" Despite all my efforts I hadn't made it happen, it had just come out of the blue, like an act of grace."

assumptions about enlightenment

expecting something different

The multitude of spiritual practices that exist to help people discover the Truth gives an impression that something can be "done" to attain enlightenment. But this is not the case and enlightenment is ultimately beyond cause and effect. All spiritual practices geared towards enlightenment which appear to be effective are simply good preparation techniques which have found strategies to successfully increase a person's chances of having a breakthrough. There is fundamentally no law governing when direct experience will happen and no way of predicting when or to whom it will occur, or what state they will be in when it happens.

Direct experience can happen to a person in any state, ranging from sad, bored or lethargic to happy and mischievous. Most people find this hard to comprehend and indeed, it is common for participants on an Enlightenment Intensive to find it completely unexpected that they had a direct experience when they did. Even though they will have been contemplating using the technique taught, they often cannot understand what it was that they did differently at that particular moment which "caused" the experience to happen. They may even have felt that they were unprepared for it. The recollection afterwards is often that they were going along in one state and suddenly things were different for them. They notice the disjuncture and feel very affected by something but often do not even know what by at the time. Newcomers on Enlightenment Intensives frequently miss the fact that they have had a direct experience completely - they often do not notice precisely because they were expecting something different.

an element of surprise

People nearly always make assumptions about what an enlightenment experience will be like. Usually people expect that it will be dramatic or amazing or striking in some way. Even those who have had direct experiences before tend to have expectations about what the Truth will turn out to be. These will be based on how previous experiences of Truth were for them and what states they were in when these happened. But it is never possible to know in advance how the Truth will turn out to be and in contrast to what people assume, enlightenment can even be simple, quiet and ordinary. When it happens, people invariably find there is some element to an enlightenment experience which is a complete surprise.