The first question:
What does enlightenment feel like?
Enlightenment is not a thought nor a feeling. In fact, enlightenment is not an experience at all. When all experiences have disappeared and the mirror of consciousness is left without any content, utterly empty; no object to see, to think about, to feel; when there is no content around you; the pure witness remains – that is the state of enlightenment.
It is difficult, almost impossible, to describe it. If you say it feels blissful, it gives a wrong meaning to it – because bliss is something contrary to misery and enlightenment is not contrary to anything. It is not even silence, because silence has meaning only when there is sound; without the contrast of sound there is no experience of silence. And there is no sound, there is no noise. It is not the experience of one, because what can “one” mean when only one is left? One can have meaning only in comparison with the other, with many. It is not light because it is not darkness. It is not sweet because it is not bitter.
No human word is adequate to express it, because all human words are rooted in duality…and enlightenment is a transcendence; all duality left behind.
That’s why Buddha says it is shunya. When he says it is shunya, void, emptiness, he does not mean that it is emptiness; he simply means it is empty of all content.
For example, a room can be called empty if all furniture has been removed, not a single thing is left inside – you will call the room empty. It is empty of all that it used to contain before, but it is also full – full of emptiness, full of roominess, full of itself. But nothing can be said about its fullness, its plenitude, because human language has no word for it. We have been trying for centuries to call it God, to call it nirvana, to call it moksha, but all words somehow fail.
It is difficult to translate something from prose to poetry, more difficult to translate from poetry to prose, because prose is on a lower level, poetry is on a higher level. It is difficult to translate from one language to another language, although all languages exist on the same plane. Why is it difficult to translate? – because there are subtle nuances to words. Those nuances are lost in translating, and those are the real things.