Enlightenment is to be awake. When we sit in meditation, we begin to hear our thoughts, feel our feelings with greater clarity. As we observe our minds with compassion, we are able to distinguish between what is our personal ego and what is the ineffable part of us that is connected to all sentient beings. We may begin to recognize when the ego engages and when it is at rest.
Upon his enlightenment, the Buddha said that he had “met the builder and broken the ridgepole”; that he “would not build that house again.” That house is the ego’s domain where we experience craving, anxiety, dissatisfaction, hatred, projection — the desire to be anywhere but the present moment. There place where we chronically feel we are not good enough.
As we become enlightened, we can feel the ego kick into gear, trying to protect us from things we do not need to be protected from. We learn to face fearful and anxiety-producing moments. The house we lived in (ourselves) prior to meditation is now a different, more contented house; the Self-House we were meant to be before we were placed on the conveyor belt of bigger, better, more, not enough and conditional love.