Steven Norquist 


Steven Norquist - no background history available.  Click here to access info on his book Haunted Universe.


Excerpts taken from his essay What is enlightenment, no, I mean really, like what is it?  To access full essay, click here

With enlightenment comes the knowledge that even though there is much activity in the world, there are no doers. The universe is in a sense, lifeless. There is no one, only happenings and the experience of happenings. Enlightenment reveals that the universe emerges spontaneously. It's emergence and pattern are perfect in mathematics and symmetry and involve no chance. Nothing is random, everything emerges exactly as it has to. There is no random chance, or evolution based on chance. The universe is perfect, nothing is wrong or could be. There seems to be chance or unpredictability from a human perspective but that is only because our time frame reference can not see the universe emerge through its whole life span in a matter of minutes. If we could see that, then we would clearly see how every event was not only perfect and necessary but even predictable.


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Now don't mistake me here, there is no observer. There are no persons in existence experiencing the universe, but more than that there is no Ultimate Person, God, Mind, or anything else observing the universe. There is only the experience of the universe being there with no experiencer.


This seems like a paradox but who cares, this is the way it is. Experience "is," that is all, that is the way the universe is, an experience by no one.  The universe spontaneously arises out of consciousness yet at the same time is itself consciousness. We must lose the idea of matter being observed by something we call consciousness, that is not true. Some teachers talk of the Witness, the ultimate passive mind that observes all things moment to moment. This implies some level of separation, a witness over here watching the universe over there. It's not like this, there is only the experience, universe. There is no observer. 


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All people who do not know what's going on believe that they are the people that they are, an individual with thoughts and desires and hopes and dreams, a body and a house, a wife and a child. The list goes on but you get it. Now the truth. Even though the above is happening, it is an automatic machine like emergence out of Universe/Consciousness and is following a strict nonchance pattern. More importantly, no one is performing any of the above and Universe/Consciousness is what is going on. To make it more clear, stuff is happening but no one is doing it. Emergence proceeds and consciousness is aware. The unawake person, the person that doesn't know what's going on believes that they are acting, that the human them exists. The reality is, the body exists, the thoughts exist, the memories exist and that is consciousness and that is all.


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Knowing this, I mean really knowing this, not intellectually, but as a direct experience of everyday life is enlightenment. Now once this is known it is impossible to go back. Once you have drawn the curtain and seen who Oz really is you can't cover him back up and pretend not to know the truth.

So how do we proceed once we know? We let experience manifest unmolested. As has been said, "The universe is perfect, intervene at your peril." The enlightened person never acts. This is the riddle of karma solved, there is no karma, never was, never could be. There is no reincarnation, how could there be? Who is there to reincarnate? There are no persons, there is no birth or death, there is ultimately nothing except Manifestation/Awareness.



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If I could teach the world a lesson it would be, no matter what you experience always remind yourself, "There is no experiencer, there is no observer." If you do this long enough and often enough you will one day know what's going on.  When that day comes you will realize nothing has changed, yet everything has changed. It is a feeling and a knowing. An inescapable falling away of untruth. If you think you know it then you don't.  When you know it, you do. And when you do know it, no one can take it away from you.


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Some points to clear up.  When I said the enlightened person never acts I did not mean such people sit in a cave and die of starvation and exposure.  I mean the body can be quite active and manifest all manner of good and bad behavior, the mind can be racing with thoughts and feelings, but consciousness, now enlightened, knows no one is acting.  It is only the universe blossoming forth spontaneously and perfectly.


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It's creepy, not blissful or ecstatic. It should scare you, the body should react defensively, or there could be uncontrolled laughter at how stupid you have been for so long. It's like one of those 3D dot pictures, you stare and stare at those dots until bingo the picture emerges! After that, you can always see it, you can't unlearn it.  The same with enlightenment.


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Let me try to bring some clarity to the subject of enlightenment and morality.  It has been said that enlightenment produces compassion and love and that many enlightened ones forgo release into Nirvana and reincarnate again and again until all souls have obtained enlightenment, the Bodhisattva vow and such. None of this is enlightenment. Enlightenment is not about morality or vows, it is simply existence in the truth, that is all.

Enlightenment carries no requirements and expects nothing, the universe manifests and just that is enlightenment. We don't seek enlightenment to be happy or to give our lives meaning or to feel bliss or ecstasy. Loyalty to a flag is not enlightenment, love is not enlightenment, hate is not enlightenment. If you see these as the fruit of enlightenment then you are wrong. Instead each of these are enlightenment themselves. Each of these are spontaneous emergences out of and as consciousness. Action, feeling, creation, performance, love, hate, murder, salvation, compassion, each is enlightenment itself. There is no doer, no experiencer, only manifestation. This is the truth, this is enlightenment.


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I want you to understand that while nothing ultimately changes, in human terms much change takes place. This happens because once you recognize what's going on the main motivations of life begin to drop away. The level of dropping away is no doubt unique to the individual but is directly proportional to how much you desire to resolve into reality. What I mean is that it is possible to be enlightened and still try to retain a level of unconsciousness in order to interact in human affairs. As time passes this state will be harder to maintain.

It is similar to suspending your belief when watching a movie. You pretend to believe the reality of what is going on. You cry with the characters, you laugh with them, you hope with them etc. You do this for the entertainment, to get your moneys worth. This is the way real life is with enlightenment. You know there really is no one. You know that it is just a display, a machine like emergence out of and as consciousness. Yet you must believe it at some level or you will simply lose the ability to interact in the world.


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I can see why some enlightened ones have isolated themselves or become hermits. For the last year this has been an issue I personally have struggled with. How to know the truth and continue to interact with the world as if you believe it? You basically have to employ a little Orwellian 1984 doublethink. You have to pretend to believe while always knowing the truth. Some things are unavoidable of course, I was an avid reader but now can barely open up a book. I loved and played the guitar for years but now have zero interest in picking one up. Even writing these few words is a colossal effort. The reason is that deliberate effort is an affront to reality where nothing is deliberate, everything is spontaneous, and nothing at all is going on.


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The natural outcome of enlightenment is less and less action, less and less thought. This is a natural development within the enlightened person. Eventually all action will be spontaneous and the person will not be acting.

Of course to say this is not ultimately true, because in reality no one ever acts. But from the human vantage point this is how it plays out. Memory is also a tricky thing, the memories of your life are still there and can be jogged into awareness but as time progresses and enlightenment begins to dissolve you, your access to them becomes more difficult. Your awareness becomes centered in the events of the present as they manifest, this is natural since these are the only events that actually exist. The person and the ego are simply dissolving. They don't really exist but the illusion that they do becomes less a part of awareness. You don't remember and you don't care.


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The simple truth that is missed by almost every meditator is this, the act of sitting there watching your breath is enlightenment. That is all. You are not doing something to gain something, just sitting there is enlightenment. That still state with calmed mind, just that is enlightenment, yet that annoying gossip over there interrupting your meditation, just that is enlightenment and that guy flipping you off in commuter traffic, just that is enlightenment. There is no doer, no experiencer, no one who acts. Manifestation emerges, actless, mindless and just that is enlightenment.


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People meditate today because it is popular or because they want to have a mystical experience or just relax. The latter reason may actually be the most legitimate for the average person. But no one I know says they meditate because they are deliberately engaging in an actless act, or attempting to resolve a false sense of being into a beingless existence. And of the many meditators out there, I suspect that the majority would be shocked if I told them the guy flipping them off in traffic is more enlightened than they.

The point I'm trying to make and have been trying to make is that enlightenment is so natural and so easy that any attempt at deliberate practice towards it will get you farther from it, yet paradoxically, you have never once not been enlightened and no matter how strained and deliberate your efforts towards it, you never once acted!


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Enlightenment is the feeling/knowing that no one exists including you and that everything that happens does so spontaneously and perfectly. Enlightenment is the feeling/knowing that what exists is Universe/Consciousness, they are the same, U=C. Existence is itself consciousness and that is why there is something rather than nothing. This is the real state of things and because it is so natural, so simple and so obvious, we miss it daily.one.