Note: This document is a work-in-progress and will be improved and supplemented over time.
So you wanna become enlightened, eh?
That's where this journey starts.
A burning desire for TRUTH is essential to success in this. Don't let people confuse you with talk of how "desire is bad", "seeking is delusion". No! Seeking is essential to breakthrough. Don't burn your ship before you've crossed the ocean! That would be foolish.
Rather than filling your mind with beliefs and ideas about enlightenment, let me give you a bare-bones structure for how to actually make progress towards enlightenment.
There are at least 20 totally different ways that I know for how to get enlightened. What I'm going to share with you here is just ONE way out of dozens. It is however a very direct way. This method is highly effective. It may not work for everyone, but then again, no method works for everyone. I call this method self-observation or Leo's version of self-inquiry. "Self-inquiry" as classically taught by Ramana Maharishi is technically different.
First, let's be very clear what we're talking about when we speak of enlightenment.
What this basically means is that YOU are deeply confused about who you think you are. Right now you think that you're a human being, sitting there, reading this text on your screen. This is false. Pure fantasy. You are in fact not that thing at all. What we have here is a case of mistaken identity. You think you're a body, but you're not. You think you're a mind, but you're not. You think you're an entity living inside your head, but you're not. You think you are a physical object but you are not!
Take a moment to seriously consider the magnitude of my claim. IF I happen to be right, and you happen to be wrong, then what that means is: you are NOT a human being, or even a physical object! Not metaphorically-speaking; not as some philosophical curiosity; but literally!
How could such an outrageous thing be possible??????
How could you be mistaken about what you actually are?????
Very easily actually!
Recall how you've met people in your life who you knew were indoctrinated from birth with silly religious beliefs about Jesus and all sorts of other nonsense. Recall how little children believe that Santa Claus exists because they don't know any better. Recall how terrorists believe they are killing civilians in the name of Allah and will go to heaven with 72 virgins waiting for them. Recall how racists insist they are right for persecuting minorities.
Well... here's something you're not gonna like hearing: that same delusion mechanism which existed in them, is operating FULL-FORCE within you right now! Yup! You too have been indoctrinated by ignorant parents and teachers from birth into believing a fairy-tale. Except in this case, the indoctrinated idea was: you are a human being.
What a mind fuck!
Now, in this work of "self-observation", you will discover -- for yourself -- what you REALLY are.
Important: I am not asking you to believe me. You will have to demonstrate empirically, for yourself, that what I say is accurate. You can be skeptical all you want here. It won't upset me.
"Okay" you say. "So what am I then if I'm not a human being or a physical object?"
Sorry to tell you this, but your ENTIRE identity and life story is just a giant optical illusion. Like this non-existent triangle:
There's nothing really there! Although it sure seems convincing, doesn't it?
The problem is that you cannot know what you are rationally or logically because the mind is the source of the confusion. See.... No matter how cleverly or deeply or long you think, all the mind can ever do is symbolize stuff. It can only create maps and models. But you are not a symbol or a map or a model! You are not an idea or a thought! So you have to directly experience what you are. This MAY take months or years of very careful self-investigation.
Note: I am saying that you have NEVER IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE ever experienced yourself before! You've only experienced phenomena, none of which is essentially YOU!
So what is this mysterious "essential you"? Let me spoil the surprise because otherwise you will waste YEARS searching in the wrong places, thinking you've found yourself when you really just found another false belief.
So... as directly as possible now: the entity who thinks it's reading this sentence does NOT exist!
Again, please try to fathom the magnitude of what is being said. This is extremely radical (but nevertheless true).
Since you are pure awareness, all your focus goes toward shining "light" on sensory phenomena so it's really hard to "see" yourself. Pure awareness is very subtle, which means you have to develop extraordinary mindfulness abilities to "see" yourself.
"But Leo?! You can't be serious! This sounds like a crazy New Age hippy conspiracy!"
Let me assure you it's not. I am no hippy. I'm probably more rational and logical than you are. But I do recognize the limits of logic and rationality.
The problem here is that you've been so brainwashed by society that what I'm telling you right now sounds crazy. That's okay. Just keep your mind open to the possibility that what I'm claiming can be directly verified by you. Nothing here has to be believed. But you do have to be willing to take it on as a temporary hypothesis to be verified or falsified.
Leo's Patented () Step-By-Step Process To Become Enlightened:
Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit alone. (You don't need to sit cross-legged.)
Turn off your smart phone and disconnect from all distractions
Set a digital timer for 60 minutes
Now sit silently and start to genuinely wonder: "What am I if I'm not the body?"
Do NOT meditate!
Sit and carefully observe your direct experience.
Notice that direct experience is THE ONLY THING you have of reality. Nothing else is real. Realizing this should make you very "present".
Try to locate yourself within direct experience.
Be very specific and clear with yourself: What are you? Are you a foot? A hand? A face? A mind? A brain? The envelop of the skin? The picture of yourself in the mind's eye? A feeling in the chest? What?
Seriously! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU?????????????
Notice that anything you might point to as being "your true self" cannot be true, because that's just another experience arising. Here's the logic of it: Firstly, it isn't constant. It fades in and out throughout the day, so it cannot be you. Secondly, you are observing it, so it cannot be you because "you" are the one doing the observation.
So again, WHAT ARE YOU?
Open your mind to the possibility that you are mistaken about being a human body or mind.
Just sit there and keep genuinely wondering about what you really could be. Try to locate the one who's perceiving things.
Do not philosophize or come up with theories. Focus 100% on what your direct experience is telling you. This is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL!!!!!!!! The bulk of the work happens right here at this step. You have to slowly become aware that all your thoughts and ideas and feelings about "you" are not really you. They are just symbols and stories. For example: notice that the image of your body that you have in your mind is NOT actually your body! It's just an image! And the same goes for the feelings that make up your body. Those feelings are real, but they are not actually you!
As any theories arise of what you think you are, notice that what that is, is a thought! And no thought can be you because you are the one perceiving the thought, and also because your existence does not depend on any particular thought's existence. Notice you don't cease to exist in between thoughts.
Just sit and keep doing this for 60 minutes without getting distracted in irrelevant thoughts.
As your mind wanders off track (and it will wander a lot) don't beat yourself up. Just bring your focus back on the self-observation.
After 60 minutes, stop and notice what happened. Notice if your mind feels "elevated" or more aware.
Frustration and confusion are OF COURSE going to arise. Do NOT be discouraged by frustration or confusion. Believe it or not, these are signs of progress.
Do not expect instant results. You must be very methodical and patient like a crocodile.
Repeat this process every day for at least 60 minutes for the next few months. Be very patient. It will take several months just to start to get your bearings straight. And by that I don't mean you will become enlightened. I mean you merely begin to realize the magnitude of your ignorance. In this time span of 3 months -- let's say -- you will get a strong sense that it really isn't possible to locate yourself. This may seem like you've failed, but actually this is a huge advance. Now you've finally started to realize that you've never really met yourself before. Now the journey towards enlightenment can begin in earnest!
Just keep doing the process without discouragement. At some point, your mind will crack and you will surrender to the realization that there's no one home. That life has always run with you. And BAAAAAMMMMM!!!!!!! Enlightenment has occurred! Notice, I did not say YOU got enlightened. Rather, enlightenment has occurred.
So who got enlightened? No one.
Tips For Self-Observation:
Don't just do this process mechanically, you MUST be genuinely curious about the truth of what you are.
Try to establish a daily habit of self-observation. You need to build consistency and momentum.
Be very careful about coming up with theories about what you are. We don't care about theories here. Every theory is NOT it. We only care about direct experience. REPEAT: ALL THEORIES AND IDEAS ARE DISTRACTIONS!
Spend time asking yourself who you really believe that you are under the conventional worldview. Are you a body or are you the owner of the body? Are you inside the skull? If so, where exactly? The point of doing this is so you're clear and honest about your present beliefs, even if you intellectually know they are false. It's very important to get clear what exactly your false beliefs are.
Do not be vague in your answers to the query of What are you? It's vital that you be precise and specific. Answers such as, "Well, I dunno, I'm just in the skull somewhere." are NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!! What EXACTLY are you identifying with? Hint: it will either be a thought, a body sensation, an emotion, a visual perception, or a combination of the above. But all of those cannot be the true you because they are not constant.
Create an active sense of doubt that you are a human being or a physical object
Any belief, thought, or idea about who you really are is automatically FALSE! Drop it.
Any sensory experience about who you really are is automatically FALSE! Drop it.
All scientific theories or models are automatically FALSE! Drop it.
All spiritual, New Age, or religious ideas about who you really are, are FALSE! Drop it.
You are NOT a visible object or "thing" so stop looking for yourself like you would look for a missing dog.
You are NOT located in any area of space, so stop looking for yourself as a point or hidden object somewhere.
You are NOT located inside "your" head
You are NOT located inside "your" body
There is nothing magical to discover in this process. You are not some kind of unicorn or fairytale creature.
There is nothing hidden. Everything you see before you is exactly what there is, nothing more, nothing less.
It is not possible to find yourself, so this process is futile. But you need to realize that through doing the process. Not by believing me.
You will get VERY frustrated during this process and want to quit. Just accept the frustration and keep going.
This process will surface deep emotional issues from our subconscious mind. You will experience emotional turmoil and anguish. Just accept it and keep going.
You will feel depressed at times. Just accept it and keep going.
Your mind will use every excuse in the book to distract you and get you to stop looking. Stay vigilant to all these tricks and keep looking. DO NOT GET TRICKED INTO STOPPING!
The truth of what you are is ever-present. It is always HERE and NOW. You don't need to go anywhere or do anything to see it. You are you right now!
Be prepared for this self-observation process to take several years if necessary.
Understand that enlightenment happens always only in the NOW. Never in the future. You can be enlightened RIGHT THIS SECOND! You don't need to wait 3 years. Always intend to become enlightened right now!
Enlightenment/Truth is NOT an emotional state. Enlightenment is occurring always, even when you're watching TV or sitting on the toilet.
Meditation is NOT enlightenment.
A psychedelic high is NOT enlightenment.
A powerful energetic experience is NOT enlightenment.
A vision or hallucination (however real it may feel) is NOT enlightenment.
Enlightenment is what's absolutely true without ever changing.
Don't forget the possibility that you may not be a thing!
Don't forget the possibility that there might be nothing to find
There is no you to become enlightened. When this is realized, that's enlightenment!
Hint: it's MUCH simpler than you think.
A HUGE HINT:
The thing you're looking for but aren't finding... THAT'S YOU!!! Don't expect it to have any attributes. Don't expect the mind to have anything whatsoever to latch onto.
You cannot grab NOTHINGNESS by the collar.
You can only realize you're already it.
Think of it this way: you are looking for a needle in a haystack, but this is no ordinary needle. In this case the needle is literally the realization there was no needle to begin with!
A cosmic joke! You've been punked by God (yourself).
Best Self-Observation Questions:
What am I?
No, seriously now... WHAT THE FUCK AM I?????
No, cut the shit! What am I -- RIGHT NOW -- in my direct experience????
Who is aware of reality?
Who is aware of me?
Who is perceiving?
Who is the owner of the body?
Who is the owner of the mind?
Who is feeling pain?
Who is asking all these questions?
What was I before I was born?
What am I when I'm in deep sleep?
What could I be if I'm not the human body/mind?
What connects and unifies all of my different senses?
What is true independent of ever-changing sense experience?
What is true independent of my life and my death?
Why do I believe I'm the body?
Why do I believe I'm the mind?
Where to do thoughts arise from?
If I'm the body, what is everything else that I'm seeing?
Why do I trust my feeling that I'm the body? Is a feeling really evidence of TRUTH?
Why must I be an object?
What if the "perciever" has no attributes or properties?
When I close my eyes, where did the world disappear to?
Where is sound occurring?
Where are thoughts occurring?
Where are body sensations occurring?
What is the relationship between physical body sensations and my visual field?
What if I don't exist?
What if I can't locate myself because I am "empty" or without form or attribute?
What if I'm addicted to looking only for objects or perceptions, but my true nature is neither of those?
What if I'm just an idea?
What if my entire paradigm of physical reality is just an idea?
Could my body and brain just be ideas?
Is any physical object actually permanent according to direct experience?
What distinguishes one object from another?
Do boundaries between things really exist, or are they ideas?
What would happen if I stopped distinguishing existence from non-existence?
How To Tell If You're Enlightened:
This is very simple. Answer the following questions honesty:
Did a major shift in awareness occur?
Are you absolutely clear now of what you are?
Are you the physical human body you've always thought you were?
Do you feel infinite, without boundaries or location?
Do you actually understand, or are you in a temporary meditative high?
If you answered: "YES! YES! NO! YES! I UNDERSTAND!" then there's a pretty good chance you're enlightened. If your answers were not: "YES! YES! YES! NO! YES! I UNDERSTAND!" then chances are you aren't enlightened. Keep trying.
If in doubt, find an enlightened master to help you verify the depth of your realization.
Don't get cocky, remember, there is more than one enlightenment breakthrough to be had. You ain't gonna become Buddha with just a few years of self-observation.
Is it worth the struggle?
Abso-fucking-luty! Awakening is divine.
Videos Explaining Enlightenment In More Depth:
List Of Enlightenment Exercises: