Welcome to the Happy Pasture and thank you for your thought-tickling letter.
First of all I would like to make it clear that the things I am about to discuss cannot be understood using thought, as they all relate to Being beyond thought. Writing, talking, language, these all involve thought and so cannot be used to successfully describe something that is beyond thought.
The best I can do is give you an indication, a pointer. Do not make the mistake of thinking that what I write here is true. It is not true. Truth is who you are, who we all are, beyond the fictions that thought creates.
Enlightenment / Awareness
Enlightenment might be described as the realisation that you are not a separate person, but you are the awareness within which the separate person you call your 'self' appears. Every other person and every other thing also appears within this awareness. Trees, birds, stars, emotions, time, birth, death, sights, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells. Everything appears within awareness. In Reality you are not a person separate from others. You are awareness itself, containing all people and all things and all apparent events in time. But here language falls down. Because 'you are ....' does not make any sense when there is no person. It might be slightly closer to truth to say 'awareness is'.
There are lots of other names used for this. Oneness, Nirvana, Being, Life, Love, Tao, God, Allah, Buddhahood, No-Mind, The Witness, The Now Moment, Presence, The Universe, True Self etc. etc. The name is really irrelevant. Feel free to make up your own if you so wish.
We might describe enlightenment as knowing this for sure, with absolutely no doubt. But that is really an inadequate description, because in an enlightened state, there is no longer a 'person' to know anything. As I have said, this is beyond the capability of language. Enlightenment is NOT reading what I have written about awareness and personality and believing it. Please do NOT believe what I have written. This has to be realised. There is no point thinking about it. There is no point believing. Believing will actually hinder you, because beliefs are thoughts and this is beyond thought.
Nothing / Everything
Where is awareness situated? It is situated nowhere. All 'places' are contained within awareness. What is awareness made of? It is not made of anything. All 'things' appear within awareness.
This is very paradoxical to a human thought which cannot easily conceive of the concept 'nothing', just as it cannot conceive of the concept 'infinity'. It tends to think of infinity as 'really really big' and of nothingness as empty space. But true nothingness means no space either. Thoughts are always of things. So trying to think about 'nothing' just falls down. It cannot be done. As I said, this is beyond thought.
But let us try an analogy which uses empty space instead of nothing. You live in a house. The house is solid and it is substantial. You can see its walls and roof and windows. There they are. But what are they appearing in? They are appearing in space, which we normally think of as 'nothing'. Yet without that 'nothing', there would be nowhere for the house to be situated. Inside the house there are rooms. If we forget about furniture for a while and think about what a room contains, it contains just space, It contains nothing. But it is that nothing that makes the room useful, valuable. Move to a new house and watch as your children squabble over who gets the room containing the largest amount of nothing. Go to an Estate agent and marvel at the value of large amounts of nothing.
Awareness is the nothingness in which everything, the entire Universe, appears.
All One / Alone
Another name sometimes used to describe the movement from identification with a separate person to awareness is Oneness Consciousness. We often hear spiritual teachers saying something like 'beneath the surface, we are all one'.
When there is the realisation that you are not a separate person, but awareness itself or Life itself, then separation disappears. Every 'thing' that appears, appears within you, is a part of you. There is only you.
There are not Mr and Mrs Awareness. There is not Awareness 2 who lives next door and has a nicer garden than you but you don't care because you know her husband secretly fancies you. There are not French awarenesses who eat strange things.
All is ONE. Everything is contained inside you. There is nothing else. There is nowhere else. There is no-one else. There is only you. You are TOTALLY ALONE.
"If you can face emptiness despite your fear, you will discover Love. For emptiness is the no-place where mind stops judging and heart starts loving." Swifty Flame-Anderson
Oneness is aloneness. This can be very scary at first. Another word I like to use for Oneness is Love. Love ultimately is the realisation that you are totally alone, that there is only you. This is very different from traditional romantic notions. Perhaps that is why so many people are afraid to go deeply into Love. It is very scary from a separate personal perspective, because it means the disollution of that separate person and it also means total self-responsibility. No shoulders to cry on. No others to turn to. You are on your own, eternally.
Yes, it may sound very scary, but if you can face that fear and really go into it, if you can let that small, separate 'person' go and realise who you really are, you will realise the bliss of real, unconditional Love. Nothingness containing Everything. Alone. All One.
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