singing, no holding God’s hand. Thought as a continuing phenomenon just stopped. The “I” was blown out like a candle in the wind. That has continued for what is now many years.
There are many who have a spiritual experience and declare themselves enlightened. You have probably heard “everyone is already enlightened”, “a Buddha”, and told to “call off the search”. Unfortunately, that may not be your reality, but some- one else’s. Since you have never seen it before, it is easy to declare victory and leave the field prematurely. This leads to great confusion and the biggest loss of all, your losing the opportunity to make that wondrous mystery yours. If possible, have your enlightenment checked out by a bona fide Zen master rather than your buddies at Starbucks.
There are some useful markers that can serve as a guide. If awakening has occurred, there is no sense of anything further being needed, nor is there anything that can be taken away to improve it. Thoughts drop away as a continuing all-encompassing phenomenon in the foreground and fall to the background out of lack of interest. You move from being in a flock of birds to seeing a few birds far away in a clear sky. There is an ever present natural stillness, presence and deep quietness.
Thoughts, which are a lot like a sense, become more like taste-a useful tool employed when needed, rather than the constant hearing of a cacophony of jumbled noises. You no more force thought to stop forever than you would put out your eyes because you didn’t like what you saw. It is an easy, comfortable state.
There is a knowing of a deep “yes”; of acceptance that you are not in charge, in fact that you are not. Rather than seeing that deep stillness as an observer, you dissolve in that deep stillness. You realize that you are that and have always been. There is an unshakable certainty, a knowing of completeness, fullness and limitlessness beyond any doubt.
72 Happiness Beyond Thought
There is also the knowing that this is nothing special, nothing special at all and that no one created it or has it as an achievement. There is the wonderment that it could have been overlooked for so long as it is so clear, intimate and simple.
Daily life continues in apparent duality through a personality, or persona, like an actor in a play simultaneously with a Oneness that is there continuously, naturally, easily. It is like one of those drawings that are two different things depending on your perspective, being either a vase or two people, or an older woman or a younger one. Or one of the current graphics that reveal the hidden picture within the apparent one after you stare at it for a while. A subtle shift occurs.
You do not lose functional competency even for highly complex tasks and positions. If that is what is going to be, you can continue in a complex job with a family, a mortgage, etc. In my experience, your functional competency will increase. Your full awareness will be present rather than the typical situation of having only a fraction available because it has to fight through a wall of constant thought. You will often be the only person there who can see from an unencumbered perspective what is going on. Solutions to complex problems in business situations and relationships will arise in consciousness; solutions that are beyond anything that you could ever have developed by thinking about them endlessly.
It is clear everything is within your consciousness, and that everything is One manifesting as apparent entities. If everything is One, then you as a discrete entity must not exist. Nisargadatta Maharaj’s famous quote on this realization is “When I see that I am nothing that is wisdom. When I see that I am everything that is love. Between these two my life moves.”
There is much discussion on whether anything changes after enlightenment and if there are degrees of enlightenment. Changes in the state of consciousness after awakening occurs are described by Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and many Zen folk including the contemporary Adyashanti. There are detailed descriptions within the Zen Buddhist tradition of various stages that occur after enlightenment.
A famous dialogue between a 20th century Zen master and his student address this issue. The student wrote “Truly I see that there are degrees of depths in enlightenment.” The master replied “Yes, but few know this significant fact.” Their discussion goes on to describe in classical Zen fashion and metaphors what those stages are. The Zen master states that “What these people (contemporary Zen teachers) fail to realize is that their enlightenment is capable of endless enlargement.” (14) These are virtually the exact words used by Adyashanti, one of the clearest and most accurate contemporary teachers on what happens after awakening.
The prospect of endless enlargement of enlightenment begs the obvious ques- tion of who is doing such a process and who decides when it’s over. If the process
is clearly occurring without a doer, it is all just happening by itself, just as it is and there is no concern. If there is someone there who believes they have become enlightened and is now doing a process to be more enlightened, there is indeed further to go. In my own experience, these processes occur perfectly just by them- selves and are different from anything that could have been predicted or imag- ined. It is all a total mystery, just as it has been all along, out of anyone’s control, although it just wasn’t realized.
Ramakrishna, the 19th Century Indian yogi, admonished students to “go further, go further”. When in doubt, “go further”. Search for your own deepest truth. At some level, you know in your deepest space if you are truly free and whether or not there is still something lacking. Be totally, brutally honest with yourself. There is no risk of “going past” enlightenment; there is a great loss in not going far enough.
There is a trap, however, in hearing all of this. The mind, anxious to grab hold of this threatening mystery, wants a model, a set of parameters and an idea of what it looks like, so that it can produce it and remain in control. It is impossible. No description is adequate because it uses the words and concepts of the mind, the source of the problem. Awakening is outside and beyond the mind. As long as there is a mind or an I trying to construct such a state with its tools, enlightenment cannot happen.