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What is enlightenment?

Enlightenment is another word for “ego disassociation”. That is, realising that you are not your mind.

Maybe that’s not so easy to understand, so here’s an example.

A monk is studying Zen, and is given the question; “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”.

The monk first slaps the stone floor with his palm, but the master shakes his head, for that is not clapping.
The monk then rings a gong with his palm, but no, that too is not clapping.
Then the monk slaps his leg with his palm, skin slapping skin. But again, it is not clapping, so the master is not satisfied.

The monk meditates on this, and reaches enlightenment.


The point is this. “Clapping” is a label for an action that you can only do with two hands. To ask what the sound of one hand doing something that requires two hands to do is a null question. Not just a question to which there’s no answer, but a question which is invalid.

The reason for this question is to “break” the mind. There are two ways through this “question”.
1) To conclude the question is invalid, stupid or unanswerable and reject it.
2) To become aware, while you brain is locked in trying to answer this question, that you can observe that locked-ness, but are separate from it. This is enlightenment.

To “understand” what enlightenment is, doesn’t make you enlightened. You can learn about it, agree with it, and believe it, but you’re still not enlightened. To become enlightened, you need to become aware at a level below mind, that this mind-self separation is true. Which sounds a bit strange, but the point is, if you’re trying to think about the problem at the mind level, with labels and logic, you won’t reach enlightenment.

A good first step to enlightenment, is to be the silent watcher of your own thoughts, not judging if a thought is good or bad, but just watching.

For example, your mind may comment “I don’t like that guy”. Enlightenment occurs when you realise that those thoughts in your mind are not “you”. You can watch thoughts appearing, as separate from your self.

A much better article:

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