Hello, today I wanted to share a secret to enlightenment. Now, there’s one of many that could be shared, mere pointers, and when I say it’s a secret to enlightenment, I don’t mean it will cause or lead to enlightenment. It is more about making the environment and conditions more conducive for enlightenment to happen. However, I think there’s still value to it. What I want to share today is the idea, or at least the concept, of ceasing to self-maintain, ceasing self-preservation.

There are so many things we do to build, strengthen, and maintain the “me.” Enlightenment, as I’ve defined it in the past, is seeing through the illusory “me.” It is really seeing if there is no “me” now, prior to enlightenment. This isn’t the easiest thing to see or recognize because we very much believe in the “me.” We believe we are this person, the self.

So, what I’m suggesting is realizing, accepting, and maybe even looking at all the activities that we do to maintain and strengthen this “me.” Because what we’re doing is wearing masks. We have these roles, these personas. It’s funny because we call ourselves a “person,” and “person” comes from “persona.” You know, “persona” literally means “through which the sound comes through.” And what they’re referring to is the Greco-Roman masks they used to wear with the big megaphone mouths in the open-air theaters. So, not only was the mask the role they were playing, but it would project the sound out to the audience so everybody could hear. That was the persona.

And now, when we say, “Well, I’m a real person,” oh, which, funny enough, is kind of saying, “I’m a genuine fake.” But we have these masks. We also defend ourselves. We have armor to protect our feelings and ourselves mentally, not physically. Mentally, we have these defenses and armor to protect our self-value. So when enlightenment occurs, there is a seeing through the “me.” And then, there’s, I guess you could say, a dropping away or a dissolving or decomposition of the “me.” It kind of falls apart.

With this falling apart, the masks kind of fall off, the armor falls off. And if there’s still a little bit of residual “me” in there, it will feel very vulnerable. You’ll feel naked. And the trick is to embrace and accept this and not retreat. Because immediately, the thought will be, “Oh, what could happen to me? I need to start putting this armor back on. I need to put my masks back on because it preserves and protects me.” And we don’t want to do this. We want to embrace the void, really embrace the total openness, which is a lack of limits. Because really, it’s our efforts that maintain who we are, and what we are is what limits us. And so, if we let go of this maintaining and borders, the masks, the armor, it’s just open. It’s void.

And the other way it could be experienced is liberating. It’s liberating not to have all this. It’s freedom. It’s pure, total freedom. However, not that the experience is wrong or incorrect, but there could be an initial feeling of vulnerability, a feeling of nakedness. And the trick is not to fear this but to embrace it and accept it, to dive into the vulnerability. Because ultimately, there’s no way to be anything but vulnerable.

Conversely, funny enough, is when you realize you’re not this personal “me” and you embrace the void, although it initially feels vulnerable and naked, there comes the understanding and realization that nothing can harm you. If you can get over that initial fear as the last remnants of the “me” are kind of there, if you can get past that and just accept and embrace the momentary nakedness and vulnerability, you may realize nothing could harm you.

So, thank you very much.

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