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What does Enlightenment feel like?

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The taste of presence
From the Openhand perspective, we all border on enlightened states from time to time, it's just that as soon as the experience arises within, the tendency is to associate it with something else and lose the experience. Alternatively, a part of us is not comfortable with the experience and therefore creates once more the condition of internal separation from it. But this experience of non-identified presence is there in the background of everything we do and dictates every experience. It is the guiding light and the faster we surrender to its inevitable pull, the more harmonious our lives will become. So what is this state of Enlightenment like? How can we recognise it and surrender into it?...

The absence of all experience

We often hear that space and time are illusions, that there is only one being forming the Universe and here at Openhand we agree with this perspective. If we contemplate deeply the meaning of these two statements, then at some point we'll come to realise that if they are true, then there must be the experience of everythingness everywhere in the Universe - including inside ourselves. But how would we know that state when it arises?

Once more, if we go deeply into the question of everythingness, then it is likely that ultimately we'll realise that everythingness and nothingness are one and the same thing. If we have everything as a condition, then there can be no "this" and "that" therefore no relativity, therefore no experience at all. This condition of being is what we might call 'absolute truth' or the absolute and by deduction it must exist in and through all things.

When people refer to God, in our view this is what they are really referring to - not some white bearded guy sitting on a cloud (although the condition of absolute would include the white bearded guy and everything else too).

It's what some enlightened people also refer to as "the void" - because it feels like the total absence of experience - and that's exactly what it is. And yet experience arises from the void within us (and within all sentient beings). The true miracle of life is that we can be the void (the total absence of experience) and experience that at the same time. In other words, in Enlightenment we get to have our cake and eat it too!

How might we experience this void?

There are two hurdles to overcome in order to rest in the experience of the void...

The first hurdle
The first 'problem' is that if we go out looking for the void, then we have already established the condition of separation from it. We have created an internal seeker - an identity (like the white bearded guy on the cloud!). The void is an experience of pure presence with no small "I" inside. There is just being. If we are looking for it, the "I" arises once more and we move out of the state of completeness - the state of Enlightenment.

Therefore, we can only create the conditions whereby the void might simply arise. How will we know what those conditions are? For each of us the conditions are unique and our individual journey is about realising what those conditions are and settling into them as often as possible. Effectively it means understanding, following and attuning to the pull of the soul - doing those things where we feel totally "in the groove" so to speak.

So for some, it might simply be tending the garden. We might feel so at-one, that the hours slip by without us noticing at all. For others it might be in the adrenaline sports jumping off some high cliff or simply riding a bike or driving the car. For most of us, there will be a broad range of experiences somewhere in between. This is the path of the soul and how we come into our own experience of Enlightenment.

The important thing to notice whilst we are doing this is whether or not we (the one) are still present. So are we lost in the action or totally aware of what's going on within it? If we're totally present, then the condition of the void can effortlessly arise and simply take over our experience.

The second hurdle
The second hurdle to experiencing the void is that when it arises within our experience, it is so complete, so all encompassing, so crystal clear, so absolute that it feels as if no one is inside at all - because there is simply no identity. It has vanished into crystal clear clarity.

In the beginning, this feeling (actually an absence of feeling) can be quite scary. There's a tendency not to like it - it might feel like we've just died, or alternatively become so alive that the small "I" wants to own it, to taste the absolute peace of it and so the condition of internal separation arises once more and the state of Enlightenment disappears like the spot on a switched off TV screen - it can be more that a little frustrating.

So the key is not to effort to find this state and then when it arises simply notice it and as much as possible dissolve into it. When we come out of it, ask why and what brought me out? Why was I unable to stay in that state? It usually happens because we buy into the illusion of our lives once more - the telephone goes and we feel we must answer it; a loved one engages us in their drama; or an infinite other number of distractions.

A process can be applied that helps you align with this state however - one which aligns us with our soul and helps us dissolve into the experience of presence. For it to be effective, it must be one that strips away the blocking false self identity. That's what Openhand's process openway is all about.

In conclusion...

Ultimately we learn to come from the void within all distraction. We discover how to centre in this majestic cathedral realising that nothing else really makes sense and there is no point being anywhere else. The continued occupation of this hallowed place is arrived at by becoming awesomely okay with whatever experience is arising on the outside...

    "To be truly enlightened, is to be enlightened in and through ALL experiences"
    Openhand

Open

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Comments

Dale's picture

hi there.
as an example when im riding my bike, thoughts come into my head and then befor i know it im zaped back into what im doing and i dont realy recall the last half a mile too well. Then again on some days, ill be riding and notice one point and then befor i know it im half a mile down the road without recalling to well what has gone by. other days im somewhere inbetween this where im not sure if i was occupied by a thought or i wasnt to focused on the situation. (there are alot of I's in this). it feels as if asking for conformation of where i am is a personality trait, i feel as if i know the answer but at the same time it swiches and i dont.
what re other peoples experences of this?
dale

Open's picture

Hi Dale,

Internally asking where you are at, what is your state is a natural thing to do on the journey. It is what we might call being the Observer of ourselves. Its really important to do this in order to be absolutely sure what our authentic reality is.

But then out of the Observer will arise the state of the Absolute presence that I am speaking of in the article - you might call it the "Seer". It is experienced as pure seeing without anyone inside doing the seeing.

In the beginning when this state arises, it tends to be that we pop in and out of it - usually its so awesome and yet so normal that we can't quite put our finger on what just happened. Its like being fully present and yet the identity we've become so used to over the years seems to vanish into thin air.

Its likely that after our first taste of the experience it could be a while before it arises again especially if we go out looking for it. However sure enough it will arise when we're least expecting it.

The next time it might last a little longer before something happens once more in the illusion that causes us to identify with the drama once more.

The key is to keep being the Observer of what we're feeling, doing and thinking until it becomes second nature to do this. When this happens, ultimately there'll be no one forming the intention to observe, it will simply just happen.

This is likely to facilitate the arising of the Seer more easily and help us maintain that state.

There will come a point where we're more in than out of it - and this is where we must let go of the inner questioner altogether - that which is testing our authenticity. We simply have to trust in the experience - when we can do that all the time, this is the state of Enlightenment. Nothing that arises in experience can persuade you to abandon the non-identified state.

Hopefully this might add another piece to the jigsaw!

Best wishes

Open

Open's picture

I felt it important to add a little more to the discussion of what it really means to be what we might called "zoned in" to pure presence (the void, an enlightened state) as opposed to "lost in" the moment (not fully present) because in the description it is easy to confuse the two.

When we are "zoned in" then we - as the Seer - are fully present and tuned into everything that is going on around us. Whereas when we're "lost in" we're kind of like on automatic pilot. We're responding to conditioned behaviours just like riding a bike, driving the car or watching TV or a complete myriad of other 'routines' that make up the matrix in which we live (and most people are lost in).

I've found its very easy to switch out of being "zoned in" to being "lost in" and it requires continual presence, persistence and an absolute commitment to living authentically in order to stay continually in the "zoned in" state.

What can really help us when we're switching between the two states is to ask the question internally "what would you have me do now?" and respond without hesitation to what we feel moved to do. Why does this work and why is it so important?

When we're in the place of the void, there is no small "I" making decisions about what to do next based on our desires, wants or perceived needs. We have given ourselves selflessly over to following the true flow of the Universe.

The trouble is that the 'answer' to the question "what would you have me do now?" is frequently so at odds with what the conditioning of the matrix would have us do that we tend to abandon the question very early on. Not to mention that quite often we'll be kept waiting for the answer because perhaps the right conditions are not yet in place for "Right Action" (that of the Universe) to unfold as it should.

When we ask the question "what would you have me do now?", in fact we're asking our soul what to do which is aligned to the natural flow. In the beginning we might not like what we're guided to do - often because the soul guides us exactly into those areas where our buttons get pressed so that we can dissolve the buttons and learn to be awesomely okay with performing Right Action in those places where we might previously have got tight inside - telling an acquaintance a truth that they might not like for example; or spending more money than we think we have available; or simply not going to work that day because the job no longer serves.

In view of our conversation earlier, those that are really switched on might ask but who is asking the question "what would you have me do now?" In other words, have we not just created the internal questioner once more - an internal identity causing separation from the experience of absoluteness (the void).

My answer would be yes, that which forms the original question would be an inner identity thereby generating separation in that moment the question is asked. However, this is a very interesting and well positioned question indeed - because when we practice it enough, we find the question itself dissolves into a state of surrendered openness. We've no need to ask the question anymore because our continual state is to be aligned with the correct flow as we perceive it. There is simply surrender to what is the right thing to do.

In order to be continually in this place of surrendered openness, requires us to be continually tuned in - our phrase "zoned in". In the beginning we'll likely keep slipping from the "zoned in" state into the "lost in" state but if we remember that question "what would you have me do now?" then it becomes quite easy (if we practice enough!) to switch back into the "zoned in" state whereupon the question "what would you have me do now?" and the questioner both disappear into pure presence.

Then we are being the void (the Seer) and coming from the void (the soul) the whole time. This is true harmony in life and when we touch it, we'll quickly realise there's no other place worth being.

Best wishes

Open

BOB POIRIER's picture

It's amazing that after having discovered your site/channel, that I should find your correspondence with Dale. Today as I was driving to work and I too had completely zoned out. I did not recall any thought process during this event (which probably lasted all of 3 minutes )But I did realize the event had happened by the fact that a truck, which was behind me, was now in front of me. The event was a little concerning if not scary. My surroundings have become enhanced since the first appearance of 1111 about a year ago. I have come to realize that the path that I now recognize, is the one that I have always been on. Thanks for reading and your site.

Be well

Bob

Trinity's picture

Welcome to the Openhand website Bob. It sounds as if you are having some interesting experiences out there on the path.

I am pleased to hear that you are finding your way around the site Smile

Warmest regards
Trinity

Bruno Campos's picture

Hi Chris,

I wonder if you can reply me... I've experienced some states of consciousness where I become the observation of the higher observer, ie, I was the 'space' observing what I felt as the 'Self', my true spirit. I was that harmonious- empty but full- space, observing and just being an ever presence since forever. This happened in meditation a few times. All the experiences were different and althoug they may have elevated my level of consciousness, this states of awareness, are temporary and rapidly go away as the days go back into ' reality'. I feel in a dead end now... Meditation did it for me, but doesn't allow me to go back and live like that in reality. I wonder, in your own path, what was the key, to be conscious or ' awake' in a more permanent state, in everyday life... Thank you.

Open's picture

Hi Bruno,

Welcome to Openhand. Nice to hear from you.

I always observe that when we truly ask a question from the soul, the soul always answers, often immediately and often even in our own words. I'd say you answered your question perfectly.

So it definitely sounds like you touched the Void - the Seer - during your meditational states.

Once we touch the void, we activate energy - the soul flows into action, providing of course a part of us doesn't deny it's often subtle rising. So it will direct you into life (if you allow it). It will almost immediately confront you with the places where the ego would close you down again. So yes, because your soul is yearning for full enlightenment, it'll take you into the places where that is lost - for most people, in day to day life.

The key to being conscious and fully awake as a permanent state, is to realise that this is the only true purpose. It's what existence is inviting through you. So if you accept that, then there's a requirement to approach every moment, no matter what it is, as a golden opportunity to confront the internal contraction that denies your Enlightenment.

Whether it is being late for the bus, stuck in traffic, involved in an uncomfortable situation with someone, what you're really doing is manifesting an opportunity to feel the tightness and soften into it.

So it's directly confronting every moment by watching your reaction to it, expanding into the contraction and instead choosing the higher response - becoming enlightened in and through ALL circumstances and allowing that.

CharlotteDK's picture

Dear Openhand, this is my first post here! Thanks for creating such a wonderful forum. Smile

I've been studying consciousness growth for the past two years. I take my awakening/unfolding very seriously (in the most joyful sense of that word), and I practice being present in the moment every moment of the day. I can feel how I keep growing, and it is the most outstanding experience of my entire life.

Lately I feel that I am no longer only seeing through my eyes, but that I see with an entire field around me. In the beginning this seeing-field stopped a couple of inches from my body, then it moved out to six or so inches, and now it feels like at least a yard. In the beginning, it was directed forward (like my eyes are) and felt as though my body was etherically hugged from behind by something that also saw (observed). Now the radius is almost 360 degrees. I suspect (though I don't know, and this journey is full of delightful surprises) that eventually I will reach out into everything, and non-dually become one with it (which I am anyway, although our earthly man-enforced sense of duality has kept me from it).

This stuff is pretty hard to describe. Wink But I think that you of all people will understand it.

Charlotte

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