My Enlightenment Experience
By Leo Gura - July 20, 2015 | 140 Comments
Step by step exactly how it happened
Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org. And in this episode, I’m going to be talking about my enlightenment experience.
So, I just came back from a ten-day silent meditation retreat. And I had a really interesting experience at the end of the retreat. And that’s on top of all the cool insights that I got, that I’m excited to share with you in the upcoming video.
But what I got here is — I got what I think I’m going to call my second enlightenment experience. So, I did have one before this, which was about a year and a half ago, when I first began this journey towards enlightenment.
But the problem with the first experience that I had — it’s hard for me to even understand what was happening then. Because, back then, I didn’t have the concepts and framework that I have now, to understand what the hell is going on in these experiences.
This is actually a common phenomenon, for example, for people who do mushrooms or psychedelics. They have this consciousness-expanding experience. But then, they lose it, and they don’t retain any of it. And they can’t even make sense of it. And it just seems like this: “Oh, it’s just a cool emotional state that I was in for a while”.
But it’s actually not that. And the problem is that you don’t have the intellectual framework that’s necessary to really make sense of it. So, the first experience I had was kind of murky. And it was hard to distinguish it from a hallucination. And my eyes were closed, and I was very sleepy. And we’ll talk about that.
But this second experience — this was something remarkable, that I’ve never experienced before in my life. And here, I was completely awake. Completely alert. Eyes open. No hallucinations. And it was a really extraordinary thing.
Now what I want to do is, I think it would be valuable not to just tell you about this experience as in: “Oh, I had some awakening experience”. But to tell you about this experience as a step-by-step process for how I generated the experience. Because the experience was created.
This is something you do through work. This is not something you just happen to stumble upon. And if you’re following my other enlightenment videos, and you’re using that looking process that I talked about, if you’re using a self-inquiry process, or if you meditate — then you’ll see some very important points here. Because I’m going to take you through every step.
After my experience, I actually sat down and I made sure to write down every step. A lot of details. So that I could track everything that was happening in my mind to create this experience. So that I could recreate it later.
And, actually, what happened is that I was able to, yesterday, almost recreate it. So I’m really confident now that there’s a lot learned in breaking down the process. And I think that’s going to help you with your self-inquiry. So, let me tell you a little bit about this experience. Let me set it up for you.
How It All Started
So, what was happening is that I was at a retreat. And this was like a church ground, were we had little cabins and stuff. And then there was a chapel. But there weren’t any church activities going on. We were just using that complex.
And anyways, most folks were meditating off together in some hall. But I didn’t want to do that. I was just meditating by myself. And this was in Virginia. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Virginia, I haven’t — this was my first time there. And it’s really an amazing, beautiful natural scene.
Because what they’ve got now here, in the summer, is — the weather’s very humid, it’s like super, super-humid. And, in fact, we had rain, storm clouds, for most of the week. And on this day it was raining and very cloudy. And I was sitting there by the chapel. So, the chapel a cool little, modern-designed church. And it was on this rolling green hill.
And the entire estate was just these giant rolling green hills with dense ancient forests. And huge trees. And birds and insects flying around. It’s like a very natural, idyllic scene. Perfect for meditation. Which is why I wanted to sit out there. And this chapel — it was set up on this platform that was kind of handing over this rolling green hill. And I was sitting right on the edge of this platform.
There was like a little balcony area out there, and a wooden bench. So, I was sitting on that bench, cross-legged, with a blanket over me. And I was just looking at the rain and the rolling green hills. And all the birds flying around. And the clouds. And the giant green forest far off into the distance.
And this was evening time. The sun was setting, but it was so cloudy you could really see it. And I was sitting under a roof, a roof area. So that rain wasn’t dripping down on me. So, it was really the perfect setting. And I’m sitting here.
And what I’m doing is — I’m practicing this technique called “Do nothing”. Which is a new technique that I was practicing. And I’ll talk about that technique in detail in other videos. But what I’ll say about it here is that the “Do nothing” technique is a very interesting technique, where you literally just sit and you don’t try to do anything at all.
And, in fact, any time your awareness tries to go somewhere, and you try to control your awareness, you just completely detach and let it go. Seems simple. But actually — I mean, its simple, but it can be a little tricky to do it right. So it does require some practice and explanation. Which I won’t really go into here.
But anyways, I was doing the “Do nothing” technique, and usually, when you start doing the “Do nothing” technique, and you sit there, your mind just wanders around. And it’s really indistinguishable from your ordinary monkey mind, that you have when you’re not meditating.
So, getting that, and I was thinking about all sorts of things left and right. But then, after a while, all that stuff kind of exhausted itself. And my mind started getting more, and more, and more focused. Focusing in. And as I was doing than, then I started naturally, as part of the “Do nothing” technique, my mind started gravitating towards this notion that I learned, called — exploring spaciousness.
Spaciousness is an interesting concept which, again, I can’t really cover in too much detail here. But, basically, what was happening was that I was sitting there, and I was looking at the trees far off into the distance.
And then what I realized, I had this little, mini insight — I had multiple mini insights to ultimately get to my experience — the mini insight was that, when I’m looking at the tree, that actually, there’s nothing behind the tree and there’s nothing in front of the tree. Now, this takes a little explanation.
Because if I just say that in normal speak, common parlance, then we say: “Well, behind the first tree there’s the second tree, and the fifth tree, and the tenth tree, and the hundredth tree.
And then, maybe behind that there’s a road. Behind that there’s a hill. Behind that there’s a building or something like that”. Right? And, “In front of the tree, well — there’s empty air. There’s a bird flying. And then there’s me. It all points back to me. And I’m here, at the very front. And at the very end is the vacuum of space”.
Now, what’s interesting is that that’s all a conceptualization. That’s not actually what’s going on with your phenomenal sensory visual field. In your visual field, if you’re looking at me right now, maybe you can get a little taste of this — you’re seeing my face. You’re seeing the background.
Now, the question is — what’s behind that what you’re seeing? Give you a hint: it’s not pixels on a computer screen. It’s not a desk. It’s not a wall. It’s not your car. It’s nothingness. Literally, nothingness is behind it. Now, if you get a little taste of that, you can it in the opposite direction.
What is in front of me? So, now you would normally think that: “Well, in front of Leo’s face these pixels on a computer screen are empty air, it’s not really empty, but there’s air here. And then there’s some space. Some distance”. And then there’s what? There’s you. You are sitting there like a camera, taking all of this in.
But can you get a taste that, actually, that’s not accurate. That there’s like nothing here. Nothing here, working from your perspective, so, if I’m looking from your perspective then there’s nothing — there, behind your eyes. There’s nothing in front of Leo.
These colors that you’re seeing — there’s nothing in front of that. So, it’s like your sensory field has this weird spaciousness. There’s almost like a flatness to whatever you’re looking at. There’s nothing behind it and there’s nothing in front of it.
Now, it’s cool to philosophize about that and just think: “Oh, that’s kind of interesting.” But when you actually sit there, and you meditate, and you concentrate, and you get a real hit on that with your awareness, and there’s traction — you get traction with your awareness, it’s not just an idea, then it’s like: “Whoa. That’s fucking eerie.”
And that’s exactly what happened to me. I started to see this tree, and I got this hit that: “Shit, I’m not looking at the tree, it’s just a tree. There’s not anything here in front of the tree, which normally we assume is: I’m here. So that expanded my mind a little bit.
My mind started to focus in more. Then what I did was — I used another technique that I learned a while ago, it’s called the, well I don’t know if there’s a name for it. But basically what it is — I just took my finger rand I literally tried to draw a line from the tree — so I stretched my finger out like this, into the distance, to where the tree was, like a mile or two away — and then I tried to trace it back to what is here. What’s in front of the tree.
And if you do that very carefully, and you’re very conscious and focused, what you’ll notice is that there’s actually no point at which the finger touches you. It’s weird, its freaky. So I did that, and that reinforced this sense of “Wow” insight.
Then what I did is — I focused my gaze and my vision downward at the balcony floor, which was made out of stone. So, I moved it much closer to me, give me a little bit of a different feel, and I was looking at the stones. And I actually started to just, kind of, blank out and not really focus on the stones. And I started to get this, my awareness shifting inside the sensations in my body.
So, I just became mindful of all the sensations in my body, and maybe you can do that for yourself right now. You can just feel your hands, feel your chest, feel stuff flowing around in there. So I got a sense of that.
And then the insight hit me — what if the bodily sensations are just like the tree? And I try to, in my mind, go and do that finger-pointing method with the body sensation, I try to track where the body sensations are going to. Where are they coming from and where are they going to?
And what I discovered again is that: “Oh, shit, they are not coming from anywhere and they are not going to anywhere”. So, it’s like your body sensations are surrounded by nothingness. Just like your visual sensational field is surrounded by nothingness. But again, you can’t just understand this logically. You need to actually get a real, conscious hit on this. Which I got.
The Looking Process
So, then what I had is — I had this kind of mini awareness that there’s no one actually experiencing the body. That it’s kind of like just free-floating around. And then I kind of let go of the “Do nothing” method. Because this was all, pretty much, do nothing. And then I took a little bit of conscious control, and I started doing the self-inquiry method.
And self-inquiry is also what I call the looking process. This is what I talk about in the “How to become enlightened” video, if you’ve watched that one. Basically, it’s asking yourself the question: “Who am I?”. “Who am I?” or “Who’s the perceiver who’s perceiving all this stuff? Who’s aware?”.
So I started asking myself that question: Who am I? And, at first, I noticed that I was just asking the question, asking the question, and I wasn’t really, actually generating an honest, tangible answer. So, that’s one real problem with the technique. When you’re just asking that question, but not generating tangible, honest answers. Then you tend to get stuck.
But I’ve been doing this self-inquiry thing for about a year and a half now, so I’ve made a lot of mistakes. And I’ve gotten stuck a lot of times before. So, now a little bit more aware about those pitfalls. So, I’m conscious enough now to see that: Oh, I actually need to generate an honest answer. Because the problem is that, when we ask — “who are you?” — when you ask that question to yourself, but happens is that your mind gets very vague.
And it says: “Well, I’m back there. I’m certainly back there. I’m this, I’m my body, or I’m my mind, or I’m the thoughts, or..”. It comes up with something. But usually, until you start doing the self-inquiry, you don’t even have anything tangible that it comes up with. The mind just vaguely senses that: “Oh, I’m back there somewhere”.
But where exactly are you? What aspect of your experience are you? Are you even an aspect of your experience right now? That’s something you have to look into, for a good long while, before you can even start to just get your mind to generate some honest answers. Now, notice here that an honest answer isn’t a correct answer.
So, I knew that, when I was forcing myself to generate this honest answer — that it would be the wrong answer. Because I already now, logically, that I’m not my body, or the mind, or the thoughts, or a perceiver, or even a physical entity. I already know all this logically.
But notice here — the reason I’m going through all these steps is that logic counts for nothing here. You need to actually get conscious traction. And this conscious traction is what I’m showing you how to get. So you kind of ask yourself these questions, and kind of focus in, and focus in, and focus in, and try to get it.
Sometimes you’re lucky and you get a little mini insight. Sometimes nothing happens. In fact, usually nothing happens or you just become very frustrated. Or you get some logical answer. If you get a logical answer, you have to throw that out and go for the traction. Don’t be satisfied with just a logical answer.
So, I’m forcing my mind to generate this answer. And the answer that I come up with is that I am this sense of body, and mind, and thoughts, and the one perceiving it all. So, I’m like this amalgamation. And that, to me, in the moment, felt like a very honest answer. I really tried to force myself to actually pin that down. And I pinned it down.
And as soon as I did that, I sat with that answer for a few seconds. But then my mindfulness and my awareness now is high enough, because I’ve practiced this long enough — that I could see that, actually, that’s not who I really believe I am. Who I really believe I am is the one perceiving this body and this mind, and these sensations.
I’m like a point back there somewhere, right? Like the lens of a camera. I’m that lens of a camera back there. But then, what I also noticed is that that’s part of my thought stream. I’m a lens back there, I’m a point back there, somewhere, on which everything is converging — what is that? That’s a thought.
Am I a thought? Is that what I am? No. I’m the perceiver of the thought. But who’s that? Who’s the perceiver of the thought? And when I got there, my mind expanded again. Another mini insight. And this one was new to me. I’d never had this one before.
But I got a very tangible, conscious sense that I, quote-unquote, I, this thing I call — I, Leo, is just a belief. And that this thing that I think I am, which is this body, these sensations, these feelings, you know: the feelings in my mouth, the feelings in my mind, all of this stuff, that feel so solid, and real, and cohesive, that in a sense, that’s an arbitrary designation, that has been made by not even myself.
I actually traced it back in my mind. I started wondering: “Oh, what if it’s society? And what if my parents, and everybody around me, who just kept pointing at me and saying — hey, this is you, Leo, you — and I just kind of bought into it, and accepted it. Because I didn’t know any better. And I traced it back all the way to my earliest childhood memories.
You Are A Whole
And then I got this conscious sense, my mind opening up and saying: “Oh, shit! What if this identification that I have with this phenomenon happening right here is just a rather arbitrary partition of the whole?” It’s like, you take a large pizza, and you cut out one little slice, and you say: That’s it, I’m that slice.
But what if that was an arbitrary slice? What if you were the whole thing, before it was sliced up? So I saw that, actually, the social conditioning was there inside me. And I really saw the social conditioning. And what that did is that expanded my mind even further. And also, it focused it in even more.
So, by this point, I’m sitting there, and it’s a really intense meditation. So I’m really focused. My mind is buzzing. It’s vibrating inside, that’s how it feels. Like that. And the, what happened is a really remarkable thing, which is — I get a real, genuine, honest sense that I don’t know who I am.
Now, this sounds simple. You might think like: “Well, Leo, I can just sit there and kind of get a sense that I don’t know who I am. I can just consider different theories, like — what if I’m in the Matrix? Or what if I’m a computer simulation? Or what if I’m something else?”.
That’s not what I mean here. What I mean here is — I got an honest, real fucking honest sense of, like: “Shit! I’m walking around, thinking I’m this phenomenon happening here, but I can see how that’s arbitrary. I can actually see that now, how that could be arbitrary”.
And that expanded my mind even further. And it got me asking, in my mind, the question of: Who the fuck am I? I don’t know. I really don’t know. And this is a difficult state to get to. This state of true not knowing. And it turns out to be very critical for doing this work. Because you actually — you cannot progress forward, most of the time, in self-inquiry.
Because your mind thinks it knows who you already are. It’s kind of, like that slot is already occupied. Your cup is already full. I believe, in Zen they tell you that — if your cup is already full — you got to empty your cup first, before a Zen master can train it. Fill it with more knowledge or new insights. You can’t fill a cup that’s already full.
So, that’s the problem that’s going on there. You actually need to empty your cup. And that’s what happened here — that my cup truly got emptied. Don’t underestimate how difficult this is to actually do in practice, with your consciousness. To get that traction. To actually empty your cup. But that happened to me.
And then what happens is that it starts to seem plausible to me, actually, that I could be something that’s not physical, and also not human. It just became a possibility. I was opened to it. The mind was open. And then what happened is that I looked back out at the trees. Looking at the tree again from the stones on the ground.
And I started wondering: Who am I really? A real sense of wonder. And what the mind started doing — and at this point, I’m on total autopilot, pretty much — like I’m not even meditating, it’s like the meditation is doing me, as they say. I’m totally focused, lasered in, like you probably can’t imagine, unless you’ve done a lot of meditating.
So, I’m really focused in, and I’m wondering: Who could I really be? And then, ideas started popping up in my mind. Like: Maybe I could be that thing? Or this thing? Or that? Or some idea I had. But as that’s happening, I’m tracking the thought stream.
And I’m seeing that the thought stream is not me, because I’ve got mindfulness now over the thought stream, and I’ve kind of gone meta. And I can see the thoughts, but I can see that the thoughts have no truth or substance to them. They are just sounds in the head, or in the mind. Or images in the mind.
So, I’m seeing that. And then what I get is — I get the answer that pops up: What if I’m omnipresent? And as soon as that pops up, I have a really big insight. And this is where the enlightenment dawns.
Because what happens is an amazing thing. I actually then get a sense — it doesn’t just become a thought. So, the thought “what if I’m omnipresent”, it goes. I see the fact that it’s a thought. I let that go. But then, actually, I get the real conscious traction that i could be omnipresent.
And then, what happens is that I kind of become omnipresent. And what do I mean by “omnipresent”? The best way to explain it is — our standard model is that who you think you are is like a camera, moving through the world, right?
The camera turns, and looks around. Well, imagine an alternative model for how reality is structured. Imagine you’re not a camera anymore, but what you are is — you are space itself. Imagine if space was designed in such a way that it was instantly conscious and aware of whatever particle was occupying space.
So, you would not be the particles, you would be the space. And you would be distributed evenly, everywhere through space. Not just centered at a point, the way a camera is, right? So, imagine a three-dimensional camera. Not a camera that looks out like this, in a cone, but a camera that just looks out in 360 degrees.
And this camera is positioned everywhere, and anywhere. Kind of freaky. So, that’s what I got. I got a sense of that. And what happens is that this moment of complete silence, complete peace, washes over me. My mind is still super-laser focused. My brain is buzzing. It’s just buzzing with tension.
My awareness is expanding and zooming out. And what happens is that — that flash, that lightning bolt hit to the head. And then what happens is that, the best way I can describe it is that my visual field — it balances out and equalizes.
So, your typical visual field — it’s, what I called, unbalanced. In a sense that we put all the emphasis and priority here. Everything is coming here. To the camera. Everything is converging on the lens.
Well, what I got a sense of was, like a de-convergence. everything just kind of, stood in its place exactly where it is, as though a camera went from a cone shape to a 360 degree sphere. And I just became everything in my awareness. I became the trees. I became the clouds, the ground. And everything.
And everything just started to stand very still. Just like — whoo. And there was this figure-ground reversal as this happened. As the camera-cone transitioned into a sphere, there was this figure-ground reversal. And, I don’t know, it just felt like this balancing out. It felt like, finally, everything was balanced.
And then, my awareness just popped. And I got this real tangible sense of omnipresence. Like, I was everywhere. So, imagine — you know what they say about God, God is supposed to be omnipresent — well, that’s what you get here.
Everything becomes very, very still. All the frustration and tension in my body that was there as I was meditating — I was probably meditating for thirty minutes at this point. You know, there are aches, and pains, and weird things going on when you’re sitting cross-legged. But all that tension just went away. All the frustration. All the mental noise went away.
And just — peace. And absolute bliss washes over me. Just a blanket of happiness. It’s like the bliss of being perfectly awake. Perfectly clear-minded. It’s this child-like happiness, where you’re just savoring the joy of existence itself. Because you have become existence itself. And you need nothing more. And everything is perfect in the moment.
Being In The Present Moment
And I got my first, real true sense of what they call “the absolute now”. Speakers like Eckhart Tolle talk about being in the present moment, you probably heard that phrase a lot. Gets used a lot these days. Being in the present moment. The power of now. That kind of stuff.
Well, this is what they are talking about. The problem is that most people, 99.9 percent of people have no idea what being in the present moment actually means, when a Zen master, or a yogi, or Eckhart Tolle, tell you about the absolute now. The absolute now is amazing. It’s like a heavenly sense of presence. It’s not just this normal sense of: “Oh, I got to be here now, and not be thinking about some bullshit that’s going to be happening to me tomorrow”.
No. The absolute now is like: “Fuck.” It’s like you feel like you’re God, looking on himself. That’s what the absolute now feels like. It’s remarkable. Words really don’t do it justice. And you’re not going to be able to think your way to this state. You have to actually get that conscious traction to get there.
And the other thing that I really remember that was very vivid for me, in fact — the most remarkable thing about this experience — was that I became totally lucid. I like this word, lucid. It’s like I could sense, and be aware of everything in my field of awareness. Every leaf on the tree. All the trees in the forest. All the grass. All the birds. All the sounds. All the thoughts. Everything.
In fact, when I say that I became silent, and everything became silent, I don’t mean that my thoughts became silent. In fact, what was really remarkable for me is that the thoughts were coming out very fast. It was like a machine-gun. Just like a series of bullets: chuh, chuh, chuh, chuh, chuh, chuh, chuh, like this.
Thoughts upon thoughts. Thinking about this whole experience. So, thoughts like: “Holly shit! What’s going on? Oh, my God!” All these thoughts are coming up. But what’s very fascinating is that the thought stream and me — we got separated, so to speak. So, thoughts were kind of being themselves, and seeing themselves.
And I was no longer identified with them. And I was very, very conscious of what a thought is in this moment. And this to me was one of the biggest insights that I got. Because, if you’re doing the self-inquiry work, like I have for the last year and a half, one of the real tricky questions you’re going to have to answer for yourself is: What is a thought, really?
It’s a lot trickier to answer than you might think. And here I got a real look at very though as it was arising and dying off, and the next one was coming up. Just like this stream of thoughts, and also gaps between thoughts. And I was looking at them, and I wasn’t stuck inside them anymore.
And I was perfectly conscious of what each thought was. And what that is — is that the thought just is itself. The phenomenon of having a thought is the entire substance of the thought. That’s a huge insight right there. That’s a huge hint for you if you’re doing this work.
If you can latch on to that, that the phenomenon of the thought is all that a thought actually is, and nothing more. And than there’s nothing else behind it. And that it has no meaning to it, inherently, other than its phenomenal nature — That’s huge.
Because, what does that allow you to do? That allows you, finally, to pull yourself out of the content of the thought and see it as just an audible, or a visual phenomenon that’s happening to you in the present moment. Takes all the meaning, strips all the meaning and significance out of the content of the thought.
So, that happened to me. And it also felt like my awareness — I didn’t feel like I was totally gone. I still felt a sense of self. And my thoughts were still talking about myself as I was sitting there. But, what happened is — you know that point that I said that I thought that I was sitting? We usually think of ourselves as being behind the eyes, like eyes and nose back there inside the head.
That’s right now where you think that you live. That point kind of moved, and it kind of hovered about a foot above and a foot behind my head. So, it’s almost like I was looking at the whole scene, while at the same time being omnipresent. And my thought stream was kind of going this way. Very interesting.
In my mind, I just kind of represent the thought stream is going this way. It doesn’t actually mean that that’s how a thought stream goes. It was a little bit of a metaphor there. But that was my moment. And I was able to see reality for what it really is. I was able to, kind of, be reality.
And I sat there for a good twenty, thirty minutes in this state. Just with a huge smile on my face. Just complete happiness and bliss. It was like heaven. It was the highest joy. And this was another insight that I took away from this — that the highest joy is just being perfectly lucid in the present moment. When you’re completely awake. Completely aware.
You feel complete. There’s nothing more you need. You don’t need anything else to be happy. You are completely full. It’s like you’re full of yourself, so to speak. But in a very different way we normally say.
Did I Reach Enlightenment
And so I sat there. And then, what started happening is that I started wondering, of course, is this it? Is this enlightenment? Have I made it? I sure hope I did. And so, I started wondering that. But also, I had the intuitive sense that this isn’t it. I started to suspect that this is just a peak experience. It certainly felt like a huge breakthrough.
But, I started to suspect like: “Man, this is going to, probably, pass. From everything that I know about enlightenment, this is probably going to pas. It’s not going to be permanent”. And I started worrying about that, and I really wanted it to be real. Really wanted it to be permanent. So I just sat with it, and just see where it was going to take me.
As I was sitting there for the next thirty to sixty minutes, just basking in that lucidity, the sun was now setting, the clouds had parted, the rain had stopped. Everything looked green, and wet, and beautiful. It seemed like the colors were extra-bright and vivid.
And you had God-rays. You know those God-rays you se in the pictures? Shining through the clouds. It was just like this beautiful, almost perfect, I couldn’t have engineered this scene better. It was just amazing. There was even a deer that ran through the meadow, a bit later. Like, an hour later, while I was still sitting there. So, it was really like the perfect moment.
But after about ninety minutes, the effect did wear off. I lost that sense of touch with omnipresence, kind of moved back to the cone shape of your typical camera. Not that 360 view. But I still had that good buzz. That good feeling of calm and peace. And I felt like I had some insights that I took away from this experience.
What I did later that night is — I actually went and reported it to the Zen master leading the retreat. And he has forty years of experience here, so he knows what’s going on. So, I explained this experience to him, and he laughs at me, and he says: “Oh, I know what your talking about. What you got there is — you got a glimpse of a few hairs of the ox’s tail”.
A glimpse of a few hairs of the ox’s tail. Now, what does that mean? That’s actually a — there’s this ancient Zen metaphor that they use for enlightenment. And they actually have this diagram with ten pictures, that are called “the ox herding pictures”. And this represents your path towards complete enlightenment. And there are many stages, ten of them.
So, the first stage is that you’re just, kind of — it’s a guy walking around in a filed, completely unaware. This is your typical person who has no knowledge of enlightenment.
Then, the next picture is — the man is walking through, and he looks at the sand, or at the mud, and he sees some footprints. And he gets curious by the footprints. That’s him learning about enlightenment.
Then, the next picture is — he’s tracking the footprints through the forest, looking for the mystical ox. So, that’s when you’re really on track with this enlightenment process. That’s kind of, where I am right now. Where I have been for the last year and a half.
The next picture is the one that this guy refereed to. Which is a picture of the ox going around a corner, behind the tree. And all that the man sees, as he’s looking up from the footprints — is, he sees the hair, the ox’s tail, sticking out from behind the tree. So, he catches a glimpse of the tail.
And then, after that, there are further stages, where you actually catch the ox. You sit on top of the ox. You ride the ox home, and et cetera. I’m not going to explain all that here. Actually, I’m going to shoot a whole video on that. So, don’t worry, I’ll shoot one in the future about all the ten ox pictures.
But the point here is that, what he told me is that I didn’t even see the tail. All I saw was a few hairs on the tail. And I said to him: “Oh, man, so you mean I only saw the tail?”. And he says: “No, you didn’t see the tail. You saw a few hairs on the tail”. And he smiled at me, and laughed.
And in my mind, I’m thinking, like: “Man, I thought I got the whole tail, I thought I got the whole ox”. And he’s like: “No, you just got a little hair”. And so, in my mind I was bummed out, and started thinking like: “Oh, shit, man, I thought I got more of it.”
But then, also — it was great news. Because that means that: Shit! If I saw that little, and it was such a powerful experience, how fucking powerful must the real thing be? When you’re actually riding that ox home? What the fuck could that be like? Incredible. Incredible. It staggers the imagination. Makes me emotional just thinking about it.
So, that was my experience. Now, even though the experience has passed, and I’m not in that state anymore, the biggest takeaway that I think I left with — it was like a residue that’s still left in my mind — I got a real look at what thoughts are. That was really big.
The other thing happened for me is that — of course, I just got a proof of concept that these techniques actually work, and that there is some cool fucking experience out there that you’ve never had before in your life. And it’s left my mind permanently expanded. Not enlightened, but permanently expanded.
In fact, right now I’m standing here with you, and I’m shooting this video, but right now — my mind is a little zoomed out I can feel like I’m half-meditating right now as I’m standing here talking to you, which has never happened to me before when I’m shooting a video. Which his really fucking cool.
And also, yesterday, a few days after the retreat was over, I was able to meditate. And the meditation I’m able to do now, my daily meditation — it’s so much more powerful. It feels like meditation on steroids. It’s like cheating. I can meditate for fifty minutes and it feels like five minutes.
And I was almost able to recreate that entire experience again yesterday. I was so close. So, I’m feeling like I’m really at the brink now. And it feels like that experience that I had a few days ago, at the retreat, that — even though it didn’t make me permanently enlightened — it did jostle some things around.
And it’s so much easier now. I feel like I’m so mindful. I was walking around yesterday, doing stuff. Running errands. And I felt like I was meditating while I was running errands, without even trying to meditate. I’m feeling that right now, as I’m speaking. It’s incredible. It’s a really cool feeling.
But not even a fraction of what enlightenment would actually be like. So, that’s my experience. Hopefully, this motivates you a little bit to pursue some of this stuff yourself. Hopefully, it convinces you that there’s something real out there for you. That this is not just philosophy.
Why Do I Do It Like This
The real reason for this video here: I didn’t want to just talk about some awakening experience that I had, like some people do. I wanted to take you step-by-step through the process that I used in the moment to get me there.
In fact, after this experience was over, I actually sat down on my computer and wrote every step out of my thinking process. Because I wanted to make sure that I actually got it down correctly, and I didn’t miss anything. I think I was pretty accurate at this point.
And so, basically, what you have here is — you have a little example of how to do proper self-inquiry. So, if you’re doing self-inquiry at home, or you’re following my other enlightenment videos, then this thing here will show you maybe some of the pitfalls that you’re making.
Maybe go back and re-watch this again. Go through every step and actually maybe take some notes. And take a look at where you are going through this process, but then getting lost in your thought stream, or not seeing thoughts for what they really are.
Or maybe you’re not at all going through this kind of process, right? Maybe you’re just thinking about stuff logically, or philosophically. And of course, that doesn’t work. And you need to be getting that conscious traction, which I was stressing a lot at each step.
The other reason I wanted to talk about this is because, sometimes, people criticize me and say: “Well, Leo, if you’re not enlightened, how come you’re shooting these enlightenment videos, and talking about enlightenment, as though you are enlightened? What if you’re wrong?” Or whatever.
I hear you. That’s perhaps a valid concern. But also, you got to realize that I am walking this path. And that, in fact, this is how I want it to be. I could’ve held off to shoot videos about enlightenment for a couple of years, until after I did become enlightened. But I felt like that would be weaker. And that would, actually, not be as persuasive.
Because, when you can see a person who’s just an ordinary, normal person, who’s not a yogi, or a Zen master, or Eckhart Tolle — when you can see a normal person start from ground zero and work his way up and through the process, and when you can actually see the results of that process actually materialize on film — that has a very different psychological effect on you. Just in terms of persuading and convincing you of pursuing enlightenment.
Then, if you just go to some yogi, and he just tells you all these lofty, high-consciousness ideas, which you know nothing of what to do with. Also, as I’m going through this process, I’m seeing all the obstacles, right? And I’m trying to report all these obstacles.
Because I can easily see that, if I become enlightened, and then I spend twenty years deepening my enlightenment, and then I teach you twenty years later — yes I’ll know very much about enlightenment at that point — much more than I do now. Except, the problem is that I will have forgotten this whole journey, to large extent.
And what I’ll be teaching you is some very advanced shit that’s going to be completely disconnected from your practical life. And you’re going to be unmoved by it. Which is exactly why Zen masters and yogis are so ineffective. It’s also why even someone like Eckhart Tolle, I think, is ineffective. Because, in a sense, he’s not actually — these people are not actually taking through the process.
You got to see the nasty, gritty bits of this process. Like your face in the mud. You doubting yourself. You taking that leap of faith. Because you don’t know what the fuck you’re going to find out there, with enlightenment.
You think I don’t doubt myself? You think. on this journey, of a year and a half, while I’m running a business and doing all this other stuff in my life, and I’m so fucking busy, that it never occurs to me, like: “Oh, shit, what if all this is stupid and pointless, and wrong?” You don’t think that thought crosses my mind, in the same way that it does yours? It does.
And I want to show you that I’m working through that doubt. And you’re going to have to work through that doubt, too. Just because I’m enlightened — I can be enlightened like the Buddha. What would help you with your doubts? Your doubts will still all be there.
You’re going to have to go though this entire process. You’re not going to know what you’re going to find out there, even if I tell you. It won’t help you. Won’t help you. My enlightenment won’t help you really at all. Maybe it will convince you a little bit more, but that’s about it.
And also, one thing I want to do more with my videos — sometimes, I come off a little cocky. As though I’m here, and I’m like Moses passing down the Ten commandments to you, of personal development. And that’s really not my intention. The reason I take that cocky, strident attitude sometimes is because I like it when someone talks direct to me. And they don’t waffle and bullshit around.
So, I do kind of take that direct approach with my style to personal development and the delivery method. But also, I want to show you the fact that I’m working through this stuff constantly. I don’t have anything set in stone. Even the non-enlightenment stuff that I share with you — that stuff I’m always learning and thinking about.
Sometimes, these are fresh insights that I’ve just had the day before, and now I’m sharing them with you. And they’re not even fully baked yet. Sometimes, when I’m speaking, in the middle of the video I have a new insight, and I share it with you right here. And I haven’t even thought it all through yet.
To me, this is kind of raw personal development. I don’t really want to pretty it up, and package it too much. I want it to be raw. The way that you would do it, if you were doing it. So, I want to give you a little bit more of that “behind the scenes” look at how this stuff works.
Not with just enlightenment, but with any aspect of your life that you want to improve. Relationships, business, career — whatever. I really think that that’s one aspect of personal development that’s been missing from prior teachers. Not to say that they haven’t done great work.
So, hopefully, you’ll get a little bit of taste of that here, right? I’m walking the path. If you’re walking the path, good. If you have doubts, good. If you have doubts about me, good. You don’t need to believe in me. There’s nothing about me to believe. I’m sharing ideas with you.
The whole intention of this channel and Actualized.org is that I’m sharing some ideas with you. I don’t provide any evidence, really. I don’t provide you studies. I don’t give you double-blind studies and peer-reviewed journal articles. Or any scientific stuff.
What I do is — I come up he, and I say: “Hey, here’s some shit that I’ve found useful in my life. Why don’t you take this idea, open your mind up, use it, try it out, and see if it works well for you. And if it does, keep going. And if it doesn’t, then throw it away and try something else”.
So, even though I might come off a little cocky, and a little bit like: “Hey, this is the only way to do it!” — that’s not actually what I mean. There are many ways to do it. You got to experiment around with this stuff, and this stuff is a dirty business. There’s a lot of struggle here. It’s not easy. A lot of struggle goes into this. Developing yourself is going to be the hardest thing you do in your life.
And the last thing I’ll mention is that I had a lot of other important insights and lessons from this retreat that I’m going to be sharing with you over the next few months, as I release more videos.
There is going to be at least eight more videos on different insights that I had that are going to be very helpful for increasing your ability to be mindful. For increasing how you meditate, and improving that. For helping you moving towards enlightenment, and not getting stuck in all the different traps that exist.
Alright, so you have something to look forward to. I’m Leo, I’m signing off. Please, leave me your comments down below. Please, click the like button. Share this video with a friend. And come check out Actualized.org right here. I’ve got a free newsletter there. I’m releasing new videos on a weekly basis, like I said.
There’s also my life purpose course, which I recently released, that will show you how to find your life purpose and show you how to develop your dream career, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. Check that out. There are other resources there, so go ahead and check it out. It’s all free, or most of it is. And I’m excited to continue going deeper with you.
What I’m starting to notice more and more is that, to live the kind of life you want — you have to learn the psychological laws that are governing your life. Success and fulfillment — these things are governed by psychological laws, just like the physical world is governed by physical laws.
And it you don’t understand physics, you’re going to be able to fly to the moon. And if you don’t understand your own psychology, then you’re going to be able to create the kind of life that you want. And your life is going to be miserable, and annoying, and frustrating, and much, much less than it could be.
On the other hand, if you do master these psychological principles, then the level of profundity — how profound your life will be — it will be so huge that there’s nothing I could even say right now that would convey the concept to you. It is outside of your imagination how profound your life could be if you seriously start applying these principles. Over the weeks, and months, and years you’ll start to see huge results.
And, I’ve been shooting these videos for, what is it now? — a year and a half, two years, something like that. I’m starting to see more and more comments from people that are following Actualized.org and using all this content. The people that actually use this content, apply it — I’m starting to get feedback through email, and through YouTube comments and stuff that they are seeing results.
And I’m really happy that they are seeing those results, because that shows me that there are people out there who are actually applying it, right? And that could be you, if you want. That could be you, you could be seeing those results. Takes work. Takes some patience. But have to have that vision of what you’re shooting for.
And I hope you’re shooting for an extraordinary life. Alright, sign up and I’ll see you soon.