Appearance #2

In Appearance, I link to Tom’s post and the discussion on “What do Enlightened Guys Look Like?”   The discussion is quite useful. I got a little verbose over there and thought it useful to summarize the points here.

I’m with Tom on the terminology front. (Enlightenment vs Awakening) Partly because awakening better describes it, and partly because one of the last barriers to enlightenment is often our ideas of it. They are ALWAYS wrong. This is simply because enlightenment has nothing to do with the mind. It is a change in our perception of who we are, as Tom observes.

The difference between an experience of Self and awakening is a becoming. In awakening we become That. Very, very simple and normal. Not usually flashy.

It’s also very important to understand that awakening is a process, not a goal. There is a shift in being but then some time is required for integration. Then that inner being begins to move forward into the world. The heart is absorbed, then the lower centers. The Oneness within becomes the Oneness without. All is One, even the dust. That is the dawning of full enlightenment.

But even that never ends – there is always greater refinement, greater expansion possible. Many get stuck at the first waking, thinking they are “there”. This is why it’s important to know there is more. If you think unassailable bliss is good, it is only the beginning.

Andrea observes that only a handful of people have achieved full enlightenment in a long time. This has been true. In the middle of the last century, they had waited almost 150 years for a qualified Shankaracharya of the North in India. But times are changing. People are not only waking with much greater frequency but numbers of people reaching complete Oneness have begun to climb now too. There was 2 on a small retreat I was just on. Certainly further integration required, but the change has happened.

I fully agree with Tom on the looks like. Awakening has nothing to do with appearance. I know an awake bus driver, shoe salesman, grannie, and day care operator. I’ve seen people wake with a broken arm and a serious neurological disorder.

Not only is appearance not a barrier, but neither is pain, nor stupid ideas. That’s why waking can be so funny.

Its also worthwhile to point out that awakening does not make you a good teacher. The vast majority who wake up continue their lives as before, but from an entirely new perspective. Teaching is a different skill set.

Judging the Awake

There is a common statement is spiritual circles. The statement that anyone who says they are awake isn’t. This first arose with Yogananda in an interview. This is tricky territory as those in the mind are very quick to judge.

While its true that any “I” statements are prone to indicate ego, there are terminology variations. For example, I know a teacher who uses “me” for ego self and “I” for cosmic Self. So it’s less about words and more about context and where they speak from. There are some very big spiritualized ego’s around that are best taken with lots of salt. Placing oneself above others is not a good sign. And there are some with very big personalities who are quite awake. Taste in clothes has nothing to do with awakeness. Same with food, relationships, work, etc etc.

It’s also true that people who awake often no longer consider “enlightenment” a good word, mainly because it’s a concept and concepts are all wrong for anything beyond mind. They speak ‘around’ the subject to reduce engaging the mind. They are not avoiding speaking of their experience but rather avoiding engaging the mind and making new concepts. They are working to speak directly with Self.

That said, you have to ask yourself how anyone can describe their awakening experience in an environment where people make such blanket judgments. The newly awake can feel gentle about it. I know some who refuse. A few are more brave. I’ve seen people hammered by their friends – the ’spiritual’ can be harsh with ‘competition’.

Enlightenment is not a mental thing. You will likely find that how someone “feels” is a better gauge. Until you are that, you cannot know. Once you are fully that, everyone appears as awake as that is the deeper reality. It is only for us to discover it.

So be nice and be open. You may be surprised by what is around.

Davidya

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5 Responses to Appearance #2

  1. Shadowduck says:

    I know I’m not the first to mention this, but the ongoing debates about terminology amaze me… Occasionally, the debate stops for a moment while everyone agrees that no words are really appropriate and they can never be anything more than symbols or pointers – hints to the truth. Then the whole debate starts off again!

    I guess words are all we have. In the context of a blog at least; does that mean a blog is an inherently poor place to discuss such things?

  2. Davidya says:

    You got it – words fail as words are symbols for ideas and spirit is beyond all ideas. But each of us has preferences for our local context, kind of like dialects. If you are into a specific system, there is always a specific terminology or use of terms. For example, Gangaji uses the word “ego” far more loosely than others. Probably as she considers concepts a barrier, so she stays general, focused on what is “under” the ideas or feelings.

    Some debate as they like the terminology of their system. Others debate as they find one word or another describes the experience better to them. Those are the ones to pay more attention to.

    In the end, you’re right – words are all we have. And there’s another reason they can be key. For some people, a certain word or phrase, heard a little differently, is the key that drops the barriers and allows awakening to take place. Then words work magic, in a backwards sort of way.

  3. Davidya says:

    Is a blog a poor place to discuss such ideas? In some ways as a good discussion needs time to go deep. There is a tendency to be superficial on the net. Some of my longer posts have had the least feedback, a little 2 deep. (laughs) But blogs remain a great way to share ideas and start the discussion, get people thinking. You can see how it leads bloggers into further posts.

  4. Shadowduck says:

    The internet in general has certainly been a huge help to me in gaining some understanding. It’s imperfect, but for those of us who don’t have access to a teacher in “real life” it’s a fantastic resource. Having the opportunity to read the thoughts of people a lot further down the path than I, and ask them questions when I can’t follow, has made all the difference and I’m very grateful for it – and for those contributing to it of course! #8-)

  5. Davidya says:

    I have access to some teachers here but also find the ‘net very useful. There are simply ideas and experiences that I would not have otherwise heard. The smaller voices that still offer great value.

    As for people being a lot further down the path, you may be surprised how short the path really is. (laughs) It simply takes some time to work our way along because of the vistas.

    The mind likes to place things on a spectrum, compare positions, but really there are none. Someone always seems to be ahead and someone else behind. But we’re talking relative to something omnipresent, so the sense of before and after arises only from where we’re standing. Move over a bit and the view changes.

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