How does one know they are enlightened? There’s no popup indicator

Enlightenment is defined here as Zen awakening to the dream – full dis-identification with body-mind and collapse, destruction or simply moving to the background of the ego. I have a problem with the idea of awakening from the dream – awaken into what? – that would all be more part of the dream, but clearly awakening to awareness this is all a dream.

Anyway, I don’t have a little red button that pops out when I’m done. I can’t go to a Spiritual Optometrist and try the better/worse comparison to try and distinguish.

A long time ago during a particularly intense meditation, there arose the clear sense of a small, juvenile entity – let’s call it “Joe’s Ego” – sticking its toe into the sand throwing a tantrum and pouting and being wildly frustrated because it wanted to be the one to choose: choose to exist moment to moment, to make decisions and choices. Frankly to choose anything. But there was something/nothing “behind” it that was choosing to be and by this body-mind coming into being, Joe’s Ego came into being – so there was always something that preceded Joe’s Ego and HAD TO precede it for it to even exist – and so Joe’s Ego could never have its way and be first. I came to think this is where much of my frustration and anger stemmed from. Also, for all my life there has been an ineffable sadness underneath my moment-to-moment existence. A sea of sadness that colored everything and fed my sense of self-pity and feeling sorry for myself. I only had to drop into it, and it was there. And fear too of course.

Recently there was a shift and there was a sense of Joe’s Ego moving to the background, and something/nothing? moving to the foreground – and with that a huge outpouring of lightness, joy, happiness, love, peace, calm, exuberance, energy and tears.

And, with this reversal of subject/object and foreground/background the sadness and fear were gone. Not hidden, not reduced. Flat out gone.

And with this, the realization, rock solid certainty, I’m HOME. Finally. Since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to go back home. I thought I had to get out of here – the dream state – to find home. But of course, that is not how it works.
I used spirituality, drugs, etc. to try to get out of the chaos, insanity and suffering in the dream state-parents, society, friends, etc. Can you blame me? But now I am home. I have always been home. But now the dream self is not blocking that knowledge. Now, three days later, the exuberance, lightness, love, joy, happiness shine through sometimes more, sometimes less. But the fundamental sense of the foreground/background shift hasn’t diminished, even if it does get hidden behind conditioned mind at times, which diminishes very quickly when the thought stream is broken. Desires arise and fall away – there is really nothing I want. Care and worry for the world is gone, it all takes care of itself.

Some background on my practice. Interest in spirituality, tarot, astrology from mom at early age, started practicing Surat Shabda yoga at 15 (introduction to karma, reincarnation, levels of consciousness, guru, vegetarian), zazen in my 20’s, then Be Here Now – which made a Major impression + Ram Dass always resonated for me. Sought enlightenment – confusing it with unicity and cosmic consciousness and such – in order to escape the feelings of not being home and suffering in daily life. Then, mostly walked in circles till 40’s when Power of Now ignited practice (“can you stop thinking at will?”), then Tony Parsons – his message was so powerful seeking dropped for a while. Started again, read McKenna and took The First Step. False awakening a year later – confusing I am All / Atman with enlightenment. What appeared to be True experiences of something/nothing emerging at various times. On another particularly intense mediation experience, identification with ego, male, human, living being, form disappeared and there was the experience of seeing conscience in its raw form (I think). Then polluted my mind and body with drugs and dimmed the awareness and basically gave up practice for the next 14 years and reinserted myself into the Matrix. And then last week, the absurdity of self-loathing over making a lasagna “not perfectly” popped me back into practice and I “knew” I needed to break the thought stream, “accidentally” found a technique to break the thought stream. Started practicing it and 3 days later here we are.

Am I enlightened? I really don’t care – and that did used to matter – whatever happened, it was worth the price of admission.

So, how does one know?


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