The Shadows of Awakening

Recently, I made a point to watch the Craig Holliday BATGAP interview. It’s something I’d intended prior but after meeting him at the panel discussion, became a greater priority. He’s both a Nondual teacher and professional Counsellor. His interview illustrated another variation on the theme, his stages unfolding at slightly different chakras and a major kundalini process later in the game than usual.

But of particular interest was his mention of the shadow side of awakening. In other words, each stage of development can bring with it problems if there is lack of integration or an unresolved barrier to it. I’ve edited his list slightly to adjust to my usual stages format.

Self Realization
With Self Realization, what he called transcendent awakening, there can be a distinct sense of separation when we shift into the observer mode. We can get lost in that. The primary solution is simply acting, being in the world and easing up if there is excess time in transcendent practices. In other words, grounding.

Closely related, the ungroundedness can make us quite impractical, with a tendency to ignore or not take care of one’s life, body, etc. If the bliss has come on-line, we may become averse to anything that seems to reduce it’s dominance. (an attachment to joy)

There can also be a sense of “I’m awakened and the rest of the world is deluded”. This is enhanced if there are other factors like feeling “done” or the ego has been spiritualized rather than let go of. We may see aloofness, arrogance, or pride. Related to this can be an aversion to others “bad vibes” or “negative influence”.

The detached better-than is a little too common in non-dual circles, sometimes as a concept but also post-waking as an investment in an individualized denialism. I posted a video example here. Note that Advaita or nondualism is inclusive Oneness – it is NOT dualistic separation.

Adyashanti and Francis Bennett have talked about Awakening from Awakening. Adya also spoke of it in his book The End of Your World.

God Consciousness
With the awakening of the heart (post-awakening), there can develop an attachment to love and what feels good and an aversion to anything or anyone else. This again divides us from life and doesn’t integrate the shift. Another form of ungroundedness.

There can be an experience of being in love with everything, which is wonderful. But we need discernment about where that’s dedicated. Craig mentions people leaving relationships for some new charm.

When love is dominant we can also become insensitive to those in pain. As this matures, we’ll then be able to hold that pain in profound love.

Unity
This can bring some issues similar to GC but from the perspective of being one with everything.

I would add that because we can experience in consciousness what it’s like to be whatever we put our attention on, we can make the assumption we know what it is like to be that person or being. However, we’re experiencing it from Unity, not from their perspective and can miss some of the more challenging aspects of their experience.

Because who we experience ourselves as being changes with each stage, it’s easy to forget how we used to experience life from a different stage. It’s no longer in experience. This can give problems in relating to others.

Brahman
He described this differently as Hara, at the gut.

This change is quite a major shift out of Unity and can begin with a challenging dry spell. This can lead to a different form of disassociation and possibly the processing of the great loss of Unity.

The inner reality can also dominate, again making us less present to our humanness, our day-to-day life.

Craig also spoke about issues created by kundalini process, including neurological disorders and mental imbalance and illness.

This is not to say that the awakening process is a bad thing. Only that we’re human and the shifts can be a big change to adapt to and integrate. It’s good to have support.

This is part of why the panel spoke so much about people, including spiritual teachers, needing a support network and peers. It’s common to have an unintegrated period for a time after a major shift. They usually arrive unannounced. But if we understand what is unfolding and come to it with a degree of clarity, we’re less likely to get caught in the shadow aspects. And if we do, it’s straightforward to get free of such issues. But as they mentioned in the panel, it’s key such things become conscious before they become a crisis or mess.
Davidya

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4 Responses to The Shadows of Awakening

  1. Geoff Toane says:

    This is part of why the panel spoke so much about people, including spiritual teachers, needing a support network and peers.

    This is the goal of the Awakening World Society. To provide support for those waking up to different states of consciousness and place to rest and be in the presence of only the awakened. Hopefully this society will have a permanent facility in the near future

  2. Davidya says:

    Hi Geoff!
    I agree. Even when there is clear stability, old baggage can come to the surface for resolution and new shifts can unfold.

    Understanding what is unfolding and having support can make the process much smoother. Having peers to reflect off of can help with perspective and offer a mirror. All too many of those unfolding, including teachers, are islands alone.

  3. Gayanee says:

    Too many islands in the teaching community. I’m very glad that this has been recognized and changing. Yay!

  4. Davidya says:

    Yep. Many are looking at how best people can be supported through the process, irrespective of background. At a certain point in the process, commonality is dominant.

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