Today in AP biology class, Mr. Hagan presented a whirlwind tour of the eye, visual perception, and optical illusions. One of the coolest involved this "inkblot." What do you see? If you're really good at this, or you saw it during Bio, you'll see the cow looking at you. Before our class knew that, we "saw" things from witches to old ladies to birds. Wow.
After actually experiencing this for myself, I realized how incredibly beautiful and analogy for enlightenment this process is. Now, when I say enlightenment, I mean it in the (traditionally) Eastern sense of truly, radically seeing reality as it IS, without any illusion or obstruction. Ken Wilber once said, and I'm paraphrasing him here, that enlightenment is like looking at one of those optical illusions that has the heads of presidents hidden in it and SEEING the presidents. Although they've been there the entire time, you don't see them until you have a shift in perception. You don't have to change where you're looking, what you're looking at, or how hard you look. All you have to do is make a slight, nearly imperceptible shift in how you look at the picture. Then you shift from seeing the illusion to seeing the actual picture, to seeing the reality of the picture.
With enlightenment, much the same is true. The real picture is always there, the real truth about reality, the "enlightened" truth. You're staring at it right now. "Who isn't already enlightened?" Yet all you see are the illusions, the witches and old ladies and birds. The true picture is completely beyond you, even though you're staring right at it. Then that moment happens, that flash of satori, and suddenly you can see the true picture. You see the cows head. You see the presidents. You see the Truth.
And just like with the picture, when you're enlightened, then that's ALL you can see.
Man, that is freaking beautiful. I've wondered what it would feel like to be enlightened. I've wondered if I would know for sure. Now I realize I would definately know, that it wouldn't feel any different and yet radically different at the same time. Just like looking at the cow.