I’ve read a lot about enlightenment and thought about it quite a bit, and I find that it doesn’t have much to do with enlightenment. Now fortunately, I can see both sides of the coin since I happen to be enlightened and I’ve gone through that training process that culminates in the dissolution of the finite self in the white light of eternity. But at the same time, I’m an avid reader and I like to ponder things, so it’s kind of fun to step in and out. And I notice that the two are not really the same. The description and the reality are very different.

Enlightenment is a timeless void. It’s an emptiness that’s filled with the most excellent light. That light is suffused through every part of your being. It is your being. There’s no sense of separation between yourself and the light. There’s no self but the light. That’s enlightenment—timeless, stillness, perfection. It’s not in the words, it’s in my voice. It’s in the voice of anyone who has crossed that frontier of self, taken a big machete and gone after the illusions and the desires, even the spiritual hopes and aspirations that can bind one to a spiritual, more refined self—hacked through the Amazon jungle of hope and fear and desperation, always in search of perpetual brightness. What I seek, what we all seek, is something we can’t define—because if it’s definable, it’s limited. And if it’s limited, we grow tired and bored with it, with ourselves.

Beyond the parameters of the self is an ocean—it goes on forever. It’s not circular, it’s not square, it doesn’t have a definite color. All we can say is that it’s large, from the point of view of one who looks at it as being separate. And it’s most excellent.

The world that you see is a phantasm. It’s like a motion picture. For a while we go into the movie theater, put our feet up when the attendant’s not looking. We’ll get a Diet Coke and some popcorn. Soon we’re engrossed in a film and we’ve forgotten that we’re sitting in a movie theater, if the film’s any good, until the attendant comes along and tells us to move our feet. We grudgingly do so, hopefully not sending any bad energy to the attendant because he’s just doing his job. And we put our feet back up as soon as he’s gone, and go back into the film.

Enlightenment is an ocean of awareness that slides through the human part of us and dissolves it, and leaves us forever in eternity. But eternity is not cold. It’s not lonely. It’s warm with its own life. It’s filled with the very pleasure of itself. In a lot of self-discovery, there are a lot of people against pleasure. The anti-pleasure movement in self-discovery is very strong. I have big news for them—if they ever get to enlightenment, which is unlikely the way they’re approaching it, they’re going to find enlightenment is very pleasurable. And if you have a problem with pleasure, you’re going to be surprised.

Enlightenment is the pure pleasure of the universe enjoying its own being-ness. The universe doesn’t hate itself. That’s human beings who do that. The universe doesn’t think it’s bad because it creates myriad worlds and destroys them. It doesn’t have guilt. The universe doesn’t have a problem with sexuality since it created it and creates itself through it. The universe doesn’t have a problem with money. The universe doesn’t have a problem with creating and sustaining loathsome beings who harm others. It doesn’t have a problem with creating and sustaining boring beings or with most excellent enlightened beings. It creates all of it. It is all of it. It doesn’t moralize, it doesn’t equivocate, except through a few of its instruments, the human beings. It just is.

You can think whatever you want, you can create all the labels you choose, but the universe just is. So you can come to terms with it or not. If you don’t come to terms with it, we say you live in illusion. When you come to terms with it, then you’re in the reality. As long as you think of it as other than it really is, that’s what we mean by illusion. It just is. It’s real. Enlightenment is the seeing of reality. And reality is most fine and most wonderful, most warm and nubile. It’s definitely beautiful, reality.

It’s the seeing of things that makes them so. I think Shakespeare talked about that a little bit. Enlightened people talk about that. It’s the seeing of things. You can see everything as glowing light or you can see everything as dark and foreboding, shadowy shapes. You can see everything as dull. You can see everything as hopeful. What makes that is a state of mind. Reality is not any particular way. If you’re in a hopeful level of attention, then you could be in the pit of hell and see possibilities in it. If you’re in a dead state of mind, then heaven would not entrance you, if you were there.

We concern ourselves, in Buddhism, with not so much the movement of outer structures, but inner structures within our own mind. We feel changing the world around is not going to make any difference. Changing ourselves around, on the other hand, makes a world of difference. To change ourselves around we have to learn something about the structure of the mind. The mind has a definitive structure. It works in a certain way. There’s no way to explain that. A person has to experience it. In other words, I could say, “There are thousands of states of mind,” but all your life you’ve been in about the same state of mind, so that doesn’t really mean much to you, does it? Whereas if I meditate and generate a lot of energy and cause you to step from one state of mind to another, then you say, “Oh, I see what you mean.” Suddenly all of life is different.

The funny thing about states of mind is, of course, they’re all inclusive in the sense that when we’re in one, unless you’re quite advanced in your Buddhism, you forget about all the others. You can be in a state of mind for a few seconds and forget that you were ever in any other state of mind. That’s what we mean by illusion. We see a little kid and they’re crying. They’re so obsessed with the broken toy that they’re crying and crying. They can’t step back from that for a moment and realize that they’ll be smiling later. They’ve forgotten they were ever smiling.

So part of what we seek in Buddhism is the sense of quiet observation. We like to draw back to a place inside ourselves whereby we can remember. We don’t get so involved in a state of mind that we forget that it’s just another transient state of mind, no matter how much ecstasy or agony or mixture of both is involved.

Perspective comes from the ability to stop thought. When you meditate each day, if you practice meditation, what you’re doing is consciously creating a sense of perspective. It’s a measurement. We like to measure things. How do we know an inch is an inch? How do we know a centimeter is a centimeter, or a meter is a meter? Well, they have somewhere, frozen at a controlled temperature, a bar of metal that is an exact inch, that is an exact foot, that is an exact meter. And the Bureau of Standards and Measurements measures everything by that.

Well, how can you measure life? How can you measure states of mind? You need a standard, a way of always gaining perspective, and that’s the stoppage of thought. When you stop thought, when you can do that, which is meditation, and when you can do that at any time, you can bring a sense of perspective into any moment. No matter how involved you get in something, you can step outside of it simply by stopping your thought. Because as soon as you stop your thought, you step outside of all states of mind into something other than states of mind.

Remember, the entry into the stoppage of thought is not another state. In other words, when there’s no thought whatsoever in the mind, no impressions, no images, no self-supportive reflexive views, we enter into another condition, which I would not call enlightenment. It’s an enlightened condition. And if we can sustain the view of no thought, if we can keep the mind in the state of no thought, then we’ve entered into another country and that country has many conditions, many sides to it. It’s not a simple thing. To describe it—“Oh, no thought”—we assume it’ll be the same every time, but that’s not the case. It’s always the same country, but there are many parts to it.

We don’t discuss that too much in Buddhism because there are no words for it. But don’t shortchange it in your mind. Don’t assume stopping thought is always the same, that it’s a condition, that it’s another state of mind. It’s not. It’s outside of all conditions and it goes on forever. It goes on forever. It’s the nameless—I couldn’t name that. Some people have tried, but they’re just trying to define it and make it into another condition when it’s not.

Enlightenment itself is not simply the stoppage of thoughts. Otherwise, a mental acrobat who’s simply learned to stop thought for long periods of time would be enlightened. Enlightenment is a suffusion of perfect awareness. It’s the light in the darkness that supports itself without a source. It’s the province of wisdom, of perfect intelligence, the pure beingness of the universe without any structures superimposed over itself. It’s part of all of us.

You know, people say, “I’m not enlightened.” It’s true. You’re not. But yet, strangely enough, you’re an emanation of enlightenment. The very fact that you exist, that you live, that you breathe, that you function, that you have consciousness, that you have unconsciousness at times, that you dream, is because enlightenment, which is the universe, has created the hallucination that is you, in a form that shifts.

We are all part of the substructure of enlightenment. And so, it really doesn’t matter whether you become enlightenment or not. You are enlightenment. You are that. It’s purely a matter of personal enjoyment, but you can’t divorce yourself from enlightenment. The whole universe is enlightenment in varying stages, on varying stages. There is nothing else but enlightenment.

Naturally, to be aware of that, to have the whole consciousness of immortality flowing through you—as opposed to being in a self-reflective, sentient state of mind—is a little bit different. And those who quest for that view, those who seek that will undoubtedly find that. They’re seeking themselves. All you can do is experience yourself. With no self, there’s no experience to be had. This is not jargon, it’s true. What you experience is yourself. Everywhere you look, you see yourself. There isn’t anything else. Unless you go beyond self, in which case you enter into the province of enlightened mind, enlightenment.

I’ve read a lot about enlightenment and pondered it—the images, the cultural images that planet Earth people create of enlightenment and the enlightened—and they make it so religious, which I guess is perhaps the case. I don’t know—if the brightest star were to appear in someone’s mind and they walked down the street and everybody saw them and they saw that star, I guess they’d react like people react to most things they don’t understand—with apprehension, with fear, with worship. Emotionally, they’d react emotionally. Some would react rationally and try and figure it out. Some would moralize, some would turn it into a major motion picture, some would sell the screen rights immediately and the book rights and the comic book rights. But none of it would have much to do with what it is. You’re dealing with that which can’t be understood.

Human beings, when they encounter that which can’t be understood, they either run away from it, run towards it blindly or just rationalize it out of existence. But you can’t do that forever—because it is forever. When you die it swallows you up, eternity does. When you live, it swallows you up—it’s just—you’re more asleep maybe than when you’re dead. Sometimes I think death is a greater awareness than life—because life gives us the illusion of immortality, whereas death gives us the certainty of immortality.

The universe is a matrix. It’s a doorway into itself. But that doorway remains invisible if you don’t have enough energy flowing through you. You don’t see it. All you see is the senses; you see physically the structures around you. If you have a little more energy then you see the occult, you see the different dimensions and what goes on in them. If you have a lot more energy you can get above dimensionality and see what we call the unmanifest. Those are the planes of pure and perfect being, which do not have dimensional form or a time/space continuum related to them. But what you’re really seeing is your own mind, aren’t you? I mean, those are all parts of your own mind. Your mind has a side that’s very dimensional. It has a side that’s very sensorial. It has a side that’s beyond dimensionality, it’s pure radiant light, and then there’s enlightenment, which is beyond the mind itself—which is an obscure way of just trying to say it’s beyond the stars.

We see the stars. At night we go outside on a clear, cold night. We see millions of stars all over the place, bright and beautiful, each one shining, forever. And each moment is forever, it’s shining in each moment forever. And each moment is forever. We connect the dots in the drawing with our mind and we give them a meaning, a figurative sense, which is self-reflexive in that it creates us because we are the experiencer of the moment. All the eyes of God are looking through all the stars. We’re looking at the stars through our eyes. There’s only the eye of God everywhere, seeing and being in perfection, always.

We fall into states of illusion and we forget all this. We get caught up in desires, frustrations, political movements, creeds, philosophies, religions, the getting of a living, the pain of a body, the pleasure of a body—we forget everything. We forget about the space between the stars, the pure and perfect space that’s also the eye of God. To penetrate the mystery is to become the mystery. To penetrate infinity is to become infinity. To penetrate light is to become light. Who is so brave and so noble that they could hurl themselves at infinity without any question, with complete trust and complete certainty that infinity will destroy them forever—in such an absolute and perfect way that they would sacrifice themselves and all that they are, all their fears, all their dreams, all their dramas—who has that absolute trust, that perfect and pure trust? Consciously, not as an emotional whim, not as another egotistical embrace of the self, but with a quiet dispassion and yet with a quiet passion to fling yourself into immortality, to let it do with you as it will, with all the permutations and possibilities of “as it will,” be it horror or ecstasy or boredom. Who has that perfect faith and trust? Only such a person with that faith and trust can be enlightened.

Only when you recognize the universe as your own body; when you recognize all deaths, all births, all horrors as illusory, as interpretations; when you see the universe in its perfection as your perfection; when there is no difference—there is no difference. Until such time, we read about it, we ponder it. But only with that pure and perfect trust, which is an intelligent realization that the universe can create horror for you forever and that that’s quite fine if that’s what happens, only then can we go beyond self, beyond boredom—even beyond freedom.

Freedom just implies a change, a conditional swap, a movement into something else from something. Beyond freedom is limitless reality. Only when we can look all the faces of God in the eye and claim them as our very own, that they are us, that we are them, that we are all projections of the one perfect light, the perfect being-ness of existence—only when our mind is so saturated with that that there is nothing else, is there reality. Everything else is illusory, meaning it’s transient, it changes. You’re looking through the kaleidoscope of God and seeing God’s face in so many ways—as friends, as strangers, passersby, country roads, jammed freeways, the cancer ward, the maternity ward—all the faces of God surround you at all times.

But what does God really look like stripped naked? That’s the province of enlightenment. The formless, perfect face of existence. To contemplate that, to be aware of that, to live in that, is the world of enlightenment. The rest is for humans and other beings—the states, the conditions, the perpetual ways of viewing and seeing things, endless permutations of the kaleidoscope. But to see the flawless face of perfection forever is nirvana, is enlightenment.

The contemplation of enlightenment elevates the spirit for a while. Like a kite that flies up in the sky when the wind comes and then eventually it comes down—better for the flight in that we enjoyed the flight. We were that flight. You don’t have to equate your moments, you don’t have to add up the black and white stones. You don’t have to do the judgment of yourself. It’s pointless. Beyond the judgment is the clear light of reality. Beyond the illusory heavens and hells and other samsaras of your own mind there is the clear light of reality beckoning. It’s inevitable, freedom. Life is not what it seems.

Thank you.