You don’t have to realize the Self…you are the Self regardless. The Self is what you have always been, is, and will be. So really, what you might realize is that you are not the body/mind…this fictitious “me”. You never realize the Self. In the previous sentence, you can plainly see that “you” is the subject and “the Self” is the object and “realize” is the verb that connects the two. This never occurs. The Self is not an object…the Self is the subject.
It is classically phrased as realizing the Self, but what is realized is that you are not the personal “me”, body, or mind. Self-realization is really the shattering of the identification with the “me”, body, and mind. Saying that you could or should realize the Self does create a subtle duality…between you and the Self. Who/what would realize the Self? All there is is the Self. This is It. You are It.
I said earlier that what you might realize is that you are not the body/mind…this “me”. This is not mandatory. A happening could occur in which identification with objects of awareness could cease…or more precisely the identification could shatter and fall apart. In my own case or in the enlightenment stories of others I have heard or read, I don’t recall one in which a “I found it” occurred. Instead, it is more of a “it happened” or “it happened to me”. This “me” is just a pointer to this body/mind that recognized the happening. The mind does notice the shattering of identification and belief in illusions ceasing.
The main reason for a “it happened” as opposed to a “I found it” should be obvious…what can an “I” do to overcome – see through – shatter the identification with an “I”? Whatever “I” do, it will only reinforce the identification with an “I”.
If you hear that those that realize the Self do not suffer, are happy, etc., and then think you want it, now you put yourself in a bind. You have now made realizing the Self useful to the “me” and an object the “me” wants to attain. Now trying to realize the Self because then “I” will not suffer and “I” will be happy only serves to highlight your suffering and unhappiness and reinforces this identification with the “I”. Self-realization is realizing you are not this “me”, but what you are doing in seeking to realize the Self for personal gain is to strengthen the feeling that you are this “me”.
Realizing the Self does not have to happen. Whether the illusion of “me” is believed or not, you are the Self. The Self is called nondual…in that there is no “other”. So there is not anything that is not the Self…even the mirage/illusion. If you are happy in the illusion, it is all the Self and you are That already and nothing says you have to realize the Self. If you are unhappy in the illusion, it is all the Self and you are That already and nothing says you have to realize the Self. If the illusion is no longer believed (i.e. Self-Realized), it is all the Self and you are That. None of this is of much concern to the Self. All is well.
It is only thought that creates suffering, thought that creates problems, and thought that says things should be different than they are. These thoughts are based upon a “me”, but what can a “me” do about itself? Nothing really. Just be still…be quiet. Be mindful. Perhaps question this “me” you think yourself to be. Allow and accept what-is…or more precisely – cease denying and fighting what-is. Cease making effort.
It is like there is a jar of water with sand and mud in it. It has been all mixed up and murky for some time, and you are wondering how to get to clear water. No matter how you try to push the mud and sand out of the water…all you are doing is continuing to mix it together. You need to cease agitating and mixing. Just stop…cease making effort. Be still…be silent. In time, the sand and mud sinks to the bottom on its own…leaving clear water behind. The clear water did not arise because of anything that you did. The clear water arose because of what you ceased doing.