The insight, the final, supreme insight that you are not just a little fragment is called 'Self realization' in the Advaita tradition. This final insight may be preceded by all kinds of small insights, beautiful experiences and clear moments. As far as the realization is concerned, it is not so much a mental-insight but a lived truth, without doubts, from head to toe, without any need of confirmation from the outside.
If that happens it does not mean that all the old patterns like the personality immediately disappear. All the little personality traits simply remain in existence, and yes you still get angry sad, etc. What does change is the idea that a 'doer' who has anything to do with them has disappeared, or been seen through. And that has quite some consequences. For example: now if anger arises, every inclination to 'do' something about it is gone, it does not have to be repressed and neither does it have to be expressed. The label 'rage' might appear, but pales totally in comparison to what is actually being experienced at that moment. It is bubbling, sparkling, living and wants to be seen. It is not as if the anger itself wants anything, but the liveliness and the actuality of it is a kind of a 'celebration' of myself in action. And I see that all happening, not as-a-person, but I as-what-I-am. What a difference from the past.
Formerly I used to think that there was someone who became angry and the someone could 'do' something if 'he' became angry, and especially that this someone should not become angry. So, much energy was spent in thought-work while in the meantime hardly any attention was paid to the phenomenon that was occurring. Repressing anger costs a lot of energy because it is almost exactly like putting up a dam in a flowing river. It may be necessary sometimes, but as a habit it is definitely not always the best solution. Expressing anger is also not always the best solution because then you still 'want to do something' with it. People who have been in therapy are especially rather bound to misunderstand this. 'You have to express yourself always and everywhere as much as possible ' It appears to be spontaneous, but in reality is still a cramp, based on a misunderstanding that there is a 'doer' who is going to do something with an emotion.
Thus, what happens after the realization has happened is that the illusion of this doer is seen through. Then there is no one any more to want something or not to want something. So whatever emotion arises, it is perfect as it is. It is seen directly and immediately without the least inclination to do anything in order to change it, be rid of it, explain it, or to make it more beautiful than it is. Everyday practice is that old patterns (by the way, all patterns are old) may continue for a long time. It rather depends on what kinds of things happened before the realization. You may have experienced some things whose consequences appear only later. So, everything that wants to tell its story, as my teacher Alexander Smit used to say, begins to unfold itself.
So, if you think that everything will be immediately restful, clear and serene after the realization you're in for a surprise. It may happen that way, but it may not. And that is exactly what's so nice about the whole realization, you have no chance to predict how it will turn out.
- Jan Koehoorn -, 2001