In a way you are right, because you don’t know the real awareness. So by effort, by will, you force yourself into some kind of alertness. This alertness is almost like when you come home and find your house is on fire: suddenly, you will find a great awareness in you which has never been there. But it is because the house is on fire; the shock is so much that it has made you a little awake, has brought you out of your sleep. But you cannot go on putting houses on fire just to be a little awake.
And this kind of awareness is very costly and very dangerous – costly, because it can deceive you and you can start feeling that you have become aware, and dangerous because it will take you away from the authentic experience.
Try to relax; don’t make any effort, because never in the history of man has anybody become awakened through effort or will. Those who have become aware have always become aware when they had dropped all their efforts and all their will. But man’s blindness knows no limits.
In the life of Gautam Buddha, who can be said to be the most well-known historical figure who reached to the highest peak of awareness…. But his followers around the world and in the East – except for India, the whole East is Buddhist; it is the third greatest religion in the world – still go on missing. I have been looking into hundreds of books from Korea, from China, from Japan, from Sri Lanka, from Burma, from Tibet – but I have not found a single mention of the most important thing that happened in Gautam Buddha’s life.
For six years, he made every effort. He brought his whole will power to becoming aware, he left no stone unturned. Naturally, this intensity of work, effort, this arduous journey, made him so tired and so frustrated…. Finally, one full moon night sitting by the side of a small river, Niranjana in Bihar, he decided, “I have renounced the world, I have renounced my kingdom. Today I renounce even my effort and my will – even the desire to find the truth. I am so tired, so utterly frustrated that this is my second renunciation.” He dropped all methods that he had been trying and after six years, for the first time he relaxed and had a good sleep, without a dream. Otherwise, his sleep had been full of nightmares, because on the one hand he had renounced everything and on the other hand, all efforts had led only to failure…or fake experiences.
In the morning, as the last star was disappearing in the sky, he opened his eyes and he could not believe: this is the space he has been looking for! As the star disappeared, his ego disappeared too. As the sky became utterly empty…the stars are gone, the moon is gone and the sun has not come yet – just in that gap, he also became just the same silence, uncluttered with anything. And this was what has been known down the ages as his enlightenment.
Buddhists around the world go on saying, go on writing that he found his enlightenment after six years of arduous effort. The reality is just the opposite. He found enlightenment after he renounced all his efforts.