You are not your thoughts. Life is not your idea.
Your thoughts of life don't change life. If you look out of the window and see that it is raining, thinking that it is sunny won't change the fact that you will need an umbrella when you go out - whatever your opinion about the rain, it will get you wet.
Where there is a difference between what happens and the thought of what happens, there is space for pain and suffering. Therefore, we must control our perceptions to not constantly worry about what is out of our control.
That doesn't mean that we are victims of the events around us; we should not stand there and watch the world crumble and think that there is nothing that we can do about it.
We need to redirect our focus to what we can change or influence. However, it is also important to remember that you see life "through your own eyes." That means that your pre-conceived mental models filter your perception of the world.
That is why it can be tricky to debate with blindly certain people. We see this every day, today more than ever, in the current political climate. Politicians have lost the limit to telling lies about everything and anything, and unfortunately, some people lose touch with what is real and what is constructed for political gain. Just look at what is happening today in Russia, and you will see that propaganda works. We have all had that political or religious debate where absolutely no middle ground is possible. Either we agree to disagree, or we go to war - sometimes I wonder which one is worst.
Most of the problems we face don't come from events; they come from the turmoil in our minds that seek to interpret these events. Our minds tamper with reality. It needs to do so simply because it needs to prove that it exists and is useful.
When you see something happening, you start thinking about it. The event becomes a thought. It can never be an independent thought, as it is integrated into a sea of other thoughts in your mental data model. That thought becomes interpreted depending on your past experiences and how you were taught to live and think. And so you see that a thought is never real because it modulates according to who you believe yourself to be.
The opinions we have about events in life are insignificant. For the opinions to matter, they would need to contribute to universal opinions. That would make another problem - it is not because it is the opinion of all that it is true. As Krishnamurti said: "it is no measure of health to be well adapted to a sick society" - it is not because we all believe it is true.
And so what is true? What is real? That is a good question, but we would again be totally beside the point if we tried to answer it. The truth cannot come from an idea or a thought. So to feel or to sense the truth, we would have to abandon language, we would have to abandon our sense of identity, and we would have to abandon thought.
Is this possible? Can we be without thinking? At school, I was taught:
"I think therefore I am."
but as we progress in our spiritual awakening, we start to realize that:
"I think therefore I am not."
"I think; therefore, I lose touch with who I really am."
If you go beyond thought, you may experience reality. If you can transcend all interpretations made by your ego, you will have a glimpse of who you truly are.
Going beyond the ego also means allowing yourself to go beyond your sense of Self.
Realize that your Self is an illusion because it cannot be separated from everything around it.
This is a concept that is easy to understand. We can read about it, talk and learn about it. It is not a complex idea. But to find the light, one must understand that principle beyond the intellect. This is accessible, like enlightenment, to everyone.
We have the limiting belief that enlightenment is only available to monks, gurus, and semi-gods. That is not correct - in fact, enlightenment is accessible to everyone because you have been it once before.
To find the light or awaken to the "truth" of life is to experience who we are at the core of our existence. Who we are at our most natural state. Maybe it is who we were when we were born - as I observed my baby boy every day for the past 25 months, I indeed started believing that this was it.
We have the false assumption that to be enlightened, one must be special. That is the opposite.
To find the light, you must realize that you are your thought of it, the Self or the ego, which is indeed insignificant.
Although you might be different from the people around you, you are not an independent being. On the contrary, you are interdependent on everything around you and beyond.
You are not alone in nothingness. You are here, on the planet. You depend on light water and food. You are attached to all these things; that is how Nature operates.
To think you are alone is arrogance, ignorance, or even stupidity.
Yes, you are special and beautiful. That is because you are a unique expression of the One Thing. You are as similar to a rock as to your brother or neighbor. When you start to feel this, you will be enlightened.
Enlightenment is the realization that you are not unique and not alone. That the Self or the ego is an illusion. When you feel that you are a tiny component of the One Nature, you will be awake.
It sounds difficult, and it is indeed impossible if you think of this as something to do, an action to take, or someone to become.
Awakening can only happen to you, not by you. There is nothing to do or to learn to be awakened. On the other hand, there might be many things not to do and many things to un-learn that would be more like it.
Awakening will happen to you, naturally, when you stop seeking or craving it. It is easy, simple, and effortless.
Enlightenment is not a permanent state.
Nothing in Nature is permanent, and that includes the light in your Soul. Everything is in constant motion, and all things are impermanent. So calling it a state of consciousness is literal in its explanation. A state belongs to an array of states. When you are in one state, you are not in another, but without that other state, there wouldn't be that state.
It flickers, it wiggles, it moves, it vibrates.
Awakening is like a brief aha moment. The Zen masters called it Satori - a perception of Reality itself. D.T Suzuki, in his book Introduction to Zen Buddhism, writes:
"As far as the content goes, there is none in either Satori or Zen that can be described or presented or demonstrated for your intellectual appreciation. For Zen has no business with ideas, and Satori is a sort of inner perception -- not the perception, indeed, of a single individual object but the perception of Reality itself, so to speak. The ultimate destination of Satori is towards the Self; it has no other end but to be back within oneself. Therefore, said Joshu, "Have a cup of tea." Therefore, said Nansen, "This is such a good sickle, it cuts so well." This is the way the Self functions, and it must be caught, if at all catchable, in the midst of its functioning. As Satori strikes at the primary root of existence, its attainment generally marks a turning point in one's life. The attainment, however, must be thoroughgoing and clear-cut; a lukewarm Satori, if there is such a thing, is worse than no Satori."
Laugh yourself awake
This concept of Satori, or moment of enlightenment, is comparable to laughter.
When a joke is funny, you laugh from the belly. It is a reaction. We have all heard a joke while eating or drinking and felt that food and drink travel up our noses. It is not something that can be controlled, and it is instantaneous, spontaneous.
There is a lot of humor in Zen, and that is because it is indeed a very efficient way to experience Satori.
Another way to provoke awakening is through meditation. You might be observing a thought, and boom, it hits you - you are not that thought. You might also experience it by walking in Nature, swimming in the ocean, spending time with your newborn child, listening to your teacher or guide, talking to your teacher or guide, journaling, bouncing a ball off the wall, playing music, listening to music, reading, and more.