How Can it Happen?

Somebody asked me a question recently, about what is meant by the term enlightenment or awakening? and so I thought I would say something about this as there is so much misunderstanding about it.

Many of us went either physically or intellectually to the east, to hear about enlightenment or awakening or liberation, to india, japan, china, tibet, thailand and so on. And these cultures are of course, by comparison with western culture, extraordinary exotic and as a result many people, myself included, conflated the idea of enlightenment or awakening with the extraordinary exotic natures of these cultures, believing that enlightenment itself is something extraordinary or exotic. That it is a marvelous experience beyond any experience that we could possibly imagine and as a result we set up a, a goal to um experience this marvelous experience that we have heard about or read about. Nothing could be further from the truth, enlightenment or awakening is not an extraordinary exotic experience, indeed it is not an experience at all, it is simply the recognition of the nature of our being which underlies and indeed pervades all experience irrespective of its content and it is for this reason that I sometimes refer to this approach as a way of recognition, recognition meaning of course to to know again, something that we have always known but have overlooked or ignored or forgotten.

So what is it that we have overlooked or ignored? It is simply our being our essential self.
Why have we ignored it or overlooked it? Simply because we have become fascinated with the content of our experience.

Thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, perceptions, activities, relationships and and so on, these have um occupied our attention so exclusively, that we have forgotten or overlooked the simple fact of being which lies so to speak behind or underneath the content of our experience. What is referred to as enlightenment or awakening is simply the recognition of the essential nature of our being. The essential nature of anything is that aspect of that thing that cannot be removed from it or separated from it, when everything that can be removed from ourselves is removed, then what remains is what we essentially are.

Thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, perceptions, activities, relationships all of these appear to us, exist and sooner or later vanish. But there is one aspect of ourself that never arises, never evolves, never vanishes and that is the simple fact of of being or being aware, so the, this, this way of recognition is an approach in which we remove from ourself, I don’t mean we literally remove, we do this in um in our imagination. We go deeply into ourselves, discarding, not rejecting, but discarding letting go of, anything that is not essential to us. Thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, perceptions and so on. In this way tracing our way back to our essential irreducible self or being. It’s a bit like getting undressed at night, when we go to bed at night we take off all our clothes until our naked body stands revealed, we do not suddenly become our naked body, my naked body is simply revealed, underneath all the layers of clothing in which it was wrapped or shrouded during the day. While the way of recognition proceeds in a similar way, we, we undress so to speak. We take off all the layers of experience. Thoughts, images, feelings and so on, in which our being has been clothed so to speak and at some point our naked irreducible essential self or being stands revealed. We do not become this being, we are, always, only, essentially this being, albeit much of the time clothed in experience

So for most of us this process is not something that happens once. For the vast majority of us we trace our way back to our essential self, for being in this way only to find that through force of habit our being is soon eclipsed again, by thoughts images feelings and so on. In fact our essential being is never really eclipsed any more than a, a screen is eclipsed when a movie appears on it. But our being is colored and seemingly qualified by the content of experience and thus its essential nature seems to be veiled or obscured and in this case we have to embark on this way of recognition, again, we have to trace our way back, again, through the layers of experience until, again there is this recognition of our naked being and every time we do this we find that we, that, that the power, that our objective experience has, to take us away from ourselves or our being, is diminished and in this, way we begin to find ourselves not just briefly glimpsing or tasting our being, but we begin to be established in that, as that.

As our being is divested of the qualities that it inherits from the content of experience, it loses its, it loses the agitation that characterizes our thoughts and as such, it is experienced as peace. It loses the sense of lack, that characterizes our afflictive emotions and as such it is the experience we know as happiness, in other words peace and quiet joy, are the the very nature of our being. It is said to be the the peace that passeth understanding, that is the, the peace that does not depend upon what is or is not taking place in our experience. The peace, its causeless peace and joy, the peace and joy that has no cause in our experience but is the very nature of our being. This, our innate peace and joy is obscured, when our being is obscured or mixed up with, the content of experience, in which case we seem to lose touch with this peace and joy and as a result we embark on a, on a great search out in the world to recover it.

Sooner or later we intuit or understand that nothing in the world, nothing in objective experience, can give us the peace and joy for which we long and sooner or later either spontaneously, or with the help of a friend, or on reading a book, or i’m watching a video we, we return to our being and we return them again and again and again, until in time it’s innate peace and quiet joy begin to make itself, begin to make themselves felt in our experience and the more this happens we find that the fewer and fewer experiences in life have the the power to take us away from our self and this is referred to in the tradition as becoming established in one’s true nature.

In time we begin to feel that our being is is not really our being, in other words our being does not belong to us as a person, our being divested of the qualities that it acquires from the content of our experience is revealed simply as being, utterly intimate, but impersonal and unlimited and as a result of this we begin to feel that, being extends way beyond the borders of our self as a person, that being, is the essence of our self, but is the essence of everything, it is that from which we derive our sense of our self. It is also that being from which everyone and everything derives its apparent individuality or its apparent existence, in other words we begin to intuit and feel that what we essentially are on the inside, is the same reality the same being that all people all animals and all things essentially are and this recognition is of course the experience to which we refer in relation to people and animals, as love, and in relation to objects and nature as beauty.

So in a couple of weeks time i’m or in the near future i’m doing um an online weekend on the way of recognition in which we will explore numerous pathways back to our essential self and also pathways where we return again to the content of our experience, in particular the way we feel the body and perceive the world and in this way not only recognize the nature of our being but increasingly feel that we share our being with everyone and everything.

so, I wish you all the very best, keep well, stay safe and see some of you again soon, god bless, bye.