I remember the moment I experienced enlightenment. It was the fall of 2013. I was on an international Skype call on my MacBook with one of Arjuna Ardagh’s Awakening Coaches.
My coach was a warmhearted German guy named Wolfgang from Frankfort. In a 25 minute guided process, he invited me to breathe and relax away from my thoughts, and senses into the silent, aware presence that knows my thoughts and senses.
This aware presence or beingness is the dimension of us that is consciousness itself. It’s the being that’s right there in our very name—-human being. More specifically, it’s the knowing that allows me to hear or know my thoughts. To awaken to the stillness beyond thinking, I just relaxed and let go. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I had dropped away from thinking and was totally present, floating in a vast silent, spaciousness. It felt like a dream-like state.
I was experiencing my being for the first time! It wasn’t fireworks. It was a quiet yet very pleasant experience without any content. I was just being—without thinking, wanting, figuring out, judging or resisting.
This experience was the first time I had let go of thought completely and it felt peaceful, light and freeing. I was awake but I wasn’t thinking. I was just being. And that was it! —-The shift that I had read about and had heard about from others.
What a shift of perspective, indeed identity! I lifted off the thought-based “me” that’s constantly narrating all experience, to uncover the ever-present, silent being that we always are.
It was an unexpected shift: I was now floating as this inner, empty stillness. I felt that I was the stillness, not the constant narrative, the voice in my head. Wow! I realize now that I had discovered what was allowing me to experience everything and it was not thinking. Not at all.
I wasn’t thinking, but I was still experiencing from a strange, new internal quietness.
And then I realized that it was not thought that was“me”; thoughts were known by me, this silent knowing being. Thoughts arise from me, this stillness, this consciousness, this intelligence.
And thought would never have the same power again, because it wasn’t me! Again, thoughts are arising in me—the knowing awareness—without decision or effort. And they certainly weren’t telling me an absolute truth because they are fleeting and constantly changing.
I was having an experience of me underneath thinking and outside of time, that is eternal and unchanging. This is the silent knowing presence or intelligence that we are before thinking arises.
It’s not the experience that I was now “enlightened” but that I now had this direct experience of this silent knowing, this intelligence from which all experience we have is known.
So Enlightenment is not a state to be achieved and maintained. It felt like I had found the essential identity of consciousness, that has been held so closely entangled in thought and was now somehow liberated from a constant narrative mistakenly called “me”, to that which
is listening to the thought narrative.
I felt the recognition that this was the enlightenment experience that I had been searching for and growing toward for decades with books, teachers, seminars and workshops. And this was enlightenment: the direct experience of the quiet, simple knowing that knows my experience—the being or knowing presence that I am before thinking.