'I have never been not enlightened.
I only thought that it was not the case.'
I no longer remember precisely how long ago it was, but approximately around my fifth or sixth year I became used to the idea that I am person. Everyone around me told that it was so, and that they were also persons. It did not occur to me then to check if that was actually the case. Why should I have? The person had beautiful prospects. Happiness, a nice job, a nice girlfriend, in short everything that one could desire. And naturally, there is nothing wrong with a nice job, with happiness, with a nice girlfriend.
Still, I always had the feeling that something was not right, that something else was missing. Because, everything that could be attained could also disappear, actually even very easily. You can be fired, your girlfriend can break it off, and if by coincidence both things happen on the same day, then as far as happiness is concerned, forget it.
Naturally a new goal is immediately made in such a situation. Because a bad situation means rolling up one's sleeves for the person; being brave, remaining optimistic, putting your shoulders into it, head up, etc. Strange actually, yet once again beginning with all the things that must be reached. It seemed to be like rowing to the horizon, or trying to find the end of the rainbow.
I was in a considerable crisis when I first came in contact with Advaita. Totally according to the tradition, precisely at the moment that I was ready for it. One of the first lightning bolts out of a clear sky was that I was told that I am not a person. And the explanation was so amazingly simple to understand that I could not believe that it had never occurred to me. I am the one who witnesses the person. As such, I can not be the person, but that which looks at the person. Of course, in the beginning the realization was only intellectual and certainly not total. After having read three hundred pounds of books, I met my guru Alexander Smit, and within a few months all my misunderstandings about my true nature disappeared. All searching stopped, all doubts evaporated.
Have I now arrived in some other state than before the realization? No, because before the realization I was also that one that perceives everything. I could never arrive in any situation whatsoever. I used to think that I was not enlightened, but even that made no difference to what I am: that unchanging Absolute Consciousness. Thus, I was never not enlightened, I only thought I wasn't.