Enlightenment is considered to be the personal realization that nonduality is the ultimate truth of the nature of each of us. However, in the initial stages of this realization, the perceiver tends to think in terms of enlightenment verses non-enlightenment; in a subtle way, a dualistic distinction.
The eminent teacher of nonduality, Ramana Maharshi, who lived in the first half of the Twentieth century, stated that he taught ajata, the most fundamental distillation of advaita. This word means “no creation”: it goes beyond even such distinction as duality or nonduality, and even existence and nonexistence; in other words, “not two, not one”, and can be summed up—as in Hui Neng’s poem—“If there is nothing from the start, where can the dust (any existing ‘thing’) alight?”
So, the “basic” condition of the ultimate reality is no-thingness, or nothingness; also describable as “emptiness”, or in Buddhism “the void”. As Buddha states in the Diamond Sutra, “no beginning is the highest truth”, and he speaks of the “birthless nature” of reality—“an illusion…a bubble…a dream…view all created things like this.”
The condition of ajata, emptiness, is the condition which the word enlightenment intends finally to point to; and when it is seen that one’s own life is empty (as Buddha indicates of his own, in the Diamond Sutra), this is what is described as the “highest state,” sahaja samadhi. The awakened one lives from the place of emptiness, or “no creation, from the start”.