There are two answers to this question:
- Nobody is enlightened
- Enlightenment is all-there-is-and-is-not
But the most profound answer is the absence of the questioner.
Maybe it crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. But there is nobody for it to creep up on. How can everything creep up on itself?
Okay, but there is nothing special happening. Why would everything be special? It’s just what-is-and-is-not.
Am I this laptop computer that is seen? When it’s examined, without concepts, there is no sense of being more inside this body than being the laptop. The sense of being is equal in both. The seeing and the proprioception are essentially the same no-thing.
There is no doubt that separation is an illusion. I’m not talking about a specific separation, as in “the” separation. I mean that there is absolutely no separation anywhere, ever. I’m saying that separation only has basis in reality as a concept, and nothing more.
The whole of everything we know and understand is based on this concept of separation. Looking for enlightenment is based on this concept. All of these words are based on this concept. Absolutely everything we take to be real is based on this one central concept of separation, a concept which is absolutely false.
All-there-is-and-is-not is wholeness, and separation is not that. This is the dream of separation; this is the dream of “me”; this is a dream that I will not, and that I cannot, awaken from.
I remember being in a class in graduate school in which we were discussing whether the mind creates the brain or the brain creates the mind. After lots of back-and-forth arguments, I suggested that perhaps both perspectives are true and neither is true. The professor told me that by saying this I was picking up the ball and taking it home with me. It’s taken over ten years for the misunderstanding to resolve in my mind. I was not taking the ball home with me. What was being pointed-out was that there is no ball, no game, and no players.
It’s not necessary for us to argue about these absurdities. When it comes to the mind, there is no real mind; there is no personal self. The buck stops when it comes to trying to own what’s happening as happening to someone.
These bodies are autonomous machines, essentially no different from an animal or a robo-taxi. There are perceptual systems and actuation systems, but there is no separate thing that is receiving the perception and taking the action. This body happens to be a system that is complex enough to not only produce relatively complex responses to relatively complex stimuli but to also conceive of separation.
“But I make decisions!” I exclaim. Okay, perhaps this body-brain does (or doesn’t do) what it thinks it wants, but who decides what it wants? I can be such a beautifully arrogant puppet.
When it comes to consciousness or awareness or being, the thing that thinks it knows itself as “I” or “me” is not (just) the body-brain and not (just) in the body-brain. What that thing actually is, is everything-and-nothing. It cannot perceive itself because that would require a separate perceiver. It cannot know itself because that would require a separate knower. It cannot understand itself because that would require a separate understander. It cannot even be itself because that would require a separate non-being.
Enlightenment is the recognition (by no one) that this is all-there-is-and-is-not. There is no “I” that can recognize this. There is no personal enlightenment.
I am not enlightened. Enlightenment is all-there-is-and-is-not.