What is insight?

Insight is intrinsic knowing. An insight leads you from understanding to seeing, from knowledge to wisdom.

Usually we experience ourselves as someone in the world, living a life in the context of time, space and causality. It may take a while before you see that time, space and causality are simply concepts. So is the one who assumes ‘I’ also a concept. When you discover that you have assembled the world and yourself from mental constructions, that is an insight. Insights sweep away any belief in the reality of ideas. Gradually your sight becomes more and more clear, convictions and beliefs fade, and insights increasingly break through.

Whether startling or joyful, you will see that not a single idea or conviction stands firm. You will find that concepts lose their grip and become transparent, your experiences thin and rarefy. Yourself and the world as you see it empties of content and meaning – and this emptiness is filled with light.

You say that ideas empty themselves. Is this the emptiness that people talk about in spirituality?

Seeing the emptiness of life is a major discovery: that all we experience and know is merely imagined. But for your awakening this emptiness has to be filled with life itself, it must be filled with presence. Regularly I meet people who do not really want to fully live and try to escape from being present, triumphantly concluding that ‘all is illusion, anyway’.

But that’s true isn’t it?

Freedom is free from every conclusion, from any idea or statement whatsoever. Freedom does not need the support of any knowledge or insight. Freedom is living totality that holds both emptiness and fullness and neither of them at the same time.

Do you have to let go of an insight?

Who has this insight? Who may let go of an insight? You? Who are you? Who are you really?

So what then?

Drench yourself with this clear sight, merge with it and live the wisdom that it provides.

And is this self-realisation?

As long as identity is assigned to the one who has the insight, there is no liberation. The one who imagines having insights itself is a concept. I is the first concept from which we mentally build our entire world. I is also the last concept to be eventually dissolved. When everything in you is soft and receptive and all expectation has been erased, you are engulfed by grace. This is the realisation that erases all insights, taking with it the one who is having the insights. Here, immediate knowing reigns, rising from a deeper source than the mind.

What do you need to live an insight? For example, I see that smoking is not healthy, but I continue to smoke.

Your example has to do with behaviour, with psychology. Apparently, you do not want to stop smoking yet, or have not yet gathered enough courage to do so. Perhaps some sabotage program is still running in the depth of your psyche, where mantras are active such as: ‘I am worthless, I can’t do it’. You had better be good friends with self-trust and perseverance. If you are, you quit smoking through self-respect and the very power of your decision.

By the way, self-trust is required throughout your whole inner journey.

The need for trust increases as your awakening journey matures. Rely on what you discover and live what you see. Then your actions become aligned with your sight. Then you humbly live the clarity and truth of your insight. Then you live intrinsic knowing.

Often however, an insight becomes conceptualised – a mental construction and a memory, instead of a living reality. Or it could be an assumption you have woven after reading a beautiful text. Your honesty is of utmost importance. Insights should be transformational, they should lead you from delusion to truth.

How does insight lead to transformation?

‘How’ is strategy and no strategy really applies. How can a strategy bring about what always is? Realise what is now, here. This truly is your only capital: now. See that now is always at your side. Every moment you can choose afresh to live truth. Do you want to be ‘right’ or rather live peace? This very moment, what is your choice: delusion or clarity, fear or love?

Everybody talks about ‘now’, but there is a road we must travel, isn’t there?

There is a road, and there is not a road. Seen from the seeker’s perspective there definitely is a road to be travelled. The road of intensifying your longing, the road of increasing trust and dedication, whatever form that takes.

From the perspective of truth there is no road, but merely the intimacy of immediacy. This knows no ‘how’. This knows no goal, no distance, no expectation.

At what price?

Give up suffering and loneliness. Allow truth to be victorious, find that truth cannot be surpassed. In the light of truth, all pales to insignificance. If this is crystal clear to you, then no longer waver. Your life’s priorities are immediately obvious and this already gives a lot of rest. But this recognition also demands that you live this insight. No longer cling to any concern and no longer negotiate with any mirage. This deep inner knowing will follow you for the rest of your life. Be vigilant! Any moment of friction is showing you that you attach meaning to an idea. Time and again you are called to live undefined truth. Be honest, be passionate. All the rest is an excuse.

And then do you become enlightened?

Everybody is enlightened. The difference between the seeker and the awakened one is that in the awakened one there is not a trace of doubt, denial or ignorance of Self.

Could you describe that further?

Here – in your very heart – lives unconditional love, wisdom and compassion. Tenderly, life turns into a listening, a listening and a responding to the will of existence.

This is a text from the book Wings of Freedom