A group of disciples were in the temple one morning awaiting the arrival of their master, Lao Tzu. As they waited, they pondered the meaning of one of the great master’s teachings:
He who knows
Does not speak
He who speaks
Does not know
When their master appeared, they asked him to elaborate on the meaning. Lao Tzu responded by asking them if they had ever experienced the fragrance of a rose. Every single hand went up. He then asked the question, “who among you is able to explain it to us?” No hands went up.
And this lovely little parable aptly demonstrates, that for some things, there is simply no explanation. Just how would anybody describe the fragrance of a rose to any degree of accuracy? There are simply no words in the dictionary to describe such beauty. The same can be said of enlightenment, which for me is the meaning contained within this teaching. I do not for one minute claim to be a fully realised soul. However, I am going through a tangible awakening process that has been happening to me in stages for some years now. There are copious amounts of words that I could use in order to describe my experience; emergence, awakening, eureka moments to name but a few, but none of them would come anywhere near an apt description.
I have heard people use the expression, “I am awake”. But ultimately, this is only the ego speaking. To make the statement “I am awake”, or “I am enlightened”, implies the existence of opposite states of being asleep or unenlightened. This is duality. In consciousness there is no duality; there is only One, therefore, a truly awakened individual would not offer any explanation of being awake or otherwise. They would simply abide in the one true state of consciousness.
Ramana Maharshi also has a take on this, which I find quite beautiful. He said that “truth has no words” and that “silence is the eternal flow of language, obstructed by words”.