What I find now adays are far more people that think they know everything about spirituality, enlightenment, and what enlightened beings are like based on a couple of years of reading books, and maybe a year or two of haphazard practice of meditation.
They know it all and speak in abstract platitudes about silence, truth, the divine, no-self, non-dual, Consciousness, emptiness, etc. You know just by the abstractness of the terms they use that they are parroting authors they have read.
The largest segment of this population is young males from their teens to maybe 35. Very dependent on intellect they like to argue and prove everyone else wrong except for their favorites, like Ramana or Nisargadatta, or else they preach the opposite that everyone is right and all viewpoints are equal.
These poor people really don't know that they really don't know. They have no idea that they think they know who they are because they have read Ramana and Nisargadatta talk about reality and illusion and those ideas alone are just a map, and not a true grasp by direct experience of the real.
IT IS SO HARD TO ESCAPE RELIANCE ON CONCEPTS SO THATWE CAN LET GO OF THEM AND SEEK TO EXPERIENCE OURSELVES DIRECTLY, WITHOUT CONCEPTS OR MIND, WITHOUT AN INTERMEDIARY OF TEACHINGS.
When you first grasp who you are by a direct experience of Self everything changes. For the first time you know something in a way entirely unmitigated by intellect. You know your own Self directly, as a whole, as an entity existing within you, within your body, within your sense of presence, within your energy fiekl, and you know it as the life force itself, as I, as I Am, as "I am alive"!
For the first time your really know what direct knowing is. You realize that basically you are Knowledge itself, and also the Knower of Knowledge. As Knowledge, you are the Manifest Self consisting of your body, your breath, your sense of I, also your emotions, thoughts, tactile sensations, sounds, taste, smell, etc.
And, if you are a long-time meditator, you also know your Manifest Self as emptiness, the Void, which some call silence.
But then you will also know that which lies beyond Consciousness, beyond the body, which is the Witness: that which experiences both existence and non-existence.
For most people, they cease existing when they go you sleep. The sense of I disappears. And in the morning they awaken and exist again. But they do not doubt that they existed during sleep because they have an inner sense that they existed while asleep, and can even manage to have a sense of the amount of time that passed while they slept. A few people remain aware of being asleep even while sleeping, so they are less aware of the non-existence of the normal person because they are centered in the principle of knowing itself, the Witness.
So profound are these states of realization that they change everything for you. You become totally alive because you do not live in your head like the 25 year-old, know-it-all-from-books-person. This person is not alive; he lives in his mind which is comprised of his ideas of what he thinks Ramana, Nisargadatta, or Jesus meant or experienced. They are shadow people living in their uninformed imaginations, inflexible, not open to tenderness or gentler and sweeter emotions. And, they are oh so self-assured, and also so very, very wrong.