by Brian Tom O'Connor
There is an idea in nondual circles that there is nothing to do in order to become enlightened or wake up to the truth. They say that, since there is no person, there is nobody to do anything, so no practices are necessary or even possible.
In one sense, this is true, but in another sense, this leaves many people with the feeling of being painted into a conceptual corner. After all, you may think, "I would like to become enlightened, or self-realized, or wake up to my true nature. And I'm pretty sure that sitting around on my sofa doing nothing is not going to cut it."
If you are having difficulty with this, there are two ideas that may be helpful.
The first is "It's already here." Awareness is already present. You don't have to do anything to become aware, you already are aware, and effortlessly so. You can't not be aware. So instead of trying to become aware, you simply have to notice what's already here, what's always here, what has never not been here. What has known your experience ever since you were a little child. So it's not exactly doing nothing, it's doing something—noticing awareness. Turning your attention from the content of awareness to awareness itself. Awareness becoming aware of awareness.
Secondly—and in a very similar vein—maybe instead of "there is nothing to do," the phrase, "Nothing needs to change" might be helpful.
The realization that nothing needs to change is a doing of a sort. It's noticing what's here now. And noticing that awareness is already here. It's already allowing. It's already all-inclusive. Nothing about you—about your personality, about your ego, about your body, about your relationships, about your activities, about your interactions with the world, about your thoughts—can change this simple fact. Awareness is already present, and it is already you in the deepest sense.
So the doing is the noticing of awareness itself. The doing is asking, "What is effortless right now?" The only thing in our experience that is completely effortless is experiencing itself. In other words, the knowing of experience. In other words awareness. In other words, you.
So there is something you can do. But it's not a doing that's involved in changing anything. And I do mean anything. Achieving a state of enlightenment or self-realization, or awakening is all future stuff. The truth is not in the future. The truth is now. Only now. Without changing a single thing, except the simple act of noticing that this is so. That awareness is here now—already free, already allowing, already loving, already accepting, already clear and boundless. And noticing that it is the true you.