Enlightenment can take a long time, perhaps as long as it takes to wear a granite mountain down to the ground by a fine veil brushing its top once every hundred years, or perhaps as long as a lifetime, or a year, or perhaps in only a week, as the Buddha proclaims, if you can maintain perfect mindfulness for seven days.

Part of becoming enlightened is letting go. When we let go of ambition, even the ambition for enlightenment, enlightenment is then possible. It is a puzzle; how we can become enlightened without trying? But when we finally understand endlessness, and endless patience, and eternity, and eternal endurance, when no one is there to become enlightened anymore, when all hope is gone, and when we no longer exist, then, enlightenment is possible.

When we forget the reason we began this search, so long ago, and when we gaze at the stars for no reason, no purpose, then enlightenment may come. When we realize that we will never become enlightened, when we know in our hearts that the one who desires enlightenment is no more than a figment of our imagination, less than a speck in the universe, only then is true enlightenment possible.

When suddenly it all becomes empty; nowhere to go now, no place to hide, no one evolving. The evolution is ended; it never began. All is, as it always has been and ever shall be. No beginnings, no endings, no changes, no sufferings, no delusions. Only the void now, the endless and comforting void, where all is stillness in the chaos.

There will never be a year toward enlightenment, or eons toward enlightenment; enlightenment simply is. It always has been, always will be, and we are that - right now, we are that. We can never reach enlightenment in the future, for the future will always be our nemesis. Enlightenment can only be found in this immense precious moment, that interface between the past and future that is impossible to discern, and where time no longer exists, experience no longer exists, and here we find our eternity.

Can a knife cut itself? Can an eye see itself? Can an "I" thought become enlightened? Can we ever understand these things with our heads? Can we ever understand anything? Should we simply give up, should we fall back into the abyss of the world and shatter our dreams? And if we do, will we finally, for the first time, see the world and all its creatures for what they are, where we are no longer holding the world at arm's length by something that doesn't exist, no longer confused by the world, because we are the world? Are we the world, or are we enlightenment? How could there be a difference?

. . . and the sage walks back into the village, with a jug of whisky on his shoulder, and he sees nothing different from what he is. And a smile breaks out on his face. And he finds that he is strangely free.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com His twenty-nine years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com