Non-duality, Zen, Advaita, Enlightenment, Awakening—What's it all about?
It is the dissolution of every answer to that question. Waking up to the immediacy of this moment—breathing, sounds of rain, the cheeping of a bird, a piece of trash blowing down the street, exhaust fumes from the city bus, faint sounds of a television in the next room, thoughts popping up and vanishing, a surge of anger, a wave of despair, the love and joy we feel greeting our dog, snow falling on a winter day—the listening-awaring presence beholding it all. Just this, exactly as it is!
In that open, awaring presence, we may find that nothing is as solid as it initially seems, that everything is changing and disappearing, that impermanence is so complete that no persisting thing ever actually forms to even be impermanent. Looking closely, we may discover that no actual boundary can be located in our direct experience where "inside of me" turns into "outside of me," that everything is one unbound and seamless happening, empty of any enduring form.
In the map-world created by thought, this ever-changing, seamless emptiness is solidified and divided up into subject and object, mind and matter, spiritual and mundane, enlightenment and delusion, awareness and content, form and emptiness. But the dividing lines and the entities they seem to create are always conceptual. Maps are useful, but when we mistake them for the territory they describe, we suffer. The living reality is ungraspable and unbound.
Are we in control of this happening? Is there a thinker behind the thoughts? Or is the thinker a kind of mirage created by ever-changing thoughts, mental images, sensations and stories, all of which arise unbidden? Doesn't every thought, feeling, interest, intention, impulse, action and reaction appear here in the same way that the brain, the breath, the wind, the clouds, the trees, and the galaxies appear here?
Are we separate from this happening?
Liberation is not "out there" somewhere; it is right here. By seeking it, we overlook it. No state of consciousness, no experience, no-thing is permanent. Liberation is not some finish-line that a person crosses. Any such line would be imaginary, and a person is nothing but flux and change, inseparable from the whole universe, like a wave in the ocean, with no beginning and end. Being just this moment, we may discover that the turbulent, overcast weather is as integral to this happening as the calm, sunny weather, and that none of it is really a problem.