From a recent discussion on an Adyashanti retreat in comments, here.
I would say people often slowly approach waking, not really sure if they are or not, then there is the switch. The change from experiencing the Self to being the Self. Some say its a bang or pop, but that implies some experience. Its not so much an experience as a being. A shift in who and where you “are”.
Many people have doubts after the switch as the change can be subtle to some. How long that goes on depends on their clarity and ego grip. As you mention, Adya talks about cleaning out the remains of ignorance, called “Leshia Avidya” in India. What I call the ego shrapnel. Some people walk right through that. Some take a few days. Some take some months or years, as Adya says.
You should not confuse this with oneness though. The first switch can include such a sense, but again, it is an experience rather than a being. The first shift is a shift in who you are and perceive yourself to be. Once that is established, there is a series of further openings and a concurrent refinement of perceptions. In ’emptiness dancing’ (on the back cover even) and the ‘Journey after Awakening’ DVD, Adya describes the process as 3 stages or levels. This corresponds to many Vedic descriptions as well.
First, it is the mind. The ego idea and illusion of individuality goes with the switch. The clearing process above is typically clearing the mind, all the old ideas of who I am and what is real.
Then there is the opening of what I call the divine heart. As Adya says, your being starts to dance. Everything comes alive.
THEN you get the second switch. This is the realization one, where everything is found to not exist. It all disappears. The core unconscious gut identity becomes conscious. You have what Adya calls the BBQ. The whole sense of seperateness “just died into transparency. You are dancing – the emptiness is dancing.” You are united, one with all. The unreal becomes real again, but a very different real. It is all you, so there is a deep intimacy with everything.
Of course, its rarely all tidy like that. Adya had a big Unity experience with his first switch. People are clearing emotional baggage throughout and well before any waking. But along the journey there is 2 markers, 2 switches to mark our progress. After each switch, there is a period of clearing and adjustment and integration. Actually, there is an adjustment after every opening.
Some people never make the second switch. Some don’t even know its there. They think the first is the goal. Some people don’t complete the middle stage before they have the second switch, completeing it after. Just as it takes time to integrate the first switch, it takes time to integrate the open heart (imagine all beings in the universe, and all their feelings, inside your heart. All the suffering of the world experienced in a moment, but fully absorbed in divine love), and it takes time to integrate Oneness. If you rush through them in a few months, then you have more to integrate at once.
Its also important to know that it doesn’t stop there. There is always more growth, more refinement, more opening possible. You’ll also find that there can be a whole series of grand openings along the way. Its not a small change to get from ego to emptiness, through fullness.
The really funny part? All of existence, you, the universe, everything disappears. What remains is emptiness. The emptiness of fullness beyond imagination. A reality that is so much better than the ego’s. But its perfectly normal and ordinary. (laughs) Just the appearance of a DVD like ‘beyond Awakening’ shows just how profound the time is. That people are there.