In Visions into Dust, I touched on the cycle of growth again: balance, disintegration, growth, integration, and repeat. From recent remarks here and offline, it sounds like it would be useful to touch on what is meant by the terms.
Many people have the idea that awakening is something sudden and complete. While this is true in certain ways and circumstances, for most people it is a process like all other forms of human development.
Let’s use the example of Self-realization or cosmic consciousness. This is the shift from an ego perspective where we are a person who has some experiences of transcendence into a perspective of an independent observer, witnessing a person. In other words, we shift from a person experiencing Self to Self experiencing a person.
The actual awakening or shift takes just an instant, one moment of deep surrender to what is. We “pop.” (laughs) The illusion of being a separate me ends.
But this is not the whole story of awakening. Not in the slightest. It’s like being born is to adulthood.
As the pattern illustrates, we start from a point of balance or homeostasis. We’re settled into a perspective on life that’s working for us. Typically, what I would call Special, where the individual is the dominant perspective. Ego has reached it’s zenith.
And then along comes the seeker. Something inside stirs and we experience a restlessness, a desire for more and deeper. Perhaps we have some powerful experiences or openings. We begin a process of self examination and review and will typically take on some sort of spiritual teaching or journey. We find something that connects us to deeper aspects of ourselves. We do the work, clearing our resistance and stories and letting go of the perspective that used to be dominant. Dissolving the ego.
This clearing progresses and we begin to have increasing expansion, a wider understanding, deeper feelings, greater peace, and so forth. At some point, we let go deeply enough and the pin that held it together slips and we awaken. This is not to say we awaken due to our efforts but rather, the time comes where Self wishes to experience more directly. Grace descends. Self awakens to Itself. (Self it turns out was organizing it all in the first place.)
But this does not mean the cycle is complete. No goal has been reached. Just another milestone on the journey. That inner shift in perspective must now be stabilized and integrated with the rest of the experience. Stuff left over from the disintegration and growth stages will continue to be processed. As Adyashanti observes, mind may try to come back into control. And there is usually a great deal more deepening of the perspective.
Often, Self realization begins with a sense of freedom or release. Liberation! As it stabilizes, an enduring peace dawns. And finally, a deep inner bliss unfolds that is permanent. You are always more happy than you ever thought possible before. This is Sat Chit Ananda or absolute bliss consciousness. The fully integrated awakening.
Of course, it’s rarely all that tidy. How much is left over to clear after awakening varies widely. While we’re busy tidying up, the stages of God Realization and Unity have begun to unfold with their own disintegrations.
Each stage brings with it a major change in perspective along with other smaller shifts. For example, in the Unity shift, it can unfold in discrete steps. The release of the inner grip of fear. The loss of separation from inside and outside – All becomes one. Then the sense of identity ends leaving the person with no name. ‘Me’ or ‘I’ have become meaningless concepts. And then we awaken from the dream of God, the illusion of everything ends, dissolving into Oneness.
This is a profound and astonishingly beautiful process but entails a whole series of major changes in any sort of conceptual framework you may use in being in the world that seems to have ceased. Soon, the experience comes more and more together and the true inclusiveness of unity dawns. This is another integration.
As it is the end of all illusion, it is the dawning of the true nature of reality. And we haven’t even touched on all the stuff between realizations.
It’s also worth noting how totally natural and normal this is. While profound, it is not unlike shifts we experienced when we were younger – becoming a teenager or adult. Only this time without so much drama. (laughs)