If you read much spiritual literature from different traditions, you’ll quickly find a plethora of conflicting information about human awakening.
The main issue is that we tend to think, and some teachers encourage, that awakening is a black and white thing. First you’re this suffering peon and then, in that magic moment, the butterfly emerges and you become the avatar of all wonder.
That’s kind of like thinking you’ll enter kindergarten and come out the next day with a Ph.D. That may happen, but it’s pretty rare. Some may skip a grade or fail some. But largely there is a process of knowing.
First we learn arithmetic, then geometry. Algebra, then calculus. There is a process and series of apparent stages. A person who knows calculus does not see a problem the same way as a person who only knows how to use a simple calculator.
The evolution of consciousness is the same way. People will describe their experience from where they are at the moment. If you understand the general process taking place, the variations in description turn out to just be variations in how the process is unfolding personally.
I harp on this point a lot here. It’s all about perspective. If you get the gist of it, everything begins to make sense.
A really good example is ego death. For some people, the ego clearly dies with awakening. This is also clearly what ego is resisting as it approaches. What they are typically referring to here (and as I use the term ego) is the mental idea of being a separate person.
With awakening, we become the cosmic Self. The individual ego sense ends. “pops” even. There can be some “shrapnel” of “me” concepts to clear after that, but the core has ended. Curiously, as the waking unfolds, it can become increasingly clear that an ego value is still there. It’s not personal ego but rather a cosmic one.
Thus, some people don’t experience the death or end of ego, they experience their personal becoming cosmic. Little me becomes cosmic Me. self becomes Self.
Same process but described in what may seem like opposite terms.
This is similar to the prior post on ideas like emptiness vs. fullness of being, Self vs. no-self, no mind, and so forth.
There is another aspect to no-self I’ve not touched on before though. Many writers of an eastern bent will describe the evolution of self to Self, the small me becoming the universal Self. (see above)
But there is another stage to this less commonly talked about in these terms. The transcendence of Self altogether.
Self still implies other. As the stages of Unity consciousness develop we can reach a point where we transcend being even “cosmic” Self. Without any separation, there is just One, all inclusive. Everything is just That, falling back on Itself continuously.
Surrender is absolute. There is no mind to allow or emotions to allow as it has permeated everything. There is only That. We are one with God, Brahman. Not as an experience but as being. That is both full and empty, active and silent, expressed and unexpressed.
Silent, loving bliss.