The initial stages of enlightenment concern transcendence of the ego. Spiritual practices have been developed all over the world to assist individuals in moving from the limited sense of self to the One Being of All. After thousands of years however, why is it that so few are able to cross that river? Many explain the inability to achieve enlightenment on such things as destiny, karma, or non-readiness. But if Truth is always there or present, why is it not perceived??
Rather than try to explain enlightenment, there is something I would like to show you. Below are two exercises that involve direct observation and, hopefully, insight. Eventually, these exercises can be practiced at any time or place. If you do not get immediate results, please do not give up. After all, the ego does not want its true status to be known. You will know if you are being pointed in the proper "direction".
Exercise One:Find a quiet room where you can sit alone. Without controlling, observe your attention as it moves from one object to another. Notice how your mind automatically labels everything it sees. You may also notice various thoughts which come to mind that are associated with specific objects; even feelings. Realize that your thoughts, concepts and labels are not the thing observed. Wait for silence. Experience your environment without the coloring of thought. This is not as easy as it sounds, but if you can see that there is a difference between "what is" and "what you think there is", then you have taken a great step towards transcending the ego.
Exercise Two:Now turn your attention to the room of objects you call your body and mind. In the same way you observed the "external" room, observe your inner world. Let your attention move away from the body and move towards the mind, the thinker or the space behind the eyes. Watch your thoughts develop various ideas, concepts, and philosophies, etc. Realize that these thoughts and ideas are not you. Try listening to thoughts as if you were listening to music; just something to be enjoyed. With your attention focused, try to "target" the thinker or observer that is your self. Please do not give up until you discover that whatever you find is just another object of your awareness. Your self never appears. This is because YOU ARE NOT THAT WHICH CAN BE AN OBJECT TO YOUR AWARENESS. Who or what are you then?
By releasing your hold on all that you are not, that which you are can begin to unfold. It may strike like lightening or it may approach like the dawn. Contemplate this....test this....discover this. The most difficult spiritual leap is from identification with the ego (and all of its thoughts, beliefs, memories, likes, dislikes etc.) to an awareness of that which observes the ego. What you are does not appear in the phenomenal world. Enjoy the silence and peacefulness that comes with watching your thoughts go by like a river. Observe your self pick up a stream of thought and then remember again who you are: the awareness in which all appears.
I have attempted to collect written accounts of this state of awareness. It is my hope that these words will spark a distant memory or inspire you to take the Great Leap.
"I only know myself as a human entity; the scene so to speak, of thoughts and affections; and am sensible of a certain doubleness by which I can stand as remote from myself as from another. However intense my experience, I am conscious of the presence and criticism of a part of me, which, as it were, is not part of me, but spectator, sharing no experience, but taking note of it; and it is no more I than it is you." Henry David Thoreau
"The Self is the witness, all perfect, free, one consciousness, actionless, not attached to any object, desireless, ever tranquil. It appears through illusion as the world."Ashtavakka Gita
"When there is a watcher it is merely the past watching, and that is not watching, that is just remembering and it is rather dead stuff. Watching is tremendously alive, every moment a vacancy. Watching without a single thought, watching every reaction, watching without identity, only endlessly watching, you are not really awake, you are absent minded, not all there; you are not you but watching. There is no thinker watching the thought, the thinker is the thought. Somebody passes by you and wonders what you are watching. You are watching nothing, and in that nothingness everything is."J Krishnamurti
"Summing up the long history of the struggle for "liberation" all that can be stated with finality is that sentient beings must always appear as such, objectively extended in a space-time context, but that what they are non-phenomenally, other than objectivised concepts, can never be either perceived or conceived since cognizing cannot cognize what is cognizing, and what is cognizing is what they are."Wei Wu Wei
“…my being present in the present is phenomenally an absence."Wei Wu Wei
"If you form a concept of the true nature of anything as being visible or audible, you allow a dharma of distinction to arise. Let me repeat that the perceived cannot perceive. Can there, I ask you, be a head attached to the crown of your head?The Zen Teaching of Huang Po
"Stillness or peace is realization. There is no moment when the Self is not. Doubt or the feeling of non-realization is due to the identification of the self with the non-Self. When the non-Self disappears, the Self alone remains. To make room, it is enough that the cramping be removed; room is not brought in from elsewhere. Your duty is TO BE and not, to be this or that. I AM THAT I AM sums the whole truth: the method is summarized in BE STILL."Ramana Maharshi
"One does not even have to destroy the ego or even work on it. The only simple task to be accomplished is to let go of the identification with the ego as one's real self!"Dr. David R. Hawkins
"You must open up and feel beyond, without the self-contracted forms of mind, emotions and body. To be so open to self-transcendence is to be continuous with the Divine Self-Condition. It is not knowing what anything is-but it is rather to be continuous with it, to be open to it and therefore able to be expanded, able to experience the Revelation of What Is. There is only this incredibly profound, mind-blowing, ego-destroying, humbling Mystery. That is it. IT!" Adi Da