When I used to think about awakening or enlightenment, I always thought about it as something that would or could happen in the future. Awakening was always the big plan that I had to put into action. I imagined that maybe this would happen after studying enough spiritual texts or listening to the right teachers or following some kind of path or process. I believed that awakening was something I could achieve and that if I only put in the effort required I’d reap the rewards.
What rewards do we expect from awakening? Different people obviously have different ideas about that but often we imagine less of some things and more of others. Less suffering, less pain, less restlessness, less boredom, less agitation and more joy, more satisfaction, more laughter, more safety, more comfort, more happiness, more peace. We invariably get more or less of one thing or another and that of course does not end the seeking. We then might seek an end to seeking.
For many people, the search for enlightenment is about ending suffering, about avoiding pain and finding pleasure. And it’s very much something we see ourselves moving toward, something that is going to happen tomorrow as a result of something we do today.
Life however is always inviting you to see, taste, smell, hear and feel freedom right now. Awakening is not an event that happens next week or month or next year when you’ve meditated enough. It’s directly available in the very happening of this moment. When we stop looking for enlightenment in the future and look directly at present experience, we see that life is already lit up. Awakening always happens now, directly in this moment.
Instead of listening to descriptions of what awakening is like for other people, take a look yourself. What is it that is always here? What is it that does not suffer, even in the throes of the deepest suffering? Where is this self that needs and wants so much?
You don’t need to find an answer to these questions but simply look. Look at present experience with no purpose other than to look. Look without the strategies used to gain, benefit or manipulate.
Life is singing all around, is painting a vibrant and vital picture that invites you to see through the apparent heaviness of this self, to taste the delicious freedom of this simply happening.