What happens when you fall off the earth’s edge?

That being said, I’m going to tell you what you will get out of enlightenment. If the answer is initially disappointing, don’t give up. Read on and see if you come to the place where disappointment changes into clarity. So here we go: The answer is that you will get nothing out of it because enlightenment is the realization that there is no you to get enlightened; that your sense of separation and individuality is an illusion. This reply will most likely go against your direct experience. You might have learned that you are part of an ongoing process in which the fittest will survive and that you have to pass on your genes to the next generation or die trying. You may also believe that the art of living is in improving yourself and your life’s circumstances. If you’re poor and hungry, a roof over your head and a meal a day may do it for you. If you’re lucky enough to live in a situation where your basic survival needs are covered, you will most likely pursue happiness and fulfillment via relationships, the acquisition of material goods, and social status.
When this is not enough you might become what is known as a seeker. A seeker is someone who feels that the so-called material world cannot deliver true and lasting contentment and that an inner dimension needs to be explored to find peace, enlightenment, or Self-realization.
As a seeker you’ll perhaps try psychotherapy, rebirthing, getting in touch with your inner child, past life regression therapy, yoga, transcendental meditation, or one of the other techniques believed to lead to lasting fulfillment and happiness. Such methods may indeed deliver results that you can experience as improving or enriching your life. However, you’ll probably discover that after some time the original euphoria wears off. You come to realize that experiences and states of mind are always temporary. After this recognition, many seekers consider the so-called non-dual approach to Self-realization or enlightenment.
Non-duality is a general term that covers several – mostly eastern – schools of thought, which point to the single source before and beyond all temporal experiences and apparent
diversity. While reading texts from non-dual systems such as Zen, Advaita, Taoism, or Dzogchen, you will find the affirmation that Self-realization has no promise other than
to release you from your belief in a separate self or ego. That’s it. The dropping away of an illusion simply revealing this as it is, often summed up in the phrase ‘Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.’ The ego, which certainly does not want to hear that it is an illusion, may claim to accept this as a concept, but invariably resists its realization, persisting in the belief that the carrying and chopping that come ‘after’ are somehow different. Now, if there’s nothing in it for me, why would I even bother? ‘Give me some motivation,’ says the ego; ‘Give me something that makes it worth my while to pursue this.’ This way of thinking seems right to us, who are conditioned to look for a future purpose in whatever it is we’re doing. Logic dictates that we should gain something here instead of merely hearing that we don’t exist. From this perspective, it gets even worse. Enlightenment not only shows that your separate identity is an illusion, it reveals that sheer purposelessness is at the heart of this whole creation. This sounds absurd to the goal-and-future-oriented mind; yet I will tell you unequivocally that the whole point of this manifestation is nothing other than this manifestation. Realizing this is far from the bleak reality the mind imagines it to be. True, this is of no use to the ego, since it is about freedom from the ego, not freedom for the ego. The final understanding is not the result of seeking, but brings freedom from seeking. It is not about fulfilling expectations, but about being free of them. There are no future
rewards in store. This very clarity turns out to be its own reward. Like Zen Master Hakuin exclaimed: ‘This very land is the pure lotus land, This very body is the body of Buddha!’
Nothing changes, but everything is released from its conceptual mold, as well as from the person who tried to fit life into the mold. Life’s freshness is recognized; its presence is
acknowledged; its oneness is seen – but by no one. There simply is recognition, acknowledgment, and seeing. All this text will do is remind you of your true identity. It is not about self- improvement or methods. It contains no seven-step-systems to help you become more relaxed, more loving, or more fulfilled. If that is what you’re looking for, there are plenty of other books and people that will cater to your needs. If you want the truth, you have to look beyond the concepts of ego and self- improvement, and beyond the states
of mind you would like to acquire. This book will explore – and attempt to puncture – the belief that you are a separate entity. It wants to point at the sourceless source from
which all arises, and it asks you to remember that you are this source. Once this is recognized and it is clear what you truly are, you’ll see that everything is exactly as it
should be. It will not all fall magically into place. It already is and always has been in place. This is not about a gradual progression to a future goal, but about a radical awakening to what is. No conditions have to be fulfilled for this to become clear. Self-realization can happen at any time for anyone. There can be quirky, irreverent, irritable characters who are certain about what they truly are and there can be relaxed, friendly, happy people who never even thought about socalled enlightenment. Calmness, friendliness, and happiness may or may not be or become part of your daily experience as a consequence of awakening, but at the same time it will become evident that this clarity is not about
being in a good mood all the time. You don’t need to do anything to ‘become ready’ for it. It will happen by itself and reveal that Awakeness is – and always has been – fully
present. It will shine when it shines, and it will shift the attention from the content of Awareness to Pure Awareness itself. This Pure Awareness is what you truly are. When
you think you’re not it, this thought is part of the temporal content of Awareness and has no bearing on Awareness itself. Just let yourself be. Give yourself permission to
be up, down, pissed, or delirious. Observe the process and don’t get caught in the content. Know yourself as the limitless field of Pure Awareness in which the drama of
life merely arises. For me this understanding has marked the end of my search and released me from the burden of trying to control my life and constantly improve myself. It did not set me free, but showed that I am freedom itself. It did not give me anything, but took ‘the me’ away. What I truly am is what I always was: Pure Awareness. This is true for you, the cat, the book, and everything else. To the mind, there seem to be separate objects; but in reality, everything emanates from the same essence. Seeing or not seeing this
does not change anything. Everything simply is as it is, which is a lot less and infinitely more than I anticipated it to be.

Leo Hardong