That’s the only criteria that matters. There are no levels of clarity, no others that know more, no time in the future when clarity happens, or an imagined “state” of abiding in, or achieving a “solid” realization. But yet there is the appearance of such levels, realized beings, time, and stability.
If any of those appearances are accompanied by a sense of suffering, there’s the rub. The above distinctions come only from the realm of seeking. In life itself, there is suffering having to do with poverty, loneliness, health, and so on. In the words of Pema Chodron, “start where you are.” If there is the experience of suffering, then quite simply, something—a thought, an identity—is not only being believed, but cherished.
Trust not your thoughts or your understanding; trust your experience. People balk at the idea of self-generated suffering, but is it possible that the suffering being experienced is a kind of identity? For instance, it was seen here that a sense of longing was the experience of being. Longing was familiar, was in fact, an experiential identity. Things, situations, people were longed for that could not be had because that maintained the longing, and essentially the personhood. Failure, victimhood, and a sense of injustice can also all be dearly-held experiences of identity. When in these states, you feel as if you exist. As long as any identity, or a sense of me-ness goes on, there is the possibility for suffering. Is there a clinging to a familiar sense of suffering as that-is-who-I-am? You are not that.
And for those for whom the seeking manifests as a constant need to understand, an intellectual foray into teachings and concepts, suffering arises (or not) from feeding the mind that will never take the step through that gateless gate. Peace, compassion, love, and clarity are lived experiences. Conceptual understanding actually impedes the experience—and experiencing is all there really is. Suffering in this case comes from identifying with a negligible, but illusory identity with the intellect, oftentimes manifesting in the form of emptiness, aridity, and ultimately a sense of failure, because the mind is and always will be insufficient to the task at hand.
None of the posts here are true. You can’t take any of them to the bank, or out to dinner and a movie. The inquiries are a way of experiencing, of looking beyond the concepts believed and identities assumed. As Jac O’Keeffe says (loosely translated), everything you experience comes from the conceptual and into form. So if the experience is suffering, STOP, right now, and let go of all ideas, needs, opinions, and identification. Drop everything the mind and the world it generates has to offer, and look—is not the peace and clarity you are seeking already here? If this is seen even if only for a second, trust that experience. Follow that.