What Does Enlightenment Feel Like?

By Chris Bourne

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

The taste of presence

From the Openhand perspective, we all experience the state of Enlightenment from time to time, it’s just that as soon as the experience arises within us, we associate it with something else and lose the experience. Alternatively, a part of us is not comfortable with the experience and therefore creates once more the condition of internal separation from it. But this experience of non-identified presence is there in the background of everything we do and dictates every experience. It is the guiding light and the faster we surrender to its inevitable pull, the more harmonious our lives will become.

So what is this state of Enlightenment like?

How can we recognise it and surrender into it?…

The absence of all experience

We often hear that space and time are illusions, that there is only one being forming the Universe and here at Openhand we agree with this perspective. If we contemplate deeply the meaning of these two statements, then at some point we’ll come to realise that if they are true, then there must be the experience of everythingness everywhere in the Universe – including inside ourselves. But how would we know that state when it arises?

Once more, if we go deeply into the question of everythingness, then it is likely that ultimately we’ll realise that everythingness and nothingness are one and the same thing. If we have everything as a condition, then there can be no “this” and “that” therefore no relativity, therefore no experience at all. This condition of being is what we might call ‘absolute truth’ or the absolute and by deduction it must exist in and through all things.

When people refer to God, in our view this is what they are really referring to – not some white bearded guy sitting on a cloud (although the condition of absolute would include the white bearded guy and everything else too).

It’s what some enlightened people also refer to as “the void” – because it feels like the total absence of experience – and that’s exactly what it is. And yet experience arises from the void within us (and within all sentient beings). The true miracle of life is that we can be the void (the total absence of experience) and experience that at the same time. In other words, in Enlightenment we get to have our cake and eat it too!

How might we experience this void?

There are two hurdles to overcome in order to rest in the experience of the void…

The first hurdle
The first ‘problem’ is that if we go out looking for the void, then we have already established the condition of separation from it. We have created an internal seeker – an identity (like the white bearded guy on the cloud!). The void is an experience of pure presence with no small “I” inside. There is just being. If we are looking for it, the “I” arises once more and we move out of the state of completeness – the state of Enlightenment.

Therefore, we can only create the conditions whereby the void might simply arise. How will we know what those conditions are? For each of us the conditions are unique and our individual journey is about realising what those conditions are and settling into them as often as possible. Effectively it means understanding, following and attuning to the pull of the soul – doing those things where we feel totally “in the groove” so to speak.

So for some, it might simply be tending the garden. We might feel so at-one, that the hours slip by without us noticing at all. For others it might be in the adrenaline sports jumping off some high cliff or simply riding a bike or driving the car. For most of us, there will be a broad range of experiences somewhere in between. This is the path of the soul and how we come into our own experience of Enlightenment.

The important thing to notice whilst we are doing this is whether or not we (the one) are still present. So are we lost in the action or totally aware of what’s going on within it? If we’re totally present, then the condition of the void can effortlessly arise and simply take over our experience.

The second hurdle

The second hurdle to experiencing the void is that when it arises within our experience, it is so complete, so all encompassing, so crystal clear, so absolute that it feels as if no one is inside at all – because there is simply no identity. It has vanished into crystal clear clarity.

In the beginning, this feeling (actually an absence of feeling) can be quite scary. There’s a tendency not to like it – it might feel like we’ve just died, or alternatively become so alive that the small “I” wants to own it, to taste the absolute peace of it and so the condition of internal separation arises once more and the state of Enlightenment disappears like the spot on a switched off TV screen – it can be more that a little frustrating.

So the key is not to effort to find this state and then when it arises simply notice it and as much as possible dissolve into it. When we come out of it, ask why and what brought me out?

Why was I unable to stay in that state?

It usually happens because we buy into the illusion of our lives once more – the telephone goes and we feel we must answer it; a loved one engages us in their drama; or an infinite other number of distractions.

A process can be applied that helps you align with this state however – one which aligns us with our soul and helps us dissolve into the experience of presence. For it to be effective, it must be one that strips away the blocking false self identity. That’s what Openhand’s process openway is all about.

In conclusion…

Ultimately we learn to come from the void within all distraction. We discover how to centre in this majestic cathedral realising that nothing else really makes sense and there is no point being anywhere else. The continued occupation of this hallowed place is arrived at by becoming awesomely okay with whatever experience is arising on the outside…

“To be truly enlightened, is to be enlightened in and through ALL experiences”



About the Author

At the age of 40 Chris was involved in a life threatening car crash in which he thought he would certainly die. This precipitated total inner surrender and a rapid reconnection with the conscious life force through all things.

He found himself suddenly able to experience and contemplate through multiple dimensions of reality to see the deeper purpose of life itself. He began to remember his true reason for being here.

He explains…

“During the crash, time seemed to slow right down and I was guided back through key moments of my life. I was realising that every moment in our lives has but one underlying purpose – to reveal an aspect of truth about ourselves to ourselves. I was beginning to dissolve every belief and value our society had conditioned within me.”

“This was my initial awakening to the magical unifying consciousness of the soul. Over the eight years that followed, I was guided through four other inner ‘Gateways’ of consciousness. I have since come to know the process as the five key expansions on our journey of Enlightenment and ultimate Ascension into multi dimensional living – our divine birthright”.

Prior to the crash, Chris had a rich an varied professional career in industry, in teaching, as an Officer in the Army and finally as a web development entrepreneur before being initiated on his spiritual path. With a Masters Degree in Natural Sciences from Oxford University, participants in the work are finding his integration of grounded scientific understanding and profound spiritual realisation deeply engaging and transformative.

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  • I think it’s pretty darn hard to miss once it’s experienced. There is nothing in the experience of the senses that comes close to the Blissful Oneness of Being It All. It’s something that’s impossible to explain to folks who haven’t experienced it. In 50 years I’ve yet to come across another person who has a clue what I’m talking about. I had this similar experience(as the author) when I was in High School , no car accident, just sitting on a mountain top. After the experience Everything changed. I felt the Trees and Plants, I was guided to my Teachers from my past life and reconnected with my Group…and life became very Magical. But I made a really crazy choice (though with good but misguided intention) on the Astral Plane to do something, against my Teachers advice….. that disconnected me from my group except during the Dreamtime. I became Overly psychic, had to move way far away from Humans into the woods for years until I figured a method (also not a good one) to deal with an awareness of all peoples thought, emotions and infirmities within about a city block. But here is what I learned in all that process about “Enlightenment”… It is not an individual step…… We take the final step into it, as a Group. Being in a hurry for one reason or another …to be enlightened, is useless, because if we arrive at that place of the final step you might say, before our Group…we just have to wait… We can certainly experience moments of it, but this only leads us to …. aspire to that beyond all else, as I said, there is nothing in the world of the senses that even comes close.

    • Rob

      I disagree with much in this article. I experienced the full on kundalini awakening and the subsequent karmic clearing process, which took over 15 years and is still not complete.

      Enlightenment is ecstasy. Imagine the most powerful and fulfilling orgasm you have ever experienced multiplied 10,000 times. It is difficult to imagine or conceptualize what this feels like.

      Most people, like the author of this article, get one side of the equation right and they miss the other half. This is the result of the dualistic condition that all people in the unenlightened condition are conditioned by and live in their entire lives. The brain is actually split into left and right hemispheres; this is a scientific fact. The connections between the two brain hemispheres are actually healed throughout the long and arduous awakening process. This is because the more highly developed consciousness is, the greater the required complexity and connection of the gross physical vehicle. For humans, this is our bodies and our brains. So yes, there is a very real change that occurs in the brain during awakening…and it is very painful. It is a very painful pressure that starts in the area of the 3rd eye chakra at the beginning of the process, and spreads throughout the entire head as the process advances. Most of the intense agony and pressure is experienced in the area of the “crown chakra.”

      Enlightenment is also a misleading term. Sure, one consequence of awakening is a steady stream of light into the aspirant. Gopi Krishna was actually plagued by the inner light that becomes perceptible to an aspirant experiencing the awakening process. When an ordinary person closes their eyes, they see either darkness or they see a red/orange color which is light passing through the eye lids. When awakened people close their eyes, they see a clear or white light at all times. My point is that there are some very real physical changes that occur during the “enlightenment” process.

      Unity is an apt adjective to describe the higher consciousness or Reality. However, the experiencer never loses the sense of being a Self or Individual. Our lives as humans in the world of duality are all about the development of our consciousness and its functions of thinking, feeling, and intuiting. Our lives are also about becoming autonomous individuals. The Individuation process is archetypal and is built into us and into the Universe itself. In fact, the sense of Self becomes much stronger and immune from many of the slings and arrows of life in 3D. When experiencing the higher levels of consciousness (6th level and beyond) a person has a direct experience of the Source Light that permeates all things and all Beings and which is the ground of all Being. However, one also experiences one’s Self as whole and Present and as part of the Source Light. Both the unity with the Source Light and the unity within the Self or Soul is experienced simultaneously. Yet the love and bliss is so strong and powerful in this experience that one does not think of one’s Self at all as that is a given. Self doubt is a symptom of the dualistic condition and does not exist at the Unity level. Even in the most enlightened conditioned, a person never stops being an Individual. One must embrace one’s individuality and unique Soul even as one must embrace the Unity that undergirds and which is the ground and Source of all being.

      • Hi Rob, I enjoyed reading your response and I would like to learn more about enlightenment , can you suggest any books? Thanks

  • Chris

    Interesting points -thanks for the response.

    As the Buddha said… “in Enlightenment the pain does not get less, it gets worse, it just matters less”.

    So I’m intrigued that you’d think Enlightenment is ecstacy.

    I observe that prior to Enlightenment, people touch a bubble – Unity Consciousness that feels like bliss. And they confuse this with Enlightenment.

  • Martina

    When I was only 6 in the midlle of the Sarajevo ocupation I was in front of my skyscraper with my sister and with no reason asked my self what is nothing feels like? And in that moment I did feel nothing…. Nothing… I wasn’t scared I was confised… And it did feel like being dead.

  • kk

    Before i started reading this article i did think to myself surley it would be a lil different for everyone ans glad i read some of the following comment as it sems to be true…this is how it went for me.I had an experience very early in the morning just before dawn, it kinda just hit me, like everything was downlaoded in an instant, i awoke in my senses and then moments after woke for real. i must say i was actually a litle disturbed at first and made it my mission to get right onto getting help dealling with some emotional trauma that i was carrying, (i had been meaning to do for ages bit after the experience of waking up i couldnt wait a min longer ) after a few weeks of esoteric vibrational sound therapy, kinesiology, dosing up on mega mixes of special vitamins and tonics.. meditating with my crystals,, grounding, and some old fashioned help froma spritual friend, i had an experience i would considered def enlightend me. well more so it just bought me back to life,, its like i could see and feel myself body mind and soul as one with the whole universe, kinda like i was looking down on myself from space, my energy mixing with all the stars. It was vey energising, that night after a shower i felf like pure water, perfect and magical inside and out…even everyone that knew me could sense a change xx

  • kk

    and yes actually as someone else said, it was a painfull process but i pushed myself thru it , knowing no pain no gain,