About Self-realization

Through a ‘path’ and ‘in search of’ an ‘attainment’ of ‘enlightenment’?

People often write and talk about ‘enlightenment’ and how this enlightenment ‘can be achieved.’ There’s also the frequent question of whether ‘enlightenment’ exists at all.
But also: is there anything to achieve? Achieving implies a path towards it. Is there a path? People are also in search. Is there actually anything to search for?

To be clear: striving for enlightenment is a sedative. Based on the essence of the concept of ‘striving’, which almost always arises from identification and the resultant ‘the wanting’. There’s then a desire for enlightenment and to realize this ultimate state, it seems we have to do a lot to achieve it. A path must be followed that can lead us to that enlightenment. We then search for that path to find that enlightenment.

Deep down, we can feel that this – when it comes to becoming inwardly free – is not correct, right? All this wanting and striving is based on a certain idea: the idea of enlightenment. This striving towards an idea only leads to more identifications, more obligations, more self-correction, more egos considering themselves important or that need to be combated, more internal strife, and division. Because if we can’t live according to this idea for a moment, there’s immediate internal commentary: internal disapproval: one ‘I’ acting as a kind of police officer reprimanding the other. If we do live according to it, in our perception, there’s internal applause. An ‘I’ that thinks we’re doing well. As a result, we don’t make progress. This all brings us only inner bondage, and inner sustainability is hard to find.
There are many gatherings, satsangs, meditation weeks, workshops from various methods, all over the world, with the goal of achieving the desired enlightenment. But the question is: where are all those people who supposedly found ‘enlightenment’ here?

This is not to say that people don’t try to find themselves. Attending workshops etc., certainly comes from very correct desires because anything is better than if we didn’t deal with inner development and continued to live mechanically.

Self-realization is immediate

There’s another term: Self-realization. This is also talked and written about a lot. But what does this term tell us?

First of all, what does it mean to realize something? Etymologically, realization comes from the Latin realis, which means true or actual. The essence of this word is in the real. And real is the English word for genuine. Realizing something means making it real, turning it into reality, making it true.

And the self in self-realization? What is meant by self?
Well, this is essentially simple because the non-dual Self (capitalized) is what we inherently are. Our Self is our deepest essence: mySelf or myself. And our essence is non-dual and, therefore, naturally simple.
However, we’re not quite there yet, because we refer to many things as ‘I’, not just my- or myself. We say ‘I’ to many egos that we assume to be. This is where the work lies: dissolving all our egos by perceiving them and no longer believing they are true. It’s about dissolving mindsets, no matter how ‘spiritual’ they seem to us.

Self-realization is immediate. This means that there’s no means to realize it other than to completely come to a standstill and connect with the senses. Then we experience the immense Silence behind all movement and our Being that is part of it. Our silent Being is our deepest essence: Consciousness in the manifestation of our individual-being (our individual, thus undivided being). We can realize our deepest essence in this way: make it real.

Frequency, Duration, and Depth

But you might ask, why should we realize something that is essentially already true? You’re absolutely right, because this Self doesn’t need to be realized as such, but needs to be revealed in us by unwrapping everything that is not true and covers it. It needs to be disclosed in us through un-wrapping, unraveling the untruth. By letting go of what is not true in us, my-Self reveals itself to us. By letting go of those things that keep us from it, we discover the immense Silence of consciousness. It then reveals itself in our experience, making us realize that we don’t need to search for it. It’s already there, and can be immediately (even temporarily) experienced if we truly observe, with a sattvic state of mind. True observation is observing from our essence, from self-remembrance, and not from the many egos we’re so familiar with, which are sustained by our numerous identifications in unconsciousness.

We can experience that the realization described above is indeed immediate, but we also observe that it’s not stable. On the contrary. The duration, frequency, and depth of moments of self-remembrance can be observed, and what do we see? It’s short-lived, it’s infrequent, and the depth of the Silence behind all movement can only be experienced to a limited extent. That’s why practice is needed! These moments then occur more frequently, last longer over time, and we experience more depth in them. The rajasic ‘fickleness’ of our mind decreases, our attention span broadens, and we can increasingly ‘carry’ (retain) the Silence in our activities.

Living by wisdom

Self-realization is essentially: realizing that we cannot be what we can perceive. It is letting go of or laying down identifications by observing them and experiencing that we aren’t them. This can be immediately realized in self-remembrance, because in self-remembrance unconscious identification is impossible! Stubborn identifications, with all the conditioned behaviors that result from them (often developed from pain in our childhood), receive little nourishment when observed in self-remembrance and eventually dissolve, especially if the underlying causes are recognized and revalued as old and no longer relevant/applicable in the Now. But this is an inner process that you don’t just get as a gift.

Can our self-realization be made permanent? No, not yet and not for the time being. And maybe it never will be. We have moments of self-realization in truly non-judgmental observation and then we’re truly momentarily internally free! However, we’re not able to continue this self-realization due to the tendencies, needs, and conditionings deeply anchored in our personality (and individual essence). In this sense, we become a kind of flickering light of truth. We will keep flickering (on-off-on-off, awake-asleep-awake-asleep, observing-not observing) until we’ve left all conditioned identifications behind and our inner light permanently shines brightly on all appearances: inside and outside of us.

If this inner light in us shines permanently, we might well call it enlightenment. Inner shadows are dissolved. Enlightenment arising from permanent practicing (without searching or journeying!) Self-realization. We become lighter, as we rid ourselves of a lot of mental and emotional baggage. We are lighter because our inner light is no longer obscured, which also means our surroundings will experience us as lighter.
Understanding what we’re not is where our practice begins. The natural result is living in truth: living by wisdom.

Is this an achievement? No.
Is this a path? No.
Is this a search? No.
Is this a process of making our inner Selves true, leading to Real-ization.”? Yes.
By living daily in and from truth and no longer identifying with everything we’re not? Yes!

© Michiel Koperdraat